Reader's Encyclopedia

Styx

A river of the underworld across which Charon ferried the dead. According to classical mythology, it flowed seven times round the infernal regions. The five rivers of Hell are the Styx, Acheron, Cocytus, Phlegethon, and Lethe. Styx is also the deity of the river, a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, and mother of Zelus (Zeal), Nike (Victory), Bia (Strength), and Kratos (Power).

Dante, in his Divine Comedy, places the rivers in different circles of the Inferno. Thus, he makes the Acheron divide the borderland from Limbo. The former realm is for the " praiseless and the blameless dead " ; Limbo is for the unbaptized. He places the Stygian Lake of inky hue in the fifth circle, the realm of those who put no restraint on their anger. The fire - stream of Phlegethon he fixes to the eighth steep, the Hell of burning, where it snows flakes of fire and where blasphemers are confined. He places the frozen river of Cocytus in the tenth pit of Malebolge, a region of thick - ribbed ice, the lowest depth of Hell, where Judas and Lucifer are imprisoned. Lethe, he says, is no river of Hell at all, but it is the one wish of all those in the infernal regions to get to it, that they may drink its water and forget their torments. It being, however, in Purgatory, they can never reach it.

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