Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

There is a tendency in modern fantasy to treat the geography of the Underworld with some looseness. But the River Acheron – Acheron originally being the Titans' watercarrier, whom Zeus transformed into a river as an eternal punishment (see Bondage) – is properly described as its central River. Four tributaries flow into the Acheron: the Styx, Phlegethon, Cocytus and Lethe. The passage of the dead across all five streams is full of anguish; only after Lethe causes Amnesia is there any peace.

The City of Acheron, in Robert E Howard's Conan the Conqueror (1935-1936 WT as "The Hour of the Dragon"; 1950), has nothing to do with the river. [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.