AskDefine | Define Styx

Dictionary Definition

Styx n : (Greek mythology) a river in Hades across which Charon carried dead souls [syn: River Styx]

User Contributed Dictionary


Proper noun

  1. the river, in Hades, over which the souls of the dead are ferried by Charon

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

In Greek mythology, the "River Styx" (Greek: Στύξ) was a river which formed the boundary between Earth and the Underworld (Hades). It circles Hades nine times. The rivers Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron and Cocytus all converge at the center of Hades on a great marsh. The other important rivers of Hades are Lethe and Eridanos. Styx was guarded by Phlegyas, who passes the souls from one side to another of the river. In other versions, Phlegyas guarded Phlegethon, one of the other main rivers of Hades. Sometimes the ferryman was called Charon.
The gods respected the Styx and swore binding oaths by it. Zeus swore to give Semele whatever she wanted and was then obliged to follow through, resulting in her death. Helios similarly promised Phaëton whatever he desired, also resulting in his death. Gods that did not follow through on such an oath had to drink from the river, causing them to lose their voices for nine years. According to some versions, Styx had miraculous powers and could make someone immortal/invulnerable. Achilles may have been dipped in it in his childhood, acquiring invulnerability, with exception of his heel, which was held by his mother in order to submerge him. His exposed heel thus became known as Achilles' heel, a metaphor for a weak spot in modern meaning.
Styx was primarily a feature in the afterworld of Greek mythology, but has been described as a feature present in the hell of Christianity as well, notably in The Divine Comedy and also "Paradise Lost". The ferryman Charon is in modern times commonly believed to have transported the souls of the newly dead across this river into the underworld, though in the original Greek and Roman sources, as well as in Dante, it was the river Acheron that Charon plied. Dante put Phlegyas over the Styx and made it the fifth circle of Hell, where the wrathful and sullen are punished by being drowned in the muddy waters for eternity.
The adjective Stygian means "of or relating to the River Styx", and may also refer to anything that is dark and dismal.


Styx was also the name of the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. With Pallas, she was the mother of Zelus, Nike, Cratos and Bia (and sometimes Eos). Styx supported Zeus in the Titanomachy where she was the first to rush to his aid. For this reason her name was given the honor of being a binding oath for the gods.


Styx was also the name of a naiad whose river was the most holy and sacred, and to swear on it was the most holy oath a god could make. Her name meant literally Hateful. She and the goddess are often held to be the same figure.

See also

Styx in Bengali: স্টিক্স নদী (পুরাণ)
Styx in Bosnian: Stiks
Styx in Breton: Styx River
Styx in Bulgarian: Стикс
Styx in Catalan: Estix
Styx in Czech: Styx
Styx in Danish: Styx
Styx in German: Styx
Styx in Modern Greek (1453-): Στύγα
Styx in Estonian: Styx
Styx in Spanish: Estigia
Styx in Esperanto: Stikso
Styx in French: Styx
Styx in Croatian: Stiks
Styx in Icelandic: Styx (fljót)
Styx in Italian: Stige (fiume)
Styx in Hebrew: סטיקס
Styx in Latin: Styx
Styx in Luxembourgish: Styx (Mythologie)
Styx in Lithuanian: Stiksas
Styx in Hungarian: Sztüx
Styx in Dutch: Styx (mythologie)
Styx in Japanese: ステュクス
Styx in Norwegian: Styx
Styx in Polish: Styks
Styx in Portuguese: Estige
Styx in Romanian: Styx
Styx in Russian: Стикс
Styx in Simple English: Styx
Styx in Slovak: Styx (mytologická rieka)
Styx in Slovenian: Stiks
Styx in Serbo-Croatian: Stiks
Styx in Finnish: Styks
Styx in Swedish: Styx (mytologi)
Styx in Vietnamese: Sông Styx (thần thoại)
Styx in Turkish: Stiks
Styx in Ukrainian: Стікс (міфологія)
Styx in Chinese: 斯堤克斯
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