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<   No. 1151   2006-03-22   >

Comic #1151

1 Charon: You have a coin to pay the Ferryman?
1 Marcus: Um, no. We were taken a bit by surprise...
2 Julius: Wait... if we can't pay, we don't get carried across the river Acheron to suffer eternal torment in Hades?
3 Charon: No. I take you across anyway.
3 Julius: Oh. I see.
4 Charon: I try not to let that get around.

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I get sick of digitally tiling the few blue Lego plates I had to make the water in the previous strips in this theme, so this time I switched to using a blue towel as the water. The rocky background is a photo I took in Yosemite National Park in California. It's the cliff face near Vernal Falls.

Corpses in ancient Greece were traitionally buried with a coin lodged under the tongue to pay the fare demanded by Charon to carry them across the river Acheron to the underworld. According to traditional beliefs, Charon would refuse to ferry dead souls without a coin, and they would be doomed to wander the shores of Acheron for a hundred years. As we see here, the traditional beliefs were wrong.

2015-07-17 Rerun commentary: Traditionally the coin used to pay Charon's fare was an obol, a ancient Greek coin, six of which made a drachma.

Interestingly, the Wikipedia page for the obol is much shorter than the page for Charon's obol, which is stuffed with interesting information and is a great read. Which goes to show that the most interesting thing about the coin is the mythical use that it was put to.

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