ELYSIUM In Anatolian mythology, Elysium was originally another name for the Islands of the Blessed, to which favored heroes were sent by the gods to enjoy a life after death. It was later a region in Hades. Lethe was a river of the underworld whose waters, when drunk, brought forgetfulness of the past. The spirits of the dead drank from its waters to forget the sorrows of their earthly life before entering Elysium. When the Trojan prince Aeneas visited the world of the dead, he found a great number of souls wandering on the banks of the stream. His father, Anchises, with whom he was joyously reunited, told him that before these spirits could live again in the world above, they must drink of the river of oblivion to forget the happiness they had experienced in Elysium. Thanatos (Mors in Roman Mythology) was the god of death, a son of Night and the twin brother of Sleep. He was frequently regarded with submission, or as coming opportunely, and was represented in the form of a quiet, pensive youth, winged, standing with his legs crossed, often beside an urn with a wreath on it, and holding an extinguished torch reversed. Or, as a personification of endless repose, he appeared in the form of a beautiful youth leaning against the trunk of a tree, with one arm thrown up over his head - an attitude by which ancient artists usually expressed repose. It was probably owing to the spread of the belief that death was a transition from life to Elysium, that in later times this more attractive representation of the god of death took the place of the former repulsive representations, whether as a powerful and violent god, or as a black child in the arms of his mother, Night. Among the figures sculptured on the chest of Cypselus, a description of which we have still in Pausanias, was that of Night carrying twin children in her arms - the one white, representing Sleep, and the other black, representing Death.
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