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Helius | Greco-Roman mosaic | Archaeological Museum of Sparta
Helius the sun, Greco-Roman mosaic, Archaeological Museum of Sparta

HELIOS was the Titan-god of the sun.

This page describes the loves of the god. Many of these were purely genealogical with no story attached. The most significant of his consorts were Klymene, mother of Phaethon, and Rhode, the eponymous goddess-nymph of Rhodes.


ATHENE (Athena) The Olympian goddess was, according to one author, the mother of the Rhodian Korybantes or Telkhines by Helios. Athene was identified by the writer with the island-goddess Rhode and the Korybantes with the Heliadai. [See Family]

SELENE The goddess of the moon was, according to some, the mother of the Horai of the four seasons by her brother Helios. [See Family]


AIGLE (Aegle) The nymph mother of the Kharites (Graces) by Helios. (Most, however, describe these as daughters of Zeus and Eurynome.) [See Family]

ANAXIBIA A Naiad-nymph of the Indian river Ganges who fled the advances of Helios and was hidden away by Artemis inside the mountain Koryphe.

KETO (Ceto) The Okeanid-nymph mother of the Indian nymph Astris by Helios. [See Family]

KLYMENE (Clymene) The Okeanid-nymph wife of Helios who bore him a son, Phaethon, and daughters named Heliades.

KLYTIE (Clytia) An Okeanid-nymph loved by Helios. When he forsook her, she wasted away and was transformed into a sun-loving heliotrope flower.

KRETE (Crete) A nymph of the Island of Krete who was, according to one author, the mother of Pasiphae by Helios. [See Family]

NEAIRA (Neaera) The Okeanid- or Naiad-nymph who was the mother of the Epimelid twins Lampetie and Phaethousa by Helios. [See Family]

OKYRHOE (Ocyrhoe) An Okeanid-nymph who bore Helios a son named Phasis.

PERSEIS The Okeanid-nymph who bore Helios three powerful witches--Aeetes, Pasiphae and Kirke. [See Family]

RHODE The goddess-nymph of the island of Rhodes (Greek Aegean). She was a bride of Helios who bore him seven sons, the Heliadai, and a daughter named Elektryone.


LEUKOTHOE (Leucothoe) A princess of Persia (West Asia) loved by Helios. When their affair was discovered she was sentenced to death by her father. This or another Leukothoe was the mother of the Andrian lord Thersanon.

NAUSIDAME A princess of Elis (southern Greece) who bore Helios the Elean king Aegeas. [See Family]



LOCALE : Rhodes (Greek Aegean)

Pindar, Olympian Ode 7. 13 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Praise the sea maid [Rhode], daughter of Aphrodite, bride of Helios, this isle of Rhodes."

Pindar, Olympian Ode 7. 71 ff :
"There [on the island of Rhodes] long ago he [Helios] lay with Rhodes and begot seven sons, endowed beyond all men of old with genius of thoughtful mind. And of these one begot he eldest Ialysos (Ialysus), and Kamiros (Camirus) and Lindos; and in three parts they divided their father's land, and of three citadels the brothers held each his separate share, and by their three names are the cities called."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 28 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Poseidon married Amphitrite, and had as children Triton and Rhode, whom Helios made his wife."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 55. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Poseidon . . . became enamoured of Halia (Brine), the sister of the Telkhines (Telchines), and lying with her he begat six male children and one daughter, called Rhodos (Rhode), after whom the island was named . . . Helios, the myth tells us, becoming enamoured of Rhodos, named the island Rhodes after her and caused the water which had overflowed it [the island] to disappear . . . His seven sons [by Rhodos] were Okhimos (Ochimus), Kerkaphos (Cercaphus), Makar (Macar), Aktis (Actis), Tenages, Triopas, Kandalos (Candalus), and there was one daughter, Elektryone (Electryone), who quit this life while still a maiden and attained at the hands of the Rhodians to honours like those accorded to the heroes."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 204 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Not Clymene, nor Rhodos (Rhode) now had power to hold his [Sol-Helios'] heart . . . All were forgotten for Leucothoe."

For MORE information on this island-goddess see RHODE


LOCALE : Aithiopia (North Africa) or River Okeanos

Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Sol [Helios] and Clymene : [were born] Phaethon and the Phaethontides Merope, Helie, Aetherie, Dioxippe."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 154 :
"Phaethon, son of Clymenus, son of Sol [Helios], and the Nymph Merope, who, as we have heard was and Oceanid."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 156 :
"Children of Sol [Helios] . . . By Clymene, daughter of Oceanus, Phaethon, Lampetie, Aegle, Phoebe."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 750 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Phaethon, child of Phoebus [Helios the Sun], whose arrogance one day and boasts of his high parentage were more than Inachides [Epaphos son of Zeus and Io] could bear. ‘You fool, he said, 'To credit all your mother [Klymene] says; that birth you boast about is false.’
Then Phaethon flushed, though shame checked his rage, and took those taunts to Clymene, his mother. ‘And to grieve you more, dear mother, I so frank,’ he said, ‘So fiery, stood there silent. I'm ashamed that he could so insult me and that I could not repulse him. But, if I indeed am sprung from heavenly stock, give me sure proof of my high birth, confirm my claim to heaven.’
He threw his arms around his mother's neck, and begged her by his own and Merops' [i.e. Clymene's mortal husband] life, his sisters' hopes of marriage, to provide some token that that parentage was true. And Clymene, moved whether by his words or anger at the insult to herself, held out her arms to heaven and faced Sol (the Sun) [Helios] and cried, ‘By this great glorious radiance, this beaming blaze, that hears and sees us now, I swear, dear child, that he, Sol [Helios], on whom you gaze, Sol who governs all the globe, he is your father. If I lie, let him deny his beams, let this light be the last my eyes shall ever see! And you may find your father's home with no long toil. The place from which he rises borders our own land [i.e. Aithiopia]. Go, make the journey if your heart is set, and put your question to Sol himself.’"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 7. 280 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Helios . . . you know the madness of love . . . draw your own forerunner Phosphoros (the Morning Star) to his setting, and do grace to your desire and mine; enjoy your Klymene (Clymene) all night long."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 8. 345 ff :
"Yet I have heard of another fiery wedding : did not Helios embrace his bride Klymene (Clymene) with fiery nuptials?"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 33. 182 ff :
"Eros (Love) wildly leapt from his mother's lap and took up his bow, slung the allvanquishing quiver about his little shoulder, and sailed away on his wings through the air; round Kerne (Cerne) [a mythical island of the Indian Ocean] he turned his flight opposite the rays of morning, smiling that he had set afire that great charioteer of the heavenly car with his little darts, and the light of the loves had conquered the light of Helios (the Sun)."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 38. 108 ff :
"Loudbooming Okeanos (Oceanus), girdled with the circle of the sky, who leas his water earth-encompassing round the turning point which he bathes, was joined in primeval wedlock with Tethys. The water bride-groom begat Klymene (Clymene), fairest of the Neiades (Naiads), whom Tethys nursed on her wet breast, her youngest, a maiden with lovely arms. For her beauty Helios (the Sun) pined, Helios who spins round the twelvemonth lichtgang, and travels the sevenzone circuit [the zodiac] garland-wise--Helios dispenser of fire was afflicted with another fire! The torch of love was stronger than the blaze of his car and the shining of his rays, when over the bend of the reddened Okeanos as he bathed his fiery form in the eastern waters, he beheld the maiden close by the way, while she swam naked and sported in her father's waves. Her body gleamed in her bath, she was one like the full Moon (Mene) reflected in the evening waters, when she has filled the compass of her twin horns with light. Half-seen, unshod, the girl stood in the waves shooting the rosy shafts from her cheeks at Helios; her shape was outlined in the waters, no stomacher hid her maiden bosom, but the glowing circle of her round silvery breasts illuminated the stream.
Her father united the girl to the heavenly charioteer. The lightfoot Horai (Horae, Seasons) acclaimed Klymene's bridal with Helios Phaesphoros (Lightbringer), the Nymphai Neides (Naiad-Nymphs) danced around; in a watery bridal-bower the fruitful maiden was wedded in a flaming union, and received the hot bridegroom into her cool arms. The light that shone on that bridal bed come from the starry train [i.e. the Sun marries at night for otherwise he would be in the sky]; and the star of Kypris (Cypris) [Aphrodite], Eosphoros (the Dawn-Star), herald of the union wove a bridal song. Instead of the wedding torch, Selene (the Moon) sent her beams to attend the wedding. The Hesperides raised the joy-cry, and Okeanos beside his bride Tethys sounded his song with all the fountains of his throat.
Then Klymene's womb swelled in that fruitful union, and when the birth ripened she brought forth a baby son divine and brilliant with light. At the boy's birth his father's ether saluted him with song; as he sprang from the childbed, the daughters of Okeanos cleansed him, Klymene's son, in his grandsire's waters, and wrapt him in swaddlings. The Stars (asteres) in shining movement leapt into the stream of Okeanos which they knew so well, and surrounded the boy, with Selene Eileithyia (Our Lady of Labour), sending forth her sparkling gleams. Helios gave his son his own name, as well suited the testimony of his form; for upon the boy's shining face was visible the father's inborn radiance.
Often in the course of the boy's training Okeanos would have a pretty game, lifting Phaethon on his midbelly and letting him drop down; he would throw the boy high in the air, rolling over and over moving in a high path as quick as the wandering wind, and catch him again on his arm; then he would shoot him up again, and the boy would avoid the ready hand of Okeanos, and turn a somersault round and round till he splashed into the dark waters, prophet of his own death. The old man groaned when he saw it, recognizing the divine oracle, and hid all in prudent silence, that he might not tear the happy heart of Klymene the loving mother by foretelling the cruel threads of Phaethon's Fate.
So the boy, hardly gown up, and still with no down on his lip, sometimes frequented his mother Klymene's house, sometimes travelled even to the meadows of Thrinakia (Thrinacia), where he would often visit and stay with Lampetie, tending cattle and sheep . . .
He [Phaethon] prodded his father [begging him let him drive the chariot of the Sun] and wetted his tunic with hotter tears . . . Klymene cried and begged too . . .
Then Phaethon mounted [the chariot of the Sun], Helios his father gave him the reins to manage, shining reins and gleaming whip : he shook in trembling silence, for he understood that his son had not long to live. Klymene his mother could be half seen near the shore [i.e. she was up to her waist in water], as she watched her dear son mounting the flaming car, and shook with joy."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 17. 269 ff :
"[King Deriades of India was a son of the river Hydaspes by Astris, daughter of Helios and Klymene :] He [the Indian chief Orontes] stept back and turned his gaze to the eastern expanse, and uttered his last words to Phaethon [Helios] opposite : ‘O Helios . . . And if you have not forgotten your Klymene's bed, protect Deriades, a sprout of your own stock, who has in him the blood of Astris (the Sidereal Maiden) [mother of Deriades] said to be your daughter [by Klymene].’"

For MORE information on this nymph see KLYMENE


LOCALE : Persia (West Asia) or Andros (Greek Aegean)

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 14 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Thersanon, son of Sol [Helios] and Leucothoe, from Andros [the Aegean island]."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 169 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Even Sol (the Sun) [Helios], whose star-born radiance governs the world, became the thrall of love. How Sol fell in love, shall be my tale. Sol is thought to have been the first to see Venus' [Aphrodite's] adultery with Mars [Ares] : Sol is the first to see all things. Shocked at the sight he told the goddess' husband, Junonigena [Vulcan-Hephaistos son of Juno-Hera], how he was cuckolded and where. Then Volcanus' [Hephaistos'] heart fell, and from his deft blacksmith's hands fell too the work he held. At once he forged a net, a mesh of thinnest links of bronze, too fine for eye to see [i.e. the net which trapped the lovers Aphrodite and Ares] . . . Cythereia [Aphrodite] did not forget. Him [Sol-Helios] who revealed and brought to ruin the love she hoped to hide she punished with a love as ruinous.
What then availed Hyperion's proud son his beauty's brilliance and his flashing beams? Why, he, whose fires set the world aglow, glowed with new fire, and he who should observe all things gazed only on Leucothoe, and fastened on one girl those eyes he owes to all creation. In the eastern sky sometimes he rose too soon; sometimes too late he sank beneath the waves, and, lingering to look at her, prolonged a winter's day. At times he failed; the fever in his heart infected his bright beams, and in the dark men groped in fear. Nor was his pallor's cause the moon's round orb nearing the earth to mar his light: that pale complexion came from love. She was his one delight. Not Clymene, nor Rhodos now had power to hold his heart, nor Circe Aeaea's lovely mother [i.e. Perseis], nor the girl, sad Clytie, who languished for his love, though scorned, and at that moment nursed her wound. All were forgotten for Leucothoe. She was the child of fair Eurynome, the fairest lady of the perfumed lands; and as the child grew up her loveliness surpassed her mother's as her mother's once surpassed all others. Orchamus, her father, was seventh in descent from ancient Belus, and ruled the country of the Achaemenids [i.e. Persia]. Beneath the far Hesperian sky extend the pastures of the Horses of the Sun. For grass they graze ambrosia, to rebuild their strength, tired by the duties of the day, fresh for the morrow's toil. While his team there cropped heavenly pasturage and night took turn, Sol gained entrance to his loved one's chamber, taking the features of Eurynome, her mother. In the lamplight there she sat beside her wheel, spinning a slender thread, and round the princess her twelve waiting-maids. Then, as a mother kisses her dear child, he kissed Leucothoe and said, ‘You maids, withdraw; I have a secret; please respect a mother's right to speak in privacy.’
They did his bidding. When the room was left without a witness, ‘I am he,’ he said, ‘Who measured the long year, who sees all things, by whom the whole earth sees all things, the eye of all the world. In truth you please me well.’
Fear gripped her heart. Distaff and spindle fell unheeded from her hands. Her very fear enhanced her grace. Sol, waiting no more, resumed his own true shape, his wonted splendour, the girl, astounded by the sudden sight, yet vanquished by the glory of the god, with no complain accepted his assault.
Then Clytie was jealous, for she loved Sol beyond all measure. Spurred with anger against that paramour, she published wide the tale of shame and, as it spread, made sure her father knew. Brutal and merciless, despite her prayers, although she stretched her hands toward Sol (the Sun) and cried ‘He ravished me against my will,’ her father buried her deep in the earth and on her heaped a mound of heavy sand. Hyperion's proud son dispersed it with his beams and made a way for her to raise her smothered head; but she, crushed by the weight of earth, had now no strength to lift it and lay there a lifeless corpse. Nothing since Phaethon's fiery death had grieved so sore the master of the swift Winged Steeds (Equi Volucres). He tried if by the power of his beams warm life might be recalled to those cold limbs; but destiny denied the great attempt. Then on her body and her burial-place with long laments he sprinkled fragrant nectar, and sighing said ‘Yet you shall touch the sky!’ At once her body, anointed by the drops of heavenly nectar, melted and the earth was moistened with its fragrance. Then there rose slowly, its roots deep in the soil, its shoots piercing the mound, a shrub of frankincense." [N.B. Frankincense which grew in the hot, dry land of Arabia was associated with the sun.]


LOCALE : Unknown

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 204 & 234 & 256 (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"She [the Persian princess Leucothoe] was his [Sol-Helios'] one delight. No longer . . . the girl, sad Clytie, who languished for his love, though scorned, and at that moment nursed her wound. All were forgotten for Leucothoe . . .
Clytie was jealous, for she loved Sol [Helios] beyond all measure. Spurred with anger against that paramour, she published wide the tale of shame and, as it spread, made sure her [Leucothoe's] father knew [and so she brought about the death of the maiden] . . .
But Clytie, although her love might well excuse her grief and grief her tale-baring, the Lord of Light no longer visited; his dalliance was done. She pined and languished, as love and longing stole her wits away. Shunning the Nymphae (Nymphs), beneath the open sky, on the bare ground bare-headed day and night, she sat dishevelled, and for nine long days, with never taste of food or drink, she fed her hunger on her tears and on the dew. There on the ground she stayed; she only gazed upon her god's bright face as he rode by, and turned her head to watch him cross the sky. Her limbs, they say, stuck fast there in the soil; a greenish pallor spread, as part of her changed to a bloodless plant, another part was ruby red, and where her face had been a flower like a violet [i.e. a heliotrope] was seen. Though rooted fast, towards the sun she turns; her shape is changed, but still her passion burns."

For MORE information on this nymph see KLYTIE





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