There are many religions in the world, and most of them have a god or goddess that watches over the souls of their followers. In Greek mythology, however, there are two deities that rule over death: Thanatos and Hypnos.
Thanatos, in Ancient Greek religion and mythology, is the personification of death – he is often seen with his twin brother, Hypnos (the god of sleep), in depictions of Thanatos’s journey to Hades with a soul which has just been killed.
Thanatos and Hypnos- Twin Disasters
Where were Thanatos and Hypnos born?
Thanatos was the son of Nyx, the goddess of night, and the brother of Hypnos, the god of sleep. He appeared to mortals to take them off to the underworld when the time allotted to them by Moirai (the Fates) had expired.
What did Thanatos look like?
The depiction of Thanatos in Greek literature is that he was a young, beardless man with wings upon his shoulders emerging from his skull as he rides on a horse-drawn chariot.
What did Hypnos look like?
Hypnos was a young, bearded man with wings upon his shoulders emerging from his ears as he rides on the back of a horse-drawn carriage.
What did Thanatos and Hypnos do?
Thanatos was the personification of death, and he was often depicted carrying a dead soul to the underworld.
Many times in ancient stories, Thanatos, the Greek God of death, was portrayed as a youthful man with wings upon his shoulders emerging from his skull as he rides his horse-drawn chariot. He was said to have been born from Night (Nyx) and Death itself (Erebus) when Aphrodite first separated the two in order to stop them from killing one another.
On the other hand, Hypnos was the personification of sleep. He was portrayed as a young bearded man with wings upon his shoulders emerging from his ears as he rides the back of a horse-drawn carriage. According to ancient Greek mythology, he and his brother were both fathered by Nyx but raised by Hera in a cave on Mount Ida (in Crete).
How did Thanatos and Hypnos perform?
Thanatos’s duty was to carry off souls to their final resting place. His chariot was drawn by winged horses that had no hooves. The horses’ heads protruded from their foreheads, and they came out of his ears on either side.
Hypnos’s function was to watch over the souls of the dead as they slept. He had a winged horse (called a “Narceus”) that was pulled by a team of horses with no hooves. The horse’s head protruded from its forehead, so it could breathe and travel easily. The “Narceus” served both as an attribute for Hypnos and as the vehicle for his sister, Somnus (Dream).
Did Thanatos and Hypnos have children?
No. Neither Hypnos nor Thanatos had any offspring.
Who was the strongest of the two?
Thanatos was considered to be the stronger of the two because he was shown to be the one who carried off the souls of mortals into the underworld when they died.
Where did Hypnos and Thanatos live?
Both deities lived in Erebos, a place located in the underworld, which was also called Hades.
What symbols did Thanatos and Hypnos use?
Several symbols were associated with both deities. Hypnos was represented as a winged youth emerging from his ears, while Thanatos was portrayed as a beardless youth who emerged from his skull on a horse-drawn chariot.
Hypnos’s symbol was a sleeping woman’s headdress with serpents for hair, and Thanatos’s symbol was a winged skull with serpents for hair.
Why were Hypnos and Thanatos symbols used?
The winged horses ridden by both deities provided the means by which souls could be taken into the underworld. The winged chariots pulled by both deities were symbols of the soul’s ascent. The serpents on the winged horses and chariots represented death itself.
What was the significance of Hypnos and Thanatos’s number?
Since both deities shared a common number, it has been theorized that they may have been classified together under this number. This would have symbolized their closeness to one another, just as there are many similarities in their individual roles. Another reason for their common number could be because they are both siblings in a family of three.
How did Thanatos and Hypnos relate to the other gods?
Hypnos and Thanatos were not considered gods themselves but were closely associated with the other gods. They were often shown riding with other deities, such as Dionysos, or on top of Olympus’ Mount Helikon with Zeus. They were also shown holding a cup together as a way to symbolize the bond they shared with their brothers.
Together, Thanatos and Hypnos were known as the “Twin Disasters.” They were often portrayed as a pair of winged youths who emerged from the ears of ancient Greeks.
All of the gods had a role to play in mortals’ lives, including beneficence. The gods were not seen as cruel or harsh, but rather as helpful forces that helped people get to where they needed to be at certain times in their lives.