After ancient Greeks laid their heads down to retire for the night, who would receive a visit from Morpheus , the god of dreams. In Greek mythology, this god possessed the ability to turn into any form of human and appear to a sleeper in their dreams. In this article, you will learn who belonged in his family tree, as well as some of his attributes.
Morpheus and His Siblings
While Morpheus could take on the shape of a human, his true self came in the form of a winged daemon , just like many of his siblings. A daemon is a supernatural being that is not quite a god and not quite a mortal. Morpheus was the son of Nyx , the primordial goddess of the night. Morpheus was a triplet and the oldest to boot. Together, with Phebetor and Phantasos , they were called the Oneiroi. Phantasos would appear in dreams as an inanimate object. He is often left in charge of Morpheus’ dream world when his brother pays a visit to the mortal world. Phebetor was the youngest of the triplets and took on the personification of nightmares. When he appeared in dreams, he took on the form of animals and monsters.
Morpheus was also related to the twins Hypnos (the god of sleep) and Thanatos (the god of death). The triplets attend to Hypnos, as they bring dreams to the mortals and gods who fall under the power of Sleep. In some cases, the family tree of Morpheus is debated. For instance, the Roman poet Ovid, believed that Morpheus was the son of Hypnos and not his brother.
The Land of Dreams
Morpheus lived in what was referred to as the land of dreams (Demos Oneiroi), which was located in a part of the underworld. It is thought that his domain was situated close to where Night and her children dwelled. Poets during ancient times spoke of two gates that led to the dream realm. One gate was made out of ivory, while the other was created from polished horn. The gate of ivory saw false dreams pass through, while true dreams of the future were linked to the gate made out of horn.
The Dream Shaper
Morpheus is known as a dream shaper, who sends the images that make up the dreams and visions of humans. If a being is to appear in a dream, it is said that the god is responsible for giving them their shape. His brother Phobetor caused dreams full of fear to emerge, while Phantasos was responsible for generating the dreams that were made up of fantasy and trickery.
Interestingly, Morpheus lends his name to the drug Morphine because the medication can cause a user to become sleepy and dream.