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Fast Facts on: Helios

Greek God of the Sun


Columns at the Temple of Zeus, Athens

The imposing columns of the Temple of Zeus, Athens, Greece.

Helios' Appearance: Often represented as a handsome youth with a rayed headdress (somewhat similar to that of the Statue of Liberty) indicating his solar attributes.

Symbol or Attributes of Helios: The distinctive rayed headdress, his chariot pulled by the four horses Pyrois, Eos, Aethon and Phlegon, the whip he drives them with, and a globe.

Helios' Strengths: Powerful, fiery, bright, tireless

Helios' Weaknesses: His intense fire can burn

Birthplace of Helios: The Greek island of Rhodes

Parents:Usually said to be Hyperion, supposedly a still-earlier sun god who is one of the Titans, and Theia. Don't confuse the original Hyperion with the "Wrath of the Titans" version.

Spouse: Perse, also called Persis or Perseis.

Children: By Perse, Aeëtes, Circe, and Pasiphae. He is also the father of Phaethusa, Phaeton, and Lampeta.

Some Major Temple Sites: The island of Rhodes, where the famous huge statue "The Colossus of Rhodes" probably depicted Helios. Also, the island of Thrinacia was said by Homer to be Helios' special territory, but its actual location is unknown. Any bright, sun-bathed Greek island can be thought of as his, but that doesn't narrow the field very much, as the description applies to almost any Greek island.

Basic Story: Helios rises from a golden palace beneath the sea and drives his fiery chariot across the sky every day, providing daylight. Once he let his son Phaeton drive his chariot, but Phaeton lost control of the vehicle and plunged to his death or, alternately, set the earth on fire and was killed by Zeus to keep him from burning up all of mankind.

Interesting Fact: Helios is a Titan, a member of the earlier order of gods and goddesses which preceded the later Olympians. Whenever we encounter the "os" ending in a name, it usually indicates an earlier, pre-Greek origin.

In modern Greece, many hilltop chapels are dedicated to "Saint" Ilios, and are likely to mark ancient temple sites for Helios. They are usually on the highest and most prominent local peaks. Some of these were also repurposed and taken over as local "Olympian" mountains and dedicated to Zeus.

Alternate Spellings:Helius, Ilius, Ilios.

More Fast Facts on Greek Gods and Goddesses:

The 12 Olympians - Gods and Goddesses - Greek Gods and Goddesses - Temple Sites - The Titans - Aphrodite - Apollo - Ares - Artemis - Atalanta - Athena - Centaurs - Cyclopes - Demeter- Dionysos - Eros - Gaia - Hades - Helios - Hephaestus - Hera - Hercules - Hermes - Kronos - Medusa - Nike - Pan- Pandora - Pegasus - Persephone - Poseidon - Rhea - Selene - Zeus.

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