Saturday, August 20, 2011


The God of sleep, and I have not been on the best terms of late, so here is an ode to Hypnos the bountiful, who could be so easily syncretized to Mercury. I will resist the temptation for the moment and save that for another day. Thanks be to Ovid for providing the words, the key to to this benevolent deity.

“O, Hypnos,
divine repose of all things!
Gentlest of the deities!
Peace to the troubled mind,
from which you drive the cares of life.
Restorer of men's strength
when wearied with the toils of day.” 

Sarpedon's  body carried by Hypnos and Thanatos while Mercury watches

The House of Somnus

Near the Cymmerians, in his dark abode,
Deep in a cavern, dwells the drowzy God;
Whose gloomy mansion nor the rising sun,
Nor setting, visits, nor the lightsome noon;
But lazy vapours round the region fly,
Perpetual twilight, and a doubtful sky:
No crowing cock does there his wings display,
Nor with his horny bill provoke the day;
Nor watchful dogs, nor the more wakeful geese,
Disturb with nightly noise the sacred peace;
Nor beast of Nature, nor the tame are nigh,
Nor trees with tempests rock'd, nor human cry;
But safe repose without an air of breath
Dwells here, and a dumb quiet next to death.

An arm of Lethe, with a gentle flow
Arising upwards from the rock below,
The palace moats, and o'er the pebbles creeps,
And with soft murmurs calls the coming sleeps.
Around its entry nodding poppies grow,
And all cool simples that sweet rest bestow;
Night from the plants their sleepy virtue drains,
And passing, sheds it on the silent plains:
No door there was th' unguarded house to keep,
On creaking hinges turn'd, to break his sleep.

But in the gloomy court was rais'd a bed,
Stuff'd with black plumes, and on an ebon-sted:
Black was the cov'ring too, where lay the God,
And slept supine, his limbs display'd abroad:
About his head fantastick visions fly,
Which various images of things supply,
And mock their forms; the leaves on trees not more,
Nor bearded ears in fields, nor sands upon the shore.

-- Ovid, Metamorphoses

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