previous next


Φαέθων, “the shining”). A name that occurs in Homer as an epithet or surname of Helios (the Sun), and is used by later writers as a proper name for Helios; but it is more commonly known as the name of a son of Helios by the Oceanid Clymené, the wife of Merops. The genealogy of Phaëthon, however, is not the same in all writers, for some call him a son of Clymenus, the son of Helios by Meropé, or a son of Helios by Proté, or, lastly, a son of Helios by the nymph Rhodé or Rhodos. He received the significant name of Phaëthon from his father, and was afterwards presumptuous and ambitious enough to request his father to allow him, for one day, to drive the chariot of the sun across the heavens. Helios

Phaëthon. (Zannoni,
Gal. di Firenzi
, ser. 4. vol. ii.).

was induced, by the entreaties of his son and of Clymené, to yield; but the youth being too weak to check the horses, they rushed out of their usual track, and came so near the earth as almost to set it on fire. Thereupon Zeus killed him with a flash of lightning, and hurled him down into the river Eridanus. His sisters, the Heliades or Phaëthontiades, who had yoked the horses to the chariot, were metamorphosed into poplars, and their tears into amber. See Baugert, De Fabula Phaëthontea (Halle, 1885); and Heliadae.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: