Sunday, December 27, 2009

Spotlight - The Mythology of Morpheus

Every so often, I plan to take an item or issue that was raised in a story and research it in order to share a greater understanding of the story as a whole. The first "spotlight" segment features the main character of the Sandman comic book series by Neil Gaiman - Morpheus.

According to Greek mythology, Hypnos, the god of sleep, had three sons. Their names were Morpheus, Phobetor, and Phantasos. These three sons were the gods of dreams, the most powerful of which was Morpheus. Phobetor was charged with creating frightening dreams. Phatasos was responsible for puzzling and confusing dreams. Morpheus had the ability to change is form into any human being and ruled over the Dream World where he and his brothers resided.

Although Morpheus was able to change his form at will, he is classically described as a hansome winged being who is one with the shadows. He is also known to appear in the dreams of powerful people as a messenger of the gods.

Morpheus' Dream World is barred by two gates. One is made of horn and the other is made of ivory. False dreams passed through the gate of ivory while true dreams passed through the gate of horn. Also, the gates of Morpheus' domain were guarded by feirce monsters to keep all intruders out.

Morpheus was also the master of the onerii, black-winged spirits who were the embodyment of dreams.

Some fun "facts" about Morpheus:

- The narcotic drug - morphine - was named after the god of dreams (or shares the same root, at least).
- Laurence Fishburne's character in The Matrix is named Morpheus, and is responsible for the dream-like transition that Neo makes.
- Morpheus visited Agamemnon's dreams in Homer's The Iliad.
- Morpheus is the nephew of Thanatos, god of death.


  1. Very interesting - I love learning about mythology and I didn't know anything about this one. Thanks!

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