Styx, the mythical river of the dead, is known not only for being the connecting link between the world of the living and the otherworldly kingdom of Hades. A lot of myths and legends are associated with it. For example, Achilles received his power when he was dipped in Styx, Hephaestus came to her waters to season Daphne's sword, and some heroes swam across it, being alive. What is the River Styx and what is the power of its waters?
Styx in Ancient Greek mythology
Ancient Greek myths tell us that Styx is the eldest daughter of the Ocean and Tefida. Her husband was Titan Pallant, from whom she gave birth to several children. Also, according to one version, Persephone was her daughter, born of Zeus.
Styx took the side of Zeus in his battle with Kronos, taking an active part in it. She made a significant contribution to the victory over the Titans, for which she was honored with great honor and respect. Since then, the Styx River has become a symbol of a sacred oath, which was considered to be unacceptable even to God. The man who broke the oath by the waters of Styx was severely punished. However, Zeus was always supportive of Styx and her children for always helping him and being faithful.
River in the realm of the dead
What is the Styx River? The mythology of the ancient Greeks says that on earth there are places where the sun never peeps, so there is eternal darkness and darkness. It is there that the entrance to the territory of Aida is located - Tartarus. In the realm of the dead flows several rivers, but the most gloomy and eerie of them is Styx. The river of the dead circumambulates the kingdom of Hades nine times, and its waters are black and cloudy.
According to legend, Styx originates far to the west, where night reigns. Here is the magnificent palace of the goddess, whose silver columns, which are falling from the height of the streams of the source, reach heaven. These places are uninhabited, and here even the gods do not visit. An exception can be considered Iridu, occasionally arriving for the sacred water of Styx, with the help of which the gods made their oaths. Here, the waters of the spring go underground, where horror and death dwell.
There is one legend, which says that once Styx proceeded in the northern part of Arcadia, and Alexander of Macedon was poisoned with water taken from this river. Dante Alighieri in his "Divine Comedy" used the image of the river in one of the circles of hell, only there it appeared in the form of a dirty swamp, in which sinners are forever bogged down.
The ferry to the kingdom of the dead is guarded by Charon, a ferryman on the Styx River. In the myths of Ancient Greece, he is portrayed as a gloomy old man with a long and unkempt beard, and his clothing dirty and dilapidated. Charon's duties include transporting the souls of the dead through the Styx River, for which he has a small boat and a single paddle.
It was believed that Charon rejected the souls of those people whose bodies were not properly buried, so they were forced to wander forever in search of peace. Also in ancient times there was a belief that if ferry across the Styx it was necessary to pay ferryman Charon. For this, during the burial, the relatives of the deceased put a small coin in his mouth, which he can use in the underground kingdom of Aida. By the way, a similar tradition existed among many peoples of the world. The custom of putting money in the coffin is observed by some people to this day.
Analogues of Styx and Charon
The River Styx and its guard Charon are quite typical images that describe the transition of the soul to another world. Having studied the mythology of different peoples, you can see similar examples in other beliefs. For example, in the ancient Egyptians the duties of a guide to the afterlife, which also had its own river of the dead, was performed by the dog-headed Anubis, who led the soul of the deceased to the throne of Osiris. Anubis looks very much like a gray wolf, who, according to the beliefs of the Slavic peoples, also accompanied the souls to another world.
In the ancient world there were many legends and legends, sometimes they could not correspond or even contradict each other. For example, according to some myths ferryman Charon carried souls not through Styx, but through another river - Acheront. There are also other versions regarding its origin and further role in mythology. Nevertheless, the Styx River is today the embodiment of the transition of souls from our world to the afterlife.