I still, after much thought, think it IS Hades. For one thing, Hades is NOT the name of the god, but rather the name of his dominion. Hades himself, as I understand it, was unnamed, or his name was not spoken. And since it was not spoken, it was not written down and so the name of the Grek underworld god was lost to time and became equated with his dominion, Hades.
|Only sounds like Keith Flint|
But, if he had said his name to shadow he would have been able to remember it, or he would have at least remembered what he looked like.
I think its someone in the book. I was reading the book in pieces a while ago and there is a guy when shadow is in prison who talks to him, tells him about what is coming. His name is Sam Fetisher, and as far as i can tell the significance is more than just a way to say "the storm is coming" again. Nobody-as in terms of readers- remembers the charecter when they read the story and he doesn't do anything else, yet he's named and talks godstuff with shadow before shadow even knows hes leaving prison.
There is no way Hades is the unnamed God. During the period that he is in Las Vegas he is looking for his female half. In the case of Hades it is Persephone. But in the myth of Hades Persephone is with him during Autumn and Winter. Since it is Autumn/Winter when Shadow sees him in Vegas it means that he can not be looking for Persephone since she is with him at that time. Therefore Shadow is talking to a different god than Hades.
I know this whole thing has been done to death and everybody who has read the book has a theory, so I'm sure this has been mentioned before but...
How about Solomon. We know what ended up happening to the woman he was looking for (she ended up getting individual devotion from men), he was a king and one translation of his name is "prosperous", while he was supposed to be a prophet Hebrew mysticism has him as a sorceror as well, and he bargains with the devil at points... and in this case he is known as both a necromancer (the body in the bog) and sacred geometry (a cats cradle of light). The forgetfulness of his name could be related to a story we he plays the original king who walks annonymous through his kingdom. He is mistaken for a peasant by a neighbouring king and ends up serving as a royal cook before they realise who he is...
And he is first met with two other "wise gods", Allvis and Kali. (And actually, Allvis is not a god either).
Just a theory...
Yeah, I have to agree that from the descriptions, Hades is the only god that makes sense. Actually, he was known as Hades and his realm was the underworld, but Hades, like Pluto, was just a nickname and his real name was never revealed (except perhaps to the priests) and definitely unspoken. He was called Hades ("Hidden" or "Hidden One") because of a helmet that gave him invisibility. I think the difficulty remembering him or what he looks like is Gaiman's attempt to present invisibility in a more mystical rather than direct way.
Also, naturally, Pluto meant "Wealthy" or "Wealthy One" and he was the god of the Underworld which contained all the riches of the world, precious metals and stones. His role and power lay in wealth, not the dead, so the counting room of a casino is a great place for this god to hang out.
The real question is how did he make it to America?
One explanation is that some ancient Greek or Roman sailor somehow made it to America. Also, possibly the pagan roots of Christianity somehow sustained him in the conception of the devil. If you think about it, the Christian view of Satan, Hell (in this case also known as "Hades") and demons like Mammon all owe a lot to the early pagan view of the underworld. Perhaps some Italian Magus from the renaissance (like Christopher Colombus) imported the God when he set forth to find riches and wealth in the New World.
Actaully, no. The Greek concept of the afterlife was nothing like the Christian Hell. The Greek underworld was a dark and dank and shadowy realm where all but the great were consigned to 'live' out their deaths in basica endless boredom. Only the very few were punished, and these punishments, like Tantalus, were custom made. There was no fiery pit. The heroes and others were consigned to the Elysian Fields. The closest thing to a fiery pit was Tartarus, where the Titans were imprisoned.
One item of note is that Elysion was described as lying on the western edge of the world, encircled by the great river Oceanus. Described like this, it would technically lie outside the boundaries of Hades since Oceanus is not one of the five rivers (Lethe, Styx, Acharon, Cocytus, and ... erm... the other one. Phlem, or something
My point wasn't that it was exactly like it but that the Christian idea of Hell owed much more to the Greco-Roman pagan religion that preceded it in Europe than to the supposed Hebrew religion that gave birth to it.
The Roman society and religion was much more the immediate predecessor to widespread European Christianity. Therefore, pagan converts retained much of the tone and tenor of their beliefs and the idea of hell as an Inferno (which means "beneath" not "on fire" like a furnance) certainly derives from the underworld of the pagan Roman civilization.
For me, it is narratively sound to think that as classical ideas were reborn in the renaissance, that the gods would find new believers in Italy in secret mystical societies and that one of these, seeking wealth, would invoke the ancient hidden power of the god as he sailed for the West Indies.
Also, since his identity is so ambiguous in the first place, he could have survived the demise of his fellow Olympians by simply attaching himself to the universal worship of wealth. Then of course, Mafioso Sicilians, a group of people who combined both Greek and Latin virtues and vices, could keep him alive as they came to the New World and later developed Las Vegas to get rich beyond their wildest dreams.
Good ol' wikipedia!
"The rivers Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron and Cocytus all converge at the center of Hades on a great marsh. The other important rivers of Hades are Lethe and Eridanos."
Taoist "Wooo-weeee!" The bosom that can be tamed is not a real bosom.
Dammit babies, you've got to be kind!
On the other hand, these are decadent gods, so you can't expect them to have the power to sustain their rituals perfectly. Since she hasn't shown up yet it could be that she simply "died" as so many of the others have. Also, since she hasn't shown up yet then it is quite natural that he's looking for her. He wouldn't be looking for her in the summer after all.
Also, it may be that she never made it across the Atlantic and he's always been looking for her.
Oh, and, having been there, there is no real winter in Las Vegas.
I doubt Gaiman put in so much thought as to consider the exact temperature in Las Vegas year round.
I don't doubt that Neil thought long and hard about the unnamed god, and that, conscious or not, if the year round temperature in las Vegas was a factor, then Neil took it into account.
Now, to be clear, sometimes there is more to something an author writes than he intended to be there, but it seems toi me that Neil is always well aware of what he is doing and there is very little, if anything, that is meaningful that he didn't intend to put there.
Still, it is ultimately up to us, the readers to determine the meaning. Once the work has left the author's mind and has reached readers it belongs to the readers.
That's a great point. Along those lines, I read a Tim Powers interview where he mentioned that many classic novels have been burdened by interpretations that may have no basis in the author's intentions. His example was when someone told him that Dracula was about the plight of women in 19th century England. He replied, "No, it's about a guy who wants to live forever drinking people's blood. You don't have to take my word for it; read the book!"
In AG, there will be no definite way to know who the god might be and I've read a few interesting theories in other directions (none of them seem to fit as well as Hades though).
From a reader's point of view, I like Hades because, like the examples above, it creates an interesting world in my mind as I follow the path of the underworld god from the demise of Pagan Rome and to the mob in Las Vegas. From a fan's point of view, I think Hades also shows Gaiman's mastery of presenting a fantastic concept like the power of invisibility that the god possesses in the myths in an unexpected but very believable way. People can physically perceive him, but they can't psychologically or consciously fix him in their minds.
It feels to me like that was definitely Gaiman's intent, but there will be no way to know unless he personally comments on it.
To be honest i have never looked upon that God as anything special, just forgotten one, someone so hardly forgotten that when you meet him, you immediatetly forget everything what he is, was or w/e.
However, the interpretation of him as Hades is also really nice. Someone who brings death is not 'cool' to be remembered, people don't want to remember about death... but
Wednesday says something about him, that he's really forgotten and he needs belief. So, for me he's stil just anybody, who lack belief, so he became shadow of a god instead of a god at all.
A comic interpretation would also be that he's a god of rememberance
drink and be merry for tommorow we can die
it's better to laugh, than it is to cry
my cup runeth over with blood and not wine
the last was the flood,
it's a fire this time
I'm going with my first guess, ManannÃ¡n mac Lir. In one story his wife, Fand runs away with CÃºchulainn. He eventually gets her back and erases Cuchulainn's and Emer's (Cuchulainn's wife) memories.
This seems to fit the themes of forgetfulness and a lost companion. (If the woman Is in fact his lost companion)
It can't be Hades.
The whole point of American Gods is that people brought their gods with them. The ancient Greeks never came to America. And I think it's significant that while Neil makes use of the Egyptian and Norse pantheons - because believers came to America - no Greek gods rate a mention. So I doubt that Hades is the nameless god. I'd love to know who he is, though.
In that case, I have a hard time with ANY of the Egyptian gods being included; my understanding is that (unlike the Norse pantheon, the Russians--Baba Yaga--or the Yoruban orishas like Anansi), folks in Egypt long ago (before 1700 or American emigration) gave over to either Islam or Coptic Christianity. What brought all that back to general cultural awareness was the opening of the pyramids at the turn of the last century--and hence "mummy's curse" movies starting in the...1930's? Anyone, please confirm/deny...
Taoist "Wooo-weeee!" The bosom that can be tamed is not a real bosom.
Dammit babies, you've got to be kind!
Well, I won't claim to be an expert on the subject, but having read American Gods recently, when Shadow goes to the place called Cairo, it's mentioned that it got the name from Egyptian workers who came over...as for conversion, historically speaking, the Egyptian gods tended to hang on in varying forms. I'd be willing to pay them in a kind of folklore sense, although I take your point. Still, it seems important that the Egyptian gods, of a similar time period, are pretty much on the out - Horus and Bast are almost never human, while Thoth and Anubis are scraping by. Given that the Greek gods were from a similar age, it would then seem incongruous that Hades is doing so well. I don't know - it just seems odd to me that he'd slip in a reference to that pantheon so obscurely without it otherwise rating a mention, especially given how prominent it was.
I think the Egyptian gods came from prehistoric Egyptian/Phoenician sailors to America. Personally, I like the idea that Sicilian Mafiosa brought Hades from their Greco-Roman ancestry in the representation of darkness and wealth.
I had forgotten about the looking for the female half part. I'm sure you all have things to say about this and, as always, it's probably been said before but...what about Lethe? She (yes, she) is the personification of oblivion. Lethe is the name of a river in the Underworld and she is also considered a (the?) Goddess of the Underworld.
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