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Helios (also Helius) was the Greek god of the sun, but faded due to lack of worship by the Romans, after which his duty of driving the sun chariot was passed on to Apollo. He was a Titan of the second-generation, born to Hyperion and Theia, and the brother of Selene and Eos, the moon and the dawn. He was married to the goddess Rhode, daughter of Poseidon, and his Roman counterpart is Sol.

History

Helios is the son of Hyperion, lord of the east, and his wife Theia, goddess of sight and splendor; he had two siblings, Selene, the moon and Eos, the dawn. 

The best known story involving Helios is that of his son Phaethon, who begged his father to let him drive the sun chariot. Helios agreed, albeit reluctantly, and granted the wish of his son who soon after lost control over the immortal horses and set the earth ablaze, scorching the African plains to desert and freezing the North to snowy areas. Zeus, appalled by the destruction, blasted the youth out of the chariot with one of his lightning bolts. Phaethon's flaming body was hurled from the sky and right into the river Eridanos. His sisters, the Heliades, gathered on the banks of the river to mourn their brother's demise and are transformed into amber-teared poplar trees. After his death, the boy was either placed among the stars as the constellation Auriga ("the charioteer") or he became one of the five gods of the wandering stars (the planet Jupiter or Saturn).

Helios was often referred to as Helios Panoptes ("[Helios] the all-seeing"). As is recounted in Homer's Odyssey (Book VIII. 300 ff), Aphrodite, the wife of Hephaestus, secretly bedded Ares, although the all-seeing Helios took pity on Hephaestus and revealed Aphrodite's promiscuity to the latter, leading the devastated blacksmith god to ensnare the two lovers in a net to punish them.

In Book XII of Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus and his surviving crew land on the island of Thrinacia (considered to be Sicily), which is sacred to Helios and is where his cattle and sheep were kept. Though Odysseus warns his men not to, they impiously kill and eat some of the sun god's cattle. Helios’ daughters, Phaëthusa and Lampetië, who guard the island, tell their father, and Helios then appeals to Zeus, who destroys Odysseus' ship and kills all of 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. 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 Aethipoia, with whom he passes the dark hours. When Hercules was traveling to Erytheia to retrieve the cattle of Geryon, he crossed the Libyan desert and was so frustrated by the heat that he shot an arrow at Helios. The sun god was so surprised by the demigod's daring that he gave Hercules the golden cup that he used to sail across the sea every night, from west to east in order to reach Erytheia. Hercules successfully retrieved the cattle and after he returned to Greece, he gave the cup back to Helios.

Helios's primary place of worship was the island of Rhodes, which according to the following myth was his special territory. At the time of the First Titanomachy, when the gods were dividing the world by lot, Helios happened to be absent because of his duties, and consequently received no share. He therefore complained to Zeus, who proposed to have a new allotment, but Helios would not allow this, saying that as he pursued his daily journey, his penetrating eye had beheld a lovely, fertile island lying beneath the waves of the ocean, and that if the immortals would swear to give him the undisturbed possession of this spot, he would be content to accept it as his share of the universe. The gods took the oath, whereupon the island of Rhodes immediately rose above the surface of the waters.

Pindar writes in his Seventh Olympian Ode that Helios took as his wife the goddess Rhode, daughter of Poseidon, and that they sired seven sons, one of whom, Kerkaphos, sired the eponyms of the island’s three main cities, Ialsysos, Kameiros and Lindos. The three cities would come together in 408 BC to find the federal city of Rhodes, and the isle would become home to not only the Halieia festival, but the famed Colossus of Rhodes, a gigantic bronze statue of Helios which was hailed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

The Titan's Curse

When Apollo explained how a god can fade to Nico di Angelo, he used Helios and Selene as examples. He told Nico that when the Romans took over, many of the roles that Helios was responsible for (like driving the Sun Chariot) were given over to other gods. Apollo called this downsizing, which resulted in Helios eventually fading.

The Last Olympian

Before Percy Jackson battled Hyperion, Annabeth Chase mentions that Hyperion is the "father of Helios, the first sun god."

The Heroes of Olympus

The Lost Hero

Helios is mentioned to have been the grandfather of Medea.

The House of Hades

Helios is mentioned as the father of Pasiphaë and her sister, Circe.

The Trials of Apollo

The Burning Maze

Medea summons her grandfather, Helios, from the depths of Tartarus in order to absorb the combined power of Apollo and Helios and give it to Caligula to turning the emperor into the new sun god . His flaming essence in the Labyrinth under Southern California caused natural disasters including wildfires and droughts, hence why it was referred to as the Burning Maze.

Helios is summoned once again by Medea to fight Piper McLean, Meg McCaffrey and Apollo who was turned human, and once the sorceress was defeated, the Titan went supernova. Helios meets Apollo again when the former Olympian god is traveling the maze with Meg and Grover, searching for the Sybil. Apollo promises Helios that he will release him from Medea's control and convincing the deity to let the trio pass and reach the center of the maze, where they find the Sybil and confront Medea once more.

Eventually, Piper, who received a message from Grover, arrives and defeats Medea, killing her and releasing Helios from his prison. Apollo then convinces Helios to hold his rage and finally rest, promising him to keep the memories of the Titan of the Sun alive, his essence then returning to Chaos.

Personality

During his glory days, Helios was much like Apollo, always chatting, joking and flirting while strolling around Olympus. However, after being replaced by Apollo and banished to Tartarus, he became distant, angry and resentful, principally at Apollo. He also hates his granddaughter Medea, due to her bounding his will to hers.

Appearance

Alexander Helios

A representation of Helios

When Phaethon meets him in Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, Helios is depicted as sitting on a throne constructed entirely from emeralds, dressed in flowing purple robes that showed off his tan, with his pupils blazed "like pilot lights for industrial ovens" and a wreath of golden laurels crowning his dark hair.

Abilities

Helios possessed the standard powers of a Titan. He is equal to Selene and possibly equal to Apollo and Artemis.

  • Heliokinesis: As the Personification and Titan of the Sun, Helios has absolute control and divine authority over sun. His abilities include:
    • Photokinesis: As the Titan of the Sun, Helios has absolute control over sunlight.
      • Sunlight Rays (presumed): As Apollo is presumed to generate rays of sunlight, it is probable that he can generate rays of sunlight too.
      • Dazzling Appearance: In Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, Helios appears to Phaethon with pupils that blazed "like pilot lights for industrial ovens."
    • Pyrokinesis: As the Titan of the Sun, Helios has absolute control and divine authority over the flames of his Sun Chariot. However, this power of his is inferior to that of Hephaestus, the god of fire. Examples of abilities he derived from this province are:
      • Fire Immunity: Helios is completely immune to any amount of fire and heat.
  • Vision Manipulation: As the Titan of sight, Helios had the ability to manipulate his vision and that of others, which enabled him to see everything the sun touched, as well as to induce or cure blindness. An additional ability he presumably derived from this province is:
    • Foresight: As Titan of sight, Helios could see the past, present, and future, an ability which he passed down to most of his descendants.
  • Reinforcing Oaths: As the Guardian of Oaths, he may have had the power to influence and command punishment of those who break their oaths including the gods in some myths.
  • Tongue of the Old Times Fluency: According to Tyson, in The Battle of the Labyrinth,  this was the ancient language that Gaea spoke to her children (the Titans, Elder Cyclopes and Hekatonkheires) before the birth of the Olympian gods. Hence, Helios understands and speaks it perfectly.

Relationships

Hyperion

Hyperion, the Titan god of light and Lord of the East, is Helios's father and while their relationship with each other is unknown, it is possible that Helios cares for him. 

Theia

Theia, Titaness of Sight and Splendor and Hyperion's consort, is Helios's mother and though their relationship with each other is unknown, it is likely that he cares for her since she is his mother.

Phaethon

Phaethon was Helios's son, born to him and the Oceanid Klymene. Helios left to return to his duties shortly after Phaethon's birth so Pantheon only knew Helios's identity though his mother's stories of him. As Phaethon grew up, Prince Epaphos demanded proof from Phaethon that he was indeed the son of Helios after Phaethon boasted that his father was better. After arriving home, Phaethon wished to see Helios and was told to go to his palace in the east.

Odysseus

Odysseus and his surviving crew land on the island of Thrinacia, which is sacred to Helios and is where his cattle and sheep were kept. Although Odysseus warns his men not to, they ignore what Odysseus says and impiously kill and eat some of the god's cattle.

Unfortunately, Helios’s daughters, Phaëthusa and Lampetië, who guard the island, tell their father, and Helios then appeals to Zeus, who destroys Odysseus' ship and kills all of the men except for Odysseus.

Hercules

At some point, Helios seems to be riding across the sea in the cup of the Delphic tripod, which appears to be a solar reference. 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 Aethipoia, with whom he passes the dark hours.

When Hercules was traveling to Erytheia to retrieve the cattle of Geryon he crossed the Libyan desert and was so frustrated by the heat that he shot an arrow at Helios. The sun god was so surprised by the demigod's daring that he gave Hercules the golden cup that he used to sail across the sea every night from west to east in order to reach Erytheia. Hercules successfully retrieved the cattle and after he returned to Greece, he gave the cup back to Helios.

Hephaestus

Zeus paired Aphrodite up with Hephaestus and resulted in Ares's outrage. Aphrodite then had several affairs with Ares without Hephaestus knowing. However, the all-seeing Helios took pity over him and revealed to him his wife's infidelity. Hephaestus then fashioned an unbreakable yet extremely thin golden net and ensnared the two lovers to punish them.

Apollo

In The Burning MazeMedea summons her grandfather, Helios, from the depths of Tartarus in order to absorb the combined power of Apollo and Helios and give it to Caligula to turn the emperor into the new sun god. Helios's flaming essence in the Labyrinth under southern California resulted in natural disasters, including wildfires and droughts.

Helios is summoned once again by Medea to fight Apollo, Meg and Piper. Once the sorceress was defeated, the Titan went supernova. Helios encountered Apollo again when the former Olympian god is traveling the maze and Grover, searching for the Sybil. Apollo promises Helios that he will release him from Medea's control and convinces the deity to let the trio pass and reach the center of the maze, where they find the Sybil and confront Medea once more. 

Eventually, Piper, who received a message from Grover, arrives and defeats Medea, killing her and releasing Helios from his prison. Apollo then convinces Helios to hold his rage and finally rest, promising him to keep the memories of the Titan of the Sun alive, his essence then returning to Chaos.

Medea

Medea is a powerful sorceress who was descended from Helios. In The Burning Maze, Medea summons the faded Helios from the depths of Tartarus and after she is killed, Helios is free from Medea's control. 

Consorts and Children

  • By the goddess Hecate, Helios became the father of Circe.
  • By the Oceanid Perseis, he became the father of Aeetes, Pasiphae and Perses.
    Images-1-

    Pasiphae, one of his daughters

  • By the Oceanid Klymene, he became the father of the Heliades, Astris and Phaethon.
  • By the nymph Neaera, he became the father of Phaethusa ("radiant") and Lampetia ("shining").
  • By his sister Selene, he became the father of the four Horae (seasons) and the twelve Horae (hours).
  • By Aegle, he may have been the father of the Charities.
  • By Rhode, his wife and daughter of Poseidon, he became the father of the Heliadae and Electryone.
  • By the Oceanid Ocyrrhoe, he became the father of Phasis.
  • By Leucothoe, he became the father of Thersanon.
  • By Nausidame, he became the father of Augeas, one of the Argonauts.
  • By undetermined mothers, he was the father of Aegiale, Aithon, Aix, Aloeus, Camirus, and Mausolus.

Sol

Sol was the solar deity in Ancient Roman religion. It was long thought that Rome actually had two different, consecutive sun gods. The first, Sol Indiges, was thought to have been unimportant, disappearing altogether at an early period. Only in the late Roman Empire, scholars argued, did the solar cult re-appear with the arrival of the Syrian Sol Invictus in Rome, perhaps under the influence of the Mithraic mysteries.

Trivia

  • The center of Helios' worship was on the island of Rhodes.
  • The Colossus of Rhodes was a massive bronze statue of Helios that was considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Built between 292 and 280 BC, it stood 107 feet tall, making it one of the tallest statues of the ancient world, and it was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC.
    • It's been said that the Colossus is planned to be rebuilt in the future, thus fulfilling the dream of generations of Rhodians. Like the previous statue, it will represent the Titan Helios, but will be at least twice the size of the original one.
  • The chemical element of Helium was named after Helios.
  • Copernicus's Theory was called heliocentrism because he stated the Sun was at the center of the universe, not the Earth.
  • Heliokinesis, or control of the sun, is named after Helios.
  • The city of Heliopolis was named after him.
  • While the connection between Helios and Apollo is stressed upon, Helios was sometimes perceived as Zeus' eye.[1][2]

References

  1. Sick, David H. (2004), Mit(h)ra(s) and the Myths of the Sun, Numen, 51 (4): 432–467, JSTOR 3270454
  2. Ljuba Merlina Bortolani, Magical Hymns from Roman Egypt: A Study of Greek and Egyptian Traditions of Divinity, Cambridge University Press, 13/10/2016
The Trials of Apollo
Core Series: The Hidden Oracle | The Dark Prophecy | The Burning Maze | The Tyrant's Tomb | The Tower of Nero
Main Characters: Apollo/Lester Papadopolous | Meg McCaffrey | Peaches | Leo Valdez | Calypso | Grover Underwood | Piper McLean | Reyna Ramírez-Arellano | Frank Zhang | Hazel Levesque
Secondary Characters: Percy Jackson | Nico di Angelo | Will Solace | Chiron | Austin Lake | Kayla Knowles | Hemithea | Josephine | Georgina | Lityerses | Trophonius | Gleeson Hedge | Mellie Hedge | Chuck Hedge | Medea | Jason Grace | Herophile | Lavinia Asimov | Don | Tyson | Ella | Tarquin | Claudia | Janice | Blaise
Minor Characters: Sally Jackson | Rachel Elizabeth Dare | Thalia Grace | Mrs. O'Leary | Festus | Cade | Mikey | Harley | Connor Stoll | Miranda Gardiner | Cecil Markowitz | Ellis Wakefield | Sherman Yang | Damien White | Malcolm Pace | Paolo Montes | Valentina Diaz | Germani | Agamethus | Olujime | Phillip McCaffrey | Hunter Kowalski | Sssssarah | Prickly Pear | Aloe Vera | Joshua | Naevius Sutorius Macro | Incitatus | Crest | Tristan McLean | Bombilo | Aurum | Argentum | Julia | Jacob | Poison Oak | Elon | Mamurius Veturius | Mimi
Olympian Gods (Greek & Roman): Zeus/Jupiter | Hera/Juno | Poseidon/Neptune | Demeter/Ceres | Ares/Mars | Athena/Minerva | Apollo/Apollo (Roman) | Artemis/Diana | Hephaestus/Vulcan | Aphrodite/Venus | Hermes/Mercury | Dionysus/Bacchus | Hades/Pluto
Minor Gods: Nero | Commodus | Caligula | Iris | Britomartis | Styx | Terminus | Lupa | Terpsichore | Harpocrates | Cardea
Titans: Rhea | Leto | Mnemosyne | Helios
Monsters and Magical Creatures: Python | Nosoi | Karpoi | Palikos | Myrmeke | Colossus Neronis | Blemmyae | Gryphon | Carthaginian Serpent | Scythian Dracaena | Cynocephali | Centaur | Cyclops | Yale | Satyr/Faun | Strix | Dryad | Dragon | Pandai | Eurynomos | Skeleton Warriors | Zombie | Raven | Amphisbaena
Related Content: Rick Riordan | Percy Jackson and the Olympians | The Heroes of Olympus | Demigods & Magicians | Camp Half-Blood Confidential | Camp Jupiter Classified: A Probatio’s Journal | Percy Jackson Demigod Collection

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