- Myth Summary
- It Ain't Me, Babe (Hades Hangmen, #1) by Tillie Cole
- Ferry Crossing the River Styx
- Hell-Fire: A Twisted Truth Untangled
And for our aid in the wake of our dark-prowed ship a fair wind that filled the sail, a goodly comrade, was sent by fair-tressed Kirke Circe , dread goddess of human speech. So when we had made fast all the tackling throughout the ship, we sat down, and the wind and the helms man made straight her course. All the day long her sail was stretched as she sped over the sea; and the sun set and all the ways grew dark. She came to deep-flowing Okeanos Oceanus , that bounds the Earth, where is the land and city of the Kimmeroi Cimmerians , wrapped in mist and cloud.
Never does the bright sun look down on them with his rays either when he mounts the starry heaven or when he turns again to earth from heaven, but baneful night is spread over wretched mortals. Thither we came and beached our ship, and took out the sheep, and ourselves went beside the stream of Okeanos until we came to the place of which Kirke had told us.
And I earnestly entreated the powerless heads of the dead, vowing that when I came to Ithaka I would sacrifice in my halls a barren heifer, the best I had, and pile the altar with goodly gifts, and to Teiresias Tiresias alone would sacrifice separately a ram, wholly black, the goodliest of my flocks. But when with vows and prayers I had made supplication to the tribes of the dead, I took the sheep and cut their throats over the pit, and the dark blood ran forth.
Then there gathered from out of Erebos Erebus the spirits of those that are dead, brides, and unwedded youths, and toil-worn old men, and tender maidens with hearts yet new to sorrow, and many, too, that had been wounded with bronze-tipped spears, men slain in fight, wearing their blood-stained armour. These came thronging in crowds about the pit from every side, with a wondrous cry; and pale fear seized me.
Then I called to my comrades and bade them flay and burn the sheep that lay there slain with the pitiless bronze, and to make prayer to the gods, to mighty Aides Hades and dread Persephoneia Persephone. And I myself drew my sharp sword from beside my thigh and sat there, and would not suffer the powerless heads of the dead to draw near to the blood until I had enquired of Teiresias.
Not yet had he been buried beneath the broad-wayed earth, for we had left his corpse behind us in the hall of Kirke, unwept and unburied, since another task was then urging us on. Thou coming on foot hast out-stripped me in my black ship. An evil doom of some god was my undoing, and measureless wine. When I had lain down to sleep in the house of Kirke I did not think to go to the long ladder that I might come down again, but fell headlong from the roof, and my neck was broken away from the spine and my spirit went down to the house of Aides.
Now I beseech thee. There, then, O prince, I bid thee remember me. Leave me not behind thee unwept and unburied as thou goest thence, and turn not away from me, lest haply I bring the wrath of the gods upon thee. Nay, burn me with my armour, all that is mine, and heap up a mound for me on the shore of the grey sea, in memory of an unhappy man, that men yet to be may learn of me. Fulfil this my prayer, and fix upon the mound my oar wherewith I rowed in life when I was among my comrades.
At sight of her I wept, and my heart had compassion on her, but even so I would not suffer her to come near the blood, for all my great sorrow, until I had enquired of Teiresias.
Why hast thou left the light of the sun and come hither to behold the dead and a region where is no joy? Nay, give place from the pit and draw back thy sharp sword, that I may drink of the blood and tell thee sooth. Hard is it for those that live to behold these realms, for between are great rivers and dread streams; Okeanos first, which one may in no wise cross on foot, but only if one have a well-built ship.
Art thou but now come hither from Troy after long wanderings with thy ship and thy companions? For not yet have I come near to the shore of Akhaia Achaea. Thrice I sprang towards her, and my heart bade me clasp her, and thrice she flitted from my arms like a shadow or a dream, and pain grew ever sharper at my heart.
Is this but a phantom that august Persephoneia has sent me, that I may lament and groan the more? For the sinews no longer hold the flesh and the bones together, but the strong might of blazing fire destroys these, as soon as the life leaves the white bones, and the spirit, like a dream, flits away, and hovers to and fro. But haste thee to the light with what speed thou mayest, and bear all these things in mind, that thou mayest hereafter tell them to thy wife. These flocked in throngs about the dark blood, and I considered how I might question each; and this seemed to my mind the best counsel.
I drew my long sword from beside my stout thigh, and would not suffer them to drink of the dark blood all at one time. So they drew near, one after the other, and each declared her birth, and I questioned them all. Then verily the first that I saw was high-born Tyro, who said that she was the daughter of noble Salmoneus. And after her I saw Antiope, daughter of Asopos, who boasted that she had slept even in the arms of Zeus. And after her I saw Alkmene Alcmena , wife of Amphitryon, who lay in the arms of great Zeus, and bore Herakles, staunch in fight, the lion-hearted.
And Megara I saw, daughter of Kreon Creon , high-of-heart, whom the son of Amphitryon, ever stubborn in might, had to wife. And I saw the mother of Oidipodes Oedipus , fair Epikaste Epicaste , who wrought a monstrous deed in ignorance of mind, in that she wedded her own son, and he, when he had slain his own father, wedded her.
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And I saw beauteous Khloris, whom once Neleus wedded because of her beauty. And I saw Leda, the wife of Tyndareus, who bore to Tyndareus two sons, stout of heart, Kastor Castor the tamer of horses, and the boxer Polydeukes Polydeuces.
These two the earth, the giver of life, covers, albeit alive, and even in the world below they have honor from Zeus. One day they live in turn, and one day they are dead; and they have won honor like unto that of the gods. And after her I saw Iphimedeia, wife of Aloeus, who declared that she had lain with Poseidon.
And Maira Maera and Klymene Clymene I saw, and hateful Eriphyle, who took precious gold as the price of the life of her own lord. But I cannot tell or name all the wives and daughters of heroes that I saw; ere that immortal night would wane. He knew me straightway, when he had drunk the dark blood, and he wept aloud, and shed big tears, and stretched forth his hands toward me eager to reach me. But no longer had he aught of strength or might remaining such as of old was in his supple limbs. When I saw him I wept, and my heart had compassion on him, and I spoke, and addressed him.
How didst thou dare to come down to Aides, where dwell the unheeding dead, the phantoms of men outworn. For not yet have I come near to the land of Akhaia, nor have I as yet set foot on my own country, but am ever suffering woes; whereas than thou, Akhilleus, no man aforetime was more blessed nor shall ever be hereafter. For of old, when thou wast alive, we Argives honored thee even as the gods, and now that thou art here, thou rulest mightily among the dead.
Wherefore grieve not at all that thou art dead, Akhilleus. I should choose, so I might live on earth, to serve as the hireling of another, of some portionless man whose livelihood was but small, rather than to be lord over all the dead that have perished. Alone of them all the spirit of Aias, son of Telamon, stood apart, still full of wrath for the victory that I had won over him in the contest by the ships for the arms of Akhilleus. Then would he nevertheless have spoken to me for all his wrath, or I to him, but the heart in my breast was fain to see the spirits of those others that are dead.
Over nine roods he stretched, and two vultures sat, one on either side, and tore his liver, plunging their beaks into his bowels, nor could he beat them off with his hands. For he had offered violence to Leto, the glorious wife of Zeus, as she went toward Pytho through Panopeus with its lovely lawns. Aye, and I saw Tantalos Tantalus in violent torment, standing in a pool, and the water came nigh unto his chin.
He seemed as one athirst, but could not take and drink; for as often as that old man stooped down, eager to drink, so often would the water be swallowed up and vanish away, and at his feet the black earth would appear, for some god made all dry. And trees, high and leafy, let stream their fruits above his head, pears, and pomegranates, and apple trees with their bright fruit, and sweet figs, and luxuriant olives.
But as often as that old man would reach out toward these, to clutch them with his hands, the wind would toss them to the shadowy clouds. Aye, and I saw Sisyphos Sisyphus in violent torment, seeking to raise a monstrous stone with both his hands. Verily he would brace himself with hands and feet, and thrust the stone toward the crest of a hill, but as often as he was about to heave it over the top, the weight would turn it back, and then down again to the plain would come rolling the ruthless stone.
But he would strain again and thrust it back, and the sweat flowed down from his limbs, and dust rose up from his head.
It Ain't Me, Babe (Hades Hangmen, #1) by Tillie Cole
About him rose a clamor from the dead, as of birds flying everywhere in terror; and he like dark night, with his bow bare and with arrow on the string, glared about him terribly, like one in act to shoot. Awful was the belt about his breast, a baldric of gold, whereon wondrous things were fashioned, bears and wild boars, and lions with flashing eyes, and conflicts, and battles, and murders, and slayings of men.
May he never have designed, or hereafter design such another, even he who stored up in his craft the device of that belt. I was the son of Zeus, son of Kronos, but I had woe beyond measure; for to a man far worse than I was I made subject, and he laid on me hard labours. Yea, he once sent me hither to fetch the hound of Aides, for he could devise for me no other task mightier than this. The hound I carried off and led forth from the house of Aides; and Hermes was my guide, and flashing-eyed Athena.
Ferry Crossing the River Styx
And I should have seen yet others of the men of former time, whom I was fain to behold, even Theseus and Peirithous, glorious children of the gods, but ere that the myriad tribes of the dead came thronging up with a wondrous cry, and pale fear seized me, lest august Persephoneia might send forth upon me from out the house of Aides the head of the Gorgo Gorgon , that awful monster.
Straightway then I went to the ship and bade my comrades themselves to embark, and to loose the stern cables. So they went on board quickly and sat down upon the benches. And the ship was borne down the stream Okeanos by the swelling flood, first with our rowing, and afterwards the wind was fair. He told of. He held in his hands his wand, a fair wand of gold, wherewith he lulls to sleep the eyes of whom he will, while others again he wakens even out of slumber; with this he roused and led the spirits, and they followed gibbering.
Hell-Fire: A Twisted Truth Untangled
And as in the innermost recess of a wondrous cave bats flit about gibbering, when one has fallen from off the rock from the chain in which they cling to one another, so these went with him gibbering, and Hermes, the Helper, led them down the dank ways. So these were thronging about Akhilleus, and near to them drew the spirit of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, sorrowing; and round about him others were gathered, the spirits of all those who were slain with him in the house of Aigisthos Aegisthus , and met their fate.
And the spirit of the son of Peleus was first to address him. And the spirit of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, recognized the dear son of Melaneus, glorious Amphimedon, who had been his host, dwelling in Ithaka Ithaca. Then the spirit of the son of Atreus spoke first to him. Homer, Odyssey 3. Homer, Odyssey 4.