English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a question that falls under literature, but I remember that Dante, Greek mythology, and Milton were required reading in my English courses in high school and university.

It's about an epithet that was, I think, made popular only by the book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. In the series, the River Styx has been described and portrayed as the "River of Lost Dreams and Hopes." This, it would seem, has been picked up and applied by some people on the Net. But I can't find any other case when the Styx was previously described as such.

Of course I imagine the Styx must be a very barren and desolate place but, still, I would like to check if there are any other lines from perhaps Dante or another writer that could've inspired such a title. Or is it one writer's completely fresh and unique version, an employment of his artistic license?

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Book VI of Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’ describes the descent of Aeneas into the underworld, to reach which he must cross the river Styx. I’ve had a quick look at Dryden’s verse translation, but can’t find the actual description of the Styx that you quote. You may like to have a closer look yourself, if you have the time. (If you read Latin, the original is here.)

share|improve this answer
Thanks for the links, @Barrie! – Cool Elf Aug 13 '12 at 9:58

Even before Virgil, Hesiod described the Styx as one of the rivers of the Underworld. It's never easy in Greek mythology to distinguish the characteristics of the actual river (which was supposed to be corrosive, though it certainly isn't these days), the character of the river-nymph and the wider characteristics conventionally attributed to a stream supposed to flow out of the Underworld ; but it is intersting that the Greek for hatred is stygos.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.