Daily Archives: October 18, 2010
““We are nothing; less than nothing, and dreams. We are only what might have been, and must wait upon the tedious shores of Lethe millions of ages before we have existence, and a name.” — Charles Lamb
So, what is this “Lethe”?
It’s admittedly an interesting word. I’d imagined that it perhaps was Celtic in origin, owing to the unique spelling. I was wrong. “Lethe” has its origins in Greek mythology. (Curse my inadequate folklore mythology knowledge!)
“Lethe” is the name of one of the rivers in the Underworld. Using Wikipedia, I discovered that the term has been adopted to a variety of usages, almost all appropriate. Lethe is also the name of a river in Alaska, which probably doesn’t do much to increase real estate value in the region. Pictures of the river do impart an Underworld quality. There’s a Sailor Lethe, part of the Sailor Moon metaverse that, if you dig deep enough, can seem to resemble a damn frightening hellscape. Lethe is also a genus of butterfly, which at first doesn’t seem all that hellish at all. Hell butterflies? It is black, though. I don’t know about you, but if Hell had butterflies, they would more than likely be black. And on fire.
The term also appears as part of the title for Walking the Lethe, written by Dan Potter and illustrated by Sam Ireland and Aditia Wardhana. It’s about a man who straddles the world between life and death, and in so doing unleashes forces that mortal man was not meant to see.