The Source Of Dreams

The Source Of Dreams

Hypnos, by Wilhelm Baron von Gloeden

There is a deeply cut cave, a hollow mountain, near the Cimmerian country, the house and sanctuary of drowsy Sleep. Phoebus can never reach it with his dawn, mid-day or sunset rays. Clouds mixed with fog, and shadows of the half-light, are exhaled from the ground. No waking cockerel summons Aurora with his crowing: no dog disturbs the silence with its anxious barking, or goose, cackling, more alert than a dog. No beasts, or cattle, or branches in the breeze, no clamour of human tongues. There still silence dwells. But out of the stony depths flows Lethe’s stream, whose waves, sliding over the loose pebbles, with their murmur, induce drowsiness. In front of the cave mouth a wealth of poppies flourish, and innumerable herbs, from whose juices dew-wet Night gathers sleep, and scatters it over the darkened earth. There are no doors in the palace, lest a turning hinge lets out a creak, and no guard at the threshold. But in the cave’s centre there is a tall bed made of ebony, downy, black-hued, spread with a dark-grey sheet, where the god himself lies, his limbs relaxed in slumber. Around him, here and there, lie uncertain dreams, taking different forms, as many as the ears of corn at harvest, as the trees bear leaves, or grains of sand are thrown onshore (Ovid’s Metamorphoses Bk XI:573-649 The House of Sleep, tr. Anthony S. Kline).

Here we have a description by Ovid of the place where dreams originate. The home of Hypnos, the god of sleep, is located in Erebos, the land of eternal darkness. Hypnos is the twin brother of Thanatos, the god of death. You can see how closely dreams and death are related.

Hypnos is the father of Morpheus, the god of dreams. He is the leader of the Oneiroi, the dark-winged daimones of dreams.

They emerged each night like a flock of bats from their cavernous home in Erebos, the land of eternal darkness beyond the rising sun. The Oneiroi passed through one of two gates (pylai). The first of these, made of horn, was the source of the prophetic god-sent dreams, while the other, constructed of ivory, was the source of dreams which were false and without meaning. The term for nightmare was melas oneiros (black dream)(

2 thoughts on “The Source Of Dreams

  1. The image illustrating this posting is NOT by Bosschart, but rather by German-born Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden.

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