Reaper, Grimm Reaper

So what religion does the Grimm Reaper belong to? I heard he might be from German Mythology, but I haven’t been able to find anything conclueding that. And even if he is from German Mythology, why is it so common in cartoons and such?

The Grim Reaper (one m, this is why it was difficult to find) came, most likely, from Greek mythology:

The god Cronus, the measurer of time, morphed into Death.

Chronos, time, is not the same as the Titan Cronus, the father of the gods. It is possible that they are related (or confused):
From the linked article:

If refering to time, it is safer to always use the initial chi, Chronos. When refering to the Titan, it is safer to use Cronus (or, more in keeping with the Greek, which had the kappa, but no letter “C”, Kronos).

Here’s an interesting tidbit: I was told that the Grim Reaper was often portrayed as being Arabic (or at least from a desertey eastern climate). I was told this is why he is often wearing sandles. I have no idea why, or if this is even true. Anyone care to corroborate?

I’ve never heard that, although in ancient times, sandals were pretty common footwear for many people around the Mediterranean, inculding the Greeks.

Baby New Year is portrayed in old illos as having a hourglass & sickle (you know what I mean, but I can’t recall how to spell “sythe”).

The Old Year also is seen with farm implement & hourglass.

Then, Death is a skeleton with farm implement & hourglass.

Too much to be a co-incidence.


Don’t let the scythe scare you. You can see it, but it’s silent.

Grim Zombie?

The usual source hints at a Low Countries origin of the blade-bearing Reaper:

So Death reaped before Xians polluted Belgium and Nederlands. My rough searches reveal no other presumed sources of the Reaper. The scythe itself seem to have originated in a neolithic Ukranian culture circa 5000 BCE so I wonder if death-reaper personification sprang forth there also.

Once Death harvests a life, what next? Anything? Lacking evidence, we can only fantasize. Death’s trophy skulls become goblets, bowling balls, bricks, votive holders, whatever. The Grim Reaper’s closet is filled with skins to don for parties. Harvested heads sing in a cosmic chorus e.g. the Big Bang’s background frequency. Or maybe the dead are put to work keeping the Fatal Scythe sharp and clean. Failure is no option.

You forgot the “l”.

The Grim Reaper and zombies, a natural pairing.

To belatedly answer this question, I think it’s because cartoons require readily identifiable personifications of abstract concepts like death.

The actual Greek god of death was Thanatos, who typically carried a sword and an upside-down extinguished torch.

The reaper comes as an early avatar of harvest based cultures. You are the stalk of grain. The reaper comes across the field, taking slow steps, but inevitably arriving to swing the scythe and cut you down. If you have ever watched an experienced reaper work, it’s easy to see why he represents the inevitability of death. Rhythmic, slow, but inevitable. (A good one leaves no stalk standing behind him in the field.) The dark cowled robe is the grim aspect.

“That’s an interesting technique you use, cutting one blade of grass at a time.”


His modern incarnation is Jeff Probst.

I’ve read in a few books of Jewish folklore that rather than a scythe, death is thought of as carrying the same a knife used to ritually slaughter livestock.

Well, that’s cast rather a gloom over the evening, hasn’t it?

I think I get the reference

" It was . . . the salmon mousse!"

Going back to Greek mythology, Atropos used scissors/shears to cut the threads of life.

Kinda lot of redundancy in Greek myth, huh?