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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Thanatos


This is a challenge to post every day in April (except on Sundays) blogging thematically from A to Z. Go HERE for details. My A-Z theme this year is Greek Mythology inspired by the book The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan that I recently read.  Please be aware that what I write is my interpretation of my findings and may not necessarily be accurate are straight quotes.
Also, "Featured Book" at the end of these posts are books I've reviewed in this book blog, coinciding with the letter of the day.

Hypnos and Thanatos: Sleep and His Half-Brother Death, by John William Waterhouse, 1874.


  • Greek god of death. He may be thought of as a personification of death. He plays little role in the myths. He became rather overshadowed by Hades the lord of death.
  • Son of Nyx (Night) and Erebos (Darkness) and twin of Hypnos (Sleep).
  • His siblings were other negative personifications such as Geras (Old Age), Oizys (Suffering), Moros (Doom), Apate (Deception), Momus (Blame), Eris (Strife), Nemesis (Retribution) and even the Acherousian/Stygian boatman Charon.
  • Loosely associated with the three Moirai (for Hesiod, also daughters of Night), particularly Atropos, who was a goddess of death in her own right.
  • He is also 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  • His duties as a Guide of the Dead were sometimes superseded by Hermes Psychopompos.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 later becoming distinct from him.
  • Regarded as merciless and indiscriminate, hated by—and hateful towards—mortals and the deathless gods. But in myths which feature him, Thanatos could occasionally 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. Eventually Ares, the bloodthirsty god of war, grew frustrated with the battles he incited since neither side suffered any casualties. He released Thanatos and 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.

Greek Mythology


Featured Book:

Tinkers by Paul Harding

My Rating: 4


  1. Upstaged by Hades, then his job usurped by Hermes. Thanatos was up against some stiff competition.

    1. Poor Thanatos ..maybe cuz he executed peaceful deaths ..not evil enough?

  2. Wow--glad I found this blog. Your theme has created a wonderful resource for ideas. :-) Thanks :-)

    Why was he sometimes superseded by Hermes?

    1. Thanks! Glad you stopped by. --I don't know? These gods seem to be temperamental.

  3. Hello, my friend. My first introduction to Greek and Roman mythology was in an elementary school reader about 70 years ago with the story of Pandora's Box. I found it fascinating and have enjoyed reading myths ever since. They lend terrifically to the imagination, don't they? You have a very interesting blog. Best regards to you, Ruby

    1. Thank you for visiting me. Yes, I'm finding Greek mythology sure lends much to imagination. Enjoying my discoveries.


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