Hypnos (sleep) In Greek mythology, god of sleep, son of Nyx (Nox) and Erebus; brother of Thanatos (death), Aether (upper sky), Cer (bane), Dreams, Hemeia, Momus (blame), Moros (portion), and Nemesis; married to Pasithea; father of Morpheus; called Somnus by the Romans. According to Hesiod’s Theogony (211,756), Hypnos lived in the underworld, but Homer says he lived in Lemnos. Hypnos had a human figure during the day but was transformed into a bird at night. Vergil’s Aeneid (book 6) pictures Hypnos as a winged youth who touches the tired with a magical branch. Homer’s Iliad (book 14), Hesiod’s Theogony, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book 11) also picture the god.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante



Hypnos, Lord of Sleep, is among the children of Nyx, Goddess of Night. He causes sleep by touching someone with his magic wand or fanning them with his wings. Hypnos lives an insomniac’s dream: a dark cave where the sun doesn’t shine and the light can’t waken him. Beautiful opium poppies grow by the cave’s entrance. He sleeps in an exceedingly comfortable feather bed surrounded by black curtains to further block the light. His son/brother/servant, Morpheus, Lord of Dreams, makes sure that no one and no noise disturbs Hypnos’ slumber.

Hypnos lives with his twin brother and close companion, Thanatos, Lord of Death. The two often work together. Hypnos is perceived asthe more tender-hearted, sympathetic of the brothers. One may appeal to Thanatos through him. Hypnos is served by the Oneiroi, his sons and/or brothers, Spirits of Dreams.

Insomniacs—those who wish to sleep but cannot—can invoke Hypnos’ aid.


A dark-winged man or a night bird


He is usually envisioned as a naked, youthful man. Images of Hypnos were once popular cemetery monuments and gravestone motifs.


Anything that disturbs sleep disturbs Hypnos: bright light, noise, and so forth. Keep his altar in a dark, quiet, restful place: a closet, if need be.

Sacred plant:

Opium poppies (Papaver somniferum)


Sleep-inducing incense, flowers, warm milk, anything that evokes sleep


Morpheus; Nyx; Oneiroi; Somnus; Thanatos


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.