Learn About Helios: The Greek Sun God

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Greek history is one made up of a lot of mysteries, beliefs, and myths. In Ancient Greek religion, it is believed that Helios is the god and representation of the sun. He is often portrayed with a radiant crown, driving a horse-drawn chariot across the sky.

At first he was considered a minor deity until his worship grew in late antiquity. This is because he was identified with major solar divinities particularly Sol and Apollo. 

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Helios features in many works of Greek mythology, literature, and poetry, he is described as Titans Hyperion and Theia’s son. Read on to learn more about Helios.

Learn About Helios: The Greek Sun God
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Origin

Helios is believed to have been born of titan parents Hyperion and Theia. He had two siblings Selene and Eos who are goddesses of the moon and dawn respectively. 

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Helios is believed to have been a minor god in Classical Greece, but his worship gained prominence in late antiquity. Late antiquity is the time historians use to describe the shift from classical antiquity to middle ages.

Helios worship became prominent because of his identification with many major solar gods of the Roman period. They include Sol and Apollo

Julian, a Roman Emperor made Helios the main god to worship during his traditional Roman religious practices. However, his revival that took place in the 4th century AD was short-lived. 

Family Life

Helios is said to have had a number of partners. They include Rhodos, Klytie, Clymene, Perse, and Leucothea. Given his number of wives, Helios had several children. 

They are The Phaethon, Charites, The Aeetes, Horae, Perses, Circe, Pasiphae, Heliades, Phaethusa and Lampetia. His female Children were called Heliades.

The Greek sun god had numerous epithets which later became separate gods associated with the sun. They include Elektor (translated as radiant or beaming), Hyperion (Superus “high up”), Terpsimbrotos (gladdens mortals), Hekatos (far shooter in regards to the sun’s rays), among others.

Description

Helios is described as a handsome young man with a crown of the sun and drives the chariot of the sun through the sky each day. It is believed he drives his chariot every day to the earth circling Oceans and returns to the East at night only to repeat the same process the next day. 

In the Homeric Hymn, Helios is believed to drive a golden chariot with fire-darting steeds. This is why the horses were later given fire-connected names, such as Aeos (He who turns the sky), Pyrois (The Firey One), Phlegon (Burning), and Aethon (Blazing). 

Helios is considered the personification and the power behind the sun. That’s why he is worshiped as a god of creation and life.

Worship

Learn About Helios: The Greek Sun God
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Helios’ main cult was found at the Island of Rhodes. It’s at this Island that Helios was worshiped as a major Greek god. His worship involved a ritual in which a chariot pulled by four horses was driven into the sea over a height. 

This was in reenactment to the Phaethon myth. Read more about this myth here. In Helios’ honor, annual gymnastics were held and Colossus of Rhodes was devoted to him.

Conclusion

Helios is known in Greek mythology as the god of the sun. He is often portrayed as a handsome man driving a chariot with a shining crown of the sun. His Titan parents are Hyperion and Theia. Helios had a number of partners from whom he fathered a number of children. 

It is believed that Helios drives his chariot every day through the sky circling Oceanus and returns at night. Read more on this site if you want to learn more about Greek mythology.

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