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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, Acheronmarker 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. 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. According to one tradition, Achilles was dipped in it in his childhood, acquiring invulnerability, with exception of his heel, by which his mother held him. This is the source of the expression Achilles' heel, a metaphor for a vulnerable spot.

Styx was primarily a feature in the afterworld of Greek mythology, but has been described as a feature present in the hell of Christianity as well, notably in The Divine Comedy and also "Paradise Lost". The ferryman Charon is in modern times commonly believed to have transported the souls of the newly dead across this river into the underworld, though in the original Greek and Roman sources, as well as in Dante, it was the river Acheron that Charon plied. Dante put Phlegyas over the Styx and made it the fifth circle of Hell, where the wrathful and sullen are punished by being drowned in the muddy waters for eternity.

In ancient times some believed that putting a gold coin on the eyes upon death, would help pay the toll for the ferry to help cross the Styx river which would lead you to the entrance to the underworld. If some could not pay the fee they were said to haunt those who did not put the coin on their departed bodies eyes.

The variant spelling Stix was sometimes used in translations of Classical Greek before the 20th century. The adjective Stygian means "of, or relating to, the River Styx", and may also refer to anything that is dark and dismal.

Goddess

Styx was also the name of the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. With Pallas, she was the mother of Zelus, Nike, Cratos and Bia (and sometimes Eos). Styx supported Zeus in the Titanomachy where she was the first to rush to his aid. For this reason her name was given the honor of being a binding oath for the gods.

Nymph

Styx is specifically a Naiad, or fresh water nymph.

See also



External links



References

  1. Illiad(1-3), Homer; H. Travers, 1740



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