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On this page: Acherusia – Achillas – Achilles


ing his name to gush forth. Other accounts aboiit the origin of the river and its name are given by Stephanas of Byzantium, Strabo (x. p. 450), and Plutarch. (De Flum. 22.) Achelous the god was a competitor with Pleracles in the suit for De'ianeira, and fought with him for the bride. Achelous was conquered in the contest, but as he possessed the power of assuming various forms, he metamorphosed himself first into a serpent and then into a bull. But in this form too lie was con­quered by Heracles, and deprived of one of his horns, which however he recovered by giving up the horn of Amalthea. (0v. Met. ix. 8, &c.; Apollod. i. 8. § 1, ii. 7. § 5.) Sophocles (Tracliin. 9, &c.) makes De'i'aneira relate these occurrences in a some­what different manner. According to Ovid (Met. ix. 87), the Naiads changed the horn which Heracles took from Achelous into the horn of plenty. When Theseus returned home from the Calydonian chase he was invited and hospitably received by Achelous, who related to him in what manner he had created the islands called Echinades. (Ov. Met. viii. 547, &c.) The numerous wives and descendants of Achelous are spoken of in separate articles. Strabo (x. p. 458) proposes a very ingenious interpretation of the legends about Achelous, all of which according to him arose from the nature of the river itself. It resembled a bull's voice in the noise of the water ; its windings and its reaches gave rise to the story about his forming himself into a serpent and about his horns; the formation of islands at the mouth of the river re­quires no explanation. His conquest by Heracles lastly refers to the embankments by which Heracles confined the" river to its bed and thus gained large tracts of land for cultivation, which are expressed by the horn of plenty. (Compare Voss, Mytholog. Briefe, Ixxii.) Others derive the legends about Achelous from Egypt, and describe him as a second Niius. But however this may be, he was from the earliest times considered to be a great divinity throughout Greece (Horn. II. xxi. 194), and was invoked in prayers, sacrifices, on taking oaths, &c. (Ephorus ap. Macrob. v. 18), and the Dodonean Zeus usually added to each oracle he gave, the command to oifer sacrifices to Achelous. (Ephorus, 1. c',) This wide extent of the worship of Achelous also accounts for his being regarded as the repre­sentative of sweet water in general, that is, as the source of all nourishment. (Virg. Georg. i. 9, with the note of Voss.) The contest of Achelous with Pleracles was represented on the throne of Amyclae (Pans. iii. 18. § 9), and in the treasury of the Megarians at Olympia there was a statue of him made by Dontas of cedar-wood and gold. (Paus. vi. 19. § 9.) On several coins of Acarnania the god is represented as a bull with the head of an old man. (Comp. Philostr. Imag. n. 4.) [L. S.] ACHEME'NIDES. [achaemenides.] ACHERON ('Axepcoz/), In ancient geography there occur several rivers of this name, all of which were, at least at one time, believed to be connected with the lower world. The river first looked upon in this light was the Acheron in Thesprotia, in Epirus, a country which appeared to the earliest Greeks as the end of the world in the west, and the locality of the river led them to the belief that it was the entrance into the lower world. When subsequently Epirus and the countries beyond the sea became better known, the Acheron or the en­trance to the lower world was transferred to other



more distant parts, and at last the Acheron was placed in the lower world itself. Thus we find in the Homeric poems (Od. x. 513 ; comp. Paus. i. 17. § 5) the Acheron described as a river of Hades, into which the Pyriphlegeton and Cocytus are said to flow. Virgil (Aen. vi. 297, with the note of Ser-vius) describes it as the principal river of Tartarus, from which the Styx and Cocytus sprang. Ac­cording to later traditions, Acheron had been a son of Helios and Gaea or Demeter, and was changed into the river bearing his name in the lower world, because he had refreshed the Titans with drink during their contest with Zeus. They further state that Ascalaphus was a son of Acheron and Orphne or Gorgyra. (Natal. Com. iii. 1.) In late writers the name Acheron is used in a general sense to designate the whole of the lower world. (Virg. Aen. vii. 312; Cic. postredit. in Senat. 10 ; C. Nepos, Dion, 10.) The Etruscans too were acquainted with the worship of Acheron (Acheruns) from very early times, as we must infer from their Acheruntici libri, which among various other things treated on the deification of the souls, and on the sacrifices (Acheruntia sacra") by which this was to be effected. (MUller, Etrusker, ii. 27, &c.) The description of the Acheron and the lower world in general in Plato's Phaedo (p. 112) is very pecu­liar, and not very easy to understand. [L. S.]

ACHERUSIA ('Axejoouo-ta A^? or 5Ax<=pou-<ns), a name given by the ancients to several lakes

or swamps, which, like the various rivers of the

name of Acheron, were at some time believed to be connected ivitli the lower world, until at last the Aeherusia came to be considered to be in the lower world itself. The lake to which this belief seems to have been first attached was the Acherusia in Thes­protia, through which the river Acheron flowed. (Thuc. i. 46 ; Strab. vii. p. 324.) Other lakes or swamps of the same name, and believed to be in con­nexion with the lower world, were near Hermione in Argolis (Paus. ii. 35. § 7)? near Heraclea in Bi-thynia (Xen. Anab. vi. 2. § 2; Diod. xiv. 31), be­tween Cumae and cape Misenum in Campania (Plin. H. N. iii. 5; Strab. v. p. 243), and lastly in Egypt, near Memphis. (Diod. i. 96.) [L. S.]

ACHILLAS ('AxtAAas), one of the guardians of the Egyptian king Ptolemy Dionysus, and commander of the troops, when Pompey fled to Egypt, b. c. 48. He is called by Caesar a man of extraordinary daring, and it was he and L. Septimius who killed Pornpey. (Caes. B. C. iii. 104; Liv. Epit. 104 ; Dion *Cass. xlii. 4.) He subsequently joined the eunuch Pothinus in re­sisting Caesar, and having had the command of the whole army entrusted to him by Pothinus, he marched against Alexandria with 20,000 foot and 2000 horse. Caesar, who was at Alexandria, had not sufficient forces to oppose him, and sent am­bassadors to treat with him, but these Achillas murdered to remove all hopes of reconciliation. He then marched into Alexandria and obtained possession of the greatest part of the city. Mean­while, however, Arsinoe, the younger sister of Ptolemy, escaped from Caesar and joined Achillas ; but dissensions breaking out between them, she had Achillas put to death by Ganymede? a eunucb9 b. c. 47, to whom she then entrusted the command of the forces. (Caes. B. C. iii. 108—112 ; B. A lex. 4; Dion Cass. xlii. 36—40; Lucan x. 519— 523.)

ACHILLES ('AxiAAev's). In the legends about

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