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HELIOS ESTATE
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Name Translation
Ἡλιος Hêlios, Helius Sol Sun (hêlios)
OTHER HELIOS PAGES

Helios Index & General Myths
Helios & Phaethon Myth
Helios God of
Helios Family
Helios Loves
Helios Cult

HELIOS was the Titan god of the sun.

This page describes the possessions and attributes of the god, his sacred plants and animals, and attendants.

Of all the gods, the sun god Helios had perhaps the most distinctive attributes: these being his shining chariot drawn by winged horses and the aureole of the sun.


(1) THE TREASURES OF HELIOS
SUN CHARIOT & HORSES OF HELIOS Helios' golden sun-chariot was drawn through the sky drawn by a team of four white, fire-breathing, winged horses.
SUN AUREOLE OF HELIOS The The Sun-God wore upon his head the brightly shining aureole of the sun - a crown-like helm of sun-beams.
FIRE SALVE OF HELIOS Helios protected himself from the heat of his fiery horses and chariot with this magical salve.
CUP-BOAT OF HELIOS Helios sailed across the northern extremes of the River-Okeanos at night, along with his sun chariot, in a golden boat which carried him back to his place of rising in the West.
PALACE OF HELIOS Helios possessed a fabulous palace built of gold and gemstones in the far Eastern reaches of the River-Okeanos.
THRONE OF HELIOS The golden-throne of the Sun-God was richly encrusted with priceless gemstones.
TABLETS OF PHANES The oracular tablets of the primal god Phanes which described the fate of the universe, lay within the palace of Helios.
HERDS & FLOCKS OF HELIOS Helios pastured his immortal cattle and sheep on the sacred island of Thrinakie. They were tended by his daughters the Nymphai Lampetie and Phaethousa.
(2) SACRED PLANTS & ANIMALS
ROOSTER: SACRED BIRD The rooster, a bird which heralded the coming of dawn with its cry, was sacred to the sun-god Helios.
WHITE HORSE: SACRED ANIMAL The white horse was an animal sacred to the god Helios. The god's heavenly chariot was drawn by a team of four white steeds.
WOLF: SACRED ANIMAL According to some the wolf was sacred to Helios. He was probably here identified with Apollon Lykeios (Of the Wolves).
HELIOTROPE: SACRED FLOWER The heliotrope, a flower that alwasy turns its head towards the sun, was sacred to the god Helios. The very first heliotrope was Klytie, an Okeanis loved by Helios, who metamorphosed into the flower.
POPLAR: SACRED TREE The Heliades, daughters of Helios, were transformed into amber-weeping poplar trees. The trees and their sun-like amber tears were sacred to Helios.
FRANKINCENSE: SACRED PLANT Frankincense, an aromatic plant of the Middle East which was used as incense, was sacred to the sun-god Helios. The very first frankincense plant was his metamorphosed form of his love, the Persian princess Leukothoe.
(3) ATTENDANTS OF HELIOS
EOSPHOROS The God of the Morning Star yoked the horses of the sun to their chariot in preparation for the sun's rising.
HESPEROS The God of the Evening Star freed the horses of the sun from their yokes after setting in the West.
HORAI, THE FOUR The Goddesses of the four Seasons, fed the horses of the sun ambrosia in the morning, led them forth from their manger and yoked them to the golden chariot, ready for the Sun-god's rising. And, again in the West when Helios' set, they released them from the yoke, washed them down in Ocean's stream and then put them out to pasture.
HORAI, THE TWELVE The Twelve Goddesses of the Hours, accompanied Helios on his daily path through the sky to measure out the portions of the day.
"THEOI KHRONIOI", THE The Gods of Time attendended on the throne of Helios: Day, Month, Year, Century and the Four Seasons.
LAMPETIE A daughter of Helios who tended her father's sacred flocks of sheep on the island of Thrinakie.
PHAETHOUSA A daughter of Helios who tended her father's sacred herds of cattle on the island of Thrinakie.
TETHYS The Titan-Goddess of the earth-encircling River Okeanos opened the Gates of the Sun for Helios' rising from Eastern Ocean's stream; and again received him at the River's Western bounds.
THEIA The Titaness-goddess of gold and mother of Helios attended on the shining palace of her son.

SUN CHARIOT & HORSES OF HELIOS

Greek Name: Hippoi Helioi (Horses of the Sun); Latin Name: Equi Solis (Horses of the Sun)

Homeric Hymn 31 to Helius (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) :
"As he [Heliosthe Sun] rides his chariot, he shines upon men and deathless gods, and piercingly he gazes with his eyes from his golden helmet. Bright rays beam dazzlingly from him, and his bright locks streaming from the temples of his head gracefully enclose his far-seen face: a rich, fine-spun garment glows upon his body and flutters in the wind: and stallions carry him. Then, when he has stayed his golden-yoked chariot and horses, he rests there upon the highest point of heaven, until he marvellously drives them down again through heaven to Okeanos."

Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 88 ff :
"[Helios] called to his horses : and at his chiding they quickly whirled the swift chariot along, like long-winged birds."

Homeric Hymn 4 to Hermes 67 ff :
"Helios (the Sun) was going down beneath the earth towards Okeanos with his horses and chariot."

Mimnermus, Fragment 12 (trans. Gerber, Vol. Greek Elegiac) (Greek elegy C7th B.C.) :
"For Helios the Sun’s lot is toil every day and there is never any respite for him and his horses, from the moment rose-fingered Eos (the Dawn) leaves Okeanos and goes up into the sky. A lovely bed . . . carries him, as he sleeps soundly, over the waves on the water’s surface from the place of the Hesperides [in the West] to the land of the Aithiopes [in the East], where his swift chariot and horses stand until early-born Eos (the Dawn) comes. There the son of Hyperion mounts his other vehicle."

Aeschylus, Fragment 105 Prometheus Unbound (from Strabo, Geography 1. 2. 27) (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"The mere of the Aithiopes [i.e. the headwaters of the Nile] . . . where all-seeing (pantoptês) Helios (the Sun) doth ever, in warm outpourings of soft water, refresh his undying body and his wearied steeds."

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 8. 488 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"Helios (the Sun) drave down his never-wearying steeds into the dark west: night streamed o'er the earth."

Orphic Hymn 8 to Helius (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"Helios (the Sun) . . . dancing in thy four-yoked car . . . with sounding whip four fiery steeds you guide, when in the glittering car of day you ride."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 23. 2 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Phaethon [son of Helios], as he drove the chariot, was unable to keep control of the reins, and the horses, making light of the youth, left their accustomed course; and first they turned aside to traverse the heavens, setting it afire and creating what is now called the Milky Way, and after that they brought the scorching rays to many parts of the inhabited earth and burned up not a little land."

Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1. 11 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[From a description of an ancient Greek painting depicting the fall of Phaethon :] In his passion for driving this son of Helios (the Sun) [Phaethon] ventured to mount his father’s chariot, but because he did not keep a firm rein he came to grief and fell into the Eridanos . . .The sun’s orb (hêliou kyklos) as it plunges toward the earth draws in its train the Astera (Stars) . . . while the horses have thrown off their yoke and rush madly on."

Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 2. 22 (trans. Conybeare) (Greek biography C1st to 2nd A.D.) :
"You see Helios the sun himself represented sometimes borne upon a four horse car ... and sometimes again traversing the heavens with his torch, in case you are depicting the aither and the home of the gods."

Anonymous (perhaps Pamprepius of Panopolis), Fragments (trans. Page, Vol. Select Papyri III, No. 140) (Greek poetry C4th A.D.) :
"The steeds of Phaethon [Helios], beating the path of heaven beneath their hooves, were drawing the dew-moist rail of their twilight chariot toward their drinking-pool in the western sea."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 183 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Names of the Horses of Sol [Helios the Sun]. Eous; by him the sky is turned. Aethiops, as if faming, parches the grain. These trace-horses are male. The female are yoke-bearers: Bronte, whom we call thunder (tonitrua), Sterope, whom we call lightning (fulgitrua). Eumelus of Corinth is the authority for this. There are also the ones that Homer names: Abraxas, Therbeeo. Ovid, too: Pyrois, Eous, Aethon, and Phlegon."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 13 :
"Sol [Helios the Sun] who first among the gods made use of the quadriga."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 154 :
"Phaethon put to bad use the chariot he asked for. For when he was carried too mear the earth, everything burned in the fire that came near."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 42 :
"He [Phaethon] foolishly drove his father’s chariot and set fire to the earth."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 78 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"My [Helios'] horses too, when fire within their breast rages, from mouth and nostrils breathing flames, are hard to hold; even I can scarce restrain their ardent hearts, their necks that fight the rein."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 84 ff :
"The boy [Phaethon] declared his wish - his father’s [Helios'] chariot for one day with licence to control the soaring steeds. Grief and remorse flooded his father’s soul, and bitterly he shook his glorious head: ‘Rash have your words proved mine! Would that I might retract my promise, Phaethon! This alone I would indeed deny you . . . Mortal your lot - not mortal your desire; this, to which even the gods may not aspire, in ignorance you claim. Though their own powers may please the gods, not one can take his stand above my chariot’s flaming axle-tree save I. Even he whose hand hurls thunderbolts, the mighty Rector Olympi (Lord of Olympus), may never drive my team - and who is mightier than Jove [Zeus]? Steep is the way at first, which my steeds scarce can climb in the morning freshness; in mid sky the altitude is greatest and the sight of land and sea below has often struck in my own heart an agony of fear. The final part drops sheer; then above all control must be assured, and even she whose waters lie below to welcome me, Tethys, waits fearful lest I headlong fall . . .'
Phaethon would not yield and held his purpose, burning with desire to drive the chariot. Then his father, slow and pausing as he might, lead out the boy to that high chariot, Vulcanus’ [Hephaistos’] masterwork. Gold was the axle, gold the shaft, and gold the rolling circles of the tyres; the spokes in silver order stood, and on the harness patterns of gorgeous gems and chrysolites shone gleaming in the glory of Sol [Helios]. And while the daring boy in wonder gazed, Aurora [Eos the Dawn], watchful in the reddening dawn, threw wide her crimson doors and rose-filled halls; the Stellae (Stars) took flight, in marshalled order set by Lucifer [Eosphoros] who left his station last. Then, when Titan [Helios] perceived the Morning Star [Eosphoros] setting and saw the world in crimson sheen and the last lingering crescent of Luna the Moon [Selene] fade in the dawn, he bade the nimble Horae (Hours) go yoke his steeds, and they, swift goddesses, fastened the jingling harness and the reins, as from the lofty stalls the horses came, filled with ambrosial food and breathing flame. Then on his son’s young face the father smeared a magic salve to shield him from the heat and set the flashing sunbeams [the Sun’s aureole] on his head, and with a heavy heart and many a sigh, that told of grief to come, addressed the boy: ‘If this advice at least you will obey, spare, child, the whip and rein them hard; they race unurged; the task’s to hold them in their zeal.' . . .
See, dewy Nox (Night) upon the Hesperian shore even while I speak has reached her goal. No more may we delay; our duty calls; the day dawns bright, all shadows fled. Come take the reins! Or take, if yet your stubborn heart will change, my counsel, not my chariot, while you may, while still on firm foundations here you stand before you mount between my chariot wheels, so ignorant, so foolish! - and let me give the world light that you may safely see.’ But Phaethon mounted, light and young and proud, and took the reins with joy, and looking down, thanked his reluctant father for the gift. Meanwhile the four swift horses of Sol, Aethon (Blaze), Eous (Dawn), Pyrois (Fire) and Phlegon (Flame), kick at the gates, neighing and snorting fire, and Tethys [the mother of Clymene, mother of Phaethon] then, her grandson’s fate undreamt, draws back the bars and makes the horses free of all the boundless heavens. Forth they go, tearing away, and cleave with beating hooves the clouds before them, and on wings outride the winds that westwards from the morning blow. But lightly weighs the yoke; the chariot moves with ease unwonted, suspect buoyancy; and like a ship at sea unballasted that pitches in the waves for lack of weight, the chariot, lacking now its usual load, bounced driverless, it seemed, in empty leaps. The horses in alarm ran wild and left the well-worn highway. Phaethon, dazed with fear, could neither use the reins nor find the road, nor were it found could make the team obey . . . In doubt he cannot hold the reins or let them fall or even recall the horses’ names . . . he drops the reins aghast. And when the reins fall loose upon their backs, the horses swerve away and, unrestrained, gallop through tracts of air unknown and race headlong, out of control, running amok amid the stars fixed in the vault of heaven, hurtling the chariot where no road had run. And now they climb to highest heaven, now plunge sheer in breakneck descent down to the earth. Luna [Selene the Moon] with wonder sees her brother’s team running below her own; the scalding clouds steam; the parched fields crack deep, all moisture dried, and every summit flames [and the earth burns] . . . he knows not where he is or goes; the horses whirl him where they will . . . [Zeus] thundered; and poising high his bolt to blast, struck Phaethon from the chariot and from life, and fire extinguished fire and flame quenched flame. The horses in wild panic leapt apart, burst from the traces and flung off the yoke, there lies the reins, the sundered axle there, here the spokes dangle from a shattered wheel, and far and wide the signs of wreckage fly. And Phaethon, flames ravaging his auburn hair, falls headlong down . . .
Sol [Helios] took in hand his maddened team, still terrified, and whipped them savagely, whipped them and cursed them for their guilt that they destroyed his son, their master, that dire day."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 214 ff :
"Beneath the far Hesperian sky extend the pastures of the Equi Solis (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. His team there cropped heavenly pasturage and night took turn."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 245 :
"[Helios] the master of the swift Equi Volucres (Winged Steeds)."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 633 :
"That far sea that greets the panting horses of Sol (the sun) and welcomed their tired wheels."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 6. 480 :
"Sol’s [Helios the Sun’s] team, the day’s toil nearly done, were pounding down the slope that led them home."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 7. 323 :
"Three times had Phoebus [Helios the Sun] had now unyoked his team when they had plunged in Hibero’s [Spain's] sunset stream [the Atlantic Ocean]."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 11. 257 :
"Titan [Helios the Sun] was setting and his chariot sloped to the western waves."

Ovid, Fasti 2. 73 (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Titan [Helios] exits into Hesperia’s (Evening’s) waves and unhitches his jewelled purple team."

Ovid, Fasti 3. 415 :
"Phoebus [Helios] climbs steep Olympus from Oceanus and plucks the sky on winged horses."

Ovid, Heroides 4. 159 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"He [Helios the sun] who moves the tepid day with gleaming chariot."

Ovid, Heroides 8. 105 ff :
"When Titan is urging aloft his radiant steeds."

Ovid, Heroides 21. 85 ff :
"The sun was making ready to take their yokes from his shining steeds. When he has likewise called them once more to their accustomed rising."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2. 34 (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"And now Hyperion’s [Helios the Sun’s] car drew close to its goal in the Hiberian [Spanish] Sea, and with declining day the reins slackened at the journey’s end, what time the ancient Tethys raised her hands for the embrace and the holy Titan [Helios] hissed as he cleft the floor of Oceanus."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 4. 90 ff :
"The stars are now gliding into the life-giving springs of mighty Oceanus, and the bridles are jingling in the Titanian caves [of Helios the Sun]; hastened by the golden-haired Horae (Hours) Sol [Helios the Sun] puts on his diadem of myriad rays . . . Then above the earth and above the horns of the eastern mount he shone forth, and drew a train of light over the sparkling waves."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5. 428 ff :
"Scarce can Tethys gather the fragments of yoke and axle [after the fall of Phaethon from the chariot], or rescue Pyroeis [one of the horses of the Sun] who fears the father’s [Helios’] grief."

Statius, Thebaid 3. 406 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Far on the sloping margin of the western sea sinking Sol [Helios the Sun] had unyoked his flaming steeds, and laved their bright manes in the springs of Oceanus; to meet him hastens Nereus of the deep and all his company, and the swift-striding Horae (Hours), who strip him of his reins and the woven glory of his golden coronet, and releive his horse’s dripping breasts of the hot harness; some turn the well-deserving steeds into the soft pasture, and lean the chariot backward, pole in air."

Statius, Thebaid 12. 228 ff :
"Already had father Titan [Helios the Sun] hidden his flaming chariot in the Hesperian [Western] flood, to emerge again from other waves."

Statius, Achilleid 1. 242 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Now day o’erwhelms the stars, and from the low and level main Titan [Helios the Sun] wheels heavenward his dripping steeds, and down from the expanse of air falls the sea that the chariot bore up."

Statius, Achilleid 1. 689 ff :
"Phoebus [Helios the Sun], stooping low upon the verge of Olympus, was sending forth broken rays, and promising to his panting steeds the yielding shore of Oceanus."

Statius, Silvae 2. 7. 25 (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :
"On the verge of Oceanus’ waves beholdest Hyperion slope downward to this setting, and hearest the hiss of plunging wheels." - Statius, Silvae 2.7.25

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 1. 207 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"He [the monster Typhoeus] pulled out a stallion [of the sea] by his brine-soaked mane from the undersea manger, and threw the vagabond nag to the vault of heaven, shooting his shot at Olympos - hit Helios the Sun’s chariot, and the horses on their round whinnied under the yoke."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12. 1 ff :
"He [Helios] had just finished his course and come down from the sky. Bright Phosphoros was ready for the fire-eyed driver, near his chariot and four. He put away the hot yokestraps and starry whip, and washed in the neighbouring Okeanos stream the bodies of the firefed horses wet with sweat. The colts shook the dripping manes on their necks, and stamped with sparkling hooves the shining mangertrough."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 17. 269 :
"O Helios, cutting the air in your fiery chariot, pouring your light on the Kaukasian plowland."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25. 392 :
"In the sky was Helios in the basket of his blazing chariot."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 27. 8 :
"Phaethon [Helios], blazing shepherd of the everflowing years, checked the course of his firebred steeds."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 36. 140 :
"May Phaethon [Helios] not turn his fireblazing horses to his setting."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 17. 269 :
"O Helios, cutting the air in your fiery chariot, pouring your light on the Kaukasian plowland so near, stay your car I pray."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 38. 90 ff :
"The blaze of his [Helios'] car and the shining of his rays over the bend of the reddened Okeanos as he bathed his fiery form in the eastern waters."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 38. 90 ff :
"When he [Phaethon] grew up into the fair bloom of youth, he often touched his father’s fire, lifted with his little hand the hot yokestraps and the starry whip, busied himself with the wheel, stroked the horses’ coats with snow-white hands - and so the playful boy enjoyed himself. With his right hand he touched the fireshotten bridle, mad with longing to manage the horses. Seated on his father’s knees, he shed imploring tears, and begged for a run with the fiery chariot and heavenly horses. His father said no, but he only begged and prayed all the more with gracious pleading. Then the father said in affectionate words to his young son in the highfaring car: ‘Dear son of Helios, dear grandson of Okeanos, ask me another boon; what have you to do with the chariot of the sky? Let alone the course of horsemanship. You cannot attain it, for you cannot guide my car - I can hardly drive it myself! . . . ’
So he spoke, but the boy would not listen ... [and] he consented regretful . . . He [Helios] placed the golden helmet [of the Sun] on Phaethon’s head and . . . gave his chariot to his son. The Horai brought the fiery horses of Helios from their eastern manger; Eosphoros came boldly to the yoke, and fastened the horses’ necks in the bright yokestraps for their service. Then Phaethon mounted, Helios his father gave him the reins to manage, shining reins and gleaming whip."


T17.1 HELIOS
CHARIOT
T19.12 EOS, HELIOS,
EOSPHOROS
T17.4 HELIOS,
HERAKLES
T17.5 HELIOS CUP-
BOAT, HERAKLES

SUN AUREOLE OF HELIOS

Homeric Hymn 31 to Helius (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) :
"As he [Helios] rides his chariot, he shines upon men and deathless gods, and piercingly he gazes with his eyes from his golden helmet. Bright rays beam dazzlingly from him, and his bright locks streaming from the temples of his head gracefully enclose his far-seen face."

Mimnermus, Fragment 11 (trans. Gerber, Vol. Greek Elegiac) (Greek elegy C7th B.C.) :
"Jason reached the fair stream of Okeanos . . . [beyond] Aietes city, where the rays of swift Helios (the Sun) lie in a golden storeroom at the edge of Okeanos."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 6. 24. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"In another part [of the market-place at Elis] are the stone images of Helios (the Sun) and Selene (Moon); from the head of Selene project horns, from the head of Helios, his rays."

Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 2. 22 (trans. Conybeare) (Greek biography C1st to 2nd A.D.) :
"You see Helios the sun himself represented ... sometimes traversing the heavens with his torch."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 20 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Phaethon entered his father’s palace . . . and made his way direct into the presence and there stood afar, unable to approached the dazzling light . . . Enthroned Sol [Helios] who sees all things beheld the boy . . . [and] laid aside the dazzling beams that crowned his head."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 112 ff :
"[Helios] then on his son’s young face [Phaethon, who dared to drive the chariot of the sun] the father smeared a magic salve to shield him from the heat and set the flashing sunbeams [the Sun’s aureole] on his head."

Ovid, Heroides 4. 159 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"He [Helios the sun] who moves the tepid day with gleaming chariot, is crowned with palisade of pointed rays."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 4. 90 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Sol [Helios the Sun] puts on his diadem of myriad rays."

Statius, Thebaid 3. 406 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Far on the sloping margin of the western sea sinking Sol [Helios the Sun] had unyoked his flaming steeds . . . to meet him hasten . . . the swift-striding Horae (Hours), who strip him of his reins and the woven glory of his golden coronet."

Statius, Achilleid 2. 1 :
"Day arising from Oceanus set free the world from dank enfolding shades, and the father of the flashing light [Helios the Sun] upraised his torch still dimmed by the neighbouring gloom and moist with sea-water not yet shaken off."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 38. 90 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"He [Helios] placed the golden helmet [of the Sun] on Phaethon’s head and crowned him with his own fire, winding the seven rays like strings upon his hair."


FIRE SALVE OF HELIOS

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 112 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Helios] then on his son’s young face [Phaethon, who dared to drive the chariot of the sun] the father smeared a magic salve to shield him from the heat and set the flashing sunbeams [the Sun’s aureole] on his head."


CUP-BOAT OF HELIOS

Stesichorus, Fragment S17 (from Athenaeus, Scholars at Dinner) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric III) (C7th to 6th B.C.) :
"Helios too was conveyed to his setting in a cup Stesichorus tells us in the following words: 'And then Hyperion's strong child [Helios] went down into the cup of solid gold, so that he might cross over Okeanos and reach the depths of holy, dark night and his mother [Theia] and wedded wife and dear children; while he Zeus' son [Herakles], who has reached Erytheia in the cup or has traveled back to the mainland in it, now returns it to Helios went on foot into the grove, shady with its laurels."

Stesichorus, Fragment S17 (from Athenaeus, Scholars at Dinner) :
"Stesichorus says that Helios sailed across Okeanos in a cup and that Herakles also crosssed over in it when travelling to get Geryon's cattle."

Mimnermus, Fragment 12 (trans. Gerber, Vol. Greek Elegiac) (Greek elegy C7th B.C.) :
"For Helios the Sun’s lot is toil every day and there is never any respite for him and his horses, from the moment rose-fingered Eos (the Dawn) leaves Okeanos and goes up into the sky. A lovely bed, hollow, forged by the hands of Hephaistos, of precious gold and winged, carries him, as he sleeps soundly, over the waves on the water’s surface from the place of the Hesperides [in the West] to the land of the Aithiopes [in the East], where his swift chariot and horses stand until early-born Eos (the Dawn) comes. There the son of Hyperion mounts his other vehicle."

Mimnermus, Fragment 12 (from Philodemus, On Piety) :
"They have represented Helios (the Sun) and some other gods as enduring much toil ... Mimnermos does not seem to disagree, since he says that Helios (the Sun) sleeps every night."

Aeschylus, Fragment 33 Heliades (from Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 11. 39. 469F) (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"Where, in the west, is the bowl wrought by Hephaistos, the bowl of thy sire [Helios], speeding wherein he crosseth the mighty, swelling stream that girdeth earth [i.e. Okeanos], fleeing the gloom of holy Nyx (Night) of sable steeds."

Aeschylus, Fragment 37 Heracleidae (from Scholiast on Aristeides) :
"Starting thence, when that he [Herakles] had crossed Okeanos in a golden bowl [i.e. the boat of the sun-god Helios], he drave the straight-horned kine from the uttermost parts of the earth, slew . . . their triple-bodied master [Geryon]."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 107 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When Helios made him [Herakles] hot as he proceeded, he aimed his bow at the god and stretched it; Helios was so surprised at his daring that he gave him a golden goblet, in which he crossed Okeanos [to reach Erytheia] . . . He then loaded the cattle [of Geryon] into the goblet, sailed back to Tartessos [in southern Spain], and returned the goblet to Helios."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 119-120 :
"Then after proceeding through Libya to the sea beyond, he [Herakles] appropriated the goblet from Helios [for the trip from Libya to the Kaukasos mountains]."


PALACE & GATES OF HELIOS

Homer, Odyssey 24. 4 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Hermes led them [the ghosts of the dead] down through the ways of darkness [the caverns of the earth]. They passed the streams of Okeanos, the White Rock [Elysian Island], the Gates of the Sun (Pylai Helioi) and the Land of Dreams, and soon they came to the field of asphodel [the kingdom of Haides]."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 1 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Phaethon through his own Aethiopes and the lands of India beneath their burning skies, quickly reached his father's rising place. The palace of Sol (the Sun) [Helios] rose high aloft on soaring columns, bright with flashing gold and flaming bronze; the pediments were clothed with sheen of ivory; the double doors dazzled with silver - and the artistry was nobler still. For Mulciber [Hephaistos] had engraved the world’s great orb, the seas that ring the world, the sky that hangs above; and in the waves the Di Caerulei (Sea-gods) dwelt, Aegeon, his huge arms entwined around the backs of giant whales, ambiguous Proteus, Triton with his horn; and Doris and her daughters [the Nereides] might be seen, and some were swimming, some on fishes rode, or sat on rocks to dry their sea-green hair. Nor were their looks the same, nor yet diverse, but like as sisters should be. On the land people and cities, woods and beasts were graven, Flumina (Rivers) and Nymphae and Numina Ruris (Rural deities), and, set above them, the bright signs of heaven [the Zodiac], in glory shining, six upon each door. Then the son of Clymene [Phaethon], climbing the steep ascent, entered his father’s palace, fatherhood uncertain still, and made his way direct into the presence and there stood afar, unable to approached the dazzling light."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5. 408 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"[It was] as though they drew nigh the presence of the Radiant God [Helios the Sun] and the very citadel of light eternal, so bright are the rays with which the palace gleams."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12. 1 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[The four Horai (Seasons)] by the brows of western Okeanos took ship for the mansion of Helios their father. As they approached, Hesperos the Evening Star leapt up and went out of the hall to meet them."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 32. 46 ff :
"I hasten to visit the blazing court of the East near to Helios (the Sun)."


THRONE OF HELIOS

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 20 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Phaethon entered his father’s palace . . . and made his way direct into the presence and there stood afar, unable to approached the dazzling light. Enrobed in purple vestments Phoebus [Helios] sat, high on a throne of gleaming emeralds. Attending him on either side stood Dies (Day) [Hemera] and Mensis (Month) and Annus (Year) and Saecula (Century), and Horae (Hours) disposed at equal intervals between. Young Ver (Spring) was there, with coronet of flowers, and naked Aestas (Summer), garlanded with grain; Autumnus (Autumn) was there with trampled vintage stained, and icy Hiems (Winter), rime upon his locks. Enthroned amidst, Sol [Helios] who sees all things."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12. 1 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"The twelve circling Horai (Hours), daughters of Khronos (Time), tripling round the fiery throne of the untiring Charioteer in a ring, servants of Helios that attend on his shining car."


TABLETS OF PHANES

The tablets of Phanes contained the astrological prophecies of time.

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12. 1 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"He [Helios enthroned in his palace] raised a finger, and pointed out to his circling daughter [the Horai of Autumn] close to a wall opposite the separated tablets of Harmonia. In these are recorded in one group all the oracles which the prophetic hand of Phanes first born engraved as ordained for the world, and drew with his pencil the house proper for each [the astronomical house or zodiac sign]. And Hyperion, dispenser of fire, added these words: ‘In the third tablet, you [the Horai goddess of autumn] shall know whence the fruitage of wine shall come - where is the Lion and the Virgin: in the fourth, who is the Prince of grapes - that is where Ganymedes draws the delicious nectar, and lifts cup in hand in the picture."

For MORE information on the tablets of Phanes see PHANES

HERDS & FLOCKS OF HELIOS

Helios kept (immortal) cattle-herds and sheep-flocks on the islands of Thrinakie and Erytheia.

Homer, Odyssey 11. 102 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"On the Thrinakian island, you will find sheep and cattle grazing there; they belong to a god, the all-seeing, all-hearing sun-god Helios."

Homer, Odyssey 12. 127 ff :
"The isle of Thrinakia - in this there are grazing many cows and many fat flocks of sheep; they are Helios’ - seven herds of cows and as many fine flocks of sheep. In each herd and each flock there are fifty beasts; no births increase them, no deaths diminish them [ie they are immortal]. They are pastured by goddesses, lovely-haired Nymphai named Phaethousa and Lampetie, whose father is the sun-god Hyperion and whose mother is bright Neaera; having borne and bred them, she took them away to remote Thrinakia to live there and tend their father’s sheep and the herds with curling horns."

Homer, Odyssey 12. 261 ff :
"The lovely island of Helios. Here were the fine broad-browed herds, here were the plentiful fat flocks of Hyperion . . . [When Odysseus' men slew and roasted some of the immortal cattle] the beasts’ hides began to move; the flesh on the spits, raw or roasted, began to bellow, and there was a noise like the noise of cattle."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 34 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Alkyoneus [the Gigante] who drove away the cattle of Helios from Erytheia (the Red Island)."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 137 :
"The island of Thrinakia, which held the cattle of Helios."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E7. 22-23 :
"Thrinakia, an island belonging to Helios, where cattle grazed."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 965 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"Thrinakie and the meadows where the cattle of Helios are kept . . . The Argonauts were close inshore, and through the mist the bleating of sheep and lowing of cattle came to their ears. Phaethousa, the youngest daughter of Helios, was grazing the sheep in the dewy glades with a silver crook in her hand, while Lampetie looked after the cows and walked behind, swinging a staff of shining copper. They could see these cows feeding on the low ground and water-meadow by the river. Not one of them was dark; they were all milk-white and rejoiced in golden horns."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 125 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"He [Odysseus] had come to the island of Sicily to the sacred herds of Sol [Helios], but their flesh lowed when his comrades cooked it in a brazen kettle."


SACRED BIRDS & ANIMALS

White horses were sacred to the god (his chariot was drawn by a team of them); and they were sometimes offered as sacrifice to Helios. The usual sacrifice consisted of pure white cattle and sheep.

I) ROOSTER: SACRED BIRD

Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 25. 9 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The cock is sacred to Helios (the Sun) and proclaims when he is about to rise."

II) WOLF: SACRED ANIMAL

Aelian, On Animals 10. 26 (trans. Schofield) (Greek natural history C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"They say that the wolf (lykos) is beloved of Helios (the Sun); and there are those who assert that the year is called Lykabas in honour of this animal."


SACRED PLANTS & FLOWERS

I) HELIOTROPE: SACRED FLOWER

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 256 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"On the ground she [Klytie a Nymphe who loved Helios] stayed; she only gazed upon her god's [Helios'] 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 [a heliotrope] was seen. Though rooted fast, towards the sun she turns; her shape is changed, but still her passion burns."

For the MYTH of Helios and Klytie see Helios Loves: Klytie (previous page)

II) POPLAR: SACRED TREE

The Heliades, Nymphai daughters of Helios, were transformed into poplar trees following the death of their brother Phaethon. They wept sun-gold tears of amber.

For MORE information on the Nymphai Heliades see THE HELIADES

III) FRANKINCENSE: SACRED PLANT

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 169 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"On her [Leukothoe's] body and her burial-place with long laments he [Helios her lover] 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 [which reaches the sky when burnt as incense to the gods]."

For the MYTH of Helios and Leukothoe see Helios Loves: Leukothoe (previous page)


HELIOS ATTENDANTS: EOSPHOROS

Eosphoros, the God of the Morning Star, yoked the horses of the sun to their chariot in preparation for Helios the sun's rising.

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 38. 90 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Klymene's bridal with Helios Phaesphoros (Lightbringer) . . . The light that shone on that bridal bed come from the starry train; and the star of Kypris, Eosphoros, herald of the union wove a bridal song. Instead of the wedding torch, Selene sent her beams to attend the wedding . . .
[Helios to Phaethon:] `When you begin your course [driving the chariot of the sun], pass close by the side of Kerne, and take Phosphoros (the Morning Star) as guide to lead the way for your car, and you will not go astray; twelve circling Horai in turn will direct your way . . .'
The Horai brought the fiery horses of Helios from their eastern manger; Eosphoros came boldly to the yoke, and fastened the horses’ necks in the bright yokestraps for their service."

For MORE information on this god see EOSPHOROS


HELIOS ATTENDANTS: HESPEROS

The God of the Evening Star, Hesperos (Evening), received and attended to the horses of the sun after Helios set in the West. He is also described as the doorkeeper of the palace of Helios.

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12. 1 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[The four Horai (Seasons)] by the brows of western Okeanos took ship for the mansion of Helios their father. As they approached, Hesperos the Evening Star leapt up and went out of the hall to meet them . . .
He [Helios] had just finished his course and come down from the sky. Bright Phosphoros [Hesperos] was ready for the fire-eyed driver, near his chariot and four. He put away the hot yokestraps and starry whip, and washed in the neighbouring Okeanos stream the bodies of the firefed horses wet with sweat. . .
[The four Horai (Seasons)] by the brows of western Okeanos took ship for the mansion of Helios their father. As they approached, Hesperos the Evening Star leapt up and went out of the hall to meet them."

For MORE information on Hesperos see EOSPHOROS


HELIOS ATTENDANTS: THE FOUR HORAI

The four Horai, Goddesses of the Seasons, fed the horses of the sun ambrosia in the morning, led them forth from their manger and yoked them to the golden chariot, ready for the Sun-god's rising. And, again in the West when Helios' sets, they release them from the yoke, wash them down in Ocean's stream and put them out to pasture. (NB Some say Winter's Hora was a male god.)

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 24 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Enrobed in purple vestments Phoebus [Helios] sat, high on a throne of gleaming emeralds. Attending him on either side stood . . . Horae (Hours) disposed at equal intervals between. Young Ver (Spring) was there, with coronet of flowers, and naked Aestas (Summer), garlanded with grain; Autumnus (Autumn) was there with trampled vintage stained, and icy Hiems (Winter), rime upon his locks. Enthroned amidst was Sol [Helios] who sees all things."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 118 ff :
"When Titan [Helios] perceived the Morning Star [Eosphoros] setting and saw the world in crimson sheen . . . he bade the nimble Horae (Hours) go yoke his steeds, and they, swift goddesses, fastened the jingling harness and the reins, as from the lofty stalls the horses came, filled with ambrosial food and breathing flame."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 4. 90 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"The stars are now gliding into the life-giving springs of mighty Oceanus, and the bridles [of the chariot of the Sun] are jingling in the Titanian caves [of Helios the Sun]; hastened by the golden-haired Horae (Hours)."

Statius, Thebaid 3. 406 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Far on the sloping margin of the western sea sinking Sol [Helios the Sun] had unyoked his flaming steeds . . . to meet him hasten . . . the swift-striding Horae (Hours), who strip him of his reins and the woven glory of his golden coronet, and relive his horse’s dripping breasts of the hot harness; some turn the well-deserving steeds into the soft pasture, and lean the chariot backward, pole in air."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"I [Helios the Sun] carry the measures of time (khronos) [across the heavens], surrounded by the four Horai (Seasons)."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12. 1 ff :
"[The four Horai (Seasons)] by the brows of western Okeanos took ship for the mansion of Helios their father. As they approached, Hesperos the Evening Star leapt up and went out of the hall to meet them. Selene (the Moon) herself also darted out newrisen, showing her light as she drove her cattle.
The Sisters at the sight of the lifegiving Charioteer stayed their fruitful step. He had just finished his course and come down from the sky . . .
Then up and spoke the grapetending Season (Hora) [Autumn], holding out her hook of the fruitpining autumn as witness to her prayer: ‘Helios, giver of feason, plantdresser, lord of fruits! When will the soil make winemother grapes to grow? Which of the blessed will have this honour betrothed him by Aion (Time)? Hide it not, I adjure you, because of all the Sisters I alone have no privilege of honour! I provide no fruit, no corn, no meadowhay, no rain from Zeus.’
She spoke, and Helios cheered the nurse of the fruitage to come. He raised a finger, and pointed out to his circling daughter close to a wall opposite the separated tablets of Harmonia. In these are recorded in one group all the oracles which the prophetic hand of Phanes first born engraved as ordained for the world, and drew with his pencil the house proper for each [the astronomical house or zodiac sign]. And Hyperion, dispenser of fire [advised her that her season would be assigned with grape's harvest]."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 38. 90 ff :
"The Horai brought the fiery horses of Helios from their eastern manger; Eosphoros came boldly to the yoke, and fastened the horses’ necks in the bright yokestraps for their service . . .
The lightfoot Horai (Seasons) acclaimed Klymene’s bridal with Helios Phaesphoros (Lightbringer), the Nymphai Neides [Okeanides] danced around; in a watery bridal-bower the fruitful maiden was wedded in a flaming union."

For MORE information on these goddesses see THE HORAI


HELIOS ATTENDANTS: THE TWELVE HORAI

The twelve Horai, Goddesses of twelve Hours, accompanied Helios on his daily path through the sky to measure out the portions of day.

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12. 1 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"The four [Horai or Seasons arriving at the palace of Helios] were greeted by the twelve circling Horai (Hours), daughters of Khronos (Time), tripling round the fiery throne of the untiring Charioteer in a ring, servants of Helios that attend on his shining car, priestesses of the lichtgang each in her turn: for they bend the servile neck to the ancient manager o the universe."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 38. 90 ff :
"[Helios to Phaethon:] `When you begin your course [driving the chariot of the sun], pass close by the side of Kerne, and take Phosphoros (the Morning Star) as guide to lead the way for your car, and you will not go astray; twelve circling Horai in turn will direct your way.'"

For MORE information on these goddesses see THE 12 HORAI


HELIOS ATTENDANTS: TETHYS

Tethys, the Titan-Goddess of the earth-encircling River Okeanos, opened the Gates of the Sun for Helios' rising from Eastern Ocean's stream; and again received him at the River's Western bounds.

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 67 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The final part [of the path of Helios across the sky] drops sheer; then above all control must be assured, and even she whose waters lie below to welcome me, Tethys, waits fearful lest I headlong fall."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 156 ff :
"The four swift horses of Sol [Helios the Sun] . . . kick at the gates, neighing and snorting fire, and Tethys then . . . draws back the bars and makes the horses free of all the boundless heavens. Forth they go, tearing away, and cleave with beating hooves the clouds before them, and on wings outride the winds that westwards from the morning blow [and the sun rises up from the horizon]."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2. 34 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Hyperion’s [Helios the Sun’s] car drew close to its goal in the Hiberian [Spanish] Sea, and with declining day the reins slackened at the journey’s end, what time the ancient Tethys raised her hands for the embrace and the holy Titan [Helios] hissed as he cleft the floor of Oceanus."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5. 428 ff :
"Scarce can Tethys gather the fragments of yoke and axle [after the fall of Phaethon from the chariot], or rescue Pyroeis [one of the horses of the Sun] who fears the father’s [Helios’] grief."

For MORE information on this Titanis see TETHYS


HELIOS ATTENDANTS: THEIA

Theia, the Titaness-goddess of gold and mother of Helios, attended on the shining palace of her son.

Stesichorus, Fragment S17 (from Athenaeus, Scholars at Dinner) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric III) (C7th to 6th B.C.) :
"Hyperion's strong child [Helios] went down into the cup of solid gold, so that he might cross [at night] over Okeanos and reach the depths of holy, dark night and his mother [Theia] and wedded wife and dear children."

For MORE information on this Titanis see THEIA


HELIOS ATTENDANTS: THE "THEOI KHRONIOI"

The various Gods of Time (Theoi Khronioi) attended on the throne of Helios: Day, Month, Year, Century and the four Seasons.

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 24 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Enrobed in purple vestments Phoebus [Helios] sat, high on a throne of gleaming emeralds. Attending him on either side stood Dies (Day) [Hemera] and Mensis (Month) and Annus (Year) and Saecula (Century), and Horae (Hours) disposed at equal intervals between. Young Ver (Spring) was there, with coronet of flowers, and naked Aestas (Summer), garlanded with grain; Autumnus (Autumn) was there with trampled vintage stained, and icy Hiems (Winter), rime upon his locks. Enthroned amidst [was] Sol [Helios] who sees all things."


HELIOS ATTENDANTS: LAMPETIE & PHAETHOUSA

Two Nymphai daughters of the god Helios who cared for his sacred flocks of sheep and herds of cattle on the island of Thrinakie.

For MYTHS of these servants of Helios see Herds & Flocks of Helios (this page)
For MORE information on these Nymphs see THE NEAIREIDES


Sources:

  • Homer, The Odyssey - Greek Epic C9th-8th BC
  • The Homeric Hymns - Greek Epic C8th-4th BC
  • Greek Lyric III Stesichorus, Fragments - Greek Lyric C7th-6th BC
  • Greek Elegaic Mimnermus, Fragments – Greek Elegaic C7th BC
  • Aeschylus, Fragments - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd BC
  • Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd BC
  • The Orphic Hymns - Greek Hymns BC
  • Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy - Greek Epic C4th AD
  • Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd AD
  • Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st BC
  • Philostratus the Elder, Imagines - Greek Art History C3rd AD
  • Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana - Greek Biography C2nd AD
  • Greek Papyri III Anonymous, Fragments - Greek Poetry C4th A.D.
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
  • Hyginus, Astronomica - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
  • Ovid, Fasti - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
  • Valerius Flaccus, The Argonautica - Latin Epic C1st AD
  • Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st AD
  • Statius, Achilleid - Latin Epic C1st AD
  • Statius, Silvae - Latin Epic C1st AD
  • Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th AD