We’ve officially started!
Day Eight of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.
This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.
Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!
Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂
As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “H” post is another god, Hypnos.
Now I know I said Dionysus is my favorite god (after Hestia), but Hypnos is definitely up there. There’s something about the primordial god of sleep that excites my imagination.
Who is Hypnos?
Although it’s contested, I like thinking Hypnos, the god of sleep, was born to Nyx, goddess of night, and Erebus, god of darkness. Night –> Darkness –> bedtime (for most humans, especially little humans who are growing).
But I mentioned Nyx and Erebus and their supposed brood before. Of all his purported siblings, Hypnos was most closely associated with the god of death, Thanatos. They were twins, not sure if they were fraternal or identical. See, there’s Thanatos sleeping with Hypnos in that painting up there. They look pretty identical. I’m guessing Hypnos is the one in the light, and Thanatos is shrouded in the dark.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. Humans have long associated sleep with death. Like a mini death, sleep robs us of consciousness. There’s a reason the idiom “sleep like the dead” exists, because some of us are seriously heavy sleepers (and I’m not talking with the aid of medication).
In art, Hypnos is depicted as a young man with wings on his head. During the night, he would visit people and put them to sleep, giving them joyful dreams and stripping them, for a while, of their worldly cares. So, as far as Greek gods go, he was usually regarded in a pleasant light.
Where’s his crib?
Hypnos called the Underworld his home.
A source mentions he lived in a cave on the island of Lemnos, but I prefer the idea of him living close to death (Thanatos) in the Underworld. But to bring back the cave, Hypnos’s home was supposedly in a cave palace in the Underworld. Surrounding his cave palace was the river of forgetfulness and oblivion, Lethe, as well as a field of poppies all around his home.
Think the field of poppies in the Wizard of Oz.
In terms of interior decor, “[t]he palace was said to be furnished with a couch of ivory, instead of a throne, on which a tired Hypnos was often depicted.” My source for this wonderful description was Greek Legends and Myths.
Hypnos was said to be the husband of the youngest of the three Graces, Pasithea, and together the two bore the Dreams or Oneiroi. In some versions, the Dreams was the epithet for the children of Nyx and Erebus. Whatever they were called as a whole, the most well-known sons of Hypnos were the trio, Morpheus, Phobetor and Phantasos. The dream god who would bring shapes or people into dreams, the dream god who brought fears and animals into dreams, and the dream god who conjured inanimate objects into dreams.
Stories including Hypnos are the tale of Selene and Endymion, and he has a couple instances where Hera employs him with a task against Zeus.
Let’s start with Hera:
She approached Hypnos twice.
The first time was to exact revenge on Hercules for trashing Troy; probably also because he was Zeus’s illegitimate son. She had Hypnos put Zeus to sleep so she could plot against Hercules. She tosses a torrent of raging winds against his ships and its victory sails. Before she can do much damage, Zeus awakens and he’s pissed.
Instead of taking his anger out on Hera – he never does, if you noticed – Zeus seeks to punish Hypnos. Fearful, Hypnos hurries away to hide in his mother, Nyx’s cave in the Underworld. As powerful as Zeus is, he doesn’t dare attack the ancient goddess. So, Hypnos is saved.
You think Hypnos would learn his lesson when it came to Hera. Nope.
Putting Zeus to Sleep 2.0!
At least he’s wary when she comes to ask him a favor to put Zeus to sleep again. Seeing that Hypnos won’t be swayed without a bribe, Hera makes an oath to him that Pasithea, the youngest of the Graces, will be his wife.
Presumably pleased with the trade, Hypnos gets to work. The purpose this time is for Zeus to be put out of commission while his brother, sea god Poseidon, gets to work helping the Greeks win the Trojan War.
Once Zeus is asleep, Hypnos travels to let Poseidon know he can help the Greeks. Zeus wakes this time, never realizing Hypnos and Hera’s deception.
And Hera kept her promise, Hypnos and Pasithea were wed. The Blessed End.
Now to Selene and Endymion.
Selene is a Titan. She was the spirit of the moon. Her brother, Helios, the spirit of the sun, and her sister, Eos, the spirit of dawn.
Endymion was a shepherd (or a king) who was supposedly the mortal son of Zeus. He possessed tremendous beauty. Endymion’s beauty fell in line with other handsome mortals like Adonis, Helen, and his beauty was “comparable in looks to Ganymede or Narcissus.” (source)
That beauty drew Selene to him, and he loved her as much as she loved him. When she knew he would die, she prayed to Zeus to have him be deified – made immortal, that is.
Zeus refuses, but pity must have moved him. Fetching Hypnos, he orders the god of sleep to put Endymion into an eternal slumber – one in which he doesn’t age or die. Supposedly he could still have children in this state. In this variant of Selene and Endymion’s story, they go on to have fifty children.
In another version of the tale, Selene happens upon him when he’s sleeping on her mountain, Mt. Latmos, and she falls for his beauty. She watched the flock for him, and she continued visiting him night after night.
Zeus notices how pale she is, and he asks after her health. She tells him of Endymion, and she begs for him to be deified. Like the other versions, Zeus refuses. Instead he sends Hypnos over to Endymion to cast the same eternal spell on the beautiful youth. But it doesn’t seem like Endymion even knew about Selene’s love, let alone her visits in this variant.
A little crazy that he should be forced to sleep forever without any consultation. Even Rip Van Winkle and the Seven Sleepers had a choice about their lengthy slumbers!
MORAL: Sleep with one eye open. I don’t care if you have to tape an eyelid up. Practice makes near-perfect.
Sources that helped me out with this post:
Resourceful sites! Please do check them out!