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Definition: Helios from Philip's Encyclopedia

In Greek mythology, god of the Sun, identified with the Roman god Apollo. Helios appears driving a four-horse chariot through the sky.


Summary Article: Helios from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In Greek mythology, the god of the Sun; a Titan who drove the Sun's chariot across the sky. He was the father of Phaethon, who almost set the Earth alight. From the 5th century BC, Helios was identified with the god Apollo.

Genealogy His parents were the Titans Hyperion and Thea, and his sisters were the Moon goddess Selene and Eos, goddess of the dawn. He married Persë, daughter of the river god Oceanus, by whom he had the enchantress Circe and Pasiphae, later wife of King Minos of Crete and mother of the Minotaur. Phaethon was his son by Clymene.

Myth Homer described Helios in his Odyssey as a god who rose from Oceanus (the river believed to encircle the Earth) in the east, traversed the heavens, seeing and hearing everything on his way, and descended to Oceanus in the west. Later writers described magnificent palaces in the east and west, between which he travelled in a fiery chariot drawn by four horses; the creatures grazed on the Islands of the Blessed.

As watcher over the daylight world, he witnessed the abduction of Persephone to the underworld, and numerous of the gods' infidelities. During the 10th labour of Heracles (stealing the cattle of the monster Geryon), he gave the hero a golden vessel in which to sail to Erytheia, an island at the end of the world; the god admired his courage for shooting at the Sun which was shining too brightly.

Worship The island of Thrinacia was sacred to Helios, as it was believed to be the home of his flocks and herds tended by his daughters Phaetusa and Lampeta. In Homer's Odyssey, the companions of Odysseus slaughtered these cattle and were later drowned at sea by a vengeful Zeus. Helios was worshipped throughout Greece and in Rhodes, where the Colossus of Rhodes was erected in his honour. Apart from his eventual identification with Apollo, he later became associated with Mithras, the Persian god of light.

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