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Illustrated Guide to Mythology

Helios


Helios is the personification of the sun, and each day he drives his chariot pulled by four horses across the sky.

Helios
Helios

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Helios was the personification of the sun, not the sun god Apollo as some people think. Each day, he drove his chariot with four horses across the sky. He is the brother of Selene (the moon) and Eos (dawn). He took part in the search for Persephone after her abduction by Hades. Hecate came to him and asked him if he had seen what happened; Helios was the one to reveal to Demeter that Zeus had allowed Hades to have Persephone.

Helios had a primary role in the epic poem The Odyssey by Homer. Odysseus was warned by the blind prophet Tiresias not to eat the cattle of the sun god, Helios. However, Odysseus and his men were trapped during a month-long storm on an island, and their stores of food began to run low. When Odysseus went to pray to the gods, he was overcome with drowsiness. While he slept, his men killed and ate the cattle on the island, while promising to make amends with sacrifices of other cattle once they returned home. Helios was so upset he went to Zeus and threatened never to rise from the Underworld again, leaving the earth in eternal darkness. Zeus agreed to avenge Helios’ cattle by destroying all of Odysseus’ ships and killing all of his men.

Helios was also known for allowing his inexperienced son Phaethon to drive the chariot across the sky one day. Phaethon quickly lost control of the reins and began to set the entire earth alight in fire. Zeus had to stop him somehow, so he hit the chariot with a lightning bolt, killing Phaethon and devastating Helios.

Helios Quick Reference

Parents

Hyperion and Theia


Domain / Power

Sun and Sky


Notable Myths


Symbol / Attributes

Sun and sunflower

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