Who is the god Helios? The Sun in Greek Mythology

Who is the god Helios? The Sun in Greek Mythology


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In Greek mythology, Helios is the personification of the Sun.

He was the son of Titan Hyperion and his sister Teya, brother of Selene (the Moon) and Eos (the Aurora).

Attached to Oceanid Perse had to Circe (a sorceress who lived on the island of Ea, where she kept Ulysses on his return to Ithaca), Aeetes (king of Colchis, possessor of the Golden Fleece, which Jason the Argonauts were looking for) and father of Medea, Absyrtus and Calciope).

The following children are also attributed to him:

Parsifae (wife of Minos and mother of the Minotaur)
Perses (who dethroned his brother Aeetes)
Aloeo (Antiope's husband, daughter of the River God Asopo)
Calypso (Although the best known version makes her the daughter of Thetis and Ocean, Nymph, who gave hospitality to Ulysses and in love with him, kept him on her island of Ogygia for seven years).

He was absent in the distribution of the land so was awarded the island of Rhodes.

With the nymph Rhodes (who gave the island its name) he had the Heliads. and with the nymph Climene he had the Heliades.

He was a pure and benefactor God, although he punished those who dared to compare themselves with him, such as Nerito, who he turned into a mollusk or Argé, who he turned into a doe.

The myth of Phaethon

Of all your children, Phaethon has given a great myth by asking God to prove his fatherhood and, the latter having sworn by the Styx to grant him a wish, asked him to steer his chariot of fire.

Helios had to accept it, but Phaethon couldn't control it and before the risk of burning Heaven and Earth he was struck down by Zeus.

Helios also collaborated with Hercules when he went to look for Geryon's cattle in one of the 12 jobs that I had commissioned Eurystheus.

The hero, enraged by the heat he had endured crossing the Libyan desert, shot arrows at the sun.

Helios begged him to stop, and the hero asked him in exchange for the golden cup that he used to cross the sea at night.

Helios gave it to him and he used it to get to Eritea.

The center of the Helios cult was in Rhodes, where a giant statue of him was transformed into one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Helios and Apollo

Helios is often identified with Apollo, but in the work of HomerApollo is clearly a different god, the one he relates to the plagues and who has a silver and not a golden bow, in addition to not possessing any of the solar characteristics of Helios.

In the work of Euripides ‘Phaethon’, is where we find the first reference to Apollo identifying him with Helios.

This happens in the speech at the end, when Clymene accuses Helios of having destroyed her son, this being Helios whom men call Apollo.

However, this «Apollo» means "Apollon", which means "destroyer".

In Hellenistic times, Apollo did become related to the sun, just as in the Latin world his epithet Phoebus was identified with the sun god.

This identification began to gain strength in the texts of philosophers and writers such as Parmenides, Empedocles, Plutarch and Crates of Thebes, as in Orphic texts.

In his work 'Catasterisms‘, Eratosthenes write about Orpheus:

But having gone down to Hades for his wife and seeing the things that were there, he did not continue to worship Dionysus, for which he had become famous, but thought that Helios was the greatest of the gods, Helios who was also called Apollo .

Waking up each night towards dawn and climbing the mountain called Pangeo, he waited for the sun to rise to be the first to see it.

That is why Dionysus, being angry with him, sent the Basárides, as the author of tragedies Aeschylus tells us, who tore him apart and scattered his limbs.

Featured image: Xenophon in Wikimedia.


Video: The Greek Gods