Study Guide

Thanatos

  • Profile

    You know the Grim Reaper; now meet his great granddaddy, Thanatos. Long before people were imagining Death as a bony dude with a big scythe, the Greeks thought of him as a bearded man with wings. Sometimes they even imagined him as a kid with wings and a penchant for flapping around with an upside down torch. Even though Thanatos was Death and all, the Greeks didn't think of him as a bad guy. He was actually associated more with peaceful death, which he liked to carry out with the help of his brother Hypnos, the god of sleep. So if it was your time to go, Thanatos was totally the god you wanted to help guide you down to the Underworld. He knew it was a mortal's last ride, so he wanted to make sure it was a smooth one.

    Basic Information

    Name

    Thanatos

    Nickname

    Mors, Letus, Thanatus, Death, The Man in Black

    Sex

    Male

    Current city

    Tartarus, but I do a lot of traveling

    Work & Education

    Occupation

    Psychopomp (guiding the souls of the dead to the Underworld)
    Being Death itself

    Education

    Night School of Tartarus (where it's always night)

    Beliefs

    Political views

    Death rules all things

    Family & Friends (& Enemies)

    Parents

    Depending on who you ask...
    Nyx (Mom)
    Erebos (Dad)
    or
    Nyx (all by herself)

    Siblings

    Hypnos
    The Keres
    The Furies
    Nemesis
    The Fates
    Charon

    Children

    Does Death have kids? Do I really have to answer that question?

    Friends

    Hermes (Well, we're kind of frenemies, because he thinks he's a better psychopomp than me.)
    Hypnos (My kind and gentle brother)
    Charon (My old and cranky brother)
    Hades (My awesome king)
    The Fates (Who seriously make me work overtime…)
    Tartarus (Sure, he's a bottomless black pit, but he's always been there when I needed him.)

    Enemies

    Sisyphus (Who thought he was sooooo cool when he outsmarted me.)
    Heracles (Who totally humiliated me when he beat me at wrestling)
    The Keres (My mean sisters who cause violent deaths)

    Relationships

    Relationship status

    Very single

    Interested in

    Anybody, please!

    Favorites

    TV Shows

    Six Feet Under (Absolute favorite.)
    Dead Like Me (Canceled before its time. No other show so accurately portrays the challenges of my job.)
    Wrestlemania (Been watching this to pick up tips in case I have to wrestle Heracles again.)
    The Walking Dead (More proof that I'm totally necessary.)

    Quotations

    "Because I could not stop for Death –
    He kindly stopped for me –
    The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
    And Immortality."
    – Emily Dickinson

    "Life and Death are the only truth."
    – Proverb

    "It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance. It is the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance. It is the one who won't be taken who cannot seem to give. And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live."
    – Bette Midler

    "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck that which is planted."
    – The Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1

    Books

    "Because I could not stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson
    "The Hollow Men" by T.S. Eliot
    "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs (A great lesson in how sometimes it's better to let things die.)
    "Thanatopsis" by William Cullen Bryant
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Death as the narrator?! How cool is that?)
    "Deathfugue" by Paul Celan
    "Dream-land" by Edgar Allan Poe
    "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce
    As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
    Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

    Music

    "O Death" by Ralph Stanley
    "God's Gonna Cut You Down" by Johnny Cash
    "Tears in Heaven" by The Choir Boys
    "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" by Death Cab For Cutie
    "The Funeral" by Band of Horses
    "No Children" by the Mountain Goats
    "I See a Darkness" by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
    "I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy

    Movies

    Dark Shadows
    Meet Joe Black
    The Wrestler (Reminds me of when I wrestled Heracles.)
    Final Destination
    Frankenweenie
    Death at a Funeral
    Night of the Living Dead (See what happens if I'm not around?)
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

    Activities & Interests

    Likes

    Peaceful death
    Sleep (My awesome brother)
    Funerals
    Graveyards
    Bottomless pits
    Escape artists (Would have been nice to know some of Houdini's tricks when Sisyphus tricked me into chaining myself up…)
    Sunny beaches (Hey, no sense in being gloomy all the time!)

    Interests

    Thanatology
    Embalming
    Taxidermy

    Groups

    Gods of the Underworld
    Incarnations of Death
    Funeral Directors

    • Spotter's Guide

      You're looking for Thanatos, huh? Well, you're braver than most. Since he's Death itself, most people try to avoid him. You can usually find him hovering around anywhere that somebody is about to die peacefully in their sleep. He'll either look like a middle-aged man with a big black beard, or a little boy with an upside down torch. Either way, he'll have wings, so he won't be too hard to spot.

      The guy gets kind of depressed because everyone's all freaked out whenever he comes around. There's no need to be afraid of him, though. After all, he is mainly the god of peaceful death, so if it's your time to go the Underworld, he's definitely the god you want flapping around.

      Sex: Male
      Age: Middle-aged or very young
      Build: Muscular or thin
      Complexion: Pale
      Hair Color: Black
      Facial Hair: Big black beard, or none
      Scars/marks/tattoos: None
      Jewelry and accessories: Wings, upside down torch
      Clothing: Dark robes
      Armor: None
      Type of Weapon: Sword (sometimes)

      Typical Companions:

      Hypnos (Sleep)
      The Souls of the Dead

      Known Hangouts:

      Tartarus
      The Underworld
      Cemeteries
      Hospices
      Morgues

    • Sightings

      Jan 1, 1970 - Jan 1, 1970

      The Iliad by Homer

      Thanatos and his brother Hypnos were big-time heroes when they took the body of Sarpedon peacefully away from the battlefield in Homer's epic poem about the Trojan War.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Alcestis by Euripides

      In this play, Thanatos is totally humiliated when Heracles beats him in wrestling, allowing Alcestis to avoid death. (Yeah, this is definitely not Thanatos's favorite play.)

      Dec 20, 2019

      God of War Series

      In this gory video game, Thanatos is eventually slain by the mighty Kratos. Ouch.

      Dec 20, 2019

      The Incredible Hercules

      Thanatos shows up to do some major psychopomping in this Marvel comic book.

      Dec 20, 2019

      The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

      In this installation of the Heroes of Olympus series, Thanatos ends up chained to a glacier, which causes all kinds of problems. (You'd think Thanatos wouldn't let himself get chained again after that embarrassing Sisyphus incident…)