Charon arrives at the River Styx dock (hi-res)
   Charon waits at the River Styx dock (hi-res)
   Charon at dock (hi-res)
   Charon Close-Up (hi-res A / B / C)


Since the origin of Hades, Charon has been the sole ferryman of the Hades Shuttle Service as he works to oar all of the newly dead into the inner realms of Hades. For many centuries, he required an obolus (an ancient silver coin) from everyone he transports. Thus most of the shades had a coin, because it had been the custom to bury the dead with an obolus to pay to Charon (those who did not, would spent eternity wandering on the outskirts). If spirits had thought ahead of time and brought more than one coin, passage was granted for a return trip. At an obolus a ride, Charon was rumored to have collected more silver than anyone in history, and many wondered what he did with all his wealth.

As the number of dead souls arriving daily in Hades over the years had increased at a drastic rate, soon Charon had managed to gather every single oboli in the world. Sometime near the beginning of the eleventh century, the price had changed to 2 zorkmids per ride.

Though it was rare for the non-dead to purchase a ride from Charon, it had been known to happen. He took the coins the same as any spirits and boated them across. Unfortuantely for those seeking to do so today, since the end of the tenth century, the Shuttle Service has only permitted the dead to cross. But if a living being does happen to find a way to the other shore, as long as that one does not pass through the gates, Charon will take pity and provide a charity ride back across.

SOURCE(S): The Zork Chronicles, Zork Grand inquisitor, Zork I