"gods below." The Roman deities of the underworld, in contradistinction from those of heaven, or from the Olympian gods. They were honored with the Ludi Tauri quinquennales, games which took place every five years on June 25 and 26 and which were held at the Circus Flaminius in Rome. The games were, according to legend, instituted to placate the gods of the underworld who were held responsible for sending a plague during the reign of Tarquinius Superbus (534-510 BCE).
In Greek the Inferi are designated by the terms οἱ κάτω, οἱ χθὸνιοι, οἱ ὑπὸ γαῖαν, οἱ ἔνερθε, or οἱ ὑπένερθε Δεοὶ; whereas the gods of heaven, Superi, are termed οἱ ἄνω, ὕπατοι and οὐράνιοι. But the word inferi is still more frequently used to designate the dead, in contradistinction from those living upon the earth;1 so that apud inferos is equivalent to "in Hades," or "in the lower world." The Inferi therefore comprise all the inhabitants of the lower world, the gods, viz. Aides or Pluton, his wife Persephone, the Erinyes, and others, as well as the souls of departed men.
- Bartelink, Dr. G.J.M. (1988). Prisma van de mythologie. Utrecht: Het Spectrum.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.