The Greek personification of Death, elder brother of Hypnos (Sleep) and son of Nyx (Night) - according to Hesiod they had no father:

"Night gave birth to hideous Moros and black Ker
and then to Death and Sleep and to the brood of


Thanatos' primary responsibility was to collect the spirit of a dying person after the Fates snipped their thread of life. Upon attempting to claim Sisyphus' soul Thanatos was imprisoned - his power lost until Ares freed him. For this period Death was suspended - mortals lived as immortals.

Neil Gaiman based his character Death (from the Sandman series) on Thanatos and a fair portion of the 'Preludes and Nocturnes' plot on Thanatos imprisonment and the subsequent upset of order. Death's younger brother (Dream, based on Hypnos aka Morpheus, Murphy) is imprisoned, causing chaotic effects among man and animal sleeping patterns. Millions don't wake up, millions more can't truly sleep. Madness is the popular result. Bring me a dream ... indeed.

Homer gave the brothers further responsibilities in his Iliad - in the following passage Zeus implores Apollo to assign Thanatos and Hypnos the removal of Sarpedon's body from the battle field:

Come, dear Phoebus,
wipe away the blood mantling Sarpedon;
take him up, out of the play of spears,
a long way off, and wash him in the river,
anoint him with ambrosia, put ambrosial
clothing on him. Then have him conveyed
by those escorting spirits quick as wind,
sweet Sleep and Death, who are twin brothers. These
will set him down in the rich broad land of Lykia,
and there his kin and friends may bury him
with tomb and stone, the trophies of the dead."

One of few stories involving Thanatos is a small part in Euripides play 'Alcestis' - the story of a Greek heroine. In order for the hero Herakles to rescue Alcestis, he had first to wrestle "the dark-robed lord of the dead". Thanatos, dressed cool or not, is overcome by Hercules and Alcestis splits with the hero.

Thanatos appeared in few other plays or myths as his position in Greek history was mostly assimilated by the greater god Hades. Thanatos' symbols are an inversed torch, a wreath, a butterfly or a young man armed with a sword.

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Greek And Roman Mythology

Sigmund Freud's death instinct, first defined in his book Beyond the Pleasure Principle, and named after the Greek personification of Death (see above writeup). This death instinct is the very essence of destructive instincts, because it links every desire of aggression and of sex with the desire for death. The aim of this instinct is to undo connections and destroy things. It is the instinct associated with the desire for pain, for hurt, for corruption and destruction. Basically the opposite of Eros, this instinct is, according to Freud, the reason for all our aggressive tendencies.

Freud makes a note at the conclusion of his book Civilization and its Discontents that human beings, following Thanatos, have invented the tools to completely exterminate themselves.

Just as to Eros belongs Libido, to Thanatos belongs Destrudo.
In which Mary has trouble getting her thoughts together and grasps at straws

Here's the thing:

Last night, my nephew Eric--who's only maybe two years younger than me, maybe three, I can't remember--O.D.'d on heroin and died.

I didn't like my nephew.

Technically, he was my step-nephew, the son of my step-brother Paul, who I also don't like.

But I love my step-father Bill. He's been a father to me since I was sixteen. But Paul was always a mean drunk, racist and abusive to his wife Candy (who's a born-again nutjob), and Eric's been in and out of prison, thanks to a history of drug use. Crack, heroin, oxy, whatever, he used it.

Eric grew up in a comfortable, middle class household, where there weren't any real demands made on him, with indulgent, alcoholic parents who let him do what he wanted and made excuses for him when he screwed up. Whatever nastiness Paul showed to Candy, he didn't show to Eric.

I could use a drink.

Back at Thanksgiving, Eric and Paul came to dinner; Dennis and I didn't. We had Thanksgiving by ourselves with his mom, staying away from my family, instead of getting into another fight with Paul and Eric, which seemed to happen nearly every time I saw them.

I'm having trouble with verb tenses. I can't figure out if I'm writing in the past or present.

I could really use a drink.

So Thanksgiving, Eric and Paul were taking a lot of digs at my other stepbrother David. I won't go into the whole story now, because it's complicated enough, but Paul/Eric and David have long hated each other. My mom told them to knock it off, that it was hurting Bill, and Eric told her to shut up, that she's a bitch, and she should get out of "my pop-pop's house."

Yeah. My mom--who's been married to Bill since 1996, has lived in that house for fifteen years, ISN'T PART OF THIS FUCKING FAMILY AND SHOULD GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.

So Bill threw them out and hadn't spoken to Eric since. Paul, he only spoke to briefly.

My parents went so far as to write him out of the will, since he never apologized, and even at Christmas apparently said he still stood by what he said.

I didn't like my nephew.

About two years ago, my mom had hip surgery; she had a bottle of Oxycontin left that she really didn't use, but kept around just in case. She does this with medication, especially painkillers. She's a nurse. And naturally, Eric stared stealing it.

God, I could really use a drink.



Humans love drugs.

Using drugs comes naturally to humans. I can't tell if that's true of other animals--everything I've read seems to come up conflicted. But humans love drugs: alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, heroin, meth, whatever. We love it. Americans especially love it. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the same way we love fatty foods, or sugary drinks. Maybe we love things that ultimately kill us.


Maybe Freud had a point with the whole Thanatos thing.

Maybe we're just incredibly stupid.


I'm fat. I'm really fat. I love fatty foods. I love drinking alcohol. I love chocolate. I love watching tv. I love reading books.

I hate exercise. I hate dieting. I hate looking in the mirror and seeing what I look like.

I know these things will kill me. AND I CAN'T STOP.

What I'm doing will take me longer, but I'll end up as dead as Eric.

But then, so will you. So will everyone. So will marathon-running vegans. We're all dead in the long run.

I need a drink. Because the more I let my mind run, the more depressed I get.

I still believe in legalizing drugs. Because making it illegal didn't stop Eric. Making alcohol illegal didn't stop people drinking. Making cigarettes incredibly expensive hasn't stopped any of my friends smoking. Nothing stops us. We do what we want, and making a prison industry on the backs of users isn't doing anything but getting the owners of private prisons rich, and giving the government a useful enemy that will never be defeated.

We all have a death-wish. Is life so terrible?

Actually, maybe it is.


I'm gonna go fix myself a drink.

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