Hypnos

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Hypnos

Nationality/Culture

Greek

Pronunciation

HIP-nohs

Alternate Names

Somnus (Roman)

Appears In

Hesiod's Theogony, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Homer's Iliad

Lineage

Son of Nyx

Character Overview

The ancient Greeks said that Hypnos, the god of sleep, visited people during the dark of night to ease them into a state of rest. Hypnos hid from the sunlight during the day. According to Greek myth, he was the son of Nyx (pronounced NIKS), the goddess of night, and his brother was Thanatos (pronounced THAN-uh-tohs), the god of death.

Major Myths

Some writers claimed that Hypnos lived in the underworld , or land of the dead, but others said that he dwelled in a cave on the Greek island of Lemnos (pronounced LEM-nohs). Lethe (pronounced LEE-thee), the river of forgetfulness, rippled through his dim, foggy cave. The Dreams, some of his many sons, lived with him. The most important ones were Morpheus (pronounced MOR-fee-uhs), who caused sleepers to dream about people; Icelus (pronounced EYE-suh-luhs), also known as Phobetor (pronounced foh-BEE-tor), who delivered dreams about animals or monsters; and Phantasos (pronounced FAN-tuh-sohs), who brought dreams about lifeless objects.

In the Iliad , Homer tells a story about the goddess Hera (pronounced HAIR-uh), the queen of the gods, requesting help from Hypnos during the Trojan War. She asked him to put the king of the gods, Zeus (pronounced ZOOS), to sleep to prevent him from interfering on behalf of Troy. At first, Hypnos hesitated, fearful of Zeus's anger. However, Hera convinced him to help by promising him Pasithea (pronounced puh-SITH-ee-uh), one of the Graces , as his bride.

Hypnos in Context

The ancient Greeks drew direct connections between sleep and death. Hypnos, the god of peaceful sleep, and Thanatos, the god of peaceful death, were twin brothers. Hypnos was also said to live in the underworld. The ancient Greeks clearly noticed the crude similarities between a sleeping person and a dead person, and viewed sleep itself as a product of the underworld, a sort of shadow of death.

Key Themes and Symbols

In Greek mythology , Hypnos symbolizes the peace of sleep without dreams. He is associated with both night or darkness and forgetfulness, both of which may be considered elements of sleep. He was also often associated with poppies, which were the source of the sleep-inducing drug known as opium.

Hypnos in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

In ancient art, Hypnos was often depicted with wings growing from his head or shoulders. He was typically shown holding poppies or a container with opium, which brought on sleep. He was sometimes shown holding an upside-down torch. In modern times, Hypnos has appeared in the Japanese comic and animated series Saint Seiya, as well as several video games. Hypnos was featured as the villain in the 2001 film Monkeybone, though his appearance was drastically different than what is shown in traditional art.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

Sleep is one of the most important and least understood functions of the body. It has long been believed that sleep was needed to provide physical rest for a person's body and brain; however, modern research indicates not only that dreams keep the brain very active during sleep, but also that a person burns more calories while sleeping than while watching television. What do you think is the purpose of sleep? Using your library and the Internet, find evidence that would support or disprove your idea.

SEE ALSO Graces; Hera; Lethe; Zeus

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Hypnos

The ancient Greeks said that Hypnos, the god of sleep, visited people during the dark of night to ease them into a state of rest. Hypnos hid from the sunlight during the day According to Greek myth, he was the son of Nyx, the goddess of night, and his brother was Thanatos, the god of death.

Some writers claimed that Hypnos lived in the underworld, but others said that he dwelled in a cave on the Greek island of Lemnos. Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, rippled through his dim, foggy cave. The Dreams, some of his many sons, lived with him. The most important ones were Morpheus, who caused sleepers to dream about people; Icelus (or Phobetor), who delivered dreams about animals or monsters; and Phantasus, who brought dreams about lifeless objects.

In the Iliad, Homer* tells a story about the goddess Hera* requesting help from Hypnos during the Trojan War*. She asked him to put Zeus* to sleep to prevent him from interfering on behalf of Troy. At first, Hypnos hesitated, fearful of Zeus's anger. However, Hera convinced him to help by promising him Pasithea, one of the Graces, as his bride.

See also Graces; Hera; Lethe; Thanatos; Trojan War; Zeus.

underworld land of the dead

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Hypnos in Greek mythology, the god of sleep, son of Nyx (Night).