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River Styx ferry: Ghost ship series
River Styx ferry: Ghost ship seriesIn classical Greek mythology, Styx is a river of the underworld that the souls of the dead had to cross on their journey from the realm of the living. It was a sacred river, and by its name even the gods took their most solemn oaths. The ancients believed that its water was poisonous and would dissolve any vessel except one made of the hoof of a horse or an ass.
Styx - the abhorrent, the principal river over which the souls of the dead were traditionally said to be ferried by Charon. Charon is the aged ferryman of the Greek underworld. A coin was put into the mouth of the dead in order to meet Charon's fee for conveying a shade across the rivers of Hades. Those who could not pay the fee, or those whose bodies were left unburied, had to wander the shores for one hundred years. He continues in modern Greek folklore as Charos, or Charontas, the angel of death.
According to Hesiod, Styx was one of the river-spirits who were daughters of Oceanus and Tethys. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, people swore solemn oaths by a small river of this name in Arcadia which still falls from a tall cliff (the Mavroneri falls), leaving a black stain on the rocks. Plutarch and Arrian report that Alexander the Great was poisoned by this water, sent to him in a mule's hoof (which withstood its reputedly corrosive nature). 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.
George Grie, October 2006
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