A miasmatic lake inside an extinct volcano in Campania, near Naples, Italy, presently called Lago d'Averno. In antiquity the lake was surrounded by dark cypress woods. The vapors rising from the lake killed the birds that flew over it, which made people believe it was the entrance to the infernal regions, or the lower world itself.

There is mention that Avernus was also regarded as a divine being; for Servius1 speaks of a statue of Avernus, which perspired during the storm after the union of the Avernian and Lucrinian lakes, and to which expiatory sacrifices were offered.

According to Virgil, the Cumaean Sibyl lived in a cave south of the lake.2

Another entrance to the underworld was believed to be Cape Taenarum, the center-most southern point of the Peloponnesus.



  1. on Virgil's Georgics, ii, 161.
  2. Aeneid iii, 442; vi, 118.


  • Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.