Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Underworld lake

Underworld lake. The god Dionysus, in whose honor all the Greek plays were performed, is sad that two of the great tragic writers—Aeschylus and Euripides—have died. He does not like the work of their survivors and descends to Hades to bring one of them back to earth to write plays for him. To reach Hades, he must row the ferryboat of Charon across a large lake. (This body of water is known as the River Styx in other Greek stories.) Throughout his journey across the lake, he is tormented by the croaking of a swarm of frogs, played by the members of the play’s chorus.


Hades (hay-deez). To the Greeks, Hades was an underworld to which all mortals went after they died. Not a place of punishment, it is an open area, except for the palace of Pluto, the god of the underworld. Dionysus goes to Pluto’s palace, but does not enter. After a number of farcical episodes in front of the palace, Euripides is finally allowed to hold a contest between Aeschylus and Euripides to determine which of them will accompany him back to earth. Each poet recites lines, which Dionysus judges using a huge scale. Aeschylus wins and as the play ends everyone enters the palace for a banquet.