Hypnos, the God of Sleep and his Powers

Hypnos and his mother Nyx
Hypnos and his mother Nyx

The story of how Hypnos, the god of sleep made Zeus fall asleep and how the Greeks went across the Aegean and won the  Trojan war.

The Greek god Hypnos was represented as a gentle and calm young man, with wings attached to his temples. His voice had enormous power over the mortals and immortals including Zeus, the god of the gods. The word hypnosis derived from his name is used today as a psychological method to put someone into a deeper state of consciousness where pure attention is heightened. When conducted properly into this state of mind, one can turn completely inward to find and utilize the resources deep within that can help him understand and make the changes needed to master himself in certain areas of his life. Hypnos was empowered with the gift of performing hypnosis. Using his beautiful voice, he articulated sounds and repetitions which had a calming effect and brought sleep upon the listener.

Hypnos was the son of Nyx – the goddess of the night  and Erebus, the god of darkness. He was married to Hera’s daughter Pasithea the goddess of relaxation. One of their four sons Morpheus, meaning shape is known as the winged god of dreams who could take any human form in dreams. Phobetor meaning fear was the personification of nightmares and Phantasos representing imagination and fantasy was known for creating  illusions. Oneiroi lived at the shores of the ocean in the west. The cave had two gates with which to send people either good dreams or bad ones; one gate made from ivory and the other from buckhorn. All their children would be able to send the dreams only after Hypnos had put the recipient to sleep.

Hypnos, himself lived in a big cave under the Greek island, Lemnos from which the river Lethe, the river of forgetfulness flows and where night and day meet. Homer recounts that it was his very own dream-island. The bed of Hypnos was made of ebony and in the entrance of the cave grew poppies and hypnotic plants.

Homer recounts the story of Hypnos in Iliad: During the Trojan War, the Achaeans were losing, and Hera had made up her mind to help them win. But she needed Zeus to be distracted. Thus, she asked Hypnos the favor of putting Zeus to sleep so she could proceed with her war plans. Hera seeing that Hypnos was reluctant to hypnotize Zeus, she offered him various appealing gifts all of which Hypnos refused. Finally, they came to an agreement: Hypnos would get Hera’s graceful daughter Pasithea as his bride.

After the agreement Hera hurried to see Zeus on the highest peak of Mount Ida and as Zeus was moved by her seducing charms, Hypnos hiding in the mist on top of a pine tree nearby, finally put Zeus to sleep. Then Hera turned Hypnos into a bird so that he could fly to Poseidon to seek his help to send the winds in favor of the Achaean ships to get them across the Aegean sea and reach Troy on time. Hypnos assured Poseidon that Zeus was put asleep and Poseidon did blow the winds for the ships to sail towards Troy, and that changed the course of the war, the Greeks conquered Troy.

Zeus would never find out that Hypnos had put him to sleep on that day.

Duygu Bruce

July 6, 2019

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