"Deep place." The primordial deity of the deep, gloomy place beneath the underworld, a realm of eternal darkness. Tartarus was the third deity to emerge at creation,1 but he is also mentioned as a child of Aether and Gaea.2 By Gaea he is the father of Typhon and Echidna,3 as well as the Gigantes,4 although the latter are usually regarded as the children of Uranus and Gaea. Tartarus is where Zeus imprisoned many of the Titans after they had been defeated.

In the Iliad it is a dark place far beneath the earth, closed with iron gates.5 Later poets describe it as the place where wicked men are punished for their crimes, among whom Ixion, Sisyphus, Tantalus, the Cyclopes, and the Danaides. The name is sometimes used synonymously with Hades or the lower world in general, and Pater Tartatus is used for Hades/Pluto.6



  1. Hesiod. Theogony, 116.
  2. Hyginus. Fabulae: Preface.
  3. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 1.39; ii, 1.4; Theogony, 820.
  4. Fabulae: Preface.
  5. Homer. Iliad viii, 13 ff., 481; comp. Theogony, 807.
  6. C. Valerius Flaccus. Argonautica iv, 258.


  • Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.