Also known by his Greek name, Hypnos, the god Somnus is the embodiment of sleep. His mother is Nyx, goddess of night, his father Erebus, god of darkness, and his twin brother is said to be Thanatos, the personification of death. According to Greek mythology, the home of Somnus is a cave so deep that it is never touched by the light of day. There is no door or gate at the entrance of the dwelling, so that Somnus might not be awakened by squeaking hinges. The river Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, is said to flow through Somnus’ home, and the entrance of the cave is planted with poppies and other hypnotic blooms.
During the Trojan War, Juno (Hera) called on Somnus to aid her in tricking Jupiter (Zeus). Jupiter was quite adamant that the gods not involve themselves too heavily in the mortal affairs of the Trojan War. Juno, strongly favoring the Greek faction, devised a plan that would allow her to turn the tides of the battle without her consort’s knowledge. After washing herself with ambrosia and weaving flowers through her hair, she went first to Aphrodite and tricked the goddess into giving her a charm that would entice Jupiter. Having done this, Juno went to Somnus and asked for his aid in putting Jupiter to sleep. Somnus was reluctant to do this, as a furious Jupiter had easily discovered his involvement in a previous plot of Juno’s. He refused to help Juno when she attempted to bribe him with an indestructible golden chair, but relented when Juno promised to arrange a marriage with the Grace Pasithea, a deity of hallucination and relaxation. Once she had everything arranged, Juno flew to Jupiter on Mount Ida where she enticed him with the charm from Aphrodite. Somnus, hidden under a pine tree and cloaked in a thick mist, worked his power over Jupiter, causing the god to fall fast asleep. Juno then went to Poseidon, god of the sea, and convinced him to aid the Greeks by sending storms and earthquakes against the Trojans, thus changing the course of the war to suite Juno’s desires. Jupiter never learned of Somnus’ involvement.