AskDefine | Define Helios

Dictionary Definition

Helios n : (Greek mythology) ancient god of the sun; drove his chariot across the sky each day; identified with Roman Sol

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From Ancient Greek ήλιος (helios) "sun".

Proper noun

  1. The god of the sun; son of Hyperion and Thia, father of Phaëthon amongst others.


See also

Extensive Definition

In Greek mythology the sun was personified as Helios () (, Latinized as Helius). Homer often calls him simply Titan or Hyperion, while Hesiod (Theogony 371) and the Homeric Hymn separate him as a son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia (Hesiod) or Euryphaessa (Homeric Hymn) and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn. The names of these three were also the common Greek words for sun, moon and dawn.
Helios was imagined as a handsome god crowned with the shining aureole of the sun, who drove the chariot of the sun across the sky each day to earth-circling Oceanus and through the world-ocean returned to the East at night. Homer described Helios's chariot as drawn by solar bulls (Iliad xvi.779); later Pindar described it as drawn by "fire-darting steeds" (Olympian Ode 7.71). Still later, the horses were given fiery names: Pyrios, Aeos, Aethon, and Phlegon.
As time passed, Helios was increasingly identified with the god of light, Apollo. The equivalent of Helios in Roman mythology was Sol, specifically Sol Invictus.

Greek mythology

The best known story involving Helios is that of his son Phaëton, who attempted to drive his father's chariot but lost control and set the earth on fire.
Helios was sometimes referred to with the epithet Helios Panoptes ("the all-seeing"). In the story told in the hall of Alcinous in the Odyssey (viii.300ff), Aphrodite, the consort of Hephaestus secretly beds Ares, but all-seeing Helios spies on them and tells Hephaestus, who ensnares the two lovers in nets invisibly fine, to punish them.
In the Odyssey, Odysseus and his surviving crew land on Thrinacia, an island sacred to the sun god, whom Circe names Hyperion rather than Helios. There, the sacred red cattle of the sun were kept: Though Odysseus warns his men not to, they impiously kill and eat some of the cattle of the Sun. The guardians of the island, Helios' daughters, tell their father, and Helios appeals to Zeus, who destroys the ship and kills all the men except for Odysseus.
In one Greek vase painting, Helios appears riding across the sea in the cup of the Delphic tripod which appears to be a solar reference. Athenaeus in Deipnosophistae relates that, at the hour of sunset, Helios climbed into a great golden cup in which he passes from the Hesperides in the farthest west to the land of the Ethiops, with whom he passes the dark hours. While Heracles traveled to Erytheia to retrieve the cattle of Geryon, he crossed the Libyan desert and was so frustrated at the heat that he shot an arrow at Helios, the sun. Helios begged him to stop and Heracles demanded the golden cup which Helios used to sail across the sea every night, from the west to the east. Heracles used this golden cup to reach Erytheia.
By the Oceanid Perse, Helios became the father of Aeëtes, Circe, and Pasiphaë. His other children are Phaethusa ("radiant"), Lampetia ("shining").

Helios and Apollo

Helios is sometimes identified with Apollo; "Different names may refer to the same being," Walter Burkert observes, "or else they may be consciously equated, as in the case of Apollo and Helios."
In Homer, Apollo is clearly identified as a different god, a plague-dealer with a silver (not golden) bow and no solar features.
The earliest certain reference to Apollo identified with Helios appears in the surviving fragments of Euripides' play Phaethon in a speech near the end (fr 781 N²), Clymene, Phaethon's mother, laments that Helios has destroyed her child, that Helios whom men rightly call Apollo (the name Apollo is here understood to mean Apollon "Destroyer").
By Hellenistic times Apollo had become closely connected with the sun in cult. His epithet Phoebus "shining", drawn from Helios, was later also applied by Latin poets to the sun-god Sol.## Charites
      1. Aglaea
      2. Euphrosyne
      3. Thalia
  1. Clymene
    1. Heliades
      1. Aegiale
      2. Aetheria
      3. Helia
      4. Merope
      5. Phoebe
      6. Dioxippe
    2. Phaeton
  2. Merope
  3. Neaera
    1. Phaethusa
    2. Lampetia
  4. Rhodus
    1. Elektryo
    2. Ochimus
    3. Cercaphus
    4. Macareus
    5. Actis
    6. Tenages
    7. Triopas
    8. Candalus
  5. Perse
    1. Aegea
    2. Aeetes
    3. Calypso
    4. Circe
    5. Pasiphae
    6. Perses




  • Walter Burkert, 1982. Greek Religion.
  • Konrad Schauenburg, 1955. Helios: Archäologisch-mythologische Studien über den antiken (Mann)
  • Karl Kerenyi. Apollo: The Wind, the Spirit, and the God: Four Studies
  • Karl Kerenyi, 1951. The Gods of the Greeks, "The Sun, the Moon and their Family" pp 190-94 et passim.

External links

Helios in Asturian: Heliu (mitoloxía)
Helios in Breton: Helios
Helios in Bulgarian: Хелиос
Helios in Bosnian: Helije
Helios in Catalan: Hèlios
Helios in Czech: Hélios
Helios in Danish: Helios
Helios in German: Helios
Helios in Modern Greek (1453-): Ήλιος (μυθολογία)
Helios in Spanish: Helios
Helios in Esperanto: Helios
Helios in French: Hélios
Helios in Croatian: Helije
Helios in Indonesian: Helios
Helios in Icelandic: Helíos
Helios in Italian: Elio (mitologia)
Helios in Hebrew: הליוס
Helios in Latin: Helius
Helios in Lithuanian: Helijas
Helios in Hungarian: Héliosz
Helios in Dutch: Helios
Helios in Japanese: ヘーリオス
Helios in Norwegian Nynorsk: Helios
Helios in Norwegian: Helios (mytologi)
Helios in Polish: Helios
Helios in Portuguese: Hélios
Helios in Romanian: Helios
Helios in Russian: Гелиос
Helios in Simple English: Helios
Helios in Slovak: Helios
Helios in Serbo-Croatian: Helije
Helios in Finnish: Helios
Helios in Swedish: Helios
Helios in Vietnamese: Helios (thần thoại)
Helios in Turkish: Helios
Helios in Ukrainian: Геліос
Helios in Chinese: 赫利俄斯

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Agdistis, Amen-Ra, Amor, Aphrodite, Apollo, Apollon, Ares, Artemis, Ate, Athena, Bacchus, Ceres, Cora, Cronus, Cupid, Cybele, Demeter, Despoina, Diana, Dionysus, Dis, Eros, Gaea, Gaia, Ge, Great Mother, Hades, Hephaestus, Hera, Here, Hermes, Hestia, Hymen, Hyperion, Jove, Juno, Jupiter, Jupiter Fidius, Jupiter Fulgur, Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Jupiter Pluvius, Jupiter Tonans, Kore, Kronos, Magna Mater, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Mithras, Momus, Neptune, Nike, Olympians, Olympic gods, Ops, Orcus, Persephassa, Persephone, Phoebus, Phoebus Apollo, Pluto, Poseidon, Proserpina, Proserpine, Ra, Rhea, Saturn, Savitar, Shamash, Sol, Surya, Tellus, Titan, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Zeus
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