Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Myths, Symbols & Folklore
Thanatos: Ancient Greek personification of death; described as the twin brother of Hypnos (Latin Somnus), the dream, and the son of Nyx, the night. In European art and literature Thanatos is portrayed as a serious, winged youth with an extinguished or flickering torch in his hand. In the ancient world he was a negative figure, and even the gods hated him. He was said to accompany the souls of the dead to the underworld, except in those myths in which this was the duty of the furies. In one of the plays of Euripides (ca. 480-406 B.C.), Thanatos attempts to take the soul of Alcestis (who gave up her life to save her husband Admetus) from her grave and transport it to Hades, but Heracles overpowers Thanatos and restores Alcestis to the world of the living (operas by Lully and Gluck; oratorio by Handel). (Biedermann)

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