In Greek mythology, Morpheus was known as the god of dreams. He shaped and formed the dreams, through which he could appear to mortals in any form. This talent made Morpheus a messenger of the gods, able to communicate divine messages to sleeping mortals. Though he could take any human form, Morpheus’s true form was that of a winged demon.
• The phrase “in the arms of Morpheus” means “to be asleep”. It was said that when people would sleep in the arms of Morpheus, they would dream about their future or coming events.
• The Greek work “morphe” means “form”. Thus, Morpheus is the god that forms the dreams.
• Morpheus appears in the poet Ovid’s Metamorphosis. He is also likely the unnamed dream spirit in Homer’s Iliad that delivers a message from Zeus to King Agamemnon.
• Morpheus was the leader of the Oneiroi (Dreams), and he and his brothers were the personified spirits of dreams. Phobetor (or Ikelos) created phobic or scary dreams. Phantasus created unreal or phantasmic dreams. What set Morpheus apart from his brothers was his ability to influence the dreams of Gods, heroes, and kings.
• Each night, the Oneiroi would emerge from the palace of Hypnos and pass through one of two gates. Morpheus would pass through the gate made of horn, which represented true or divine dreams. His brothers would pass through the second gate, which was made of ivory and represented dreams without true meaning. The Greek words for “ivory” and “deceive” are very similar.
• Morpheus slept in a cave full of poppy seeds while shaping mortal dreams. This could be the reason why the opium- based medication for severe pain is known as morphine. Poppies have also been used to treat insomnia due to their hypnotic properties.
• Morpheus, his brothers, and their mother and father all lived in the land of dreams located in the Underworld. His other family members included Nyx, his grandmother and the deity of Night, and Thanatos, Morpheus’s uncle and the god of death.
• Only the gods that resided in Olympus could visit Morpheus and his family in the land of dreams. Its gate was heavily guarded by two fearsome monsters that would materialize the fears of those who tried to pass through uninvited. The River of Forgetfulness and the River of Oblivion were also located in the land of dreams.
• Overseeing the dreams of mortals made Morpheus one of the busiest dieties. He didn’t have a wife, but some interpretations would have seen him paired with Iris, another messenger of the gods and the personification of rainbows.
• Some statues of Morpheus have been sculpted that depict him having one winged ear. This is said to symbolize him listening to dreams through his regular ear and delivering messages from the gods through dreams with his winged ear.
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