Helios (Helius, Sol, Sun)

heliusHelios was a titan god of the sun and sunlight and was described as the One who watches from above and sees and observes anyone or anything if he wishes, not just on earth but in heavens also. According to some authors, he was worshiped and admired at the same scale as Zeus because he is a life bringer with his beams of light. Usually, he is described as a son of Hyperion and Theia, but some authors are equating sun to Apollo. In Ovid's Fasti, it is said that sun sprang soon after Chaos and that would put him in the older generation before Titans. As for Homer, Helios and Hyperion is one and the same character, he is using both names for the same character in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Helios was also used, like his sisters Eos and Selene and also his uncle Oceanus, for describing the movements of the stars, measuring days and seasons but was also personalised whenever it suited the authors. He was often described riding his famous golden chariot that was drawn by four horses, which he occasionally borrowed to his relatives. It is said in Ovid's Metamorphoses that names of these horses were Aethon, Pyrois, Phlegon and Eous.

His home islands

One of the two home islands of the god was Thrinacia. It was the island, sacred to Helios, where his daughters Heliades lived. It is said that he once consorted with an Oceanid Clymene who then gave birth to seven daughters, Aegle, Aetherie, Dioxippe, Helie, Lamperia, Merope and Phoebe. But they weren't alone out there. It was also the island where his sacred cattle lived and it is where Odysseus and his men came on their journey. It is said in the story that Odysseus, considering the warnings of Teiresias and Circe, wanted to skip the island but was out-voted by his crew who wanted to rest, exhausted from their journey. They promised to Odysseus that they would never touch the sacred cattle of Helios, knowing they still have provisions on their ship.cattle helius It was all agreed and they disembarked. The next day, after having a proper dinner spiced with some wine, they wanted to get back on the sea again but bad weather arrived which kept them on the island for a month. They soon ran out of provisions and started plotting of having some of the finest beasts of Helios' flock. And when Odysseus went to pray to the gods, they took this opportunity and gathered the cattle around a campfire and, after prayers, killed them and roasted them on the fire. While they were feasting, one of the Heliades, Lampetia, brought the news to her father. Helios was outraged and threatened the gods of Olympus that if there was no justice, he would go to Hades instead to shine upon the dead and never to return again. Out of fear, Zeus calmed down Helios and promised him that he will punish them. Meanwhile, while praying, Odysseus heard the news from Calypso but it was already too late. When he came back to the ship, he refused to join the feast. After six days of feasting, Zeus calmed the weather and men made a decision to set sail again. But when they came out on the open sea, dark clouds, sent by Zeus, gathered around their ship and violent winds started blowing. The ship started breaking apart and finally broke apart when Zeus struck it with thunderbolt. All of the crew died except for Odysseus who was spared because he refused to kill and eat Helios' cattle.

The other island that is mentioned to be the home island of Helios was Rhodes. According to Diodorus Siculus, this island was full in mud and soft when it formed. But Helios dried up all the wetness and filled the island with living creatures and among them were Heliadae, seven sons, named after him. Their names were Actis, Candalus, Cercaphus, Macar, Ochimus, Tenages and Triopas. When his sons reached manhood, he told them that the first people who sacrificed to Athena would ever be protected by the goddess and, as a result, they became the first men to introduce sacrifices to the Goddess. There were also other people who sprang from the land and because Helios made it all possible they worshipped him and the island became sacred to the god.

Descendants of Helios

Apart from Heliades and Heliadae, who were mentioned above, Helios is also mentioned as a father of Circe, Aeetes, Pasiphae and Perses by Persa. He is also said to be a father of Augeas, the famous herdsman, known from the labour of Heracles when the hero had to clean the stables in a single day. According to Quintus Smyrnaeus, he also consorted with his sister Selene who then gave birth to the Seasons and an unusual creature by the name of Ampelos, mentioned by Nonnus. According to Hyginus, there was also Aex, a daughter of Helios, who surpassed many in beauty of bodies but in contrast had a horrible face. Terrified by her face, Titans forced Gaea to hide her in a cave in the island of Crete. There was also famous son Phaeton, born to Helios and Clymene or, according to some sources, a grandson, born to Clymenus, a son of Helios, and Merope, an Oceanid. He was famous for riding Helios' chariot but once, got overwhelmed by it, he rode too close to earth and everything burned in fire that came near. He was then struck by lightning of Zeus because of his foolishness and fell into a river Po, also known as Eridanus.

Interaction with other Gods and Semi-gods

Helios is often presented, in myths, interacting with other gods and demi-gods. One of such is the myth of abduction of Persephone where he and Hecate are the only ones who had heard the screams of Persephone when Hades abducted her. Demeter, Persephone's mother, later came to the gods and demanded from them to tell them who is behind the abduction. Then, in fear of their sacred lands that could become barren, they told her that Zeus and Hades are to blame. Helios was also, apparently, a good friend of Hephaestus whom he helped to fashion a plough of unbending adamant.sol spying on Ares and Aphrodite They seemed to be in good relations because Helios once spied on Aphrodite and Ares who were having an affair in the palace of Hephaestus at Olympus. He immediately reported this to Hephaestus and the god of craftsmanship then forged magical chains and set a trap. With Helios they agreed that the sun-god would report to him as soon as the trap was triggered. While Hephaestus was on his supposed way to Lemnos, Aphrodite and Ares met in his chambers. They laid on a bed and triggered the trap. Helios spread the news to Hephaestus who then gathered all the other gods to come and see this adultery and, consequently, Ares got banished from Olympus. Helios also helped Orion who was blinded and, while wandering around, came across Hephaestus who then directed him to Helios. The sun god then cleansed his eyes with rays and recovered his vision. The god also interacted with Heracles who was searching for the island of Erythia. Unable to find the island, he, in desperation, shot an arrow towards the sun. Helios was impressed by the boldness of the hero and gave him a golden goblet with which he was able to cross the ocean and reach Erythia. Even Gaea, the mother goddess, once begged Helios to dry her with his beams, after the whole land was frozen by the remains of Typhon, after Zeus had defeated him.