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Lethe, 2021

145 x 145cm, Artificial Intelligence

Lethe is the river of oblivion or forgetfulness. Upon entering the Underworld, the dead would have to drink the waters of Lethe to forget their earthly existence. Lethe is also the name of the goddess of forgetfulness who was the daughter of Eris. She watches over the River Lethe.

Lethe was first mentioned as a river of the underworld in Plato’s Republic; the word lethe is used in Greek when the forgetfulness of former kindnesses results in a quarrel. Some tomb inscriptions dated to 400 BCE say that the dead could keep their memories by avoiding drinking from the Lethe and drink instead from the stream flowing from the lake of Mnemosyne (the goddess of memory).

Reported as a real-life body of water in modern-day Spain, Lethe was also the mythological River of Forgetfulness. Lucan quotes the ghost of Julia in his Pharsalia: “Me not the oblivious banks of Lethe’s stream have made forgetful,” as Horace quips that certain vintages make one more forgetful and “Lethe’s true draught is Massic wine.”

(N.S Gill, 2019)