Morpheus (mythology) - Family


According to Hesiod, Nyx, the primordial goddess of the Night, produced the "tribe of Dreams" (φῦλον Ὀνείρων) parthenogenetically, though Cicero says that Dreams were the children of Night and Erebus, the embodiment of Darkness.

Morpheus is the oldest of triplets known as the Oneiroi, along with Icelus and Phantasos. For this reason, he is also referred to as Oneiros. The Oneiroi are attendants of Hypnos, the god of Sleep, bringing dreams to the mortals and gods who fall under the power of Sleep. Morpheus sees Hypnos as a father figure as Hypnos takes care of the other siblings.

The Roman poet Ovid, however, states in his Metamorphoses that Morpheus is a son of Hypnos, rather than his brother (it does not mention the identity of the mother), and multiplies the Oneiroi into an uncountable host of spirits, with Morpheus, Icelus and Phantasos being merely the most prominent among them. Morpheus was the leader of the Oneiroi, the gods or spirits (daimones) of dreams. He manifested himself in the dreams of kings and rulers in the likeness of men as a messenger of the gods.

Morpheus was probably equated with the Dream-Spirit which Zeus sent to visit Agamemnon in the Iliad (see Oneiroi).

According to the Orphic Argonautica (line 1142) The land of dreams (δῆμος ὀνείρων) was located somewhere in the underworld, presumably near the domain of Night and her children. Poets often referred to the two gates leading from the dream realm. One gate was fashioned of sawn ivory, the other of polished horn. False dreams were said to pass through the gate of ivory, while truthful, prophetic dreams winged their way out through the gate of horn. There was also said to be a wilted elm tree in Morpheus' domain, upon which the dreams fashioned by the Oneiroi hung, with the appearance of winged phantom-shapes.

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