|Aeneas and the Sibyl in the Underworld|
Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-78)
Adjective. Late 19th century.
[from Greek khthon earth.]
Dwelling in or beneath the earth or in the underworld;
of or pertaining to the underworld.
When I was little, my Dad used to take me caving, and I was struck by both the intensity of the darkness in that subterranean world, and how hot it was. My Dad explained the reason for the heat, and how it was also the likely origin of the Hell myth, and why Hell was placed underground in superstition rather than in the sky like Heaven.
As an adjective for that which is of the underworld, a place not just of fire and brimstone, demons and the Devil, but also occupied by various Greek deities according to their chthonian mythology, I do like chthonic - its awkward initial consonants make it fittingly uncomfortable and give it an alien, Lovecraftian air. For speakers of British English, it is pronounced ker-thonic, whereas American dictionaries tend to drop the initial ch- in pronunciation, rendering it simply thonic.
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