Helios is the Greek sun god. He was the only son of Titans Hyperion and Thelia. This couple also had two daughters, named Selene and Eos. Selene is the moon goddess, while Eos remains the goddess of the Dawn. Helios is usually pictured as wearing a golden helmet, and being a driver of a four-horse chariot with a golden yoke that drives across the sky every day.

Helios’ wife was Perse. He had several children with several different goddesses too.

Helios’ horses had fiery names such as Pyrois, which means the fiery one, Eous, which means belonging to the dawn, Aethon, which means blazing, and Phlegon, which means burning.

Helios had severals girlfriends as well as a wife. Perse was an Oceanid, which is a water nymph. Helios and Perse had four known children, namely Aeetes, Pasiphae, Minose, and Circe.  Clymene was the best-known mistress of Helios. She, like Perse, was a water nymph Oceanid. Clymene and Helios had at least three (maybe five) daughters who were known as the Heliades.

They also had a son named Phaethon. Phaeton borrowed Helios’ chariot one day. The speeding chariot sped out of control with Phaeton at the reigns, and Zeus had to kill him with a thunderbolt. The Heliades, or the sisters of Phaeton, were in such grief for their brother that their tears became amber, and their bodies turned into poplar trees.

Rhode was a nymph from the isle of Rhodes, which belonged to Helios. He was even the first one to see the island rise from the sea. Rhode and Helios were the parents of seven sons, namely the Heliadae, and one daughter named Electryone. The sons of Rhode and Helios were stronger than all other men and smarter, too. They especially excelled in astrology. Eventually, these seven brothers ruled Rhodes.

Leucothoe and Clytie

Because Helios journeyed through the sky each day all day, he was able to notice some events that some would rather keep as secrets. One day he saw Aphrodite and Ares having an affair. The affair was disclosed, and both Aphrodite and Ares were humiliated by Hephaestus due to Helios’ knowledge. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, got her revenge by making Helios fall in love with the daughter of the Persian king Orchamus, whose name was Leucothoe.

Helios snuck into Leucothoe’s room and dazzled her with his sun-like beauty. Helios already had a girlfriend, named Clytie, who spread the gossip around that someone was defiling Leucothoe. This rumor reached the Persian king’s hearing, making Orchamus so furious he buried his daughter Leucothoe alive. While Helios tried to revive her with his warm rays, it was too late. Leucothe was still dead. To preserve her memory, Helios turned Leucothoe into the tree that provides us with the fragrant incense frankincense.

Meanwhile, Clytie hoped that she could regain Helio’s love, but instead she earned his hatred. Helios ignored Clytie altogether. Clytie started to waste away alone and stayed away from the other nymphs. She continually turned her face toward the sun, hoping to see Helios. Clytie eventually died. Her body was transformed into the beautiful flower heliotrope, whose flowers face towards the sun all day long.

The Further Adventures of Helios

Helios is the person who tells Demeter that Persephone, her daughter, was abducted by the god Hades. He also restores Orion’s eyesight. His granddaughter, Medea, murders all her children at one point. Helios lends Medea his chariot so that she can escape capture. He also lends a golden bowl to Heracles, which helps him cross the Ocean river and capture the cattle of Geryon.

Helios and Odysseus

When Odysseus traveled back from the Trojan War, he and the members of his crew landed on the Thrinacian island, which was sacred to the Sun and Helios. The men were famished and decided to kill some of Helios’ cattle for food. Helios complained to Zeus, who sends a severe storm to destroy Odysseus’ ship and kills all of his men. Only Odysseus remained alive because he had to part in killing the cattle.

Colossus of Rhodes

Is one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World. The Colossus of Rhodes was a giant statue of the god Helios, erected on the Greek island of Rhodes by Chares of Lindos in the 3rd century BC. It was roughly the same size as the Statue of Liberty in New York, although it stood on a lower platform. Construction completed in 282 BC after 12 years. The statue stood for only 56 years until Rhodes was hit by an earthquake in 226 BC.