miðvikudagur, september 13, 2006


I thought it was sad that Pluto, having been reclassified as something not a planet, should lose its name. But maybe it is worse for its moons, Charon, Nix, and Hydra. Charon got its name in 1978, recently enough, but the other two were discovered and christened only in 2005. How sad to have a name for only a year!

Charon was of course a psychopomp, the boatman who ferried souls to Hades, realm of the dead. Hydra, too, was a guardian of an entrance to the underworld at Lake Lerna. Nix (an alternate spelling of Nyx) was Night, the mother of Charon. Mothers ferry souls into the world of the living, but perhaps Night -- the realm of sleep, and sleep being so close to death -- perhaps Night also stood before the land of the dead, if not as a guard then as a watchman.

Somewhere I read that the first thing the souls of the dead lose while crossing in Charon's boat is their names. I do not remember where I read it.

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