Image: Lake Avernus

Lake Avernus (Greek "aornos

Lake Avernus (Greek "aornos,"without birds), lake, southern Italy, in Campania, near Naples; the modern name of the lake is Averno. It is about 3 km (about 2 mi) in circumference and occupies the crater of an extinct volcano. The sulfurous and mephitic vapors that rose from it in ancient times were believed to have killed the birds that flew over ithence the name. Because of the forbidding appearance of the lake, ancient Greek and Roman writers believed it to be the entrance to Hades. It was the site, in mythology, of the grotto of the Cumaean sibyl, or prophet, the most famous sibyl, and of the grove in which the Greek goddess of the underworld, Hecate, dwelt. The Roman general and statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa transformed the lake into a naval base, called Portus Iulius, building a canal connecting it with the Lucrine Lake and the sea. Changes in the surrounding terrain soon blocked the canal and restored the lake.

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