Gates of hell
The gates of hell are various places on the surface of the world that have acquired a legendary reputation for being entrances to the underworld. Often they are found in regions of unusual geological activity, particularly volcanic areas, or sometimes at lakes, caves or mountains.
- The god Hades kidnapped the Goddess Persephone from a field in Sicily and led her to the underworld through a cleft in the earth so he could marry her.
- Orpheus traveled to the Greek underworld in search of Eurydice by entering a cave at Taenarum or Cape Tenaron on the southern tip of the Peloponnese.
- Hercules entered the Underworld from this same spot.
- Aeneas visited the underworld, entering through a cave at the edge of Lake Avernus on the Bay of Naples.
- Odysseus visited the underworld, entering through Lake Acheron in northwest Greece.
In the middle of the Roman Forum is another entrance, Lacus Curtius, where according to a medieval legend, a Roman soldier, named Curtius, bravely rode his horse into the entrance in a successful effort to close it, although both he and his horse perished in the deed.
Into the medieval period Mount Etna on Sicily was considered to be an entryway to hell.
During this period Icelanders believed that their Mount Hekla was a gateway.
In Nicaragua there are two sites with this reputation.
Hellam township near York, Pennsylvania, has the problematic reputation of being the home of the Seven Gates of Hell.
In August 2010, the History Channel premiered a show entitled "The Gates of Hell," (History Specials: Gates of Hell (Season 1, Episode 105) which visited caves and volcanoes in Nicaragua, Belize, Greece, Iceland, Ireland and Ethiopia, to examine the origins of these myths. It featured archaeologists, scholars, explorers and others working in this field.
- The Marvels of Rome (NewYork: Italica Press, 1986).
- Eileen Gardiner, The Pilgrim's Way to St. Patrick's Purgatory (New York: Italica Press, 2010).