Mythology Monday: Thanatos


I winced when Thanatos fell into step behind me. “You don’t have to do this.”

“Yeah, I do.” He grinned. “It’s my job, remember?”

“Aren’t you busy, like . . . killing people?”

He shook his head. “I don’t kill people. People die, and I collect their souls. Well, I have my Reapers collect their souls. I rarely leave this realm these days.”

“So why are you making new Reapers?”

“I only make a personal appearance when someone is killed by a god. That doesn’t happen much anymore, but people will always find new ways to kill each other. Did you know that every second someone dies?”

“Forty thousand men and women every day,” I quoted, uncomfortable with the knowledge.

“Every day,” said Thanatos. “More Reapers allow for crazy things, like weekends off and reasonable hours. My Reapers are just souls, you know? They deserve the same respect as any other being. Labor laws aren’t only for the living.”

“They don’t look like souls,” I said, remembering with a shudder.

“They’re blessed. They can go out into the world and come back. Just like demigods.” He saw my worried look and added, “They’re completely under my control. I get the list from Moirae every day and divide it amongst them. They go, they come back. I’d know if anything else happened.”

“No free will?”

“Plenty of free will. No privacy. Still, it’s not hard to recruit—who wouldn’t want to visit the living world?” He studied me carefully, and I took a deep breath as homesickness filled me with longing.

“No one,” I whispered. “How can you possibly choose?”

“They have to meet a few requirements. They can’t know anyone in the living realm.” At my confused look he laughed. “That only takes a few decades. They can’t have drunk from the Lethe. Demigods get preferential treatment.” Thanatos shrugged. “Outside of that, it’s just like any job interview.”


With Halloween just around the corner, I thought this would be a good week to talk about Thanatos, the god of Death. There’s not a whole lot out there on Thanatos. He was mentioned in myths all over the place, but he didn’t really star in any of them. His mother was Nyx, goddess of night, his father was Erebus, god of darkness, and he was twin to Hypnos, god of sleep. So he has a pretty cool lineage.

Thanatos was once captured, and during his captivity no one could die. In my version of the story, Neither Thanatos, or the Reapers he controls, are supposed to kill anyone. They just release the souls from the bodies. If they don’t do it quick, the souls have to hang out in dead bodies, which is traumatizing for all involved. They *can* kill though. If they touch you and release your soul, that’s a death sentence.Thanatos doesn’t do much of the soul releasing, he’s more upper management. However when a human or being is killed by a deity, he has to respond to divine deaths.

2 thoughts on “Mythology Monday: Thanatos

  1. Pingback: Happy Halloween! | Kaitlin Bevis

  2. Pingback: Mythology Monday: Chthonic Deities | Kaitlin Bevis

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