Charon is known as the ferryman of the River Styx, letting certain people cross the river with a fee. Charon himself is well known for helping many significant heroes in multiple Greek legends.

He always seems to collect a toll from those who cross the River Styx with his assisstance. What exactly does Charon do with the toll money he receives from his passengers? And why exactly does he need to collect a toll?

  • 2
    I don't think he spends them at all, it's purely symbolic. Everyone has to pay their dues.
    – Daft
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 16:26
  • 2
    Read this dialogue of the cynic Menippus with Charon theoi.com/Text/LucianDialoguesDead1.html
    – anna v
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


Coins (specifically a type called an obol or obolos) were left on the body or placed in the mouths of the dead.

The dead give Charon the coin, which shows they have had proper funeral rites and therefore deserve to be transported to Hades.

The Aenid by Vergil, Chapter 6 has this to say

Why some were ferried o'er, and some refus'd. "Son of Anchises, offspring of the gods," The Sibyl said, "you see the Stygian floods, The sacred stream which heav'n's imperial state Attests in oaths, and fears to violate. The ghosts rejected are th' unhappy crew Depriv'd of sepulchers and fun'ral due: The boatman, Charon; those, the buried host, He ferries over to the farther coast;

Despite having neither coin, nor being dead, Heracles managed to cross as did Orpheus and various other heroes.

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