God of Darkness
Personal information
ParentsChaos, Chaos and Nyx (sometimes)
SiblingsNyx, Tartarus, Gaia, Eros
OffspringThanatos, Apate, Aether, Hemera, Hypnos, the Keres, Moros, the Moirai, the Hesperides, Dolos, Nemesis, Oizys, Oneiroi, Momus, Philotes, Eris, Geras
Roman equivalentScotus
Genealogy of the offspring of Chaos

In Greek mythology, Erebus (/ˈɛrɪbəs/;[1] Ancient Greek: Ἔρεβος, romanizedÉrebos, "deep darkness, shadow"[2] or "covered"[3]), or Erebos, was often conceived as a primordial deity, representing the personification of darkness; for instance, Hesiod's Theogony identifies him as one of the first five beings in existence, born of Chaos.[4]


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 PIE *h₁regʷ-es/os- "darkness"[5][6] (cf. Sanskrit rájas, Gothic riqis, Old Norse røkkr).[2]


According to the Greek oral poet Hesiod's Theogony, Erebus is the offspring of Chaos, and brother to Nyx:

From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night (Nyx); but of Night were born Aether and Day (Hemera), whom she conceived and bore from union in love with Erebus.[4]

Erebus features little in Greek mythological tradition and literature, but is said to have fathered several other deities with Nyx; depending on the source of the mythology, this union includes Aether, Hemera, the Hesperides, Hypnos, the Moirai, Geras, Styx, Charon, Nemesis and Thanatos.[7]

In some accounts, Nyx is the mother of Erebus, instead of his sister.[8]

In Greek literature, the name Erebus is also used as a region of the Greek underworld where the dead pass immediately after dying, and is sometimes used interchangeably with Tartarus.[9][10][11][12][13]


Five ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Erebus after Erebus, the dark region of Hades in Greek Mythology. Mount Erebus, the second-highest mountain in Antarctica, was named after the HMS Erebus used by Sir James Clark Ross on his Antarctic expedition in 1841, later used in the ill-fated Franklin Expedition.


  1. ^ Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, ISBN 9781405881180
  2. ^ a b Ἔρεβος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  3. ^ Graves, Robert (2017). The Greek Myths - The Complete and Definitive Edition. Penguin Books Limited. p. 124. ISBN 9780241983386.
  4. ^ a b Hesiod. Theogony, 116–124.
  5. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Online Etymology Dictionary: Erebus". Retrieved 1 July 2011.
  6. ^ R. S. P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, p. 451.
  7. ^ Hyginus. Fabulae, 1-49
  8. ^ Guerber, H. A. (2014-12-03). Myths Of Greece And Rome - Narrated With Special Reference To Literature And Art. Read Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-4474-9829-2.
  9. ^ Elizabeth, Alice (1896). The Sources of Spenser's Classical Mythology. New York: Silver, Burdett and Company. pp. 52, 55.
  10. ^ Morford, Mark P. O. (1999). Classical Mythology: Sixth Edition. New York: Oxford University Press US. pp. 36, 84, 253, 263, 271. ISBN 0-19-514338-8., ISBN 9780195143386
  11. ^ Peck, Harry Thurston (1897). Harper's Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities, Volume 1. New York: Harper. p. 620.
  12. ^ Rengel, Marian (2009). Greek and Roman Mythology A to Z. Infobase Publishing. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-60413-412-4., ISBN 9781604134124
  13. ^ Turner, Patricia (2001). Dictionary of Ancient Deities. Oxford University Press. p. 170. ISBN 0-19-514504-6., ISBN 9780195145045


  • Graves, Robert, The Greek Myths: The Complete and Definitive Edition. Penguin Books Limited. 2017. ISBN 978-0-241-98338-6, 024198338X
  • Hesiod, Theogony from The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Greek text available from the same website.
  • Hyginus, Fabulae from The Myths of Hyginus translated and edited by Mary Grant. University of Kansas Publications in Humanistic Studies. Online version at the Topos Text Project.
  • Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "E'rebos"