The Theologist: Profiles of the Gods – Thanatos

Life is a fragile thing, ever shifting and fraught with uncertainty. It is often said that the only thing in life that is certain is death. To all things, an end must come, and such things do not happen on their own. In every culture there is one who stands as the shepherd that guides his flock to the underworld. He has many names: Death, the Grim Reaper, the rider on the pale horse, or as he was known in ancient Greece, Thanatos.

Thanatos is an implacable foe, and a shrewd tradesman. He cannot be cheated, though many have tried. Consider for a moment the fate of Sisyphus. King Sisyphus of Corinth was a vile man that fathered children with his niece, violated the guestright by killing guests in his home, and cheated men, women and gods at every turn. For his behavior, Zeus ordered that he be thrown into Tartarus, the deepest and darkest level of the underworld. Thanatos himself was sent to carry out the sentence.

When Sisyphus met Thanatos, he was filled with fear. He hatched a plan to trick the death god. Sisyphus asked Thanatos how his chains worked. Thanatos, seeing no harm in it, obliged him by giving him a demonstration. During the demonstration, Sisyphus deceived Thanatos into his own shackles, and trapped Thanatos in Tartarus.

While he was trapped, Ares noticed a lack of men falling in battle, and he sought Thanatos to find an explanation. He freed Thanatos who took Sisyphus and brought him before Zeus. Sisyphus was, then, sentenced to bring a tremendous stone to the top of a steep hill. Every day, he would lose control of the stone and it would roll back to the bottom of the hill. Zeus, who was angered by Sisyphus’ boasting that he was more clever than he, arranged that the stone would roll over Sisyphus, crushing him. Thanatos, being the merciless personification of death that he is, refuses to take Sisyphus until his task is complete. Therefore, for his pride and deceitfulness, Sisyphus is crushed by the stone daily, and despite his pain, he does not die. This might seem cruel to you and me, but it is not. Thanatos is merely teaching King Sisyphus that even royalty is subject to death, and that death comes in his own time.

For the gods in Smite, that time is now. Thanatos has stepped onto the battlefield to face his ultimate task. After all, taking mortals comes naturally, but is it possible to reap a God? Naturally, Thanatos is an assassin, using melee attacks and high burst damage to face his enemies. His passive is called “Harvester of Souls”. Using this, enemy gods within his execute threshold are revealed to him no matter their location on the map. Also, dealing the killing blow empowers Thanatos, returning health to him in the amount of 20% of the enemies max health. His first skill is called “Death Scythe”. When Thanatos uses this skill, he throws his scythe at the enemy, dealing damage in to his target and healing himself for 75% of the damage dealt. “Scent of Death” , his second skill, removes and grants immunity to slow effects gaining movement speed and physical penetration for 6 seconds. The movement speed bonus doubles when he is moving toward a god within his execute threshold. “Soul Reap” is his third skill. Swinging his scythe, Thanatos deals a large amount of damage in a cone in front of him and silences enemies within the cone. His ultimate skill is called “Hovering Death”. Using this, Thanatos extends his wings and takes to the air, moving unimpeded with 150% increase to his movement speed. He crashes down upon his enemy dealing damage, and instantly killing any God within his execute threshold.

In conquest games, Thanatos is often found in the jungle. Unlike most junglers, however, he often finds more benefit from Death’s Toll than from Bumba’s Mask. The reason for this is that his passive ability grants much of the health benefit that Bumba’s Mask would provide, and his skills are quite mana efficient. Qin’s Sais is an excellent item for Thanatos due to the additional damage that it’s passive brings to the table. Jotunn’s wrath is also a popular choice because of the physical penetration and the cooldown reduction it offers.

In these enlightened times, death remains one of the greatest fears of many people. While many no longer believe in the gods, death is still a reality. Thanatos is merciless, inexorable and impartial. He is no respecter of age, race or position. He cares not for our petty titles or accolades. He merely goes about his duty, shepherding the fallen to the banks of the river Styx, where his brother Charon, the ferryman, takes them to the arms of Hades himself. Whether we like it or not, life ends. Our bodies fail, and our spirit is released. When that day dawns, regardless of our maneuvering, death comes for us all. When it does, and friends and family have done all that they can for us, it is Thanatos that will greet us, and guide us to our rest.