Greek Mythology

The souls of Acheron, "Die Seelen des Acheron", Austrian Gallery, Vienna. Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl, 1898
Hermes Psychopompos as a central figure.

The Acheron ( Ἀχέρων, Αχέρων) river is in the Epirus region of north west Greece. Acheron translates as "river of woe" and believed to be a branch of the underworld river Acheron over which in ancient Greek mythology Charon ferried the newly dead souls across into Hades.

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Acheron River Canyon First Cross, Newspaper Report , Acheron River Canyon First Cross

copyright ©. Photos : Harry Gouvas

Greek Mythology

Acheron River near Glyki

The lake called Acherousia and the river still called Acheron with the nearby ruins of the Necromanteion are found near Parga on the mainland opposite Corfu.

Another branch of Acheron was believed to surface at the Acherusian cape (now Eregli in Turkey) and was seen by the Argonauts according to Apollonius of Rhodes.

Greeks settled in Italy identified the Acherusian lake into which Acheron flowed with Lake Avernus.

Plato in his Phaedo identified Acheron as the second greatest river in the world, excelled only by Oceanus. He claimed that Acheron flowed in the opposite direction from Oceanus beneath the earth under desert places.

The word is also occasionally used as a synecdoche for Hades itself. for Hades itself.

The god of the river fathered Ascalaphus with Orphne or Gorgyra.

Virgil mentions Acheron with the other infernal rivers in his description of the underworld in Book VI of the Aeneid.

In Dante's Inferno, the Acheron river forms the border of hell, in the Ante-Inferno. Following Greek mythology, Charon ferries souls across this river to Hell.

Lord Byron's visit of the Acheron:

Dusky and huge, enlarging on the sight,
Nature’s volcanic amphitheatre,
Chimera’s Alps, extend from left to right;
Beneath, a living valley seems to stir.
Flocks play, trees wave, streams flow, the mountain fir
Nodding above; behold Black Acheron!
Once consecrated to the sepulchre.
Pluto! if this be hell I look upon,
Close shamed Elysium’s gates; my shade shall seek for none!

The Acheron, which they crossed in this route, is now called the Kalamas, a considerable stream, as large as the Avon at Bath but towards the evening they had some cause to think the Acheron had not lost all its original horror; for a dreadful thunderstorm came on, accompanied with deluges of rain, which more than once nearly carried away their luggage and horses. Byron himself does not notice this incident in Childe Harold, nor even the adventure more terrific which he met with alone in similar circumstances on the night before their arrival at Zitza, when his guides lost their way in the defiles of the mountains—adventures sufficiently disagreeable in the advent, but full of poesy in the remembrance. The Life of Lord Byron, by John Galt


In the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, the Acheron was a French privateer.

In Robert E. Howard's antediluvian world, Acheron was a kingdom of darkness that Kull the Conquerer fought to keep from resurfacing.

In Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, Acheron is one of the seventeen Outer Planes.

Greek Mythology

Acherontia Atropos

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