History : Jan-Feb 2018
2 THE FINAL JOURNEY WELCOME TO THE UNDERWORLD THE SOULS OF THE DEAD were transported from the tomb to the entrance of the underworld by the god Hermes in the role of psychopompos, or soul guide. On the banks of the River Styx, they waited for the decrepit ferryman Charon to transport them across the river. Son of Nyx (Night) and Erebos (Darkness), Charon was often depicted as an old, bearded man carrying a pole. After paying the ferryman (the dead were often buried with a coin in their mouth for Charon), they crossed the river. Next they would appear before the three judges of the dead, all sons of Zeus: Aeacus, Minos, and Rhadamanthus. These three had been mortal and were granted their positions after death as reward for their wisdom and fairness in life. The trial of the soul determined the reward or punishment for the deceased. In some accounts, Rhadamanthus was known for his harshness, while Aeacus was gentler and more merciful. In the case of any ties, it was Minos who cast the deciding vote on the fate of the soul. Another account divides up the judges by geography rather than personality: Aeacus judged the people of Europe, Rhadamanthus the people of Asia, with Minos still casting the third and final vote.