Mystical Caves Used Throughout Mythology The use of caves in mythology to depict darkness and abandonment has branded it as a symbol of chaos. From this perception other associations are made which connect the cave to prejudices, malevolent spirits, burial sites, sadness, resurrection and intimacy. It is a world to which only few venture, and yet its mysticism has attracted the interest of philosophers, religious figures and thinkers throughout history. These myths are exemplified in Homer's "Odyssey," where the two worlds of mortals and immortals unite in the eternal cave. To Plato, the cave represents the confusion between reality and falsehood. Individuals chained deep within the recesses of the cave mistake their shadows for physical existence. These false perceptions, and the escape from bonds held within the cave symbolize transition into the a world of reality. Comparatively, in the Odyssey, Odysseus must first break with Kalypso, and set himself free before he can return to Ithaka, when he will then be prepared to release Penelope from the bondage of suitors. His experience within the cave is in itself a world of fantasy, in that Kalypso is a supernatural being, and the only way to escape her enslavement is to receive assistance from immortals superior to her. The philosopher Francis Bacon also theorized about the myth attached to caves in which he maintained that "idols," meaning prejudices and preconceived notions possessed by an individual, were contained in a person's "cave," or obscure, compartment, with "?intricate and winding chambers'"1 . Beliefs that caves were inhabited by negative thoughts, or spirits, were also held by the native-American culture, in which these spirits influenced the outcome of all human strivings, and had to be maintained inside caves. The souls of the dead were thought to be the most malevolent of all spirits, and were held within the deepest parts of the cave. In Greek mythology this also holds true, according the legend in which Cronus was placed in a cave in the deepest part of the underworld. This was done by Zeus and his siblings after waging war against their father for swallowing them at birth for fear that they might overthrow him. Incidently, Zeus was raised in a cave after Rhea hid him from Cronus. For his punishment, Cronus was placed in Tartarus to prevent his return to earth, which would unbalance the system of authority established by Zeus. Beyond the shadows of the cave, however, this balanced system of power is nonexistent. It becomes a system both unstable and lawless, and survival as a guest in such a cave is only accomplished through the complete submission to the sovereign. In Odysseus' encounter with the Cyclops, it is his disregard for Polyphemos' authority that costs him the lives of several companions, and ultimately a ten year delay on his return home. The land of the Cyclops epitomizes darkness, chaos, and abandonment; where the only law exists past the entrance of the cave. From the island's shore a "high wall of...boulders"2 can be seen encircling each cave. Clearly impossible of being accomplished by mortals, massive walls of similar description found standing after the Persian Wars were also thought by ancient Greeks to be the work of the Cyclops. Unfamiliar to this system of power, Odysseus disregards these laws and enters the cave without an invitation. For this reason, Polyphemos implicates his own punishment onto the trespassers, and kills six men. In order to escape the wrath of the Cyclops, Odysseus eventually blinds him, an offense which falls under the jurisdiction of Poseidon, and for which he ultimately pays throughout his wanderings. The uncontrollable winds next direct Odysseus through a narrow strait outlined by rocks and cliffs through which he must pass to return home. On these cliffs which stand opposite each other lurk Scylla and Charybdis, one side "reach[ing] up into...heaven"3 and the other not quite as high. Scylla, a creature with twelve feet and six necks, resides in a cave upon this high cliff and devours sailors from fleeting ships. Across the stream of water dwells Charybdis, a dreadful whirlpool beneath a fig tree. Three times daily the maelstrom forms, and shipwrecks passing vessels. In the "Odyssey," Odysseus and his crew encounter these two sea monsters, and while avoiding Charybdis, fall prey to Scylla, who swallows