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Styx, the Gate of the Underworld

Last Update: 23 Mar 2021


Ancient Greek places- Styx

The goddess Styx


According to Greek mythology, Styx was a goddess, daughter of Oceanus and Thetis. She was especially honored by Zeus for the part she had played in the Battle of the Giants.

Styx, however, lived apart from the other gods, in a palace built on huge rocks from which water flowed. According to the Greek poet Homer, the water of the palace led to the gates of Hades.


Styx, the Gate of the Underworld

The Styx was also one of the great rivers of the underworld.

The ancient Greeks believed that to get to the underworld they had to cross the River Styx. Souls were transported across by Charon, in a rickety boat with the price of two bronze coins placed under the tongue or over the closed eyes by the relatives of the deceased.

Styx, the River of Oaths

Above all, the waters of the Styx were used for official vows. When a god wanted to swear an oath, Zeus sent Iris, the only immortal who could enter the house of Styx, to fetch a pitcher of water from the Styx and go to Mount Olympus to become a "witness" to the oath.

If this god trampled on his oath, he would receive a terrible punishment: he would live a whole year speechless and languishing, without ambrosia or nectar.

The disastrous properties of Styx

The waters of the Styx were so hot that anyone who drank of the waters of the Styx would die, and any metal dipped in the waters of the Styx would melt. Only the hooves of horses could survive the hot temperatures, so the gods drank from cups made of horses' hooves.

Achilles' baptism in the river Styx

In the waters of the Styx the Nymph Thetis immersed her son Achilles, to make him invulnerable and immortal.

Only his heel, the famous "Achilles heel", was not soaked with water, because it was the place where his mother held him.

Later, at the Battle of Troy, Paris would discover this weak spot and inflict a mortal wound in this heel with a poisoned arrow.

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