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God of Darkness
Personal information
SiblingsNyx Tartarus Gaia Eros
OffspringThanatos, Apate, Aether, Hemera, Hypnos, the Keres, Moros, the Moirai, the Hesperides, Dolos, Nemesis, Oizys, Oneiroi, Momus, Philotes, Eris, Geras
Roman equivalentScotus
Genealogy of the offspring of Chaos

In Greek mythology, Erebus /ˈɛrɪbəs/,[1] also Erebos (Ancient Greek: Ἔρεβος, Érebos, "deep darkness, shadow"[2] or "covered"[3]), was often conceived as a primordial deity, representing the personification of darkness; for instance, Hesiod's Theogony identifies him as one of the first five beings in existence, born of Chaos.[4]


The perceived meaning of Erebus is "darkness"; the first recorded instance of it was "place of darkness between earth and Hades". The name Ἔρεβος itself originates from PIE *h1regʷ-es/os- "darkness"[5][6] (cf. Sanskrit rájas, Gothic riqis, Old Norse røkkr).[2]


According to the Greek oral poet Hesiod's Theogony, Erebus is the offspring of Chaos, and brother to Nyx:

From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night (Nyx); but of Night were born Aether and Day (Hemera), whom she conceived and bore from union in love with Erebus.[4]

Erebus features little in Greek mythological tradition and literature, but is said to have fathered several other deities with Nyx; depending on the source of the mythology, this union includes Aether, Hemera, the Hesperides, Hypnos, the Moirai, Geras, Styx, Charon, Nemesis and Thanatos.[7]

In Greek literature, the name Erebus is also used as a region of the Greek underworld where the dead pass immediately after dying, and is sometimes used interchangeably with Tartarus.[8][9][10][11][12]


  1. ^ Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, ISBN 9781405881180
  2. ^ a b Ἔρεβος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  3. ^ Robert Graves. The Greek Myths, section 31 s.v. The Gods Of The Underworld
  4. ^ a b Hesiod. Theogony, 116–124.
  5. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Online Etymology Dictionary: Erebus". Retrieved 1 July 2011.
  6. ^ R. S. P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, p. 451.
  7. ^ Hyginus. Fabulae, 1-49
  8. ^ Elizabeth, Alice (1896). The Sources of Spenser's Classical Mythology. New York: Silver, Burdett and Company. pp. 52, 55.
  9. ^ Morford, Mark P. O. (1999). Classical Mythology: Sixth Edition. New York: Oxford University Press US. pp. 36, 84, 253, 263, 271. ISBN 0-19-514338-8., ISBN 9780195143386
  10. ^ Peck, Harry Thurston (1897). Harper's Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities, Volume 1. New York: Harper. p. 620.
  11. ^ Rengel, Marian (2009). Greek and Roman Mythology A to Z. Infobase Publishing. p. 51. ISBN 1-60413-412-7., ISBN 9781604134124
  12. ^ Turner, Patricia (2001). Dictionary of Ancient Deities. Oxford University Press. p. 170. ISBN 0-19-514504-6., ISBN 9780195145045