ACHERON (River of Sadness) In Greek mythology, the “woeful river” of the UNDERWORLD into which flowed the Phlegethon and the Coctyus. Acheron was the son of GAIA. He had quenched the thirst of the TITANS during their war with ZEUS, who then changed Acheron into a river. To cross the river Acheron, it was necessary to seek the help of CHARON, the ancient ferryman of the underworld. Acheron is sometimes used as a synonym for HADES, the underworld.

Taken from : Greek and Roman Mythology A to Z, Revised Edition – Written by Kathleen N. Daly and Revised by Marian Rengel – Copyright © 2004, 1992 by Kathleen N. Daly

Acheron (woeful) In Greek mythology, river believed to lead to the underworld. Homer, Vergil, and other ancient poets made Acheron the principal river of Hades. The rivers Cocytus, Phlegethon, and Styx were believed to be its tributaries. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, Acheron forms the boundary of hell, and on its shore all of those who have died in the wrath of God wait to be ferried across by Charon.

The origin of the river is explained to Dante by the poet Vergil. Shakespeare’s Macbeth (3.5.15) alludes to “the pit of Acheron,” in Titus Andronicus (4.3.44) it is a “burning lake,” and in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (3.2.357) the heaven is carved “with drooping fog as black as Acheron.” Milton’s Paradise Lost (2.578) makes Acheron one of the four infernal rivers, calling it “sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep.” Acheron, according to some European poets, stands for hell itself.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow – Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante

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