kids encyclopedia robot

Pluto (mythology) facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Pluto Serapis and Persephone Isis Heraklion museum
Group of ancient roman statues of Persephone (as Isis), Cerberus, and Pluto (as Serapis), from Gortys (Archaeological Museum of Heraklion).

Pluto (Greek: Πλούτων, Ploutōn) was the ruler of the Greek underworld. The earlier name for the god was Hades, which became more common as the name of the underworld itself. Pluto was frequently conflated with Plutus, the Greek god of wealth, because mineral wealth was found underground, and because Pluto ruled the deep earth that contained the seeds necessary for a bountiful harvest.

Attributes of Pluto are his scepter, keys, throne, and horses. The keys are connected to his capacity for giving wealth to humanity, specifically the agricultural wealth of "the year's fruits."

The dwarf planet Pluto was named after this god.


The best-known myth involving Pluto is the abduction of Persephone (or Proserpina (/proʊˈsɜːrpɪnə/ proh-SUR-pih-nə) in ancient Roman mythology), who was the daughter of Ceres. Pluto took Persephone to the underworld to be his wife. Ceres cried and did not let plants grow on the Earth. People needed the plants so much that the god Jupiter made Pluto give her up. The deal they worked out was that for six months, Pluto got Persephone. While Persephone was in the underworld, no plants could grow on Earth and it was winter. When Persephone went back to her mother, it was summer. This was how the Romans explained the seasons. Pluto also had a three-headed dog named Cerberus that guarded the gates to the underworld.

Pluto and Orpheus

Another myth where Pluto appears is taht of Orpheus and Eurydice. Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, who loved her dearly. On their wedding day, he played joyful songs as his bride danced through the meadow. One day, Aristaeus saw and pursued Eurydice, who stepped on a viper, was bitten, and died instantly. Distraught, Orpheus played and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and deities wept and told him to travel to the Underworld to retrieve her.

Orpheus descends to the underworld in the hope of charming Pluto and Persephone with his music. Orpheus's music softened the hearts of Pluto and Persephone. Pluto, known for never showing his feelings, wipes the tears with his iron cloak and allows Eurydice to return with Orpheus to earth. However, there's one condition: Orpheus should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper world. Orpheus set off with Eurydice following; however, as soon as he had reached the upper world, he immediately turned to look at her, forgetting in his eagerness that both of them needed to be in the upper world for the condition to be met. As Eurydice had not yet crossed into the upper world, she vanished for the second time, this time forever.

Sanctuaries of Pluto

A sanctuary dedicated to Pluto was called a ploutonion (Latin plutonium). One of the known ploutonia was in the sacred grove between Tralleis and Nysa, where a temple of Pluto and Persephone was located. Visitors sought healing and dream oracles.

Fine art

The abduction of Proserpina by Pluto was the scene from the myth most often depicted by artists.

Major artists who produced works depicting Pluto include:

  • Dürer, Abduction of Proserpine on a Unicorn (1516), etching. Dürer's first English biographer called this work "a wild, weird conception" that "produces a most uncomfortable, shuddering impression on the beholder." The source or significance of the unicorn as the form of transport is unclear; Dürer's preparatory drawing showed a conventional horse. Pluto seems to be presented in a manner that recalls the leader of the Wild Hunt.
  • Caravaggio, Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto (Italian Giove, Nettuno e Plutone, ca. 1597), a ceiling mural (pictured under Theogonies and cosmology above) intended for viewing from below, hence the unusual perspective. Caravaggio created the work for a room adjacent to the alchemical distillery of Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, his most important patron. The three gods hover around a translucent globe that represents the world: Jupiter with his eagle, Neptune holding a bident, and Pluto accompanied by a bluish-gray horse and a Cerberus who resembles a three-headed border collie more than a hellhound. In addition to personifying the classical elements air, water, and earth, the three figures represent "an allegory of the applied science of alchemy".
  • Jan Brueghel the Elder, Orpheus before Pluto and Proserpina (1604), painting.
  • Bernini, Pluto and Proserpina (1621–22), sculpture with a Cerberus looking in three different directions.
  • Rembrandt, Abduction of Proserpina (ca. 1631), painting influenced by Rubens (via the engraving of his student Pieter Soutman). Rembrandt's leonine Pluto draws on Claudian's description of the god as like a ravening lion.

Related pages

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Plutón (mitología) para niños

kids search engine
Pluto (mythology) Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.