Gods, Kings and Centaurs: Ploutos, Phlegyas and Chiron
I’d like to introduce you to three more of Hell’s denizens today – a god, a king and a centaur.
Ploutos was the Greek God of wealth – not to be confused with Pluto, the Lord of the Underworld. He was Demeter’s son by Iasion, conceived when the couple were attending a wedding. He’s tasked with distributing wealth, which is why he’s often pictured with a cornucopia, but some accounts state that he’s blind, because he distributes wealth so blindly.
Ploutos is responsible for maintaining order in Level Four of Hell, where the greedy are punished. He continues to distribute wealth by managing the gambling in Hell – betting on which of the greedy souls will win their bout of fighting.
In Mel Goes to Hell, he’s Persephone’s half-brother and particularly fond of cats.
Originally the King of the Lapiths, Phlegyas was the son of Ares and Chryse. His daughter, Coronis, was one of Apollo’s lovers. When she was pregnant with Apollo’s son, Asclepius, she fell in love with someone else – Elatus’ son, Ischys. Apollo was so angry at Coronis that he sent his sister, Artemis, to kill the girl – but the baby survived, to be brought up by the centaur Chiron.
Phlegyas responded by torching the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, so Apollo killed him, too.
Phlegyas is in charge of the fifth level of Hell, where those who committed the sin of wroth endlessly battle it out with each other in the swampy River Styx. He has a boat and occasionally ferries souls across the river, but at their peril.
His particular enemy in Hell is Megaera, one of the three Dirae, who imprisoned him in a rock where he could see an eternal feast, but never eat any of it.
Chiron is a centaur – half-man and half-horse – but he’s unlike the others of his kind. This might be because he was the son of the nymph Philyra and Kronos, who transformed himself into a horse so his wife wouldn’t recognise him while he was busy with Philyra. Other centaurs are the children of King Ixion and the cloud nymph Nephele.
Considered very wise and just, Chiron was a teacher and mentor to many mythical heroes, including Jason, Hercules, Peleus, Asclepius, Patroclus and Achilles.
He died after being accidentally struck by one of Hercules’ hydra-poisoned arrows.
Chiron is the leader of the centaurs in Hell, where they patrol the banks of the River Phlegethon in Level Seven, firing arrows at any of the violent souls who attempt to leave the river of fire and blood.