Thanatos As Personification Of Death  

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Thanatos As Personification Of Death Cover
In Greek mythology, Thanatos ("death") was the personification of death (Roman equivalent: Mors), and a minor figure in Greek mythology. Thanatos was a son of Nyx (Night) and Erebus (Darkness) and twin of Hypnos (Sleep). In early mythological accounts, Thanatos was perceived as a powerful figure armed with a sword, with a shaggy beard and a fierce face. His coming was marked by pain and grief. In later eras, as the transition from life to death in Elysium became a more attractive option, Thanatos came to be seen as a beautiful young man. Many Roman sarcophagi depict him as a winged boy, much like Cupid.

According to mythology, Thanatos could occasionally be outwitted, a feat that Sisyphus twice accomplished. When it came time for Sisyphus to die, he succeeded in chaining Thanatos up with his own shackles, thereby prohibiting the death of any mortal. Eventually Ares released Thanatos and handed Sisyphus over to him, though Sisyphus would trick Thanatos again by convincing Zeus to allow him to return to his wife. Other than being outwitted, Thanatos was sometimes outwrestled by Heracles. A prime example is when Heracles wrestled the deity at Admetus' house and won the ability to have Alcestis revived.

Thanatos is sometimes depicted as a young man carrying a butterfly (the ancient Greek word for butterfly is psyche which in modern Greek means soul), wreath or inverted torch in his hands. He has also been depicted as having two wings and a sword attached to his belt.

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Djanggawul Cover
The Djanggawul are three siblings, two female and one male, who created the landscape of Australia and covered it with flora. They came from the island of Baralku, and were eventually eaten by Galeru. The two female Djanggawul made the world's sacred talismans by breaking off pieces of their vulvas. They included Bunbulama, a rain goddess. The Djanggawul myth specifically concerned the Dua moiety of people, including about a third of the clans that lived in northeast Arnhem Land. The humans born of the two sisters are the ancestors of the Dua clans, the animals the sisters created are the totem animals of those clans, and the places the sisters visited are the clan shrines. The mythology was staged in early contact times by the Dua during several days of dancing, singing, and the manipulation of sacred emblems, on a stage of man-made holes and earth sculpture.

The other aboriginal moiety of the region, the Yiritja, also participated in the dramatization of the Djanggawul myth, although some of the rites were accessible only to initiated Dua males. Oliver, following Berndt 1952, argues that the Djanggawul cycle is a dramatic enactment of Arnhem Land's monsoon cycle, which shaped aboriginal food procurement activities. Oliver says, "This is not to say that a dramatic presentation was needed to familiarize the Arnhemlanders with the stark reality of their monsoon climate, and of its direct effects upon their lives; about that they were deeply aware. What the rituals did was to rationalize that climate in mythical terms (a reassuring thing in itself) and to provide them with a doubtless satisfying means of attempting to insure the regular recurrence of the rains. For no matter how discomforting the climate of the rainy season may have been... the Arnhemlanders evidently recognized how essential it was for sustaining the only life they knew. "

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