Thanatos is an ancient lord of death. He may be the son of Nyx alone or her son with Erebus. Hypnos, Lord of Sleep, is Thanatos’ twin brother. Hypnos and Thanatos live together and are constant companions. Thanatos has a reputation of being coldhearted and merciless, but he is associated almost exclusively with peaceful death. (His sisters, the Keres, handle violent death.) Thanatos is a psychopomp who escorts dead souls to their new home. Unlike many other psychopomps who are mere escorts, Thanatos actually delivers the coup de grâce. Thanatos derives from an older pantheon than the Olympians and may originally have ruled a realm of death. In the context of Olympian myth, he is Hades’ auxiliary.

Thanatos may be invoked by those who seek painless, peaceful death.


Euripides described Thanatos walking among people, robed in black and carrying a sword.


Thanatos is depicted as a winged young man, a winged bearded older man, or a winged serpent. Hypnos and Thanatos are frequently portrayed together.


Sword, inverted torch



Flower: Poppies

Creatures: Snake, butterfly


Poppies; black candles; images of his sacred creatures

See Also:

Charon; Hades; Hypnos; Keres; Nyx; Olympian Spirits; Psychopomp


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.