When the sun went down below the horizon and the stars began to blaze in sky, the ancient Greeks had no concept of solar output or orbits or many of the simple scientific explanations we learn about to explain why the stars come out at night. Admittedly, they were a little off, but for sure, their explanation was a heck of a lot cooler!
When Apollo finished off his run across the skies in his Sun-chariot and Hemera, the goddess of day followed close behind to sleep off her long day-shift, that's when NYX, the goddess of the night and shadows came out to watch over the quiet, sleeping earth...
Nyx really isn't an Olympian goddess at all, but rather a Titan (one of the very first-born, called a Protogenoi) who sided with Zeus and his siblings during the Titanomachy, or War Between the Gods. As a reward for her loyalty, Nyx was given a sort of honorary-Olympian status and joined them in running things on Earth.
She is a figure of exceptional power and beauty, ruling the night and everything that can be found within it.
She is found in the shadows of the world and to humans, is only ever seen in glimpses out of the corner of your eye. She is know for her huge, billowy star-filled cloak that she wears, which flutters behind her as she rises up into the sky each night.
Nyx has a partner in getting the night going each time Apollo and Hemera finish their dynamic-duo work each day; she is married to the god of Darkness, Erebus (where the area of Erebus down in the Underworld gets its name!).
Every night, he goes out before her to spread darkness across the earth so that she can get down to what she does best: spread the stars across the sky and all other things to do with the night and with dark shadows!
All of the gods respected Nyx and she never had any serious problems with any of them. She had a TON of kids, most by her husband Erebus, some of them gods and goddesses such as Nemesis (vengence), Eris (strife), Hypnos (sleep) and Thanatos (death), and Hecate (magic).
Others were creatures or other forces of nature, such as the Erinyes (The Furies) or the Moirae (The Fates). Almost all of her children had some kind of relationship with the darkness, with death, shadows of night or things related to it!
Not all of them were entirely nice to have around either, but they all had some kind of job to do. Being the mother of night and shadow doesn't mean that she was bad, necessarily! She was just doing her job and passing it on to her kids, too!
Nyx resided in a gloomy, castle-like house located in Tartarus, in the lowest level of the depths of Hades' Underworld. Nyx was sharing her residence with her daughter Hemera, the goddess of the Day, without the two of them ever meeting each other at home.
In the morning, Hemera would announce the day (which was set up by her sister Eos, the Goddess of Dawn) and prepare for the coming of Apollo's Chariot!
Nyx used to reside in her home all day long, taking care of her dark spirited children and sleeping up for her nightly strut across the skies.
When the evening finally set in and Erebus brought the darkness, Nyx left her home to set off for her nightly journey, and on her way she met Hemera, coming back to Tartarus, the two would do a little fist-bump and the endless cycle would continue.
Black winged Nyx, some say, laid a germless egg in the infinite bosom of Erebus, the Darkness of the Underworld, and after long ages, sprang golden-winged Eros. But others have said that Nyx is the daughter of Eros, whereas others called both of them children of Chaos.
Nyx is Night, a powerful goddess whose dark light falls from the stars, and who dictates not only to men but also to gods. Even Zeus does not wish to upset Night: It happened that Hera bribed Hypnos in order to make Zeus fall asleep, so that she could have it her way during the Trojan War.
Hypnos obeyed the goddess in spite of his fears; for once he had performed a similar task, and when Zeus woke up in anger, he sought him everywhere, and would have hurled him from heaven into the deep, had Nyx not saved him. For Zeus stopped and thought twice before doing anything that could displease Nyx.
Some seem to think that Nyx appears because light is gone as if anything could be and yet do not exist on its own right. But when counting the days, not seldom the nights are mentioned first as when it is said:
"If night leaves anything undone in the working of destruction, day follows to accomplish it."
(Jocasta to her sons. Euripides, Phoenician Women 543)
Nyx is highly appreciated and revered by those who cast snares, for mischief and treachery not seldom arise from night-time, when things are often unexpected, although Destruction is believed to make its way in any case:
"night's sightless eye, and radiant sun proceed upon their yearly course on equal terms and neither of them is envious when it has to yield."
(Sophocles, Oedipus the King 196)
So Cronos, protected by the darkness of the night, attacked his father Uranus from an ambush, castrating him with the sickle of the jagged teeth. And it was in night-time that Heracles surprised his enemies and took the island of Cos, which is off the southwestern coast of Asia Minor, slaying King Eurypylus.
During the Trojan War it was Night who protected the comings and goings of spies, for it was protected by the darkness of immortal Night that Odysseus entered, disguised as a beggar, the city of Troy; and it was during the night that the Thracian Rhesus met his death attacked by Odysseus and Diomedes.
And it was also in night-time that the Achaeans pretended to return home, burning their own tents and waiting with their fleet off the island of Tenedos, which is opposite the coast of the Troad, in order to stealthily sail back disguised by the shades of the following night.
This time true beacon lamps, lighted by Sinon, and some say by Helen, guided them, so that they could land and take Troy, which fell by night, but on another night during their returns, the ACHAEAN LEADERS suffered shipwreck because of the false beacon lamps, lighted by Nauplius, the father of Palamedes.
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