As requested a few days ago by a few people in chatter, I have written an article about the Underworld so more people could learn in depth about the realm of Hades.
I often think of the Underworld of being levels of a game. The further you go, the more difficult the game is and more complicated the place.
Level One- the Death and the Path
Ancient Egyptians believed the weight of your heart is effected and can contribute to the next life you're in, which is the afterlife. The "Weighing of the Heart" ceremony is placed in front of several Gods and Goddesses. The person's heart is weighed against the feather of the Goddess Ma'at. This determined whether the deceased person had indeed been virtuous. Heart is balanced and Osiris welcomes you. Heavy heart? Devoured by Ammut and you're screwed, dude.
(Please, please correct me if I'm wrong!)
Now, with all that being said, the Greeks obviously believed otherwise. After you pass on from your physical body, you're stuck in darkness. This is called Erebus; it is the place where the dead pass as soon as they die. Erebos, the God, is the Greek word for "darkness". So you could say you pass through a God right after you pass yourself. Now it all depends on how you have lived your life. Hermes is a busy man, because He is the one to lead you to the path of the Doors. To the Underworld, of course.
Level one and done.
Charon is the ferryman of the Underworld, and only let those pass the Acheron river (River of Woe) if they have been properly buried with a drachma in your mouth. Once you have passed, Charon takes you to be judged.
The Acheron river isn't the only river that lies in the Underworld. There are five, including the Acheron. The river Cocytus is the river of Lamentation, which pours into the Acheron. There is also the Phlegethon, the River of Fire. The most widely known River of Unbreakable Oath, Styx, which the Gods swear upon. The last and most certainly (and ironically, not forgotten) not least, the River of Forgetfulness, the Lethe.
Level One Boss-
Well here you are. You've come so far in your life. Been judged so many times by so many people. Have had good and bad memories, ups and downs, naughty and nice thoughts, but only to be judged one last time. Upon your arrival, you meet four beings. Kerberos, who guards the Underworld gates (Cerberus, in English. Derived from the Proto-Indo-European word meaning "spotted". Yes, Hades, the Lord of the Dead, named his dog "Spot"), and the three judges: Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus. These are the ones who decide on whether you should have a blessed life, or a life of eternal torment.
Level Two- I See Trees of Green, Red Roses, too...
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world...
The Elysian Fields, also called Elysium. This is the islands and the fields of the blessed. The heroes and faithful worshippers of the Gods reside here, and all your good deeds and life are rewarded. Mainly Elysium was separated into two parts- the White Islands and the netherworld realm.
The White Islands were reserved specifically for the heroes of Greek myths, and mainly ruled by Kronos/Cronus or the judge Rhadamanthus. This is where you're constantly pampered and live the best life that can possibly be given to you.
The netherworld realm is a complicated place, which included an Elysium like place for the ones who dedicated themselves to the Eleusinian Mysteries. But that's a whole other topic for a whole different time.
Later Roman writers such as Virgil described as all of Elysium as being one in the same final resting place for both the virtuous dead and the heroes.
Level Three- The Boundless Gray Fields
Now this is the part of the game where you don't exactly know what's going on, but you go through it anyway and kind of figure it out while you're doing it.
The Fields of Asphodel, also called the Gray Fields. This is the final resting place for the ones who haven't angered the Gods, but haven't please them, either. They are called the Gray Frields for a reason. Because they are grey. The grass stands tall, and you bound to where you find yourself to be. There's not anything to do. No punishment, but not anything to please you, either. And you just stand there for the rest of eternity. I wish I was joking about this, but that's all there is to it.
Level Three Boss (Finale)- The Inmost Abyss
Beyond the river Oceanos and beneath the setting sun, to the darkest and deepest depths of Hades, lies the desination that you don't want to arrive to. The evilest and most deceptive of all beings lie here. The Titans, Hecatonchires, tyrants, and much more. This is the place where Prometheus' liver is picked on daily and nightly, where Ixion is rolled down a hill over and over again on a wheel of fire, and Sisyphus is disappointed when the rock falls down the hill once more, and he has yet to finish his task of pushing the rock all the way to the top of the hill.
If you've stuck with me to the end, kudos to you, because even I would just skim through since most of the time I'm lazy and won't read a whole lot. I really do appreciate you reading, and any feedback would be awesome.