The Grim Reaper, also known as "The Reaper", is one of the many personified versions of Death, the being was heavily used during the medieval period and came to symbolize death as well as a fear of the unknown. Today the Grim Reaper remains the most recognized omnineutral death god of all time, although the entity is not a true deity - rather it is a symbolic creature.
The "Dance Of Death" or "Danse Macabre" in french, was a medieval allegory on how death unites all people, regardless of age or social status - it was shown as a gruesome spectacle in which the Grim Reaper summons a host of dead spirits to dance along their graves: popular figures in this dance were a pope, an emperor, a king, a youngster and a laborer - chosen to remind the audience of the time that death was a truly universal concept and no man or woman was safe from its embrace, it was also used by the religious medieval people to highlight the foolishness of people who valued earthly possessions.
The "Danse Macabre" was represented on countless forms of arts first as theatre plays and poems, then numerous wall-paintings and drawings, mostly since the 15th century. In these times, the sheer number of death due to wars, famine and plagues, associated with three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, made a strong impact on people's minds, causing many reflexion on the true value of life.
This medieval scene was also paralleled in a French superstition that stated that the Grim Reaper would rise every Halloween at a cemetery on the witching hour (midnight) - once there the entity would play a fiddle and summon the skeletons or ghosts of all the dead to dance until the rising sun forced them to retreat back to the grave: this legend was the inspiration for a poem by Henri Casalis also known as the "Danse Macabre", which was made into a musical piece by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns in 1874. Saint-Saëns' friend Franz List later adapted it for piano alone.
The "Danse Macabre" music is now extremely famous worldwide and used in many death-themed works, being now used as a theme tune of some sort to the Grim Reaper and ghosts gatherings.
In Popular CultureEdit
The Grim Reaper is a stock character in popular culture - appearing in countless media ranging from television and radio to comic books and novels. He is sometimes shown with an axe rather than a scythe. The Grim Reaper is also the main antagonist of the horror film series Final Destination and is he named Death instead. He is portrayed to be a malovent force with a sinister plan to end the lives of a specific group of people who have survived a disaster that one of the group members predicts via a premonition rather than being portrayed as a neutral force that takes lives when it is necessary.
An artwork of Death as shown on Comedy Central's Chocolate News with the question "Death, have you lost your damn mind?!".
The Angel of Death
The Angel of Death with a green scythe.
Fear the Reaper...
Death from the TV series Supernatural.
The Grin Reaper
Grim from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
The Grim Reaper as he appears in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.
Beware of the Grim Reaper...
The wraith-like Grim Reaper from an American Home Shield commercial.
Folklore, Religions, and Myths