Create a new article
Write your page title here:
We currently have 2,416 articles on Monstropedia. Type your article name above or click on one of the titles below and start writing!

Revision as of 15:30, 23 October 2007 by Admin (talk | contribs) (New page: In Roman mythology, '''Orcus''' was a god of the underworld, punisher of broken oaths. ==Origin== The origins of Orcus may have lain in Etruscan religion. Orcus was a name used by Roman ...)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

In Roman mythology, Orcus was a god of the underworld, punisher of broken oaths.


The origins of Orcus may have lain in Etruscan religion. Orcus was a name used by Roman writers to identify a Gaulish god of the underworld. The so-called "Tomb of the Orcus", an Etruscan site at Tarquinia, is a misnomer, resulting from its first discoverers mistaking as Orcus a hairy, bearded giant that was actually a figure of a Cyclops.


'Orcus', in Roman mythology, was an alternative name for Pluto, Hades, or Dis Pater, god of the land of the dead. The name "Orcus" seems to have been given to his evil and punishing side, as the god who tormented evildoers in the afterlife. Like the name Hades (or the Norse Hel, for that matter), "Orcus" could also mean the land of the dead.


He was portrayed in paintings in Etruscan tombs as a hairy, bearded giant. A temple to Orcus may have existed on the Palatine Hill in Rome.


  • From Orcus' association with death and the underworld, his name came to be used for demons and other underworld monsters, particularly in Italian where orco refers to a kind of monster found in fairy-tales that feeds on human flesh and similar to the The French word ogre (appearing first in Charles Perrault's fairy-tales).
  • An early example of an orco appears in Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, as a bestial, blind, tusk-faced monster inspired by the Cyclops of the Odyssey; this orco should not be confused with the orca, a sea-monster also appearing in Ariosto. This orco probably inspired, at least in part, J. R. R. Tolkien's orcs in his The Lord of the Rings.
  • Orcus appears as the Lord of Demons in Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East series; in the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, Orcus is a demon prince and lord of the undead; through this latter use Orcus appears in the computer game NetHack as a demon prince found in Gehennom who holds a wand of death. As an enemy of Satan and a king of the underworld, he is leader of one of Hell's least evil demon factions in Warrior Nun Areala. He also appears as a character in Christopher Moore's novel A Dirty Job, in which he is associated with the Morrigan, although no such connection exists in classical mythology.

See also


  • Grimal, P. (1986). The Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. (p. 328)
  • Richardson, L. (1992). A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press. (p. 278)

External link