Art and Sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: Marble head of Hypnos

This week’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a marble head of Hypnos, the Greek god of Sleep.

Marble head of Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep, 117-138 AD, Hadrian’s Villa, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome

Hypnos is represented as a young man with wings attached to his temples (now lost). The head must have been part of a full length statue showing Hypnos running forwards, holding in his hands poppies and a vessel from which he presumably poured a sleeping potion. One of the most complete representations of Hypnos is a bronze statuette from the collection of the Roman Museum in Augst (see an image here).

Hypnos was the son of the goddess Nyx (the deity of the Night) and Erebus (the deity of Darkness). His wife, Pasithea (the deity of Hallucinations), was one of the youngest of the Graces and was promised to him by Hera. His sons were Morpheus (the personification of Dreams), Phobetor (the personification of Nightmares), Phantasos (the personification of inanimate objects in prophetic dreams) and Ikelos (the personification of people seen in prophetic dreams).

This marble head of Hypnos was found inside the cryptoporticus from the entrance of the Piazza d’Oro (Golden Court), one of the most luxurious complexes at the villa. It was a vast building complex with a great rectangular garden embellished with flower-beds. A canal was running down the main axis and was surrounded on all sides by a portico. On its eastern side was a series of rooms including a triclinium, while on its southern side, opposite the entrance, was a monumental exedra with a nymphaeum and perhaps also a library.

See images of the Piazza d’Oro here.

See more images of Hypnos here.


Originally published on Following Hadrian, republished with permission.
Filed under: Culture


Carole Raddato's favourite hobby is travelling and for the last 8 years she has taken a huge interest in the history of the ancient world. She has dedicated all her free time to this passion. She loves to share with other history fans all the incredible facts and stories that she discovers throughout her journeys. She is neither a professional photographer nor an ancient history scholar, but she hopes that everybody can enjoy her photos. She is particularly interested in everything related to the emperor Hadrian whom she finds fascinating. He was himself an incessant traveller, visiting every province in the Empire during his reign. When Carole is looking for new ideas for her travels, she usually takes inspiration from his journeys and it is a great motivation for her to follow him in his footsteps.