87. Θανάτου, θυμίαμα μάνναν.
To Thanatos, God of Death
Divine medium: manna
Κλῦθί μευ, ὃς πάντων θνητῶν οἴηκα κρατύνεις
I call the one who firmly reigns over all mortality.
πᾶσι διδοὺς χρόνον ἁγνόν, ὅσων πόρρωθεν ὑπάρχεις·
All individuals were assigned a pure, certain amount of time, long ago at the beginning,
σὸς γὰρ ὕπνος ψυχὴν θραύει καὶ σώματος ὁλκόν,
Until Hypnos shatters the soul and body channel,
ἡνίκ’ ἂν ἐκλύηις φύσεως κεκρατημένα δεσμὰ
Bringing release from Phusis’ powerful chains,
τὸν μακρὸν ζώιοισι φέρων αἰώνιον ὕπνον,
To greater Life bearing sleep eternal.
κοινὸς μὲν πάντων, ἄδικος δ’ ἐνίοισιν ὑπάρχων,
Common power over all, transcending Justice in the beginning,
ἐν ταχυτῆτι βίου παύων νεοήλικας ἀκμάς·
Then swiftly ending young life in its prime,
ἐν σοὶ γὰρ μούνωι πάντων τὸ κριθὲν τελεοῦται·
Thou alone over all selects life’s completion.
οὔτε γὰρ εὐχαῖσιν πείθηι μόνος οὔτε λιταῖσιν.
Not persuaded by prayers alone nor repentant entreaties,
ἀλλά, μάκαρ, μακροῖσι χρόνοις ζωῆς σε πελάζειν
Yet, with blessings, lengthen the time you draw near to life,
αἰτοῦμαι, θυσίαισι καὶ εὐχωλαῖς λιτανεύων,
I plead, with these offerings and prayers of repentance,
ὡς ἂν ἔοι γέρας ἐσθλὸν ἐν ἀνθρώποισι τὸ γῆρας.
With offerings of noble gifts for a human old age.
Thanatos (Θάνατος) is the immortal God of death, literally “divine (Θα) + tipping-point (ν) + ατος.” Death is the tipping-point between mortality and immortality (ἀθᾰνᾰτος), which literally means “transcending (ἀ) + death (θᾰνᾰτος).” He is not the God of the afterlife, he is the God of the moment when mortal life ends.
Thanatos is the brother of Hypnos, the God of sleep. According to William Smith, “Both were usually represented…with torches turned upside down. There are traces of sacrifices having been offered to Death (Serv. ad Aen. xi. 197; Stat. Theb. iv. 528; Lucan, vi. 600; Philostr. Vit. Apoll. v. 4), but no temples are mentioned anywhere.”
Aristotle’s treatise, On Life and Death (Περὶ ζωῆς καὶ θανάτου), says that “It is always to some lack of heat that death is due.” He says it is the failure of the heart to function that causes death.
Aeschylus writes, “For, alone of [Goddesses and G]ods, Death loves not gifts; no, not by sacrifice, nor by libation, canst thou aught avail with him; he hath no altar nor hath he hymn of praise; from him, alone of [Goddesses and G]ods, Persuasion stands aloof.”
Aeschylus portrays a character crying out for death’s release from pain: “O death, the healer, reject me not, but come! For thou alone art the mediciner of ills incurable, and no pain layeth hold on the dead.”
Aelian writes, "At the end of his life, having reached a very great age, Gorgias of Leontini was overcome by weakness and lay gradually slipping away into sleep. When one of his friends came to see him and asked how he was, Gorgias said : ‘Sleep is now beginning to hand me over to his brother [i.e. Thanatos, Death].’"
It is noteworthy that the word Thanatos (Θάνατος) begins with the letter Θ, which means “divine” and is the symbol for the number nine. In Greek literature, the number nine denotes a holding pattern, with the breaking of the pattern occurring on the tenth hour/day/month/year. In Chinese numerology the number nine means “forevermore.” “In Feng Shui, nine sections are cordoned off by agricultural land owners; eight sections of land are cultivated, but the ninth section (in the center of the agricultural blueprint)…is devoted to honor the supreme and sacred.”
Some classical scholars make a distinction between all forms of life, zoe (ζωή, ζόα, ζόη, ζοΐα), and an individual human life, bios (βίος), but others equate these terms.
Zodiakos (ζωδιᾰκός) means the zodiac, the 12 constellations that appear to rotate around the earth, each denoting a 30-day period comprising one-twelfth of a 360-degree circle. Note that diakosmios (διακοσμιος) means universal order, so that zodiakos (ζωδιᾰκός) translates as “life’s (ζω-) universal order (διᾰκός).”
Chronos is the immortal God of time.
Psyche is the immortal Goddess of the soul.
Phusis is the immortal Goddess of nature, of physics.
Dike is the immortal Goddess of justice.
 Schmitz, L. (1870). THA′NATOS (Θάνατος). In W. Smith (Ed.), Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (Vol. 3, p. 1021). Boston: Little, Brown, and Company.
 Wikisource https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_Life_and_Death
 Aeschylus, Fragment 81, Strobaeus Anthology iv.51.1 http://www.theoi.com/Text/AeschylusFragments2.html
 Aeschylus, Fragment 141, Strobaeus Anthology iv.52.32. http://www.theoi.com/Text/AeschylusFragments2.html
 Aelian, Historical Miscellany, edited and translated by Nigel Guy Wilson, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1997, ps.108-109.