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Morpheus and Iris, by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, 1811
|God of Dreams|
|Parents||Nyx (Hesiod), Nyx and Erebus (Cicero), Hypnos (Ovid)|
|Siblings||Phantasos, Phobetor, Moros, Hypnos, Thanatos, the Keres, the Moirai, the Hesperides, Momos, Oizys, Apate, Nemesis, Geras, Eris (Hesiod), Charon (Hyginus)|
|Roman equivalent||the Somnia|
Morpheus (pron.: // or //; Greek: Μορφεύς, Morpheus, or Μορφέας, Morpheas, "shaper [of dreams]") in Greek mythology is the god of dreams, leader of the Oneiroi. Morpheus has the ability to take any human form and appear in dreams. His true semblance is that of a winged daemon, imagery shared with many of his siblings.
According to Hesiod, Nyx, the primordial goddess of the Night, produced the "tribe of Dreams" (φῦλον Ὀνείρων) parthenogenetically, though Cicero says that Dreams were the children of Night and Erebus, the embodiment of Darkness.
Morpheus is the oldest of triplets known as the Oneiroi, along with Icelus and Phantasos. For this reason, he is also referred to as Oneiros. The Oneiroi are attendants of Hypnos, the god of Sleep, bringing dreams to the mortals and gods who fall under the power of Sleep. Morpheus sees Hypnos as a father figure as Hypnos takes care of the other siblings.
The Roman poet Ovid, however, states in his Metamorphoses that Morpheus is a son of Hypnos, rather than his brother (it does not mention the identity of the mother), and multiplies the Oneiroi into an uncountable host of spirits, with Morpheus, Icelus and Phantasos being merely the most prominent among them. Morpheus was the leader of the Oneiroi, the gods or spirits (daimones) of dreams. He manifested himself in the dreams of kings and rulers in the likeness of men as a messenger of the gods.
According to the Orphic Argonautica (line 1142) The land of dreams (δῆμος ὀνείρων) was located somewhere in the underworld, presumably near the domain of Night and her children. Poets often referred to the two gates leading from the dream realm. One gate was fashioned of sawn ivory, the other of polished horn. False dreams were said to pass through the gate of ivory, while truthful, prophetic dreams winged their way out through the gate of horn. There was also said to be a wilted elm tree in Morpheus' domain, upon which the dreams fashioned by the Oneiroi hung, with the appearance of winged phantom-shapes.
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- The drug morphine is named after him.
- Morpheus is spoken of in the Metamorphoses of Ovid. According to Ovid, Morpheus concentrated on the human elements of dreams, his brothers Phobetor and Phantasos being responsible for animals and inanimate objects, respectively.
- Morpheus is the main character in a tale Ole Lukøje by Hans Christian Andersen. In the tale he first presents himself as Ole Lukøje and visits a young boy Hjalmar every night in one week and tells him stories. On Sunday Morpheus tells the boy he's ancient Greek God of Dreams and also introduces him his brother Death - who's presumably Thanatos, Greek God of Peaceful Death.
- He is spoken with in Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella.
- He is referred to in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene (1590). He sleeps on an ebony bed in a dimly lit cave, surrounded by poppy flowers.
- Morpheus, under the name of Dream, is the principal character in Neil Gaiman's comic book series, The Sandman. As the embodiment and ruler of dreams, he uses many different names, two of which are Morpheus and Oneiros. In the Sandman series Morpheus is also the father of Orpheus, the famed musician of Greek mythology.
- Morpheus is featured in episode 3, season 1 of Xena Warrior Princess, where he is the object of worship of a corrupted dream cult.
- Morpheus as a reference to Morphine is used in a song by the American rock band "Hurt" in a song off their "Vol. I" album called "Overdose"
- Morpheus brings the night sky to the fields of Mt. Olympus in the Pastoral Symphony segment of Disney's Fantasia (film)
- Morpheus is also referred to in "Comatose (In the Arms of Slumber)" from the album "Desireless" by Eagle Eye Cherry.
- Morpheus makes an appearance in "The Last Olympian" by Rick Riordan – the fifth book of his "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series - as the god of dreams. He puts all of New York City to sleep.
- Morpheus "appears" (only his shadows) in God Of War: Chains of Olympus
- Morpheus is mentioned in the song "The Safest Way Into Tomorrow" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Reference is also made to his wings which he is "offering" in the song (to the person being addressed).
- Morpheus is also mentioned in the song "Schlaf" (German for "Sleep") by the German Post Black Metal Band Agrypnie. The protagonist of the song is seeking for sleep while he suffers on sleeplessness.
- In the film The Matrix (1999), Morpheus (interpreted by Laurence Fishburne) is the leader of a team of free humans and enables Neo to wake up from his "sleep".
- Little Nemo in Slumberland, a comic about a boy's surreal dreams, includes a supporting character named "King Morpheus."
- There is a Spanish Celtic/pop/rock band named El Sueño de Morfeo. The band's name translates into English as "The Dream of Morpheus".
- There was a United States Death Metal band from Middletown, NY named Morpheus Descends, which lasted from 1990-1997.
- There was a notorious Rutland, Vermont Thrashcore/Noise Rock band named Morpheus which lasted from 1997-2007 and, in their early material, wrote lyrics about nightmares.
- Project Morpheus is a NASA project, to develop a lunar lander test-bed, that was named after the god Morpheus.
- Morpheus is mentioned in Over at the Frankenstein Place, the third song in the cult musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
- Morpheus appears in Disney's Hercules (animated series), voiced by Jonathan Katz
Vicomte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas. "Chamber of Morpheus" at "Chateau de Vaux-Le-Vicomte"
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- Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book XI, at Google Books
- John Potter, "Archaeologia Graeca, or The antiquities of Greece. To which is added, an appendix, containing a concise history of the Grecian states", 1818, Chapter XIII - Of Divination by Dreams, at Google Books
- Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Morpheus"