The River of Pain
Status: Existing
Roman counterpart: Acheron
Home: Underworld
Visitors: Hades
Inhabitants: Some Dead People (possibly)
More Information
First appearance: "700 B.C."
Last appearance: "9th Century"
Relevant Pages


The River Acheron was the green river of the Underworld.

The River of Pain, also known as the River Acheron, the Green River and The River of Lost Souls is a river in Greek Mythology's Underworld.

Acheron is the ancient green river in Greek Mythology.


The Acheron is a river located in the Epirus region of northwest Greece and Underworld in Greek Mythology. In Greece (not mythology) Its source is near the village Zotiko, in the southwestern part of the Ioannina regional unit it flows into the Ionian Sea in Ammoudia, near Parga. In the Underworld (mythology), was the second or main river in Hades. It was the one the daimon Charon rowed his boat over on most mythological accounts. Others can argue that the River Styx was the river rowed over by Charon.


In ancient Greek mythology, Acheron was known as the "river of woe", the "river of pain" or the "river of lost souls" and was one of the five rivers of the Greek underworld. In the Homeric poems the Acheron was described as a river of Hades, into which Cocytus and Phlegethon both flowed.

The Roman poet Virgil called it the principal river of Tartarus, from which the Styx and Cocytus both sprang. The newly dead would be ferried across the Acheron by Charon in order to enter the Underworld.

William Blake's depiction of "The Vestibule of Hell and the Souls Mustering to Cross the Acheron" in his Illustrations to Dante's "Divine Comedy" object 5 c. 1824-27. The original for the work is held by the National Gallery of Victoria. The Suda describes the river as "a place of healing, not a place of punishment, cleansing and purging the sins of humans."

According to later traditions, Acheron had been a son of Helios and either Gaia or Demeter, who had been turned into the Underworld river bearing his name after he refreshed the Titans with drink during their contest with Zeus. By this myth, Acheron is also the father of Ascalaphus by either Orphne or Gorgyra.

Non MythologicalEdit

The river called Acheron with the nearby ruins of the Necromanteion is found near Parga on the mainland opposite Corfu. Another branch of Acheron was believed to surface at the Acherusian cape (now Karadeniz Ereğli 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.

Following Greek mythology, Charon ferries souls across the Acheron to Hell. Those who were neutral in life sit on the banks 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. Virgil mentions Acheron with the other infernal rivers in his description of the underworld in Book VI of the Aeneid. In Book VII, line 312[10] he gives to Juno the famous saying, flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo: 'If I cannot bend the will of Heaven, I shall move Hell.' The same words were used by Sigmund Freud as the dedicatory motto for his seminal book The Interpretation of Dreams, figuring Acheron as psychological underworld beneath the conscious mind.

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. Those who were neutral in life sit on the banks.



  • The Acheron is the second main river in Greek Mythology.
    • It is the river of pain /or/ woe.


  • It was originally called the River of Pain, not the Acheron.
    • It was later called the River Acheron.


  • The river Acheron was said to be a green river.


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