Wednesday, April 25, 2012

hypnos: The god of sleeping

Hypnos and Thanatos the twin brothers

"Και γαρ τ' όναρ εκ Διός εστίν""But come, let us ask some seer or priest, or some reader of dreams—for a dream too is from Zeus"Homer,Iliad,A 63  

The God Hypnos(Sleep) ,according to the ancient Greeks was the twin brother of Thanatos(Death), the son of the Goddess Nychta(night) and Herebos.They imagined him as young, handsome with wings on his shoulders, making tired people fall asleep by sprinkling them with a branch drenched with oblivion or by watering them with a horn full of hypnotic essences.
Hypnos was really powerful.He was able to make all the people fall asleep and the gods too. He once made  Zeus the king of the gods to fall asleep after urges by Hera who wanted to intervene in the Trojan war.According to the story Hera visited the Greek island of Lemnos where Hypnos dwelled and pronounced him Archon(lord) of Gods and mortals in order to persuade him .Hypnos was doubtful about dealing with Zeus but finally he was persuaded by an offering to marry one of the three Charites(Graces), particularly Pasithei with whom he had fallen in love. Pasithei symbolized relaxation and rest, that's why she was desired by Hypnos.The plan went well for Hera.While she was seducing Zeus, hypnos appeared transformed as a bird and hypnotized him.

In Iliad (book 14,224-291)
There she met Sleep, the brother of Death; and she clasped him by the hand, and spake and addressed him: “Sleep, lord of all gods and of all men, if ever thou didst hearken to word of mine, so do thou even now obey, [235] and I will owe thee thanks all my days. Lull me to sleep the bright eyes of Zeus beneath his brows, so soon as I shall have lain me by his side in love. And gifts will I give thee, a fair throne, ever imperishable, wrought of gold, that Hephaestus, mine own son, [240] the god of the two strong arms, shall fashion thee with skill, and beneath it shall he set a foot-stool for the feet, whereon thou mayest rest thy shining feet when thou quaffest thy wine.”

Hypnos and Pasithei had children that were called Oneiroi(Dreams). The oneiroi were four brothers: Morpheus, Ikelus, Phobetor and Fantasus. The Oneiroi lived at the shores of the ocean(the ancient greeks believed that there was a single ocean surrounding the world). The Oneiroi were sending dreams to the mortals  via two gates. The one gate was made by Keratos and through it they were sending real dreams as warnings for real life conditions while through the second gate which was made of ivory they were sending fake dreams.

In Homer's Odyssey Penelope  says: (Τ 559-566 )

 “Stranger, dreams verily are baffling and unclear of meaning, and in no wise do they find fulfillment in all things for men. For two are the gates of shadowy dreams, and one is fashioned of horn and one of ivory. Those dreams that pass through the gate of sawn ivory deceive men, bringing words that find no fulfillment. But those that come forth through the gate of polished horn bring true issues to pass, when any mortal sees them .
Selene persuaded Zeus to make Endymion stay eternally young. So Zeus ordered hypnos to put Endymion in eternal sleep.

Hypnos features also in the story of Endymion. Endymion was sentenced by Zeus to eternal sleep and received the power to sleep with his eyes open. He was granted this trait by Hypnos in order to be able to constantly watch his beloved Selene(moon), according to the poet, Licymnius of Chios.

Morpheus: The name derives from the word Morphe(shape). His ability was to appear in dreams with any human shape.He was the only god who could intervene in dreams of kings and heroes and the only one who conveyed messages of gods to mortals through dreams.

Phobetor:His name derives from the word phobos(fear). He was the personification of nightmare and he could take the shape of monsters and scary animals.

Fantasus:His name derives from the word fantasia(Fantasy). He produced unexplainable and abstract dreams. He was the personification of fantasy and could take no living form.

Ikelus: He was adjusting the parts of dreams that depicted reality to make them more realistic

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