Tuesday 8 February 2011


In Greek mythology, Lethe was one of the five rivers of Hades. Also known as the Ameles potamos (river of unmindfulness), the Lethe flowed around the cave of Hypnos and through the Underworld, where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness. The other four rivers were Styx (the river of hate), Akheron (the river of sorrow), Cocytos (the river of lamentation) and Phlegethon (the river of fire).

The shades of the dead were required to drink the waters of the Lethe in order to forget their earthly life. In the Aeneid, Virgil writes that it is only when the dead have had their memories erased by the Lethe that they may be reincarnated.

Come, you shroud called Death,
Let us dine tonight
In my quarters.
Why don’t you bring your bride?
Melancholy, I've heard
Of her many virtues.
I may bring along my wishes,
If I could pick them up.
Once I have had my share
Of the waters of Lethe
And blissful oblivion has set in,
Let us take a walk along
The paths that Acheron traced
Down far into the nether world.
If thou should insist, I shall dip
Into the stories of Phlegethon,
But wilt thou believe my innocence
Even afterward?
When my lamentations mix with
Those of the Cocytus,
Pay heed, for a woman
Of true soul laments but once,
And in her voice, thou too Death,
And thine minions shall find salvation,
As many mortals have.

Our travels will have ended by now,
The stories told,
The waters of Styx will be
Called upon to perform the ablutions.
And when the water has dropped off me,
Oh death, what would you know!
When the water has dropped off me,
The droplets shall become
Wishes again.
In life I hath held on to him,
In you death, I shall he.

1 comment:

Pre_Dator said...

This is art.. almost the same feelings ran thru me as it did while watching the Bergman masterpiece ''the seventh seal"..