AskDefine | Define acheron

Dictionary Definition

Acheron n : (Greek mythology) a river in Hades across which the souls of the dead were carried by Charon [syn: River Acheron]

User Contributed Dictionary



Latin from Greek

Proper noun

  1. A river in the Nether World or infernal regions; also, the infernal regions themselves. By some of the English poets it was supposed to be a flaming lake or gulf.
    • And pull her out of Acheron by the heels - Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, IV-iii

Extensive Definition

This article concerns the Greek river. For other uses, see Acheron (disambiguation).
The Acheron is a river located in the Epirus region of northwest Greece. Acheron translates as the "river of woe" and it was believed to be a branch of the underworld river Styx over which in ancient Greek mythology Charon ferried the newly dead souls across into Hades. 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 who 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 god of the river, son of Oceanus and Tethys fathered Ascalaphus with Orphne or Gorgyra.
The word is also occasionally used as a synecdoche for Hades itself. Virgil mentions Acheron with the other infernal rivers in his description of the underworld in Book VI of the Aeneid. In VII, line 312 he gives to Aeneas the famous saying, flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo: 'If I cannot deflect the will of Heaven, I shall move Hell.' The Acheron was sometimes referred to as a lake or swamp in Greek literature, as in Aristophanes' The Frogs and Euripides' Alcestis. In Dante's Inferno, the Acheron river forms the border of Hell. Following Greek mythology, Charon ferries souls across this river to Hell.

Modern references

  • In the book God's Demon by Wayne Barlowe, the Hellish city of Adamantinarx is built upon a river called the Acheron.
  • A devastated planet known as Acheron plays a starring role in the storyline of the Xbox 360 video game Project Sylpheed.
  • Acheron is the name of an immortal hero in the Dark-Hunter Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
  • The Pit of Acheron is mentioned in Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1
  • Acheron is the plane of giant cubes and other polyhedrons in the Planescape campaign of the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons. See also Acheron (Dungeons & Dragons)
acheron in Bosnian: Aheront (rijeka)
acheron in Breton: Ac'heron
acheron in Bulgarian: Ахерон
acheron in Catalan: Aqueront
acheron in German: Acheron
acheron in Modern Greek (1453-): Αχέρων
acheron in Spanish: Aqueronte
acheron in Persian: آخرون
acheron in French: Achéron
acheron in Croatian: Aheront (rijeka)
acheron in Icelandic: Akkeron
acheron in Italian: Acheronte
acheron in Lithuanian: Acheronas
acheron in Hungarian: Akherón
acheron in Dutch: Acheron (mythologie)
acheron in Japanese: アケロン川
acheron in Polish: Acheron
acheron in Portuguese: Aqueronte
acheron in Romanian: Acheron
acheron in Russian: Ахерон
acheron in Slovenian: Aheron
acheron in Serbo-Croatian: Aheront (mitologija)
acheron in Finnish: Akheron
acheron in Swedish: Acheron
acheron in Turkish: Acheron
acheron in Ukrainian: Ахеронт
acheron in Chinese: 阿格龍河
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