In mythology, the Greek underworld is an otherworld where souls go after death. The original Greek idea of afterlife is that, at the moment of death, the soul is separated from the corpse, taking on the shape of the former person, is transported to the entrance of the underworld; the underworld itself—sometimes known as Hades, after its patron god—is described as being either at the outer bounds of the ocean or beneath the depths or ends of the earth. It is considered the dark counterpart to the brightness of Mount Olympus with the kingdom of the dead corresponding to the kingdom of the gods. Hades is a realm invisible to the living, made for the dead. There are six main rivers that are visible both in the underworld, their names were meant to reflect the emotions associated with death. The Styx is considered to be one of the most prominent and central rivers of the underworld and is the most known out of all the rivers, it is named after the goddess Styx. This river circles the underworld seven times.
The Acheron is the river of pain. It's the one that Charon known as the Ferryman, rows the dead over according to many mythological accounts, though sometimes it is the river Styx or both; the Lethe is the river of forgetfulness. It is associated with the goddess of forgetfulness and oblivion. In accounts, a poplar branch dripping with water of the Lethe became the symbol of Hypnos, the god of sleep; the Phlegethon is the river of fire. According to Plato, this river leads to the depths of Tartarus; the Cocytus is the river of wailing. Oceanus is the river that encircles the world, it marks the east edge of the underworld, as Erebos is west of the mortal world. In front of the entrance to the underworld live Grief, Anxiety and Old Age. Fear, Need, Death and Sleep live in front of the entrance, together with Guilty Joys. On the opposite threshold is War, the Erinyes, Discord. Close to the doors are many beasts, including Centaurs, Briareus, the Lernaean Hydra, the Chimera, Harpies. In the midst of all this, an Elm can be seen.
The souls that enter the underworld carry a coin under their tongue to pay Charon to take them across the river. Charon may make allowances for those visitors carrying a certain Golden Bough. Charon is appallingly filthy, with eyes like jets of fire, a bush of unkempt beard upon his chin, a dirty cloak hanging from his shoulders. Although Charon embarks now one group now another, some souls he grimly turns away; these are the unburied which can't be taken across from bank to bank until they receive a proper burial. Across the river, guarding the gates of the underworld is Cerberus. There is an area where the Judges of the underworld decide where to send the souls of the person — to Elysium, the Fields of Asphodel, or Tartarus. While Tartarus is not considered to be directly a part of the underworld, it is described as being as far beneath the underworld as the earth is beneath the sky, it is so dark that the "night is poured around it in three rows like a collar round the neck, while above it grows the roots of the earth and of the unharvested sea."
Tartarus is the place. Homer wrote that Cronus became the king of Tartarus. While Odysseus does not see them himself, he mentions some of the people within the underworld who are experiencing punishment for their sins; the Asphodel Meadows was a place for ordinary or indifferent souls who did not commit any significant crimes, but who did not achieve any greatness or recognition that would warrant them being admitted to the Elysian Fields. It was. In the Aeneid, the Mourning Fields was a section of the underworld reserved for souls who wasted their lives on unrequited love; those mentioned as residents of this place are Dido, Procris, Pasiphaë, Evadne and Caeneus. Elysium was a place for the distinguished, it was ruled over by Rhadamanthus, the souls that dwelled there had an easy afterlife and had no labors. Those who had proximity to the gods were granted admission, rather than those who were righteous or had ethical merit. Most accepted to Elysium were heroes. Heroes such as Cadmus and Achilles were transported here after their deaths.
Normal people who lived righteous and virtuous lives could gain entrance such as Socrates who proved his worth sufficiently through philosophy. The Fortunate Isles or Isles of the Blessed were islands in the realm of Elysium; when a soul achieved Elysium, they had a choice to be reborn. If a soul was reborn three times and achieved Elysium all three times they were sent to the Isles of the Blessed to live in eternal paradise. Hades, the eldest son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea; when the three brothers divided the world between themselves, Zeus received the heavens, Poseidon the sea, Hades the underworld. Therefore, while Hades' responsibility was in the underworld, he was allowed to have power on earth as well. However, Hades himself is seen outside his domain, to those on earth his intentions and personality are a mystery. In art and literature Hades is depicted as stern and dignified, but not as a fierce torturer or devil-like. However
In Greek mythology Sisyphus or Sisyphos was the king of Ephyra. He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down when it nears the top, repeating this action for eternity. Through the classical influence on modern culture, tasks that are both laborious and futile are therefore described as Sisyphean. Linguistics Professor R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a pre-Greek origin and a connection with the root of the word sophos. German mythographer Otto Gruppe thought that the name derived from sisys, in reference to a rain-charm in which goats' skins were used. Sisyphus was the son of the brother of Salmoneus, he married the Pleiad Merope by whom he became the father of Glaucus, Thersander and Porphyrion. Sisyphus was the grandfather of Bellerophon through Glaucus, Minyas, founder of Orchomenus, through Almus. Sisyphus was the founder and first king of Ephyra. King Sisyphus was avaricious and deceitful, he killed travellers and guests, a violation of xenia, which fell under Zeus's domain.
He took pleasure in these killings. Sisyphus and his brother Salmoneus were known to hate each other, Sisyphus consulted with the Oracle of Delphi on just how to kill Salmoneus without incurring any severe consequences for himself. From Homer onward, Sisyphus was famed as the craftiest of men, he seduced Salmoneus's daughter Tyro in one of his plots to kill Salmoneus, only for Tyro to slay the children she bore him when she discovered that Sisyphus was planning on using them to dethrone her father. King Sisyphus betrayed one of Zeus's secrets by revealing the whereabouts of Aegina, to her father in return for causing a spring to flow on the Corinthian acropolis. Zeus ordered Death to chain King Sisyphus down below in Tartarus. Sisyphus was curious as to why Hermes, whose job it was to guide souls to the Underworld, had not appeared on this occasion. King Sisyphus slyly asked Thanatos to demonstrate; as Thanatos was granting him his wish, Sisyphus seized the opportunity and trapped Thanatos in the chains instead.
Once Thanatos was bound by the strong chains, no one died on earth. This caused an uproar for Ares, so he intervened; the exasperated Ares turned King Sisyphus over to Thanatos. In another version, Hades was chained himself; as long as Hades was tied up, nobody could die. Because of this, sacrifices could not be made to the gods, those that were old and sick were suffering; the gods threatened to make life so miserable for Sisyphus that he would wish he were dead. He had no choice but to release Hades. Before King Sisyphus died, he had told his wife to throw his naked body into the middle of the public square; this caused King Sisyphus to end up on the shores of the river Styx. Complaining to Persephone, goddess of the Underworld, that this was a sign of his wife's disrespect for him, King Sisyphus persuaded her to allow him to return to the upper world. Once back in Ephyra, the spirit of King Sisyphus scolded his wife for not burying his body and giving it a proper funeral; when King Sisyphus refused to return to the Underworld, he was forcibly dragged back there by Hermes.
In another version of the myth, Persephone was tricked by Sisyphus that he had been conducted to Tartarus by mistake, so she ordered that he be released. In Philoctetes by Sophocles, there is a reference to the father of Odysseus upon having returned from the dead; as a punishment for his trickery, King Sisyphus was made to roll a huge boulder endlessly up a steep hill. The maddening nature of the punishment was reserved for King Sisyphus due to his hubristic belief that his cleverness surpassed that of Zeus himself. Zeus accordingly displayed his own cleverness by enchanting the boulder into rolling away from King Sisyphus before he reached the top, which ended up consigning Sisyphus to an eternity of useless efforts and unending frustration, thus it came to pass that interminable activities are sometimes described as Sisyphean. King Sisyphus was a common subject for ancient writers and was depicted by the painter Polygnotus on the walls of the Lesche at Delphi. According to the solar theory, King Sisyphus is the disk of the sun that rises every day in the east and sinks into the west.
Other scholars regard him as a personification of waves rising and falling, or of the treacherous sea. The 1st-century BC Epicurean philosopher Lucretius interprets the myth of Sisyphus as personifying politicians aspiring for political office who are defeated, with the quest for power, in itself an "empty thing", being likened to rolling the boulder up the hill. Friedrich Welcker suggested that he symbolises the vain struggle of man in the pursuit of knowledge, Salomon Reinach that his punishment is based on a picture in which Sisyphus was represented rolling a huge stone Acrocorinthus, symbolic of the labour and skill involved in the building of the Sisypheum. Albert Camus, in his 1942 essay The Myth of Sisyphus, saw Sisyphus as personifying the absurdity of human life, but Camus concludes "one must imagine Sisyphus happy" as "The struggle itself t
Aeacus was a mythological king of the island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf. Aeacus was the son of Zeus by Aegina, a daughter of the river-god Asopus, thus, brother of Damocrateia. In some accounts, his mother was Europa and thus possible brother to Minos and Sarpedon, he was the father of Peleus and Phocus and was the grandfather of the Trojan war warriors Achilles and Telemonian Ajax. In some accounts, Aeacus had a daughter called Alcimache. Aeacus was born on the island of Oenone or Oenopia, where Aegina had been carried by Zeus to secure her from the anger of her parents; some traditions related that, at the time when Aeacus was born, Aegina was not yet inhabited, that Zeus either changed the ants of the island into the men over whom Aeacus ruled, or he made the men grow up out of the earth. Ovid, on the other hand, supposed that the island was not uninhabited at the time of the birth of Aeacus, instead stating that during the reign of Aeacus, jealous of Aegina, ravaged the island bearing the name of the latter by sending a plague or a fearful dragon into it, by which nearly all its inhabitants were carried off.
Afterward, Zeus restored the population by changing the ants into men. These legends seem to be a mythical account of the colonization of Aegina, which seems to have been inhabited by Pelasgians, afterwards received colonists from Phthiotis, the seat of the Myrmidons, from Phlius on the Asopus. While he reigned in Aegina, Aeacus was renowned in all Greece for his justice and piety, was called upon to settle disputes not only among men, but among the gods themselves, he was such a favourite with the latter, that when Greece was visited by a drought as a consequence of a murder, committed, the oracle of Delphi declared that the calamity would not cease unless Aeacus prayed to the gods to end it. Aeacus prayed, as a result, the drought ceased. Aeacus demonstrated his gratitude by erecting a temple to Zeus Panhellenius on Mount Panhellenion, afterward, the Aeginetans built a sanctuary on their island called Aeaceum, a square temple enclosed by walls of white marble. Aeacus was believed in times to be buried under the altar of this sacred enclosure.
A legend preserved in Pindar relates that Apollo and Poseidon took Aeacus as their assistant in building the walls of Troy. When the work was completed, three dragons rushed against the wall, though the two that attacked the sections of the wall built by the gods fell down dead, the third forced its way into the city through the portion of the wall built by Aeacus. Thereafter, Apollo prophesied that Troy would fall at the hands of Aeacus's descendants, the Aeacidae. Aeacus was believed by the Aeginetans to have surrounded their island with high cliffs in order to protect it against pirates. Several other incidents connected to the story of Aeacus are mentioned by Ovid. By Endeïs Aeacus had two sons and Peleus, by Psamathe a son, whom he preferred to the former two sons, both of whom conspired to kill Phocus during a contest, subsequently fled from their native island. After his death, Aeacus became one of the three judges in Hades and, according to Plato, was concerned with the shades of Europeans upon their arrival to the underworld.
In works of art he was depicted bearing the keys of Hades. Aeacus had sanctuaries in both Athens and in Aegina, the Aeginetans regarded him as the tutelary deity of their island by celebrating the Aeacea in his honor. In The Frogs by Aristophanes, Dionysus proclaims himself to be Heracles. Aeacus, lamenting the fact that Heracles had stolen Cerberus, sentences Dionysus to Acheron to be tormented by the hounds of Cocytus, the Echidna, the Tartesian eel, Tithrasian Gorgons. Alexander the Great traced his ancestry through his mother to Aeacus; this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed.. "Aeacus". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
Tantalus was a Greek mythological figure, most famous for his eternal punishment in Tartarus. He was called Atys, he was made to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches, with the fruit eluding his grasp, the water always receding before he could take a drink. He was the father of Pelops and Broteas, was a son of Zeus and the nymph Plouto. Thus, like other heroes in Greek mythology such as Theseus and the Dioskouroi, Tantalus had both a hidden, divine parent and a mortal one. According to other sources, his father was an early king of Lydia. Plato in the Cratylus interprets Tantalos as ταλάντατος talantatos, "who has to bear much" from τάλας talas "wretched". R. S. P. Beekes has rejected an Indo-European interpretation. There may have been an historical Tantalus – the ruler of an Anatolian city named "Tantalís", "the city of Tantalus", or of a city named "Sipylus". Pausanias reports that there was a port under his name and a sepulcher of him "by no means obscure", in the same region.
Tantalus is referred to as "Phrygian", sometimes as "King of Phrygia", although his city was located in the western extremity of Anatolia, where Lydia was to emerge as a state before the beginning of the first millennium BC, not in the traditional heartland of Phrygia, situated more inland. References to his son as "Pelops the Lydian" led some scholars to the conclusion that there would be good grounds for believing that he belonged to a primordial house of Lydia. Other versions name his father as Tmolus, the name of a king of Lydia and, like Sipylus, of another mountain in ancient Lydia; the location of Tantalus' mortal mountain-fathers placed him in Lydia. The identity of his wife is variously given: as Dione the daughter of Atlas. Tantalus was called the father of Dascylus. Tantalus, through Pelops, was the progenitor of the House of Atreus, named after his grandson Atreus. Tantalus was the great-grandfather of Agamemnon and Menelaus; the geographer Strabo, quoting earlier sources, states that the wealth of Tantalus was derived from the mines of Phrygia and Mount Sipylus.
Near Mount Sipylus are archaeological features that have been associated with Tantalus and his house since Antiquity. Near Mount Yamanlar in İzmir, where the Lake Karagöl associated with the accounts surrounding him is found, is a monument mentioned by Pausanias: the tholos "tomb of Tantalus" and another one in Mount Sipylus, where a "throne of Pelops", an altar or bench carved in rock and conjecturally associated with his son is found. A more famous monument, a full-faced statue carved in rock, mentioned by Pausanias, is a statue of Cybele, said by Pausanias to have been carved by Broteas, but it is in fact Hittite. Further afield, based on a similarity between the names Tantalus and Hantili, it has been suggested that the name Tantalus may have derived from that of these two Hittite kings. Tantalus became one of the inhabitants of Tartarus, the deepest portion of the Underworld, reserved for the punishment of evildoers; the association of Tantalus with the underworld is underscored by the names of his mother Plouto, grandmother, Chthonia.
Tantalus was known for having been welcomed to Zeus' table in Olympus, like Ixion. There, he is said to have misbehaved and stolen ambrosia and nectar to bring it back to his people, revealed the secrets of the gods. Most famously, Tantalus offered up Pelops, as a sacrifice, he cut Pelops up, boiled him, served him up in a banquet for the gods. The gods became aware of the gruesome nature of the menu, so they did not touch the offering. Clotho, one of the three Fates, was ordered by Zeus to bring the boy to life again, she collected the parts of the body and boiled them in a sacred cauldron, rebuilding his shoulder with one wrought of ivory made by Hephaestus and presented by Demeter. The revived Pelops grew to be an extraordinarily handsome youth; the god Poseidon took him to Mount Olympus to teach him to use chariots. Zeus threw Pelops out of Olympus due to his anger at Tantalus; the Greeks of classical times claimed to be horrified by Tantalus's doings. Tantalus's punishment for his act, now a proverbial term for temptation without satisfaction, was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches.
Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded. Over his head towers a threatening stone like the one; this fate has cursed him with eternal deprivation of nourishment. In a different story, Tantalus was blamed for indirectly having stolen the dog made of gold created by Hephaestus for Rhea to watch over infant Zeus. Tantalus's friend Pandareus gave it to Tantalus for safekeeping; when asked by Pandareus to return the dog, Tantalus denied that he had i
In Greek mythology, Pirithous was the King of the Lapiths of Larissa in Thessaly. Pirithous was a son of "heavenly" Dia, fathered either by Zeus, he married Hippodamia, daughter of Atrax or Butes, at whose wedding the famous Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs occurred. By his wife, he became the father of one of Greek leaders during the Trojan War. Peirithous was the close friend of the hero Theseus. According to Homer, Dia had sex with Zeus, disguised as a stallion, gave birth to Pirithous, his best friend was Theseus. In Iliad I, Nestor numbers Pirithous and Theseus "of heroic fame" among an earlier generation of heroes of his youth, "the strongest men that Earth has bred, the strongest men against the strongest enemies, a savage mountain-dwelling tribe whom they utterly destroyed". No trace of such an oral tradition, which Homer's listeners would have recognized in Nestor's allusion, survived in literary epic. In disjointed episodes that have survived, Pirithous had heard rumors about Theseus' courage and strength in battle but he wanted proof.
He rustled Theseus' herd of cattle from Marathon, Theseus set out to pursue him. Pirithous took up arms and the pair met became so impressed by each other they took an oath of friendship, they were among the company of heroes that hunted the Calydonian Boar, another mythic theme, well-known to Homer's listeners. Pirithous was set to marry Hippodamia; the centaurs were guests at the party, but they got drunk and tried to abduct the women, including Hippodamia, carried off by the intoxicated centaur Eurytion or Eurytus. The Lapiths won the Centauromachy, a favorite motif of Greek art. Hippodamia died shortly after Polypoetes' birth, thus and Theseus pledged to carry off daughters of Zeus. Theseus chose Helen of Sparta and together they kidnapped her when she was 13 years of age and decided to hold on to her until she was old enough to marry. Pirithous chose a more dangerous prize: Persephone herself, they left Helen with Theseus' mother, Aethra at Aphidnae, traveled to the underworld domain of Persephone and her husband Hades.
When they stopped to rest, they found themselves unable to stand up from the rock as they saw the Furies appear before them. Heracles freed Theseus from the stone, he had committed too great a crime for wanting the wife of one of the great gods as his own bride. By the time Theseus returned to Athens, the Dioscuri had taken Helen back to Sparta; the friendship of Theseus and Pirithous acquired homoerotic undertone in the realm of Attic comedy, in which Heracles attempted to free them from the rock to which they had been bound together in the Underworld. He left behind his buttocks attached to the rocks. Due to this Theseus came to be called hypolispos, meaning "with hinder parts rubbed smooth."Pirithous was worshiped at Athens, along with Theseus, as a hero. Pirithous appears in the Class of the Titans episode "Recipe for Disaster" voiced by Michael Donovan, his mythology of being trapped in the Underworld and being unable to be freed by Heracles remains unchanged in the series, but it is mentioned that Hades freed Pirithous upon his death.
Pirithous appears in the video game God of War III voiced by Simon Templeman. His name is spelled Peirithous here. Peirithous is shown as a prisoner of Hades for trying to make off with Persephone. Peirithous offers Kratos to free him in exchange for giving him the Bow of Apollo. Kratos claims the Bow of Apollo. Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History translated by Charles Henry Oldfather. Twelve volumes. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Vol. 3. Books 4.59–8. Online version at Bill Thayer's Web Site Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica. Vol 1-2. Immanel Bekker. Ludwig Dindorf. Friedrich Vogel. in aedibus B. G. Teubneri. Leipzig. 1888-1890. Greek text available at the Perseus Digital Library. Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae from The Myths of Hyginus translated and edited by Mary Grant. University of Kansas Publications in Humanistic Studies. Online version at the Topos Text Project. Homer, The Iliad with an English Translation by A. T. Murray, Ph. D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA.
Harvard University Press. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Homer, Homeri Opera in five volumes. Oxford, Oxford University Press. 1920. Greek text available at the Perseus Digital Library. Homer, The Odyssey with an English Translation by A. T. Murray, PH. D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Greek text available from the same website. Pausanias, Description of Greece with an English Translation by W. H. S. Jones, Litt. D. and H. A. Ormerod, M. A. in 4 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio. 3 vols. Leipzig, Teubner. 1903. Greek text available at the Perseus Digital Library. Pliny the Elder, The Natural History. John Bostock, M. D
Ancient Greek religion
Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs and mythology originating in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and cult practices. These groups varied enough for it to be possible to speak of Greek religions or "cults" in the plural, though most of them shared similarities. Most ancient Greeks recognized the twelve major Olympian gods and goddesses:, although philosophies such as Stoicism and some forms of Platonism used language that seems to assume a single transcendent deity; the worship of these deities, several others, was found across the Greek world, though they have different epithets that distinguished aspects of the deity, reflect the absorption of other local deities into the pan-Hellenic scheme. The religious practices of the Greeks extended beyond mainland Greece, to the islands and coasts of Ionia in Asia Minor, to Magna Graecia, to scattered Greek colonies in the Western Mediterranean, such as Massalia. Early Italian religions such as the Etruscan were influenced by Greek religion in forming much of the ancient Roman religion.
While there were few concepts universal to all the Greek peoples, there were common beliefs shared by many. Ancient Greek theology was polytheistic, based on the assumption that there were many gods and goddesses, as well as a range of lesser supernatural beings of various types. There was a hierarchy of deities, with Zeus, the king of the gods, having a level of control over all the others, although he was not almighty; some deities had dominion over certain aspects of nature. For instance, Zeus was the sky-god, sending thunder and lightning, Poseidon ruled over the sea and earthquakes, Hades projected his remarkable power throughout the realms of death and the Underworld, Helios controlled the sun. Other deities ruled over abstract concepts. All significant deities were visualized as "human" in form, although able to transform themselves into animals or natural phenomena. While being immortal, the gods were not all-good or all-powerful, they had to obey fate, known to Greek mythology as the Moirai, which overrode any of their divine powers or wills.
For instance, in mythology, it was Odysseus' fate to return home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, the gods could only lengthen his journey and make it harder for him, but they could not stop him. The gods had human vices, they would interact with humans, sometimes spawning children with them. At times certain gods would be opposed to others, they would try to outdo each other. In the Iliad, Aphrodite and Apollo support the Trojan side in the Trojan War, while Hera and Poseidon support the Greeks; some gods were associated with a certain city. Athena was associated with the city of Athens, Apollo with Delphi and Delos, Zeus with Olympia and Aphrodite with Corinth, but other gods were worshipped in these cities. Other deities were associated with nations outside of Greece. Identity of names was not a guarantee of a similar cultus. Though the worship of the major deities spread from one locality to another, though most larger cities boasted temples to several major gods, the identification of different gods with different places remained strong to the end.
The Greeks believed in an underworld. One of the most widespread areas of this underworld was ruled over by Hades, a brother of Zeus, was known as Hades. Other well known realms are Tartarus, a place of torment for the damned, Elysium, a place of pleasures for the virtuous. In the early Mycenean religion all the dead went to Hades, but the rise of mystery cults in the Archaic age led to the development of places such as Tartarus and Elysium. A few Greeks, like Achilles, Amphiaraus Ganymede, Melicertes, Peleus, a great number of those who fought in the Trojan and Theban wars, were considered to have been physically immortalized and brought to live forever in either Elysium, the Islands of the Blessed, the ocean, or beneath the ground; such beliefs are found in the most ancient such as Homer and Hesiod. This belief remained strong into the Christian era. For most people at the moment of death there was, however, no hope of anything but continued existence as a disembodied soul; some Greeks, such as the philosophers Pythagoras and Plato embraced the idea of reincarnation, though this was only accepted by a few.
Epicurus taught that the soul was atoms which dissolved at death, so there was no existence after death. Greek religion had an extensive mythology, it consisted of stories of the gods and how they interacted with humans. Myths revolved around heroes and their actions, such as Heracles and his twelve labors and his voyage home and the quest for the Golden Fleece and Theseus and the Minotaur. Many species existed in Greek mythology. Chief among these were the gods and humans, though the Titans frequently appeared in Greek myths. Lesser species included the half-man-half-horse centaurs, the nature based nymphs and the half man, half goat satyrs; some creatures in Greek mythology were monstrous, such as the one-eyed giant Cyclop
In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the personification of death. He was a minor figure in Greek mythology referred to but appearing in person, his name is transliterated in Latin as Thanatus, but his equivalent in Roman mythology is Mors or Letum. Mors is sometimes erroneously identified with Orcus, whose Greek equivalent was Horkos, God of the Oath; the Greek poet Hesiod established in his Theogony that Thánatos is a son of Nyx and Erebos and twin of Hypnos. Homer 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. "Then gave him into the charge of swift messengers to carry him, of Hypnos and Thanatos, who are twin brothers, these two presently laid him down within the rich countryside of broad Lycia." Counted among Thanatos' siblings were other negative personifications such as Geras, Moros, Momus, Eris and the Acherousian/Stygian boatman Charon. Thanatos was loosely associated with the three Moirai Atropos, a goddess of death in her own right.
He is occasionally specified as being exclusive to peaceful death, while the bloodthirsty Keres embodied violent death. His duties as a Guide of the Dead were sometimes superseded by Hermes Psychopompos. Conversely, Thanatos may have originated as a mere aspect of Hermes before becoming distinct from him; the god's character is established by Hesiod in the following passage of the Theogony: And there the children of dark Night have their dwellings and Death, awful gods. The glowing Sun never looks upon them with his beams, neither as he goes up into heaven, nor as he comes down from heaven, and the former of them roams peacefully over the earth and the sea's broad back and is kindly to men. Thanatos was thus regarded as merciless and indiscriminate, hated by – and hateful towards — mortals and gods alike, but in myths which feature him, Thanatos could be outwitted, a feat that the sly King Sisyphus of Korinth twice accomplished. When it came time for Sisyphus to die, Zeus ordered Thanatos to chain Sisyphus up in Tartarus.
Sisyphus cheated death by tricking Thanatos into his own shackles, thereby prohibiting the demise of any mortal while Thanatos was so enchained. Ares, the bloodthirsty god of war, grew frustrated with the battles he incited since neither side suffered any casualties, he handed his captor over to the god. Sisyphus would evade Death a second time by convincing Persephone to allow him to return to his wife stating that she never gave him a proper funeral; this time, Sisyphus was forcefully dragged back to the Underworld by Hermes when Sisyphus refused to accept his death. Sisyphus was sentenced to an eternity of frustration in Tartarus where he rolled a boulder up a hill and it would roll back down when he got close to the top. A fragment of Alcaeus, a Greek lyric poet of the 6th century BC, refers to this episode: "King Sisyphos, son of Aiolos, wisest of men, supposed that he was master of Thanatos. Sisyphus, son of Aiolos was a more than mortal figure: for mortals Thanatos presents an inexorable fate, but he was only once overpowered, by the mythical hero Heracles.
Thanatos was consigned to take the soul of Alkestis, who had offered her life in exchange for the continued life of her husband, King Admetos of Pherai. Heracles was an honored guest in the House of Admetos at the time, he offered to repay the king's hospitality by contending with Death itself for Alkestis' life; when Thanatos ascended from Hades to claim Alkestis, Heracles sprung upon the god and overpowered him, winning the right to have Alkestis revived. Thanatos cheated of his quarry. Euripides, in Alcestis: "Thanatos: Much talk. Talking will win you nothing. All the same, the woman goes with me to Hades' house. I go to take her now, dedicate her with my sword, for all whose hair is cut in consecration by this blade's edge are devoted to the gods below." An Orphic Hymn that invoked Thanatos, here given in late 18th century translation: "To Death, 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. 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 and strong, by thee untimely slain. In thee the end of nature's works is known, in thee. No suppliant arts thy dreadful rage controul. O blessed power, regard my ardent prayer, human life to age abundant spare." In eras, as the transition from life to death in Elysium became a more attractive option, Thanatos came to be seen as a beautiful Ephebe. He became associated more with a gentle passing than a woeful demise. Many Roman sarcophagi depict him as a winged boy much akin to Cupid: "Eros with crossed legs and torch reversed became the commonest of all symbols for Death", observes Arthur Bernard Cook. Thanatos has been portrayed as a slumbering infant in the arms of his mother Nyx, or as a youth c