Wow ... I have a pile of news items to wade through and there's barely anything of interest to us. So, since it is such a slow news day, we can point out some recent journalistic howlers. First, from Al-Ahram:

Yet historically, the ancient Egyptians were the first to document the interpretations of dreams. The Chester Beastly Papyrus is one of the earliest documents on dreams. And their dreams were closely linked with divination and soothsaying

Well, sort of ... one of the Chester Beatty papyri contains a copy of a 'dream book' ... Outside of that, we probably should comment on the news that Pluto's two recently-discovered moons have been given Classically-relevant names. Here's an excerpt from a representative piece (sent in my JMM ... thanks) from Science Now:

Pluto's baby twin moons, formerly known as S/2005 P 1 and S/2005 P 2, have been christened Nix and Hydra. The objects, discovered last year by the Hubble Space Telescope, received their names from the International Astronomical Union (IAU). A formal announcement will be issued this Friday, 23 June.


In mythology, Pluto ruled the underworld. Nyx was the goddess of night and the mother of Charon, the boatsman who takes souls across the River Styx and into Pluto's grasp. Pluto's large satellite, discovered in 1978, is called Charon. Because an asteroid with the name Nyx already exists, the IAU decided to use a slightly different spelling for the inner one of the two small Plutonian moons, to avoid confusion. Hydra was the mythological nine-headed serpent that guarded the underworld. A large but inconspicuous constellation in the spring sky also bears this name.

The hydra-as-guardian-of-the-underworld thing is repeated in the AP story making the rounds ... I'm not sure about the hydra as such a guardian; the Lernaean hydra slain by Hercules is cited in Wikipedia (citing Kerenyi) as guarding an entrance to the underworld. Not sure where Kerenyi got the idea; it doesn't appear to be in Apollodorus. In any event, the Reuters version seems more reponsible:

Hydra is a monster with the body of a nine-headed serpent, seen as appropriate for the outermost moon of Pluto, the ninth planet in the solar system.

The other detail worth griping about (as JMM points out as well) by pedantic types like me, is that Charon did NOT ferry folks across the Styx (a detail repeated in other versions as well, e.g., at Technically speaking, Charon ferries folks across a different river in the underworld ... the Acheron.