►Greek Mythology: “Helios, the God Sun”:
Helios was the Greek God Sun. He was also the guardian of oaths and the god of gift of sight.
Around the time of Euripides, the sun of Helios became identified with Apollo. Helios was known by the names Sol and Phoebus in Roman mythology.
Helios was depicted as a handsome, and usually beardless, man clothed in purple robes and crowned with the shining aureole of the sun. His sun-chariot was drawn by four steeds, sometimes winged.
As stated by Hesiod, Helios was the son of two Titans: Theia and Hyperion. In Hesiod’s “Theogony”, therefore, Helios was also the brother of Eos (the goddess of Dawn) and Selene (the goddess of the Moon). It is interesting to note that the Dawn goddess Eos began the procession of morning, followed closely by her brother Helios.
According to the original myth, Helios dwelt in a golden palace located in the River Okeanos at the eastern ends of the earth. From there he emerged each dawn driving a chariot drawn by four, fiery winged steeds and crowned with the aureole of the sun. When he reached the the land of the Hesperides (Evenings) in the West he descended into a golden cup which carried him around the northern streams of Okeanos back to his rising place in the East.
Helios was first married to his sister, Selene. Quintus Smyrnaeus makes Helios and Selene the parents of the Horae, the four Goddesses of the seasons.
Clythie was also included among Helios’ lovers.
Clymene (Phaeton’s mother) was probably also identified with Clytie. Both of their names mean “the famous one”, and Clymene’s title Merope (“with turning face”) aptly describes the behaviour of the flower.
Helios, having loved her, abandoned her for another nymph, called Leucothea.
Clythie was so angered by his treatment that she told Leucothea’s father, Orchamus, about the affair. Since Helios had defiled Leucothea, Orchamus had her put to death by burial alive in the sands.
Thus Clytie intended to win Helios back. She remained mourning Helios’ departure with neither food nor drink, for nine days on the rocks, staring at the sun, Helios. After nine days she was transformed into a heliotrope flower, the turnsole, which turns its head always to look longingly at Helios’ chariot of the sun. Modern traditions substitute the turnsole with a sunflower, which is said to turn in the direction of the sun.
By the Oceanid Clymene, Helios had a son Phaeton and maybe Augeas, and three daughters, Aegiale, Aegle, and Aetheria. These three daughters and two Helios had by Neaera, Lampetie and Phaethusa, were known as the Heliades.
Phaethon was, as we said, Helios’ and the sea-nymph Clymene’ s son. In one ocassion, he drove his father’s chariot and, as he rode it alternately too close to the earth, he set the earth on fire. To stop it, Zeus killed him with a bolt of lightning.
Another wife of Helios was the Nymph Rhode (meaning “rose” in the Greek language).
Rhode gave her name to the famous Greek island of Rhodes and Helios was the island’s patron deity and the Rhodians worshipped Helios. As a matter of fact, one of the island’s main attractions, the Colossus of Rhodes, was built in his honor.
►The Colossus of Rhodes, statue built in Helios’ honor by Chares of Lindos:
The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek titan-god of the sun Helios, erected in the city of Rhodes, on the Greek island of the same name, by Chares of Lindos.
Being considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, It was constructed to celebrate Rhodes’ victory over the ruler of Cyprus, Antigonus I Monophthalmus.
The construction began in 292 BC and finished twelve years later, in 280 BC. The statue itself was over 30 meters tall.
Ancient accounts, which differ to some degree, describe the structure as being built with iron tie bars to which brass plates were fixed to form the skin. The interior of the structure, which stood on a 15-meter high white marble pedestal near the Mandraki harbor entrance, was filled with stone blocks as construction progressed.
The statue stood for 56 years until Rhodes was hit by the 226 BC Rhodes earthquake. By then, it fell over onto the land.
King Ptolomey III offered to pay for the reconstruction of the statue, but the Oracle of Delphi made the Rhodians afraid that they had offended Helios, and they declined to rebuild it.
►The Sun God Helios featuring Other Greek Myths:
•Helios in Persephone’ Myth:
Helios saw Hades abducting Persephone. Demeter didn’t think to ask him about her missing daughter, but wandered the earth morosely for months until her friend, the witchcraft goddess Hekate suggested that Helios might have been an eye witness.
•Helios’ role when Aphrodite and Ares were caught by Hephaestus:
Helios owed Hephaestus for the cup that carries him to his morning daily starting point, which the smithy god had made for him, so when he witnessed an event of importance to Hephaestus, he didn’t keep it to himself. He hurried to reveal the affair between Hephaestus’ wife Aphrodite and Ares.