The Grim Reaper appears as nothing but a mystery amongst many of us. What we all know, however, is that he/she is the ultimate symbol of death. The Myth of the Grim Reaper is also commonly used in some video games, personally I remember it being used in The Sims.
Often portrayed as a skeletal figure dressed in a long black hooded cloak. The Legend of the Grim Reaper famously carries a scythe which he uses to take rip the souls of the deceased from earth. But where did the Grim Reaper originate? Well, I’ve done some diggin’, and here’s what I’ve found!
The Black Death
Although the legend that is the Grim Reaper has been said to roam the earth for centuries, his ‘fame’ grew when the black plague struck the earth. Not only the victims of the black death, but the era itself was a very dark, sad and sombre time. With this being said, it is often an era that was recognised for a time when the ‘Grim Reaper’ was most present. This is probably due to it being the deadliest pandemic of all time.
The Grim Reaper in Breton Mythology
The Bretons are Celtic residents who immigrated to Brittany. Amongst many myths and legends of the culture is the Ankou. The Ankou is believed to be the figure that most resembles The Reaper as we know him today.
When you first search up The Ankou, you’re likely to be greeted by a character from the old-school video game, Runescape. Personally, I didn’t play that, but I had a boyfriend when I was 16 who loved it – that’s another story for another day!
Within the Celtic Breton Culture, the Ankou is known to be the last person who died within the community. They are often recognised in the afterlife as having a lanky but gaunt stature with long white hair. They were traditionally known to be transport the deceased in a wagon. A Celtic legend claims that the first Ankou was believed to be the first child of Adam and Eve.
The Grim Reaper in Greek Mythology
The way the Reaper is presented in Greek Mythology is quite different to how we see him/her in the more westernised world. Known to be the twin brother of the ‘God of Sleep’ (Hypnos), and the Son of the ‘God of Night’ (Nyx), Thanatos is known as the ‘God of Peaceful Death’. Thanatos was almost an angelic character, known to end the lives of anyone he touched.
In comparisson to the traditional ‘Grim Reaper’, instead of a black cloak, Thanatos had a pair of wings, and in replacement of a Scythe to reap the souls of the dead from earth, he carried a Sword. Also, instead of a gaunt, skeletal stature, Thanatos walked the earth as a young man, showing that the Ancient Greeks had nothing to fear of death.
How is Death presented in other cultures?
The list is endless on how death and the Grim Reaper are presented in other cultures; these just seem to be the main 3. In some way, the ‘Grim Reaper’ presents himself as a God, much like you would expect from other cultures and religions.
Just to be clear, we’re not here to talk about religion, just to settle our curiosities!
Who is the Grim Reaper?
So, who really is he? I guess, since there are so many different tales, we will never know! Personally, I’m going to stick to the Sims, because I’d like to believe that I’m never going to meet the real deal. So, thank you EA for making Mr Grim, he was a great addition to the franchise!
What are your thoughts? Let me know below!
And, until next time… Stay Spooky x