" I know not Lethe nor Nepenthe"
Illustration of the River of Lethe for Dante's
Public DomainIllustration of the River of Lethe for Dante's "Divine Comedy" - Credit: Gustave Dore
The Waters of Lethe by the Plains of Elysium (1880)
Public DomainThe Waters of Lethe by the Plains of Elysium (1880) - Credit: John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Greek mythology, Lethe is one of the five rivers of Hades that flow through the Underworld. Enshrouded in perpetual twilight and mist, it winds slowly round the cave of Somnus, the god of sleep. Its name translates literally as oblivion and all who drink its waters — as all souls destined for reincarnation must — instantly forget their past lives. Those condemned to wander the earth as ghosts return to Lethe each day as dawn breaks.    

The Opium Smoker
Public DomainThe Opium Smoker - Credit: Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouÿ

 

Nepenthe is a drug described by the ancients as engendering forgetfulness of sorrow and pain. Some modern scholars have speculated that it may have been a form of opium.

Dried opium poppy seedheads
GNU Free Documentation LicenseDried opium poppy seedheads - Credit: Zylance