Your whole life was planned and plotted by the Fates. The Fates were the three goddesses who controlled the destiny of everyone from the time they were born to the time they died. They were: Clotho, the spinner, who spun the thread of a person's life, Lachesis, the apporitioner, who decided how much times was to be allowed each person, and Atropos, the inevitable, who cut the thread when you were supposed to die. When Atropos cut your thread you were dead and then you made your journey to Hades. Upon death, the shade is lead by Hermes to the entrance of the Underworld and to the banks of the Acheron.
There were five rivers that made up the Underworld. They were the Acheron (the river of woe), Cocytus (the river of lamentation), Phlegethon (river of fire), Lethe (river of forgetfulness), and the Styx (river of hate). This poem, written by an anonymous writer, was written about the rivers in the Underworld.
"Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate,
Sad Acheron of sorrow black and deep;
Cocytus named of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these a slow and silent stream,
Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls
Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks
Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain."
When one would die, the family would place one obol, or a coin, under the deceased's tongue. This coin would pay as fare to Charon who would ferry the dead over the Acheron River. Charon is the ferryman who is often depicted as an old sulky man, or as a winged demon...