In The Sandman - Overture #5 we learn that

Dream is a son of Night and Time,

two entities who were not seen before (in the original run). If there was any doubt that Night and Time are the parents of all the Endless, this post by Neil Gaiman lifts them.

On the other hand, it makes one wonder - why Night and Time? Of all possible entities (or of all possible names), why those two?

Time is described as "watch[ing them] from the micro-moments between seconds", while Night is described as "exist[ing] in the vast stretches of untime and unspace beyond every event horizon". What can we learn about the Endless from their parentage? What symbolism, if any, does it carry?

The part about Time is particularly interesting; Time and Night would have to represent some fundamental forces or events, given they're the parents of such fundamental things as the Endless. However, time was described as non-essential or "bendy", in some regions of space, and especially in Dream's realm, in soft places. It wasn't treated as very important, so it seems a bit odd that the entity who fathered Dream is Time.

  • 2
    This is pure speculation, but Night could be a reference to Nyx, the Greek personification of night. Nyx was mother to a large number of deities, including the Oneiroi, the dream gods. Night and Time might be a reference to the Orphic interpretation of Nyx and Cronus.
    – user8
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 9:33
  • @yannis That is an absolutely terrific answer, actually. Given the rest of the series, it's entirely possible that in-universe Nyx and Chronos were based on Night and Time, since all gods are born in Dream's realm. If it's Gaiman and mythology, it's very likely not random. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 9:45
  • Now that I think more about it the Nyx and Cronus thing might be a bit of a stretch - it only works if you accept the conflation of Cronus with Chronos (see: Is Chronos Kronos?). Interestingly, Nyx did have a child with Chronos, Hemera (the personification of the day)
    – user8
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 9:54
  • @yannis This Chronos (Khronos, non-Titan) may be a good fit. I still think this theory holds water - in fact, I'm gonna go and ask NG about it. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 18:24
  • I'm not versed well enough to figure out whether there's a particular mythology involved here, but since the Endless were always treated as personifications of concepts we knew in our bones, I applied that same direction to their parents. Night having more than a few starry elements (and being the mother) was the concept of the "nothing at the beginning, the void at the start". Time kinda dovetailed nicely into the "change" concept from Brief Lives. Between the two, they are the fundamentals of the creation of everything, not just the Endless.
    – Radhil
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 13:24

1 Answer 1


...why Night and Time? Of all possible entities (or of all possible names), why those two? ... What can we learn about the Endless from their parentage? What symbolism, if any, does it carry?

Mr Gaiman likes Greek myth...

Night (Gr. Νύξ; Lat. Nox) is the mother of Sleep/Dream both in Hesiod (Theogony, 213) and—albeit implicitly—in Homer (Iliad, XIV, 259).

...but he's not beholden to it.

Wikipedia's off and Hesiod doesn't give any father for "Sleep and the tribe of Dreams", just that they were borne by Night along with

hateful Doom and black Fate and Death... And again the goddess murky Night, though she lay with none, bare Blame and painful Woe, and the Hesperides who guard the rich, golden apples and the trees bearing fruit beyond glorious Ocean. Also she bore the Destinies and ruthless avenging Fates... Also deadly Night bore Nemesis... and after her, Deceit and Friendship and hateful Age and hard-hearted Strife.

So he changed around some of the siblings and added a father he felt was appropriate. In this kind of cosmology, they couldn't themselves be unbegotten or the product of first-order beings like Earth and Chaos because some form of the Christian G-d and His hierarchy are above and beyond them.

  • All appearances to the contrary, Gaiman indicated somewhere (probably The Sandman Companion) that he didn't think the god there was necessarily the Abrahamic God. Just a minor detail, otherwise a great answer. What about Chronos, as mentioned by now-user8 in their comment? Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 6:38
  • Fwiw, I think 'some form' and 'not... necessarily' overlap neatly enough. He and the angels and the Lucifer around him are all obviously pulled from Christian cosmology in the same loose manner the Greek myths were. From here, it looks like he's just saying he reserves the right for his mythos to work the way he wants, without pulling in Jesus or everything anyone else has ever said on the Abrahamic G-d, ex cathedra or otherwise.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 6:50
  • Unless you have something from the Sandman apocrypha or Gaiman's social media, which I haven't followed, there's nothing for me to say about Chronos that wouldn't just be pure conjecture. He's not closely related to any of these figures in Greek myth, but Gaiman's choices make sense enough in the abstract.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 6:52

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