I'm not referring to the Laurence Fishburne character in The Matrix. Instead, think more like the Sandman. In Greek mythology, Morpheus ("he who forms or molds") was the god of dreams and the greatest of all his siblings. His father was Hypnos, God of sleep and his mother was Aglia (or Pasithea) Brightness, one of the three Graces. Morpheus is spoken of in the Metamorphoses of Ovid. He probably was the Dream God which Zeus sent to visit Agamemnon in the Illiad.

He sleeps on an ebony bed in a dimly lit cave, surrounded by poppy. Ovid suggests that Morpheus had a special talent for mimicking human form in dreams. Dreams were sent out to man passing through one of two gates: a gate of horn from which true dreams came; and a gate of ivory, from which false dreams passed through. According to Ovid, Morpheus concentrated on the human elements of dreams, his brothers Phobetor and Phantasos being responsible for birds or beasts and inanimate objects.

Morpheus sent images of humans in dreams or visions, and was responsible for shaping dreams, or giving shape to the beings which inhabit dreams. He specialized in ultra-realistic dreams - the kind where you find yourself naked in front of a classroom. Phobetor made fearsome dreams while Phantasus produced tricky and unreal dreams. Morpheus also manifested himself in the dreams of kings and heroes in the likeness of men as a messenger of the gods. For these reasons Morpheus was often referred to as "Morpheus the Greek god of dreams" in superiority to his brothers.

Some wonder if Morpheus even existed. He has appeared in many songs, poems and works of art over the years but it doesn't seem that he had a spot in Greek mythology. Was he as real as any other god or invented by a poet?

Morphine derives its name from Morpheus based on its similar dream-inducing power.



Terry McCombs' website


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