Mythology & Beliefs: Helios (Sol)
In Greek and Roman Mythology, Helios (Sol) was the god of sun; later identified with Apollo.
Helios in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
（*(/Hlios or Ἠέλιος), that is, the sun, or the god of the
sun. He is described as the son of Hyperion and Theia, and
as a brother of Selene and Eos. (Hom. Od. 12.176, 322, Hymn.
in Min. 9, 13; Hes. Th. 371, &c.) From his father, he is
frequently called Hyperionides, or Hyperion, the latter of
which is an abridged form of the patronymic, Hyperionion.
(Hom. Od. 12.176, Hymn. in Cer. 74; Hes. Th. 1011; Hom. (Od.
1.24, 2.19, 398, Hymn. in Apoll. Pyth. 191.) In the Homeric
hymn on Helios, he is called a son of Hyperion and
Euryphaessa. Homer describes Helios as giving light both to
gods and men: he rises in the east from Oceanus, though not
from the river, but from some lake or bog (λίμνη) formed by
Oceanus, rises up into heaven, where he reaches the highest
point at noon time, and then he descends, arriving in the
evening in the darkness of the west, and in Oceanus. (Il.
7.422, Od. 3.1, &c., 335, 4.400, 10.191, 11.18, 12.380.)
Later poets have marvellously embellished this simple
notion: they tell of a most magnificent palace of Helios in
the east, containing a throne occupied by the god, and
surrounded by personifications of the different divisions of
time (Ov. Met. 2.1, &c.); and while Homer speaks only of the
gates of Helios in the west, later writers assign to him a
second palace in the west, and describe his horses as
feeding upon herbs growing in the islands of the blessed.
(Nonn. Dionys. 12.1, &c.; Ath. 7.296; Stat. Theb. 3.407.)
The points at which Helios rises and descends into the ocean
are of course different at the different seasons of the
year; and the extreme points in the north and south, between
which the rising and setting take place, are the τροπαὶ
ἠελίοιο. (Od. 15.403; Hes. Op. et Dies, 449, 525.) The
manner in which Helios during the night passes front the
western into the eastern ocean is not mentioned either by
Homer or Hesiod, but later poets make him sail in a golden
boat round one-half of the earth, and thus arrive in the
east at the point from which he has to rise again. This
golden boat is the work of Hephaestus. (Ath. 11.469;
Apollod. 2.5.10; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1632.) Others represent
him as making his nightly voyage while slumbering in a
golden bed. (Ath. 11.470.) The horses and chariot with which
Helios makes his daily career are not mentioned in the Iliad
and Odyssey, but first occur in the Homeric hymn on Helios
(9, 15; comp. in Merc. 69, in Cer. 88), and both are
described minutely by later poets. (Ov. Met. 2.106, &c.;
Hyg. Fab. 183; Schol. ad Eurip. Pholen. 3 ; Pind. O. 7.71.)
Helios is described even in the Homeric poems as the god who
sees and hears every thing, but, notwithstanding this, he is
unaware of the fact that the companions of Odysseus robbed
his oxen, until he was informed of it by Lampetia. (Od.
12.375.) But, owing to his omniscience, he was able to
betray to Hephaestus the faithlessness of Aphrodite, and to
reveal to Demeter the carrying off of her daughter. (Od.
8.271, Hymn. in Cer. 75, &c., in Sol. 10; comp. Soph. Ajax,
847, &c.) This idea of Helios knowing every thing, which
also contains the elements of his ethical and prophetic
nature, seems to have been the cause of Helios being
confounded and identified with Apollo, though they were
originally quite distinct; and the identification was, in
fact, never carried out completely, for no Greek poet ever
made Apollo ride in the chariot of Helios through the
heavens, and among the Romans we find this idea only after
the time of Virgil. The representations of Apollo with rays
around his head, to characterise him as identical with the
sun, belong to the time of the Roman empire.
The island of Thrinacia (Sicily) was sacred to Helios, and
he there had flocks of oxen and sheep, each consisting of
350 heads, which never increased or decreased, and were
attended to by his daughters Phaetusa and Lampetia. (Hom.
Od. 12.128. 261, &c.; Apollon. 4.965, &c.) Later traditions
ascribe to him flocks also in the island of Erytheia
(Apollod. 1.6.1; comp. 2.5.10 ; Theocrit. 25.130), and it
may be remarked in general, that sacred flocks, especially
of oxen, occur in most places where the worship of Helios
was established. His descendants are very numerous, and the
surnames and epithets given him by the poets are mostly
descriptive of his character as the sun. Temples of Helios
(ήλιεῖα) seem to have existed in Greece at a very early time
(Hom. Od. 12.346), and in later times we find his worship
established in various places, as in Elis (Paus. 6.25.5), at
Apollonia (Hdt. 9.93), Hermione (Paus. 2.34.10), in the
acropolis of Corinth (2.4.7; comp. 2.1.6), near Argos
(2.18.3), at Troezene (2.31.8), Megalopolis (8.9.2, 31.4),
and several other places, especially in the island of
Rhodes, where the famous colossus of Rhodes was a
representation of Helios: it was 70 cubits in height, and,
being overthrown by an earthquake, the Rhodians were
commanded by an oracle not to erect it again. (Pind. O.
7.54, &c.; Strab. xiv. p.652; Plin. Nat. 34.7, 17.) The
sacrifices offered to Helios consisted of white rams, boars,
bulls, goats, Lambs, especially white horses, and honey.
(Hom. Il. 19.197; Eustath. ad Hom. pp. 36,1668; Hyg. Fab.
223; Paus. 3.20.5; Hdt. 1.216; Strab. 11.513.) Among the
animals sacred to him, the cock is especially mentioned.
(Paus. 5.25.5.) The Roman poets, when speaking of the god of
the sun (Sol), usually adopt the notions of the Greeks, but
the worship of Sol was introduced also at Rome, especially
after the Romans had become acquainted with the East, though
traces of the worship of the sun and moon occur at a very
early period. (Varro, de Ling. Lat. 5.74; Dionys. A. R.
2.50; Sext. Ruf. Reg. Urb. iv.) Helios was represented on
the pedestal of the Olympian Zeus, in the act of ascending
his chariot (Paus. 5.11.3), and several statutes of him are
mentioned (6.24.5, 8.9.2, 31.4); he was also represented
riding in his chariot, drawn by four horses. (Plin. Nat.
34.3, 19; comp. Hirt, Mythol. Bilderb. 1.35.) - A Dictionary
of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, William Smith,
Helios in Wikipedia
In Greek mythology, the sun was personified as Helios
(pronounced /ˈhiːli.ɒs/, Greek: Ἥλιος "sun", 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 steeds (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: Pyrois, Aeos, Aethon, and Phlegon...
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