Web Theoi
STYX
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Στυξ Styx Styx Hated, Abhorrent,
Gloomy (stygos)

STYX was the goddess of the underworld River Styx, one of the Titan generation of Okeanides. Styx was also the personified Daimon (Spirit) of hatred (stygos). She was a firm ally of Zeus in the Titan Wars, who brought her children Nike (Victory), Zelos (Rivalry), Bia (Force) and Kratos (Strength) to stand alongside the god. Zeus rewarded her by making her streams the agent of the binding oath of the gods.

The River Styx was also a corrosive Arkadian stream, which allegedly flowed forth from the underworld.

Styx was sometimes identified with several other chthonian goddesses, including Demeter Erinys the wrathful earth, the oath-protecting Eumenides, and Nyx the darkness of night.

PARENTS
[1.1] OKEANOS & TETHYS (Theogony 361, 385; Apollodorus 1.8, Callimachus Hymn to Zeus)
[1.2] OKEANOS (Homeric Hymn 2.415, Epimdenides Frag)
[2.1] EREBOS & NYX (Hyginus Preface)
OFFSPRING

[1.1] NIKE, KRATOS, ZELOS, BIA (by Pallas) (Theogony 384; Apollodorus 1.9)
[1.2] NIKE, KRATOS, ZELOS, BIA, SKYLLA, FOUNTAINS, LAKES (by Pallas) (Hyginus Preface)
[2.1] PERSEPHONE (by Zeus) (Apollodorus 1.13)
[3.1] EKHIDNA (by Peiras) (Epimenides Frag, Pausanias 8.18.2)

ENCYCLOPEDIA

STYX (Stux), connected with the verb stugeô, to hate or abhor, is the name of the principal river in the nether world, around which it flows seven times. (Hom. Il. ii. 755, viii. 369. xiv. 271; Virg. Georg. iv. 480, Aen. vi. 439.) Styx is described as a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys (Hes. Theog. 361 ; Apollod. i. 2. § 2; Callim. Hymn. in Jov. 36), and as a nymph she dwelt at the entrance of Hades, in a lofty grotto which was supported by silver columns. (Hes. Theog. 778.) As a river Styx is described as a branch of Oceanus, flowing from its tenth source (789), and the river Cocytus again is a branch of the Styx. (Hom. Od. x. 511.) By Pallas Styx became the mother of Zelus (zeal), Nice (victory), Bia (strength), and Cratos (power). She was the first of all the immortals that took her children to Zeus, to assist him against the Titans; and, in return for this, her children were allowed for ever to live with Zeus, and Styx herself became the divinity by whom the most solemn oaths were sworn. (Hes. Theog. 383 ; Hom. Od. v. 185, xv. 37; Apollod. i. 2. § 5; Apollon. Rhod. ii. 191; Virg. Aen. vi. 324, xii. 816; Ov. Met. iii. 290; Sil. Ital. xiii. 568.) When one of the gods was to take an oath by Styx, Iris fetched a cup full of water from the Styx, and the god, while taking the oath, poured out the water. (Hes. Theog 775.) Zeus became by her the father of Persephone (Apollod. i. 3. § 1), and Peiras the father of Echidna. (Paus. viii. 18. § 1.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


PARENTAGE OF STYX

Hesiod, Theogony 346 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"She [Tethys] brought forth also a race apart of daughters . . . They are [amongst a list of names] . . . Amphiro and Okyroe, and Styx, who among them all has the greatest eminence. Now these are the eldest of the daughters who were born to Tethys and Okeanos, but there are many others beside these."

Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 415 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) :
"The deep-bosomed daughters of Okeanos . . . Plouto and charming Kalypso; Styx too . . and Ourania and lovely Galaxaura [amongst a number of Okeanides listed]."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 8 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"The Titanes had children. Those of Okeanos and Tethys were called Okeanides: Asia, Styx, Elektra, Doris, Eurynome, Amphitrite, and Metis."

Callimachus, Hymn 1 to Zeus 30 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Neda, eldest of the Nymphai [Okeanides] . . . earliest birth after Styx and Philyre."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 17. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Hesiod speaks of the existence of the Styx in his Theogony . . . and in the poem makes Styx the daughter of Okeanos and the wife of Pallas. Linos is supposed to have written something similar . . . Epimenides the Kretan has also made Styx a daughter of Okeanos, but instead of mating her with Pallas he makes her the mother of Ekhidna by Peiras, whoever Peiras was."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Nox (Night) and Erebus: Fatum (Fate), Senectus (Old Age), Mors (Death), Letum (Dissolution), Continentia (Moderation), Somnus (Sleep), Somnia (Dreams), Amor (Love)--that is Lysimeles, Epiphron (Prudence), Porphyrion, Epaphus, Discordia (Discord), Miseria (Misery), Petulantia (Wantonness), Nemesis (Retribution), Euphrosyne (Good Cheer), Amicitia (Friendship), Misericordia (Compassion), Styx (Hatred); the three Parcae (Fates), namely Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos; the Hesperides Aegle, Hesperie and Aerica."


STYX, HER CHILDREN & THE TITAN-WAR

Hesiod, Theogony 383 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"And Styx, daughter of Okeanos, lying in love with Pallas, bore in their halls Zelos (Rivalry), and sweet-stepping Nike (Victory), and also Kratos (Strength) and Bia (Force), who are her conspicuous children, and these have no home that is not the home of Zeus, no resting place nor road, except where that god has guided them, but always they are housed by Zeus of the heavy thunder. For this was the will of Styx, tht Okeanis, never-perishing, on the day when Olympios [Zeus] . . . summoned all the immortal gods to tall Olympos and said that any god who fought on his side with the Titanes should never be beated out of his privilege, but each should maintain the position he had had before among the immortals, he said, too, that the god who under Kronos had gone without position or privilege should under him be raised to these, according to justice. And Styx the imperishable was first to come to Olympos bringing her children, as her own father [Okeanos] had advised her. Zeus gave her position, and gave her great gifts further, for he established her to be the oath of the immortals, and that her children all their days should live in his household."

Bacchylides, Fragment 11 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Nike . . . daughter of thick-tressed, right-judging Styx."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 9 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Nike, Kratos, Zelos, and Bia were born to Pallas and Styx. Zeus instituted and oath to be sworn by the waters of Styx that flowed from a rock in Haides' realm, an honor granted in return for the help she and her children gave him against the Titanes."

Lycophron, Alexandra 697 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Stream of black Styx, where Termeios [Zeus] made the seat of the oath-swearing for the immortals, drawing the water in golden basins for libations, when he was about to go against the Gigantes and Titanes."

Ovid, Fasti 3. 793 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Saturnus [Kronos] was thrust from his realm by Jove [Zeus]. In anger he stirs the mighty Titanes to arms and seeks the assistance owed by fate. There was a shocking monster born of Mother Terra (Earth) [Gaia], a bull, whose back half was a serpent. Roaring Styx [as an ally of Zeus] imprisoned it, warned by the three Parcae [Moirai the Fates], in a black grove with a triple wall. Whoever fed the bull’s guts to consuming flames was destined to defeat the eternal gods. Briareus [or Aigaion, an ally of Kronos] slays it with an adamantine axe and prepares to feed the flames its innards. Jupiter [Zeus] commands the birds to grab them; the kite brought them to him."


STYX PLAYMATE OF PERSEPHONE

Styx was one of the Okeanides who were playing with Persephone in a flowery meadow when Haides seized and carried her to the Underworld.

Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 415 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) :
"[Persephone tells the story of her abduction :] All we were playing in a lovely meadow, Leukippe and Phaino and Elektra and Ianthe, Melita also and Iakhe with Rhodea and Kallirhoe and Melobosis and Tykhe and Okyrhoe, fair as a flower, Khryseis, Ianeira, Akaste and Admete and Rhodope and Plouto and charming Kalypso; Styx too was there and Ourania and lovely Galaxaura with Pallas [Athena] who rouses battles and Artemis delighting in arrows: we were playing and gathering sweet flowers in our hands, soft crocuses mingled with irises and hyacinths, and rose-blooms and lilies, marvellous to see, and the narcissus which the wide earth caused to grow yellow as a crocus."


STYX GODDESS OF THE RIVER STYX

Hesiod, Theogony 775 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"And there [in Hades] is housed a goddess loathed even by the immortals: dreaded Styx, eldest daughter of Okeanos, who flows back on himself, and apart from the gods she lives in her famous palace which is overroofed with towering rocks, and the whole circuit is undergirded with silver columns, and pushes heaven; and seldom does . . . Iris (the Rainbow), come her way with a message across the sea's wide ridges, those times when dispute and quarelling start among the immortals, and some one of those who have their homes on Olympos is lying, and Zeus sends Iris to carry the many-storied water that the gods swear their great oath on . . . Such an oath did the gods make of the imperishable, primevil water of Styx; and it jets down through jagged country."

Statius, Thebaid 1. 46 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"In dire accents [Oidipous] utters this prayer [cursing his sons] : `Gods who hold sway over guilty souls and over Tartarus crowded with the damned [the Erinyes], and thou O Styx, whom I behold, ghastly in thy shadowy depths.'"

Statius, Thebaid 8. 21 ff :
"The lord of Erebus [Haides], enthroned in the midst of the fortress of his dolorous realm, was demanding of his subjects the misdoings of their lives, pitying nought human but wroth against all the Manes (Shades). Around him stand the Furiae [Erinyes, furies] and various Mortes [Thanatoi, deaths] in order due, and savage Poena (Vengeance) thrusts forth her coils of jangling chains; the Fatae [Moirai, fates] bring the Animas (Souls) and with one gesture [literally “thumb” as in the amphitheatre] damn them; too heavy grows the work. Hard by, Minos with his dread brother [Rhadamanthys] in kindly mood counsels a milder justice, and restrains the bloodthirsty king [Haides]; [the River-Gods] Cocytus and Phelgethon, swollen with tears and fire, aid in the judgement, and Styx accuses the gods of perjury."


THE UNDERWORLD RIVER STYX

Hesiod, Theogony 775 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"That cold water [of the River Styx] that drizzles down from a steep sky-climbing cliffside, and it is one horn of the Okeanos stream, and travels off that holy river a great course through night's blackness under the wide-wayed earth and this water is a tenth part of all, for in nine loops of silver-swirling waters, around the earth and the sea's wide ridges he tumbles into salt water, but this stream, greatly vexing the gods, runs off the precipice . . . the imperishable, primevil water of Styx; and it jets down through jagged country [Hesiod may also be describing the Arkadian stream]."

Homer, Iliad 3. 368 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Athena addresses Zeus :] `Never would he [Herakles] have got clear of the steep-dripping Stygian waters [on his journey to the Underworld].'"

Homer, Odyssey 10. 513 (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Kirke instructs Odysseus on the journey to the Underworld :] `Beach the vessel beside deep-eddying Okeanos and pass on foot to the dank domains of Haides. At the entrance there, the stream of Akheron is joined by the waters of Pyriphlegethon and a branch of Styx, Kokytos.'"

Plato, Phaedo 112e ff (trans. Fowler) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
"[The] streams are many and great and of all sorts, but among the many are four streams, the greatest and outermost of which is that called Okeanos, which flows round in a circle, and opposite this, flowing in the opposite direction, is Akheron, which flows through various desert places and, passing under the earth, comes to the Akherousian lake . . . The third river [the fiery Pyriphlegethon] flows out between these two . . . Opposite this the fourth river issues, it is said, first into a wild and awful place, which is all of a dark blue color, like lapis lazuli. This is called the Stygios (Stygian river), and the lake which it forms by flowing in is the Styx. And when the river has flowed in here and has received fearful powers into its waters, it passes under the earth and, circling round in the direction opposed to that of Pyriphlegethon, it meets it coming from the other way in the Akherousian lake. And the water of this river also mingles with no other water, but this also passes round in a circle and falls into Tartaros opposite Pyriphlegethon. And the name of this river, as the Poets say, is Kokytos."

Plato, Republic 387c (trans. Shorey) :
"If they [the youth] are to be brave, must we not extend our prescription to include also the sayings that will make them least likely to fear death? Or do you suppose that anyone could ever become brave who had that dread in his heart? . . . Then we must further taboo in these matters the entire vocabulary of terror and fear [associated with the afterlife], Kokytos named of lamentation loud, abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate, the people of the infernal pit and of the charnel-house, and all other terms of this type, whose very names send a shudder through all the hearers every year."

Strabo, Geography 14. 2. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"In earlier times Rhodes was called . . . Telkhinis, after the Telkhines, who took up their abode in the island. Some say that the Telkhines are 'maligners' and 'sorcerers,' who pour the water of the Styx mixed with sulphur upon animals and plants in order to destroy them."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 17. 6 - 8 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"He [Homer] also makes it [the River Styx] run in Haides : . . . `He [Herakles] was sent to Hades the gate keeper to fetch horrible Hades' watchdog from Erebos, he never should have escaped the steep streams of the Stygian river."

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 5. 520 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"[Mania, the goddess of madness,] passed thence swiftly to the rock-walled river Styx where dwell the winged Erinnyes, they which still visit with torments overweening men."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 3. 504 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Then still, received into the realms Inferna (Underwolrd), he [Narkissos who wasted away having fallen in love with his own reflection] gazed upon himself in Stygia’s pool."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 433 :
"There is a dropping path in twilight gloom of deadly yews; it leads through silent slopes down to the Infernae (Underworld), where sluggish Styx exhales her misty vapours. By that path new Umbrae (Ghosts), the duly buried dead, descend."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 72 :
"He [the bard Orpheus] longed, he begged, in vain to be allowed to cross the stream of Styx a second time [to bring back his beloved Eurydike]. The ferryman [Kharon] repulsed him. Even so for seven days he sat upon the bank, unkempt and fasting, anguish, grief and tears his nourishment, and cursed Erebus’ cruelty."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 11. 500 :
"Waves black as Stygia's."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 14. 593 :
"Once is enough to have beheld the unlovely realm of Hell, once to have gone across the stream of Styx."

Virgil, Aeneid 6. 323 ff (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
"[The Sibyl addresses Aeneas on their journey through the Underworld :] `What you see is the mere of Cocytus, the Stygian marsh by whose mystery even the gods, having sworn, are afraid to be forsworn. All this crowd you see are the helpless ones, the unburied: that ferryman is Charon: the ones he converys have had burial. None may be taken across from bank to awesome bank of that harsh-voiced river until his bones are laid to rest."

Virgil, Aeneid 6. 439 ff :
"That unlovely fen with its glooming water corrals them [the dead] there [in Hades], the nine rings of Styx corral them in."

Virgil, Georgics 4. 471 ff (trans. Fairclough) (Roman bucolic C1st B.C.) :
"From the lowest realms of Erebeus came the unsubstantial shades, the phantoms of those who lie in darkness . . . round them are the black ooze and unsightly reeds of Cocytus, the unlovely mere enchaining them with its sluggish water, and Styx holding them fast within this ninefold circles.”

Seneca, Hercules Furens 46 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Nor is earth vast enough for him [Herakles]; behold, he has broken down the doors of infernal Jove [Haides] . . . Why does he not lord it over conquered Erebus and lay bare the Styx?"

Seneca, Hercules Furens 709 ff :
"There is a place in dark recess of Tartarus [that is, Haides], which with a heavy pall dense mists enshroud. Hence flow from a single source two streams, unlike: one, a placid river (by this do the gods sear), with silent current bears on the sacred Styx; the other with mighty roar rushes fiercely on, rolling down rocks in its flood, Acheron, that cannot be recrossed. The royal hall of Dis [Haides] stands opposite, girt by a double moat."

Seneca, Hercules Furens 762 ff :
"A rock funereal o’erhangs the slothful shoals [of the Akheron, mentioned above], where the waves are sluggish and the dull mere is numbed. This stream an old man [Kharon] tends, clad in foul garb and to the sight abhorrent, and ferries over the quaking shades . . . seeking the farthest fens of the Stygian swamp, Lerna’s labour [the shade of the Hydra] plunges deep his fertile heads."

Seneca, Medea 804 ff :
"To thee [Hekate] is brandished the gloomy branch [the yew] from the Stygian stream."

Seneca, Oedipus 160 :
"[Drought and pestilence ravage the city of Thebes :] They have burst the bars of abysmal Erebus, the throng of sisters with Tartarean torch [the Erinyes], and Phlegethon, changing his own course, has mingled Styx with our Sidonian streams [i.e. to cause deadly fevers]. Dark Mors [Thanatos, death], death opens wide his greedy, gaping jaws."

Seneca, Phaedra 1179 ff :
"Then through waters, through Tartarean pools [Akheron], through Styx, through rivers of fire [Phlegethon] will I madly follow thee [a loved one who has died]."

Statius, Thebaid 2. 1 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"On this side Styx encircling its nine regions, on that a barrier of fiery torrents [Pyriphlegethon] encloses his [Hermes descending into the underworld] path."

Statius, Thebaid 4. 291 ff :
"Pheneos [town in Arkadia], believed to send down Styx to swarthy Dis [Haides]."

Statius, Thebaid 4. 520 ff :
"The Elysian void is flung open, the spacious shadows of the hidden region are rent, the groves and black rivers lie clear to view, and Acheron belches forth noisome mud. Smoky Phlegethon rolls down his streams of murky flame, and Styx interfluent sets a barrier to the sundered ghosts."

Statius, Achilleid 1. 134 ff :
"I [Thetis] take my son down to the void of Tartarus, and dip him a second time in the springs of Styx."

Statius, Achilleid 1. 268 ff :
"At thy [Akhilleus'] birth I [Thetis] fortified thee with the stern waters of Styx."

Statius, Achilleid 1. 478 ff :
"Whom else [but Akhilleus] did a Nereis [Thetis] take be stealth through the Stygian waters and make his fair limbs impenetrable to steel?"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44. 198 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"She [one of the Erinyes] drew a stream from Kokytos and water from Styx, and drenched Agaue’s [the mother of Pentheus] rooms with the infernal drops as if with a prophecy of tears and groaning for Thebes."

Suidas s.v. Arai kata oikhomenon (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Arai kata oikhomenon (Curses on those who have passed away) : Look under `such [stones] of the black-hearted Styx [hold] you.'"


STYX AS SYNONYM FOR HAIDES

The Latin poets, especially use the term Stygia (of the Styx) as a synonym for Haides. See also some of the other quotes on this page.

Seneca, Hercules Furens 89 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"[Hera threatens Herakles :] `Dost think that now thou hast escaped the Styx [i.e. the realm of Haides] and the cruel ghosts?'"

Seneca, Hercules Furens 452 ff :
"Oh, that thou [Herakles in his journey to the underworld] mayest o’ercome the laws of cruel Styx [i.e. inevitable death, Styx here is Haides], and the relentless distaffs of the Parcae [Moirai, fates]."

Seneca, Hercules Furens 1131 :
"Go to the haven of the Stygia [i.e. the land of the dead], go, harmless shades."

Seneca, Medea 632 :
"He came to the familiar Styx and Tartarus [i.e. the land of Haides], never to return."

Seneca, Oedipus 395 ff :
"[The seer Teiresias pronounces that the rites of necromancy must be performed :] `We must unseal the earth, must implore the implacable divinity of Dis [Haides], must draw forth hither the people of infernal Styx . . . While we are loosing the bars of abysmal Styx let the people’s hymn sound.'"

Seneca, Phaedra 147 ff :
"Suppose that Theseus is indeed held fast [in the underworld], hidden away in Lethean depths, and must suffer Stygia [i.e. the underworld] eternally."

Seneca, Phaedra 625 ff :
"The overlord of the fast-holding realm and of the silent Styx has made no way to the upper world once quitted."

Seneca, Phaedra 1149 :
"Theseus looks on sky and upper world and has escaped from the pools of Stygia."

Seneca, Troades 430 ff :
"The bars of deep Stygia and its darksome caves are opened and, lest terror be wanting to our overthrow, our buried foemen [i.e. ghosts] come forth from lowest Dis."

Seneca, Troades 519 ff :
"Yawn deep, O earth, and thou, my husband, rive the rent earth to its lowest caves and hide the charge I give thee in the deep bosom of the Styx."


THE ARKADIAN RIVER STYX

Hesiod, Theogony 775 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"[Hesiod may be physically describing the Arkadian stream in this passage.] That cold water [of the River Styx] that drizzles down from a steep sky-climbing cliffside, and it is one horn of the Okeanos stream, and travels off that holy river a great course through night's blackness under the wide-wayed earth and this water is a tenth part of all, for in nine loops of silver-swirling waters, around the earth and the sea's wide ridges he tumbles into salt water, but this stream, greatly vexing the gods, runs off the precipice . . . the imperishable, primevil water of Styx; and it jets down through jagged country."

Herodotus, Histories 6. 74. 1 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"Later Kleomenes' [a historical figure] treacherous plot against Demaratos became known; he was seized with fear of the Spartans and secretly fled to Thessalia. From there he came to Arkadia and stirred up disorder, uniting the Arcadians against Sparta; among his methods of binding them by oath to follow him wherever he led was his zeal to bring the chief men of Arkadia to the city of Nonakris and make them swear by the water of the Styx. Near this city is said to be the Arkadian water of the Styx, and this is its nature: it is a stream of small appearance, dropping from a cliff into a pool; a wall of stones runs round the pool. Nonakris, where this spring rises, is a city of Arkadia near Pheneus."

Strabo, Geography 8. 8. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"And near Pheneus [in Arkadia] is also the water of the Styx, as it is called--a small stream of deadly water which is held to be sacred."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 17. 6 - 8 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"As you travel west from Pheneus into the setting sun . . . the right-hand road takes you to [the town of] Nonakris and the streams of the Styx . . . Not far from these ruins [of Nonakris] is a high crag. I have never seen a rock face so high; the water falls sheer down it, and this is the stream that the Greeks call Styx . . . It was particularly Homer who introduced the name of Styx to poetry; in Hera's oath he writes : `Witness this earth, witness this heaven and the down-dropping water of the Styx.' He seems to have written this in allusion to the Stygian waterfall, and in the list of Gouneus's regiment he has the river Titaressos drawing its water from the Styx. He also makes it run in Hades : . . . `He [Herakles] was sent to Hades the gate keeper to fetch horrible Hades' watchdog from Erebos, he never should have escaped the steep streams of the Stygian river.'
The stream that falls from the crag by Nonakris drops first of all on to a high rock and down through the rock into the river Krathis, and its water is death to men and to all animals. They say once upon a time it brought death to the goats which first tasted its water, and as time went by its other extraordinary qualities became known. The water of the Syx dissolves glass and crystal and agate and all the stone objects known to man, even pottery vessels. The water corrupts horn and bone, iron and bronze, and even lead and tin and silver and the alloy of silver and gold . . . the only thing able to resist the river Styx is a horse's hoof, which will hold the water you pour in and not be destroyed by it. I have no actual knowledge that this water was the poison that killed Alexander son of Philip, but I have certainly heard it said."

Aelian, On Animals 10. 40 (trans. Scholfield) (Greek natural history C2nd A.D.) :
"In Skythia there are Asses with horns, and these horns hold water from the river of Arkadia known as the Styx; all other vessels the water cuts through, even though they be made of iron. Now one of these horns, they say, was brought by Sopatros to Alexandros of Makedon, and I learn that he in his admiration set up the horn as a votive offering to the Pythian god at Delphoi, with this inscription beneath it : `In thine honour, Paian (God of Healing), Alexandros of Makedon set up this horn from a Skythian ass, a marvellous piece, which was not subdued by the untainted stream of the Lousean Styx but withstood the strength of its water.’
It was Demeter who caused this water to well up in the neighbourhood of Pheneus."

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 3 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (trans. Pearse) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"Hyllos son of Herakles; he had a little horn on the right side of his face and Epopeus of Sikyon seized it after having killed Hyllos in single combat; he filled it with water of the Styx and became king of the country."

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Bk3 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) :
"Concerning the water of the Styx in Arkadia he [Hephaestion] recounts the following : while Demeter was mourning for her daughter, Poseidon intruded on her sorrow and she in anger metamorphosed into a mare; she arrived at a fountain in this form and detesting it she made the water black."

Apuleius, The Golden Ass 6. 13 ff (trans. Walsh) (Roman novel C2nd A.D.) :
"Venus [Aphrodite] frowned heavily, smiled harshly, and said [to Psykhe] : `I know quite well that this too is the work of that adulterer. But no I shall try you out in earnest, to see if you are indeed endowed with brave spirit and unique circumspection. Do you see that lofty mountain-peak, perched above a dizzily high cliff, from where the livid waters of a dark spring come tumbling down, and when enclosed in the basin of he neighbouring valley, water the marshes of the Styx and feed the hoarse streams of the Cocytus? I want you to hurry and bring me back in this small jug some icy water drawn from the stream’s highest point, where it gushes out from within.’
Handing Psyche a vessel shaped from crystal, she backed this instruction with still harsher threats. Psyche made for the topmost peak with swift and eager step, for she was determined there at least to put an end to her intolerable existence. But the moment she neared the vicinity of the specified mountain-range, she became aware of the lethal difficulty posed by her daunting task. A rock of huge size towered above her, hard to negotiate and treacherous because of its rugged surface. From its stony jaws it belched forth repulsive waters which issued directly from a vertical cleft [this Arkadian stream of Styx was similarly described by the Greek geographer Pausanias]. The stream glided downward, and being concealed in the course of the narrow channel which it had carved out, it made its hidden way into a neighbouring valley. From the hollow rocks on the right and left fierce snakes crept out, extending their long necks, their eyes unblinkingly watchful and maintaining unceasing vigil. The waters themselves formed an additional defence, for they had the power of speech, and from time to time would cry out `Clear off!’ or `Watch what you’re doing!’, or `What’s your game? Lookout!’, or `Cut and run!’, or `You won’t make it!’ The hopelessness of the situation turned Psyche to stone. She was physically present, but her senses deserted her. She was utterly downcast by the weight of inescapable danger; she could not even summon the ultimate consolation of tears.
But the privations of this innocent soul did not escape the steady gaze of benevolent Providentia (Providence). Suddenly highest Jupiter’s [Zeus’] royal bird appeared with both wings outstretched . . . before the girl’s gaze, and broke into speech : `You are in all respects an ingenuous soul without experience in things such as this, so how can you hope to be able to steal the merest drop from this most sacred and unfriendly stream, or even apply your hand to it? Rumour at any rate, as you know, has it that these Stygian waters are an object of fear to the gods and to Jupiter [Zeus] himself, that just as you mortals swear by the gods’ divine power, so those gods frequently swear by the majesty of the Styx. So here, hand me that jug of yours.’ At once he grabbed it, and hastened to fill it with water. Balancing the weight of his drooping wings, he used them as oars on right and left to steer a course between the serpents’ jaws with their menacing teeth and the triple-forked darting of their tongues. He gathered some water in the face of its reluctance and its warning to him to depart before he suffered harm; he falsely claimed the Venus had ordered him to collect it, and that he was acting in her service, which made it a little easier for him to approach. So Psyche joyously took the filled jug and hastened to return it to Venus."


THE THESSALIAN RIVER TITARESSOS

Like the Arkadian stream of Styx, the Thessalian river Titaressos was said to be broken from the waters of the netherworld river.

Homer, Iliad 2. 751 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Titaressos, who into Peneios [in northern Thessalia] casts his bright current: yet he is not mixed with the silver whirls of Peneios but like oil is floated along the surface above him: since he is broken from the water of Styx, the fearful oath-river."

Seneca, Troades 846 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Those lands [Thessalia] which the Titaressos bathes, destined to flow with its sluggish waters beneath the sea [i.e. its waters return to the underworld]."


THE OATH OF THE STYX

Hesiod, Theogony 775 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"And there [in Hades] is housed a goddess loathed even by the immortals : dreaded Styx, eldest daughter of Okeanos, who flows back on himself, and apart from the gods she lives in her famous palace which is overroofed with towering rocks, and the whole circuit is undergirded with silver columns, and pushes heaven; and seldom does . . . Iris, come her way with a message across the sea's wide ridges, those times when dispute and quarelling start among the immortals, and some one of those who have their homes on Olympos is lying, and Zeus sends Iris to carry the many-storied water that the gods swear their great oath on, thence, in a golden pitcher, that cold water that drizzles down from a steep sky-climbing cliffside, and it is one horn of the Okeanos stream, and travels off that holy river a great course through night's blackness under the wide-wayed earth and this water is a tenth part of all, for in nine loops of silver-swirling waters, around the earth and the sea's wide ridges he tumbles into salt water, but this stream, greatly vexing the gods, runs off the precipice.
And whoever of the gods, who keep the summits of snowy Olympos, pours of this water, and swears on it, and is forsworn, is laid flat, and does not breathe, until a year is completed; nor is this god let come near ambrosia and nectar to eat, but with no voice in him, and no breath, he is laid out flat, on a made bed, and the evil coma covers him. But when, in the course of a great year, he is over his sickness, there follows on in succession another trial, yet harsher: for nine years he is cut off from all part of the everlasting gods, nor has anything to do with their counsels, their festivals for nine years entire, but in the tenth he once more mingles in the assemblies of the gods who have their homes on Olympos. Such an oath did the gods make of the imperishable, primevil water of Styx; and it jets down through jagged country."

Homer, Iliad 2. 751 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"The water of Styx, the fearful oath-river."

Homer, Iliad 14. 271 :
"[Hypnos, the god of sleep, insists Hera seal her pledge to him by an oath on the Styx :] `Come then! Swear it to me on Styx' ineluctable water. With one hand take hold of the prospering earth, with the other take hold of the shining salt sea, so that all the undergods who gather about Kronos may be witnesses to us.'"

Homer, Iliad 15. 35 :
"[Hera addresses Zeus :] `Now let Gaia (Earth) be my witness in this, and wide Ouranos (Heaven) above us, and the dripping water of the Styx, which oath is the biggest and most formidable oath among the blessed immortals.'"

Homer, Odyssey 10. 513 (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Kalypso addresses Odysseus :] 'Let Gaia (Earth) be witness to me in this, and arching Ouranos (Heaven) above, and the downward water of the Styx--most solemn and most fearsome of oaths with the blesses gods."

Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 260 (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) :
"[The goddess Demeter swears :] `Be witness the oath of the gods, the relentless water of Styx.'"

Homeric Hymn 3 to Apollo 84 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th - 4th B.C.) :
"And Leto sware the great oath of the gods : `Now hear this, Gaia (Earth) and wide Ouranos (Heaven) above, and dropping water of Styx, this is the stongest and most awful oath for the blessed gods.'"

Homeric Hymn 4 to Hermes 517 ff :
"[Apollon addresses the young god Hermes :] `Now if you would only swear me the great oath of the gods, either by nodding your head, or by the potent water of Styx.'"

Lycophron, Alexandra 697 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"The waters of Kokytos wild and dark, stream of black Styx, where Termeius [Zeus] made the seat of the oath-swearing for the immortals, drawing the water in golden basins for libations, when he was about to go against the Gigantes and Titanes--he [Odysseus] shall offer up a gift to Daeira and her consort [i.e. Persephone and Haides], fastening his helmet to the head of a pillar."

Virgil, Aeneid 12. 816 ff (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
"This I [Jove, Zeus] swear by the source of the inexorable river, Styx--the one dreadful and binding oath for us heaven-dwellers."

Virgil, Aeneid 9. 82 ff :
"So Jupiter [Zeus] spoke, and then by [Styx] the stream of his Stygian brother, the banks where boiling pitch flows in black maelstrom, he nodded, confirming his promise: the nod caused all Olympus to tremble."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 188 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Zeus addresses the Council of the Gods :] `The mortal race must be destroyed. By that dark stream [the Styx] I swear, that glides below the world through glades of Stygia (Hell), all has been tried and, when no cure avails, rightly the knife is used lest he disease spread and infection draw what still is sound [and he declares that he will destroy mankind in a Great Deluge].'"

Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 736 :
"Jove [Zeus] pleaded with Juno [Hera], throwing his arms around her neck, to end the punishment [of his lover Io] at last. `Lay fear aside; never again’, he swore, `shall Io give you cause to grieve’, and charged the pools of Stygia to attest his oath."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 186 :
"[Zeus swears an oath :] `By that dark stream I swear, that glides below the world through glades of Hell.'"

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 46 & 201 (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Helios swears an oath to his son Phaethon:] `Well you deserve to be my son’, he said, `Truly your mother named your lineage; and to dispel all doubt, ask what you will that I may satisfy your heart’s desire; and that dark marsh [the river Styx] by which the gods make oath, though to my eyes unknown, shall seal my troth.’ He scarce had ended when the boy declared his wish - his father’s chariot for one day with licence to control the soaring steeds . . . [Helios to Phaethon:] `By Stygia I swore and I shall not refuse, whate’er your choice: but oh! more wisely choose!’ So Sol [Helios] warned."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 3. 272 :
"The girl [Semele]. unwittingly, asked of Jove [Zeus] a boon unnamed. `‘Choose what you will’, the god replied, `There’s nothing I’ll refuse; and should you doubt, the Power of rushing Stygia shall be my witness, the deity whom all gods hold in awe' [and she asked him to appear before her in his full glory, a request which Zeus could not now refuse and which doomed the girl]."

Seneca, Phaedra 942 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"My [Theseus'] father of the sea [Poseidon] granted me thrice to fashion prayers whereto the god would bow, and, calling upon Styx, confirmed the boon."

Seneca, Troades 390 ff :
"Nevermore does he [the dead] exist at all who has reached the pool [Styx] whereby the high gods swear."

Statius, Thebaid 1. 290 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"[Zeus swears an oath to Hera :] `For by those awful waters, my brother’s Stygian stream, I swear--an oath abiding and irrevocable,-- that naught will make me waver from my word!'"

Apuleius, The Golden Ass 6. 13 ff (trans. Walsh) (Roman novel C2nd A.D.) :
"These Stygian waters are an object of fear to the gods and to Jupiter [Zeus] himself, that just as you mortals swear by the gods’ divine power, so those gods frequently swear by the majesty of the Styx."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 9. 135 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Then she [Hera] swore by the infernal water of afteravenging Styx, that she would drown the house of Ino in a flood of innumerable woes."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 42. 526 ff :
"Both [the gods] took a binding oath, by Kronides [Zeus] and Gaia (Earth), by Aither (Sky) and the floods of Styx; and the Moirai (Fates) formally witnessed the bargain."


Sources:

  • Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
  • Homer, The Odyssey - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
  • Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th B.C.
  • The Homeric Hymns - Greek Epic C8th-4th B.C.
  • Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Herodotus, Histories - Greek History C5th B.C.
  • Plato, Phaedo - Greek Philosophy C4th B.C.
  • Plato, Republic - Greek Philosophy C4th B.C.
  • Callimachus, Hymns - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
  • Lycophron, Alexandra - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
  • Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd A.D.
  • Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy - Greek Epic C4th A.D.
  • Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History - Greek Scholar C1st-2nd A.D.
  • Aelian, On Animals - Greek Natural History C2nd - C3rd A.D.
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Ovid, Fasti - Latin Poetry C1st B.C.- C1st A.D.
  • Virgil, Aeneid - Latin Epic C1st B.C.
  • Virgil, Georgics - Latin Bucolic C1st B.C.
  • Seneca, Hercules Furens - Latin Tragedy C1st A.D.
  • Seneca, Medea - Latin Tragedy C1st A.D.
  • Seneca, Oedipus - Latin Tragedy C1st A.D.
  • Seneca, Phaedra - Latin Tragedy C1st A.D.
  • Seneca, Troades - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
  • Statius, Achilleid - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
  • Apuleius, The Golden Ass - Latin Epic C2nd A.D.
  • Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.
  • Photius, Myriobiblon - Byzantine Greek Scholar C9th A.D.