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Phaethon – The Mythology   5 comments

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Phaethon in Greek mythology was the son of Helios, the sun god, and a woman/nymph who was known among different sources as Clymene, Prote, or Rhode.

Friends of Phaethon challenged him to prove he was not illegitimate and that his father really was Helios the sun god. His mother assured him this was true and suggested he also gain confirmation from his father Helios. Phaethon decided to request from his father proof of his affiliation with the sun. Helios was happy to consent to give his son anything he wanted, but when Phaethon demanded that he should be allowed to have a whole day to drive his father’s sun chariot Helios strongly advised him not to, pointing out that even Zeus did not have the strength to handle the steeds. However, a promise was a promise and despite his misgivings Helios

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allowed him to take charge of the chariot. As he predicted Phaethon lost control of the horses. Initially the horses climbed too high causing the Earth to freeze over. The out of control steeds then careered so close to the Earth that the chariot burned and charred the Earth. Seeing the imminent disaster and in a bid to prevent that occurrence Zeus elected to bring the chariot down with a bolt of thunder. The unfortunate consequence for Phaethon being that he plummeted down to earth and was killed at the mouth of the river Eridanus, which was later recognized as the Po.

Phaethon’s close friend or even lover, Cycnus (king of Liguria) deeply grieved his demise and so the gods transformed him into a swan. Phaethon also had seven sisters, who were known as the Heliades. They too grieved deeply for him and kept watch in the place that their brother Phaethon careered to Earth and died. This wake continued until the time when the gods transformed the sisters into Poplar trees. Their tears of grief the gods transformed into amber.

The name “Phaethon” – Greek for “Shining/Radiant One”, was given also to:

  • Phaethon (Son of Eos)
  • One of the horses of Eos (the Dawn)
  • The Sun

 

 

 

 

  • The constellation Auriga
  • The planet Jupiter (Some versions refer to the planet Saturn rather than Jupiter)
  • Used as a descriptive word to describe the sun and the moon

 

Today it is the name given to rare blue asteroid “3200 Phaethon” which orbits very close to the sun and is named after the Phaethon of Greek mythology.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaethon

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Phaethon-Greek-mythology