From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Styx (mythology), Greek Underworld

The River Styx (Stux, also meaning "hate" and "detestation") was a river in Greek mythology which formed the boundary between Earth and the Underworld (often called Hades which is also the name of this domain's ruler). It circles the Underworld nine times. The rivers Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron and Cocytus all converge at the center of the underworld on a great marsh. The other important rivers of the underworld are Lethe and Eridanos, and Alpheus, a real river that runs in Italy partially underground and undersea. Married couples would throw rings into the river to appease the gods of marriage, Hades and Persephone, as it was believed to be one of the few mortal portals to the underworld. In other versions, Phlegyas guarded Phlegethon, one of the other main rivers of the underworld. Sometimes the ferryman was called Charon (also spelled Kharon in older texts).

The gods respected the Styx and swore binding oaths by it. Zeus swore to give Semele whatever she wanted and was then obliged to follow through, resulting in her death. Helios similarly promised Phaëton whatever he desired, also resulting in his death. Gods that did not follow through on such an oath had to drink from the river, causing them to lose their voices for nine years, then being exiled from the council of gods for nine years after that. According to some versions, Styx had miraculous powers and could make someone immortal/invulnerable. Achilles may have been dipped in it in his childhood, acquiring invulnerability, with exception of his heel, which was held by his mother in order to submerge him. His exposed heel thus became known as Achilles' heel, a metaphor for a weak spot.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Styx" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools