ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The God Helios in Greek Mythology

Updated on May 22, 2016

The religious rites of Ancient Greece evolved over many hundreds of years, and so it is no surprise to find over time, new gods replacing existing ones. This is most evident with the rise of the Olympian gods, including Zeus, who replaced the existing generation of gods, the Titans.

Surviving stories of Greek mythology tell of the transition of roles as well, and this is evident in the case of Helios, the Greek god of the Sun, who replaced another Sun god, Hyperion.


Helios as Personification of Midday - Anton Raphael Mengs (1728–1779) - PD-art-100
Helios as Personification of Midday - Anton Raphael Mengs (1728–1779) - PD-art-100 | Source

Helios and his role in the cosmos

Helios was in fact the son of the Titan Hyperion, and his wife, Theia, making him brother to Eos (Dawn) and Selene (Moon).

Upon his birth, Helios would immediately take up the position of sun god, and his role was subsequently to bring light to god and man alike.

In this role, each morning Helios would climb into his golden chariot, in the domain of Oceanus in the east, and from there his four horses, Aethon, Aeos, Pyrois and Phlegon, would pull his chariot across the sky. The journey of Helios’ golden chariot would come to an end in the west, in the far reaches of Oceanus’ domain.

Each night, Helios and his chariot would be transported back to the starting point by a golden ship or cup manufactured by Hephaestus. Alternatively, Helios may have ridden his chariot through a tunnel beneath the wide realm of Oceanus.

Later writers would tell of Helios’ two magnificent palaces found at the start and end point of his daily journey.

The Horses of Helios

The Horses of Helios - Andy Bird - CC-BY-SA-2.0
The Horses of Helios - Andy Bird - CC-BY-SA-2.0 | Source

Children of Helios

Helios would father a number of famous children, and with his wife, the Oceanid Perse, Helios would be father to Aeetes, Perses, Circe and Pasiphae. Aeetes was the king of Colchis, and father of Medea, whilst Perses was ruler of Persia. Circe and Pasiphae were two sorceresses, the latter being wife of King Minos, and the former being the one time lover of Odysseus.

Other famous children of Helios include the daughters Phaethusa and Lampetia, who would become keepers of their father’s cattle on Thrinacia, and a son called Phaethon. The mothers of these children are not commonly named.

Stories of Helios

Helios is one of the Greek gods who appears regularly in Greek mythological tales.

The daily journey across the sky would allow Helios to observe all that went on below him, and it was Helios who first told Demeter news of the abduction of Persephone. It was also Helios who told Hephaestus of the secret liaisons being undertaken between Aphrodite and Ares.

Helios would be encountered by a number of heroes, and indeed Helios was responsible for the death of many of Odysseus’ crew, after they had eaten his sacred cattle.

Helios was also encountered by the greatest of all Greek heroes, Heracles, during the hero’s quest for the Cattle of Geryon. As Heracles traversed the Libyan Desert, so he became angry at the intense heat emanating from Helios. Heracles then took up his bow and arrows and started to shoot at Helios. To avoid the danger of the arrows, Helios quickly loaned Heracles the use of his Golden cup, so that Heracles could complete the journey more quickly.

The supreme hunter Orion also sought out Helios, and this time the Sun god showed his compassionate side. For at the time, Orion was blind, having been attacked by Oenopion, but Orion was guided to Helios by Cedalion, who subsequently restored the sight of the hunter.

The Competitive Helios

Helios also appears competing against other gods. The Sun god would compete against Poseidon for the right to be the main god of Corinth, and when the possibility of violence between the two gods became a possibility, the Hecatonchire, Briaros, decided that the isthmus of Corinth would be Poseidon’s and the acropolis of Corinth (the Acrocorinth) would be Helios’.

Another contest is told in Aesop’s Fables when Boreas and Helios competed about who was the most powerful. The contest was based on which could get a passing traveller to remove his clothes. Boreas, the North Wind, blew with all his might, but the traveller simply wrapped his clothing tighter around him. Helios though simply made the traveller warmer, and the man willingly removed his clothes; Persuasion besting force.

The Fall of Phaethon

Phaethon - Hendrik Goltzius (1558–1617) - PD-art-100
Phaethon - Hendrik Goltzius (1558–1617) - PD-art-100 | Source

Helios and Phaethon

Arguably the best know story from Greek mythology about Helios involves his son Phaethon. Phaethon would trick Helios into allowing him to guide his sun chariot one day across the sky, but the four horses pulling the chariot recognised the weakness of the charioteer, and so started to play up.

The chariot would rise and fall rapidly, causing some areas of the earth to freeze, and some to burn. Zeus saw the devastation being caused, and threw a lightning bolt to stop the chaos, causing Phaethon and the chariot to crash to earth. Blaming the death of his son on Zeus, Helios would subsequently refuse to undertake his role again. With the world in darkness, people cried out, but it was only after the pleading of many other gods and goddesses that Helios agreed once again to be the Greek sun god.


Submit a Comment
  • Kaili Bisson profile image

    Kaili Bisson 

    4 years ago from Canada

    Isn't it wonderful how they had all these stories associated with gods to explain how things worked in the natural universe. Thank you for sharing!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)