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Name

Origin

Persona/Narrative

Object

Charon

Greek

Charon was the ferryman of Hades, whose task was to transport the souls of the recently deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron which divided the Underworld. He is depicted as a grey-haired, bearded and unkempt old man. In ancient burial rituals, coins were placed on or in the mouth of the deceased to pay Charon for his services. The souls who were unable to pay Charon had to roam the banks of the rivers for a hundred years as punishment.

Moon of Pluto

Echidna

Greek

A daughter of the primeval sea goddess, Ceto, Echidna (Ekhidna) was a fearsome she-dragon, with the head and breast of a woman. A creature of Tartarus (the lowest region of the Underworld), she represented the filth of the earth: rot, slime, miasmas, disease and illness. Her monstrous offspring included Cerberus, Chimera, Hydra and Sphinx.

Moon of Scattered Disc Object

Erebus

Greek

A minor god in the Greek pantheon, Erebus was the personification of primordial darkness, the consort of Nyx (night). He was said to be the father of Aether (the upper atmosphere) and Hemera (day). Some myths also say that he was Charon's father. Over time, Erebus became synonymous with an upper region of the Underworld, sometimes even referring to Hades, god of the Underworld. On Earth, Mount Erebus is the second highest volcano in Antartica, and the southernmost active volcano in the world. On Mars, a crater is named after this god.

Crater of Mars

Hydra

Greek

Hydra was a nine-headed serpent living in a swamp near the ancient town of Lerna in Argolis, Greece. (In different verions of the myth, the number of its heads varies from five to a hundred.) Hydra's principal head could not be harmed by any weapon, and if any of the other heads was severed, another one would grow in its place. The monster terrorized the town by preying on both cattle and people. In the second of his twelve labours, Hercules was sent to slay the serpent. To defeat Hydra, Hercules had to adopt a strategy: as one by one he chopped off its secondary heads, his nephew Iolaus would cauterize each stump with a burning brand, and so prevented new heads from regenerating. As the one remaining head could not be harmed by any weapon, Hercules severed it with his bare hands, then crushed it with a blow from his club.

Moon of Pluto

The Underworld

And lo! towards us coming in a boat
An old man, hoary with the hair of eld,
Crying: "Woe unto you, ye souls depraved!
Hope never more to look upon the heavens;
I come to lead you to the other shore,
To the eternal shades in heat and frost.
The Divine Comedy - Inferno, Canto III
by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)


Dwarf planet Pluto is the largest object in the Kuiper belt, and the tenth most massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun. It is the second most massive dwarf planet known, after Eris. Pluto's five moons have been named after immortals associated with the Underworld.

Charon, the ferryman of souls

Charon - illustration by Gustave Doré

Kerberos

Kerberos, part of Roman statue of Pluto, 180-190 CE

Name

Origin

Persona/Narrative

Object

Kerberos

Greek

Offspring of Echidna and Typhon, Kerberos (Cerberus) was the three-headed dog with a mane of snakes, the tail of a serpent and lion’s paws. Kerberos guarded the gates to Hades, preventing the souls of the departed from returning to the land of the living.

Moon of Pluto

Nix

Greek

Powerful and beautiful primordial goddess of night, Nix (Nyx) is the daughter of Chaos, and consort of Erebus. Among their offspring were: Aether (upper air), Hemera (day), the Fates, Thanatos (peaceful death) and Hypnos (sleep).

Moon of Pluto

Styx

Greek

Goddess of the Underworld and one of the Titans, Styx was said to be the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, and mother of Nike (victory), Zelos (rivalry), Bia (force), and Kratos (strength). In the conflict between the Titans and the Olympian gods, Styx took the side of the gods. As a reward, Zeus allowed her children to live with the immortals, and Styx became the goddess in whose name solemn oaths were made. Styx was also one of the principal rivers of the Underworld which the souls of the deceased had to cross in order to enter Hades. It separated the world of the living from the world of the dead.

Moon of Pluto

Typhon

Greek

Typhon was the most terrifying and powerful monster in Greek mythology. He was so tall his head touched the stars; his legs were composed of coils of writhing snakes; his head was wreathed with a hundred snakes from the mouths of which came horrifying animal noises. Typhon's eyes glowed red, and from his mouth he breathed fire. He tried to overthrow the Olympian gods, but Zeus, with Athena's help, managed to defeat him. As punishment, Zeus threw Typhon into Tartarus, the Underworld's deepest pit, and covered him with Mount Etna to prevent his escape.

Scattered Disc Object

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