Myth Man's Greek Mythology


In Greek mythology Morpheus (Fashioner) was one of the sons of Hypnos, the ancient god of Sleep and Pasithea, the deity of Hallucinatios. His name is derived from the Greek word μορφή, which means 'shape' or 'form', and he would appear to mortals and gods in their dreams in any human form he chose, being able to mimic them at will.

While Morpheus would send human shapes of all kinds to the dreamer, his brother Icelus (or Phobetor) would send the realistic forms of animals, or in Phobetor's case, he would invoke the scary nightmares, taking the form of huge and scary animals.

His other brother, Phantasus, would send the forms of inanimate things, creating fake and illusional dreams filled with phantasms. Collectively these personified spirits of dreams were called the 'Oneiroi', from the Greek 'oneiros', which means 'dream'.

The Theioi Project tells us that "the Oneiroi were the dark-winged spirits (daimones) of dreams which emerged each night like a flock of bats from their cavernous home in Erebos - the land of eternal darkness beyond the rising sun. The Oneiroi passed through one of two gates (pylai). The first of these, made of horn, was the source of the prophetic god-sent dreams, while the other, constructed of ivory, was the source of dreams which were false and without meaning. The term for nightmare was 'melas oneiros (black dream).

According to some the leader of the Oneiroi was Morpheus, a god who appeared in the dreams of kings in the guise of a man bearing messages from the gods."

Morpheus could bestow upon those in slumber both peaceful images as well as nightmares, even though his brother Icelus was more known for the latter.

Morpheus is neither a morally good or a morally evil force, but rather a type of messenger who provides guidance by manipulating the dreams of both mortals and gods. This is called Oneirokinesis. He was also able to envelop Greece in eternal darkness, which is called Umbrakinesis.

His Latin name, Somnia, is combined with his father's Latin name, Insomnus, to give us the sleeping disorder insomnia. Morpheus appears to be a lesser god in the Greek pantheon. He doesn't appear to have taken a wife, even though some accounts say that he hooked up with Iris, goddess of the Rainbow.

A brief look at Morpheus' genealogy reveals an impressive heritage: His father Hypnos was the personification of Sleep, both loved and feared. His mother Pasithea was the goddess of Hallucinations, Relaxation and Rest. His grandmother Nyx was the primordial deity of the Night and his uncle was the fearsome Thanatos, who brought death to the mortals.

Morpheus in his real form had wings on his back. Many believed that he and his brothers were born with these wings, while others claim that their uncle Thanatos, the god of Death, was the one who gave them wings. It is said that Morpheus used his wings to quickly reach those who needed help in their dreams, as well as to carry his father, the wingless Hypnos, the his dream world when, as was often the case, he needed to be saved from the wrath of Zeus.

The family of Morpheus lived in the depths of the Underworld. The River of Forgetfulness and the River of Oblivion were found in that world, protected by sturdy gates under the supervision of two fearful monsters that would make the fears of any uninvited visitors materialize. Only the gods of Olympus were allowed in this family headquarters.

Morpheus slept in a cave filled with poppies and their seeds. Morphine (also known as morphium), the opium based medication for severe pain, borrowed its name from Morpheus.

The Encyclopedia Britannica Encyclopedia tells us that "Morpheus' chief weakness is that his powers are limited by a complex set of rules and customs that qualify how he is allowed to interfere with the running of the universe. One of these rules is that he is not allowed to take a mortal life except to protect the Dreaming and other mortals under his protection."




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