Nyx - Goddess of the Night

Born out of Chaos, Nyx was the primordial goddess of the night. She is feared by men and gods alike. Even the mighty Zeus went out of his way not to anger her. Nyx's offspring include Aether (atmosphere), Hemera (day), Momus (blame), Ponos (toil), Moros (fate), the twins Thanatos (death) and Hypnos (sleep), the Oneiroi (tribe of dreams), the Hesperides, the Keres and Fates, Nemesis, Apate (deception), Philotes (friendship), Geras (age), and strife. An interesting list indeed.

Much later, Hemera (day), who is now Night's sister rather than daughter, leaves Tartarus (the underworld) just as Nyx entered it; when Hemera returns, Nyx leaves.

Reread the list of characteristics associated with Nyx's offspring and I'm sure you'll understand why, throughout history, we have feared the night. But night-time in the big city can be fun - and bright - and noisy. We're more likely to party. We may still fear a dark alley, but for the most part, Nyx has lost some of her power over us. In fact, she may now be the one bothered by us - unable to sleep - kept awake by endless activity and traffic.

Well, at least she can thank Asclepius, the demigod of medicine, for her sleeping pills.

Inspired by Gustave Moreau's "Nyx" 1880
Watercolour with gouache
10.6 x 8.1 inches (26.4 x 20.9 cm)
Pushkin Museum, Moscow

To Night

Swiftly walk o'er the western wave,
Spirit of Night!
Out of the misty eastern cave,
Where, all the long and lone daylight,
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear,
Which make thee terrible and dear--
Swift be thy flight!

Wrap thy form in a mantle gray,
Star-inwrought!
Blind with thine hair the eyes of day;
Kiss her until she be wearied out,
Then wander o'er city, and sea, and land,
Touching all with thine opiate wand--
Come, long-sought!

When I arose and saw the dawn,
I sighed for thee;
When light rode high, and the dew was gone,
And noon lay heavy on flower and tree,
And the weary day turned to his rest,
Lingering like an unloved guest,
I sighed for thee.

Thy brother Death came, and cried,
Wouldst thou me?
Thy sweet child Sleep, the filmy-eyed,
Murmured like a noontide bee,
Shall I nestle near thy side?
Wouldst thou me?--And I replied,
No, not thee!

Death will come when thou art dead,
Soon, too soon--
Sleep will come when thou art fled;
Of neither would I ask the boon
I ask of thee, beloved Night--
Swift be thine approaching flight,
Come soon, soon!

- Percy Bysshe Shelley

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