In Greek mythology, Hypnos (/ˈhɪpnɒs/; Greek: Ὕπνος, "sleep")[1] is the personification of sleep; the Roman equivalent is known as Somnus. His name is the origin of the word hypnosis.[2]

God of Sleep
Waterhouse-sleep and his half-brother death-1874
Hypnos and Thanatos, Sleep and His Half-Brother Death by John William Waterhouse
SymbolPoppy, River Lethe, Cottonwood
Personal information
ParentsNyx and Erebus
SiblingsThanatos, Nemesis, Eris, Keres, Oneiroi, Apate, Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos, Oizys and many others
Roman equivalentSomnus


Hypnos is the son of Nyx ("The Night") and Erebus ("The Darkness"). His brother is Thanatos ("Death"). Both siblings live in the underworld (Hades) or in Erebus, another valley of the Greek underworld. According to rumors, Hypnos lived in a big cave, which the river Lethe ("Forgetfulness") comes from and where night and day meet. His bed is made of ebony, on the entrance of the cave grow a number of poppies and other hypnotic plants. No light and no sound would ever enter his grotto. According to Homer, he lives on the island Lemnos, which later on has been claimed to be his very own dream-island. He is said to be a calm and gentle god, as he helps humans in need and, due to their sleep, owns half of their lives.[3][4]


Hypnos lived next to his twin brother, Thanatos (Θάνατος, "death personified") in the underworld.

Hypnos' mother was Nyx (Νύξ, "Night"), the deity of Night, and his father was Erebus, the deity of Darkness. Nyx was a dreadful and powerful goddess, and even Zeus feared to enter her realm.

His wife, Pasithea, was one of the youngest of the Graces and was promised to him by Hera, who is the goddess of marriage and birth. Pasithea is the deity of hallucination or relaxation.

Hypnos in the Iliad

Hypnos Thanatos BM Vase D56 full
Hypnos and Thanatos carrying the body of Sarpedon from the battlefield of Troy; detail from an Attic white-ground lekythos, ca. 440 BC.

Hypnos used his powers to trick Zeus. Hypnos was able to trick him and help the Danaans win the Trojan war. During the war, Hera loathed her brother and husband, Zeus, so she devised a plot to trick him. She decided that in order to trick him she needed to make him so enamoured with her that he would fall for the trick. So she washed herself with ambrosia and anointed herself with oil, made especially for her to make herself impossible to resist for Zeus. She wove flowers through her hair, put on three brilliant pendants for earrings, and donned a wondrous robe. She then called for Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and asked her for a charm that would ensure that her trick would not fail. In order to procure the charm, however, she lied to Aphrodite because they sided on opposites sides of the war. She told Aphrodite that she wanted the charm to help herself and Zeus stop fighting. Aphrodite willingly agreed. Hera was almost ready to trick Zeus, but she needed the help of Hypnos, who had tricked Zeus once before.

Hera called on Hypnos and asked him to help her by putting Zeus to sleep. Hypnos was reluctant because the last time he had put the god to sleep, he was furious when he awoke. It was Hera who had asked him to trick Zeus the first time as well. She was furious that Heracles, Zeus' son, sacked the city of the Trojans. So she had Hypnos put Zeus to sleep, and set blasts of angry winds upon the sea while Heracles was still sailing home. When Zeus awoke he was furious and went on a rampage looking for Hypnos. Hypnos managed to avoid Zeus by hiding with his mother, Nyx. This made Hypnos reluctant to accept Hera's proposal and help her trick Zeus again. Hera first offered him a beautiful golden seat that can never fall apart and a footstool to go with it. He refused this first offer, remembering the last time he tricked Zeus. Hera finally got him to agree by promising that he would be married to Pasithea, one of the youngest Graces, whom he had always wanted to marry. Hypnos made her swear by the river Styx and call on gods of the underworld to be witnesses so that he would be ensured that he would marry Pasithea.

Hera went to see Zeus on Gargarus, the topmost peak of Mount Ida. Zeus was extremely taken by her and suspected nothing as Hypnos was shrouded in a thick mist and hidden upon a pine tree that was close to where Hera and Zeus were talking. Zeus asked Hera what she was doing there and why she had come from Olympus, and she told him the same lie she told Aphrodite. She told him that she wanted to go help her parent stop quarrelling and she stopped there to consult him because she didn't want to go without his knowledge and have him be angry with her when he found out. Zeus said that she could go any time, and that she should postpone her visit and stay there with him so they could enjoy each other's company. He told her that he was never in love with anyone as much as he loved her at that moment. He took her in his embrace and Hypnos went to work putting him to sleep, with Hera in his arms. While this went on, Hypnos travelled to the ships of the Achaeans to tell Poseidon, God of the Sea, that he could now help the Danaans and give them a victory while Zeus was sleeping. This is where Hypnos leaves the story, leaving Poseidon eager to help the Danaans. Thanks to Hypnos helping to trick Zeus, the war changed its course to Hera's favour, and Zeus never found out that Hypnos had tricked him one more time.[5]

Hypnos in Endymion myth

According to a passage in Deipnosophistae, the sophist and dithyrambic poet Licymnius of Chios[6] tells a different tale about the Endymion myth, in which Hypnos, in awe of his beauty, causes him to sleep with his eyes open, so he can fully admire his face.

Hypnos in art

Hypnos appears in numerous works of art, most of which are vases. An example of one vase that Hypnos is featured on is called "Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus," which is part of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston’s collection. In this vase, Hypnos is shown as a winged god dripping Lethean water upon the head of Ariadne as she sleeps.[7] One of the most famous works of art featuring Hypnos is a bronze head of Hypnos himself, now kept in the British Museum in London. This bronze head has wings sprouting from his temples and the hair is elaborately arranged, some tying in knots and some hanging freely from his head.[8]

Words derived from Hypnos

The English word "hypnosis" is derived from his name, referring to the fact that when hypnotized, a person is put into a sleep-like state (hypnos "sleep" + -osis "condition").[9] The class of medicines known as "hypnotics" which induce sleep also take their name from Hypnos.

Additionally, the English word "insomnia" comes from the name of his Latin counterpart, Somnus. (in- "not" + somnus "sleep"),[10] as well as a few less-common words such as "somnolent", meaning sleepy or tending to cause sleep and hypersomnia meaning excessive sleep, which can be caused by many conditions (known as secondary hypersomnia) or a rare sleep disorder causing excessive sleep with unknown cause, called Idiopathic Hypersomnia.[11]

See also


  1. ^ ὕπνος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  2. ^ James H. Mantinband. Concise Dictionary of Greek Literature. New York: Philosophical Library, 1962.
  3. ^ Wilhelm Vollmer: Wörterbuch der Mythologie aller Völker. Reprint-Verlag, Leipzig 2003 (new edition), ISBN 3826222008, page 263.
  4. ^ Scott C. Littleton: Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology, Volume 4. Marshall Cavendish/Tarrytown, New York (US) 2005, ISBN 076147563X, pages 474–476.
  5. ^ Homer. The Iliad. Trans. Robert Fagles. Ed. Bernard Knox. New York: Viking, 1990.
  6. ^ Licymnius is known only through a few quoted lines and second-hand through references (William Smith, ed. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities 1870 Archived 2007-04-05 at the Wayback Machine)
  7. ^ "Ancient Greek Art: Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus." Ancient Greek Art: Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
  8. ^ "Bronze Head of Hypnos." British Museum -. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
  9. ^ "Hypnosis | Define Hypnosis at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  10. ^ "Insomnia | Define Insomnia at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  11. ^ "Somnolent". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2014-01-27.

External links

3D model of Bronze head of Hypnos via laser scan of a cast of British Museum's bronze.

14827 Hypnos

14827 Hypnos, provisional designation 1986 JK, is a highly eccentric, sub-kilometer-sized carbonaceous asteroid that is thought to be an extinct comet. It is classified as near-Earth object and potentially hazardous asteroid of the Apollo group.

The asteroid was discovered by American astronomer couple Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker at the Palomar Observatory in California on 5 May 1986. It was named after Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep.

Citroën Hypnos

The Citroën Hypnos is a concept mid-size luxury crossover produced by Citroën at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. It has a 5-door SUV body style and is powered by a diesel hybrid drivetrain with a rear axle-mounted electric motor. The car's most distinctive design feature is its interior, with rainbow-coloured, offset seats, and a system which analyzes the driver's face to gauge his state of mind and adjust the cabin lighting and scented air freshener fragrance in consequence.Citroën announced that diesel-hybrid engine would be available in all models by 2015.The concept car has appeared in several auto shows, including the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed.Some of the styling features of this car later appeared in the Mitsubishi ASX-based Citroën C4 Aircross compact SUV, available from the first half of 2012, as well as the Citroën DS4 and DS5.

Coffin ray

Hypnos monopterygius, also known as the coffin ray or Australian numbfish, is a species of electric ray endemic to Australia, where it is common in inshore waters shallower than 80 m (260 ft). It is the sole member of its family Hypnidae. This small species typically reaches 40 cm (16 in) in length. Greatly enlarged pectoral fins and an extremely short tail, coupled with diminutive dorsal and caudal fins all concentrated towards the rear, give the coffin ray a distinctive pear-like shape. It is a varying shade of brown in color above, and has tiny eyes and a large, highly distensible mouth.

The sluggish and nocturnal coffin ray frequents sandy or muddy habitats, where it can bury itself during daytime. It can produce a powerful electric shock reaching 200 volts for attack and defense. This species is a voracious predator that feeds mainly on benthic bony fishes, often tackling fish approaching or exceeding itself in size. On occasion, it may also consume invertebrates and even small penguins and rats. Reproduction is aplacental viviparous, in which the developing embryos are nourished by yolk and maternally produced histotroph ("uterine milk"). The female gives birth to 4–8 pups during summer. The coffin ray can deliver a severe, albeit non-fatal, shock to a human. Not valued commercially, it is very hardy and can usually survive being captured and discarded. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed this species under Least Concern, as its population does not seem threatened by human activity.

Digimon Tamers

Digimon Tamers (デジモンテイマーズ, Dejimon Teimāzu), known as Digimon: Digital Monsters (Season 3) in English-speaking territories, is the third anime television series of the Digimon franchise, produced by Toei Animation. The series takes place in a setting separated from the preceding series, Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02, where the characters utilize cards from the collectible card games. Tamers aired in Japan from April 1, 2001 to March 31, 2002. The English-language version by Saban Entertainment aired in North America from September 1, 2001 to June 8, 2002. A manga adaptation by Yuen Wong Yu ran from April to October 2004.

Extinct comet

An extinct comet is a comet that has expelled most of its volatile ice and has little left to form a tail and coma. In a dormant comet, rather than being depleted, any remaining volatile components have been sealed beneath an inactive surface layer.

Due to the near lack of a coma and tail, an extinct or dormant comet may resemble an asteroid rather than a comet and blur the distinction between these two classes of small Solar System bodies. When volatile materials such as nitrogen, water, carbon dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen and methane in the comet nucleus have evaporated away, all that remains is an inert rock or rubble pile. A comet may go through a transition phase as it comes close to extinction.

Hypnos (band)

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Hypnos (record label)

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The music released tends toward more minimal, dark ambient or drone styles, mostly electronic in basis, though ambient works based upon guitar, tuba, cello, and location recordings have also been released by Hypnos.

Their first release was the CD Washed in Mercury by Saul Stokes in 1997. As of 2011, more than 100 CDs have been released by Hypnos and its sub-labels.

Hypnos (short story)

"Hypnos" is a short story by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft, penned in March 1922 and first published in the May 1923 issue of National Amateur.

Hypnos Entertainment

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In Greek mythology, Lethe (Greek: Λήθη, Lḗthē; Ancient Greek: [lɛ́:tʰɛː], Modern Greek: [ˈliθi]) was one of the five rivers of the underworld of Hades. Also known as the Ameles potamos (river of unmindfulness), the Lethe flowed around the cave of Hypnos and through the Underworld, where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness. Lethe was also the name of the Greek spirit of forgetfulness and oblivion, with whom the river was often identified.

In Classical Greek, the word lethe (λήθη) literally means "oblivion", "forgetfulness", or "concealment". It is related to the Greek word for "truth", aletheia (ἀλήθεια), which through the privative alpha literally means "un-forgetfulness" or "un-concealment".

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Based on Kaja Blackley's graphic novel Dark Town, the film stars an ensemble cast led by Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda, and Whoopi Goldberg with Rose McGowan, Dave Foley, Giancarlo Esposito, Megan Mullally, Lisa Zane, Chris Kattan, John Turturro, and an uncredited Thomas Haden Church.

Theatrically released on February 23, 2001 by 20th Century Fox, the film was a box office bomb and received generally negative critical reviews.


Nyx (; Greek: Νύξ, Núx, "Night"; Latin: Nox) is the Greek goddess (or personification) of the night. A shadowy figure, Nyx stood at or near the beginning of creation and mothered other personified deities such as Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death), with Erebus (Darkness). Her appearances are sparse in surviving mythology, but reveal her as a figure of such exceptional power and beauty that she is feared by Zeus himself.


In Greek mythology, dreams were sometimes personified as Oneiros (Dream) or Oneiroi (Dreams). In the Iliad of Homer, Zeus sends Oneiros to appear to Agamemnon in a dream, while in Hesiod's Theogony, the Oneiroi are the sons of Nyx (Night), and brother of Hypnos (Sleep).


In Greek mythology, Pasithea (Ancient Greek: Πασιθέα, "relaxation"), or Pasithee, was one of the Charites (Graces), and the personification of relaxation, meditation, hallucinations and all other altered states of consciousness. The Charites are usually said to be the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, but Pasithea's parentage is given (by the poet Nonnus) as Hera and Dionysus. She was married to Hypnos, the god of sleep.

Sleep and his Half-brother Death

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In Greek mythology, Thanatos (; Greek: Θάνατος, pronounced in Ancient Greek: [tʰánatos] "Death", from θνῄσκω thnēskō "to die, be dying") was the personification of death. He was a minor figure in Greek mythology, often referred to but rarely 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.

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