Personification of darkness
|Offspring||Aether, Hemera, the Keres, Thanatos, Hypnos, the Oneiroi, Momus, Oizys, the Hesperides, the Moirai, Nemesis, Apate, Philotes, Geras, Eris, Styx, Dolos, Ponos, Euphrosyne, Epiphron, Continentia, Petulantia, Misericordia, Pertinacia, Charon|
In Greek mythology and Roman mythology, Erebus (/ˈɛrɪbəs/; Ancient Greek: Ἔρεβος, romanized: Érebos, "deep darkness, shadow"), or Erebos, is the personification of darkness and one of the primordial deities. Hesiod's Theogony identifies him as one of the first five beings in existence, born of Chaos.
The perceived meaning of Erebus is "darkness"; the first recorded instance of it was "place of darkness between earth and Hades". The name Ἔρεβος itself originates from Proto-Indo-European *h₁regʷ-es/os- "darkness" (cf. Sanskrit rájas, Gothic riqis, Old Norse røkkr).
The Greek oral poet Hesiod's Theogony (8th century BCE) portrays Erebus as the offspring of Chaos, and as the brother of Nyx (Night), by whom he is the father of Aether (Brightness) and Hemera (Day).
According to the Fabulae of Hyginus, Erebus, Nox (Night), Aether (Brightness), and Dies (Day) are the offspring of Chaos and Caligine (Mist); and Erebus, by Nox, is the father of Fate, Old age, Death, Destruction, Strife, Sleep, Dreams, Thoughtfulness, Hedymeles, Porphyrion, Epaphus, Discord, Misery, Petulance, Nemesis, Cheerfulness, Friendship, Pity, Styx, the Parcae (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos), and the Hesperides (Aegle, Hesperia, and Erythea).
In Cicero's De Natura Deorum, the following are "fabled" to be the children of Erebus and Nox (Night): Aether, Dies (Day), Amor (Love), Dolus (Guile), Metus (Fear), Labor (Toil), Invidentia (Envy), Fatum (Fate), Senectus (Old Age), Mors (Death), Tenebrae (Darkness), Miseria (Misery), Querella (Lamentation), Gratia (Favour), Fraus (Fraud), Pertinacia (Obstinacy), the Parcae (the Fates), the Hesperides, and the Somnia (Dreams).
A cosmogony attributed to Alcman (fl. 7th century BCE) apparently makes Erebus the fourth being to come into existence, after Thetis, Poros, and Tekmor.
In Aristophanes' comedy The Birds, Chaos, Erebus, Nyx, and Tartarus were the first beings, before the existence of earth, air, or heaven. Nyx "laid a germless egg in the bosom of the infinite deeps of Erebus", from which came Eros. Aether is also called the son of Erebus.
Erebus functions as the unanthropomorphized personification of darkness in the Theogony, and features little in Greek mythological tradition and literature. Though he plays no active role as a deity in later works, "Erebus" is used as a name for a region of the Greek underworld where the dead pass immediately after dying, and is sometimes used interchangeably with Tartarus.
Five ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Erebus after Erebus.
Mount Erebus, the second-highest volcano in Antarctica, was named after HMS Erebus used by Sir James Clark Ross on his Antarctic expedition in 1841, later used in the ill-fated Franklin Expedition.