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Ode to Thanatos / Hypnos





An Orphic Hymn invoked Thanatos:

"To Thanatos, Fumigation from Manna.

Hear me, O Death, whose empire unconfin'd
extends to mortal tribes of ev'ry kind.
On thee, the portion of our time depends,
whose absence lengthens life, whose presence ends.

Thy sleep perpetual bursts the vivid folds
by which the soul, attracting body holds :
common to all, of ev'ry sex and age,
for nought escapes thy all-destructive rage.

Not youth itself thy clemency can gain,
vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.
In thee the end of nature’s works is known,
in thee all judgment is absolved alone.
No suppliant arts thy dreadful rage control,
no vows revoke the purpose of thy soul.
O blessed power, regard my ardent prayer,
and human life to age abundant spare.



The Greek poet Hesiod established in his Theogony that Thánatos is a son of Nyx (Night) and Erebos (Darkness) and twin of Hypnos Homer also confirmed Hypnos and Thanatos as twin brothers in his epic poem, the Iliad, where they were charged by Zeus via Apollo with the swift delivery of the slain hero Sarpedon to his homeland of Lycia.

Hesiod says that Death/thanatos is the twin brother of Sleep/hypnos, who are "keen gods" who live in the dark Tartarus and never see the lights and the sun. But while hypnos travelling peacefully on the sea over the earth to please people with dreams, unlike Death is cruel with iron heart and hated by people, even by the immortals.

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