Once upon a time, Halcyone, the daughter of Aeolus, spent her time praying to Hera, for the safe return of her dear husband Ceyx, son of Lucifer and king of Trachyn, who had left on a sea voyage to Delphi. Unfortunately, Ceyx’s ship was caught in a storm, and he drowned at sea.
Unaware of Ceyx’s death, the faithful Halcyone counted the lonely nights, offered frankincense to the gods, and prayed to Hera to keep her husband safe. But Hera was unable to accept the prayers, since Ceyx was already dead. To turn away Halcyone’s death-corrupted hands from her sacred altars, Hera ordered her messenger Iris, to go to Hypnos, the god of sleep. She told Iris to command Hypnos, in her name, to send a dream in the form of Ceyx, informing Halcyone about the sad truth.
Iris went to the cave of Hypnos, near the Cimmerian land, where all around was shadowy gloom. Iris entered the cave and Hypnos languidly awoke from his slothful sleep. Iris delivered the message of Hera and before her eyes became heavy with sleep, she flew away departing over the rainbow, as she had arrived.
To fulfill Hera’s command, Hypnos sent his son Morpheus, the god of dreams. Assuming a vision destitute of life, having a naked form, and the voice of Ceyx, Morpheus came as a dream to Halcyone. The lonely queen dreamt that Ceyx was leaning on her bed, while his tears dropped on her cheeks. The vision told Halcyone, how his ship was wrecked by a storm and how he had drowned. He asked her not to send him to Tartarus, unbewailed. In her sleep, Halcyone wept and extended her hands, to embrace her dear husband, but caught only empty air. The vision was departing and the dreaming Halcyone loudly shouted for it to stay. Disturbed by her own agitated voice and the vision of her husband, she woke up from her sleep.
Finding Ceyx nowhere, she wept in wild grief, knowing that her beloved husband was no more.
Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani