Fast Facts on Helios - Greek God of the Sun

Site of the Colossus of Rhodes at Mandraki harbour
The Colossus of Rhodes at Mandraki harbor. Bill Raften / Getty Images

When you travel to Greece or study Greek mythology, you'll encounter stories of the Greek god, Helios, called the God of the Sun. In Greek mythology, Helios is the offspring of the titans Hyperion and Theia, and his sisters were Selene (the Moon) and Eos (Dawn). These quick facts will help you get to know more about Helios.

  • Helios' Appearance: Often represented as a handsome youth with a rayed headdress (somewhat similar to that of the Statue of Liberty) indicating his solar attributes.
  • Symbol or Attributes of Helios: The distinctive rayed headdress, his chariot pulled by the four horses Pyrois, Eos, Aethon, and Phlegon, the whip he drives them with, and a globe.
  • Helios' Strengths: Powerful, fiery, bright, tireless.
  • Helios' Weaknesses: His intense fire can burn.
  • Birthplace of Helios: The Greek island of Rhodes, famous for the huge ancient statue of him.
  • Parents: Usually said to be Hyperion, supposedly a still-earlier sun god who is one of the Titans, and Theia. Don't confuse the original Hyperion with the "Wrath of the Titans" version.
  • Spouse: Perse, also called Persis or Perseis.
  • Children: By Perse, Aeëtes, Circe, and Pasiphae. He is also the father of Phaethusa, Phaeton, and Lampeta.
  • Some Major Temple Sites: The island of Rhodes, where the famous huge statue "The Colossus of Rhodes" probably depicted Helios. Also, the island of Thrinacia was said by Homer to be Helios' special territory, but its actual location is unknown. Any bright, sun-bathed Greek island can be thought of as his, but that doesn't narrow the field very much, as the description applies to almost any Greek island.
  • Basic Story: Helios rises from a golden palace beneath the sea and drives his fiery chariot across the sky every day, providing daylight. Once he let his son Phaeton drive his chariot, but Phaeton lost control of the vehicle and plunged to his death or, alternatively, set the earth on fire and was killed by Zeus to keep him from burning up all of mankind.
  • Interesting Fact: Helios is a Titan, a member of the earlier order of gods and goddesses which preceded the later Olympians. Whenever we encounter the "os" ending in a name, it usually indicates an earlier, pre-Greek origin. See "The Titans" below for more information on this previous generation of Greek divinities, who are showing up more and more in modern movies based on Greek mythology.
  • Alternate Spellings: Helius, Ilius, Ilios.
  • Modern Chapels Representing Helios: In modern Greece, many hilltop chapels are dedicated to "Saint" Ilios and are likely to mark ancient temple sites for Helios. They are usually located on the highest and most prominent local peaks. Some of these were also repurposed and taken over as local "Olympian" mountains and dedicated to Zeus.

There are Temple Sites where you can visit and learn more about Greek mythology, Greek figures, and the Greek Gods and Goddesses such as The Titans, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Atalanta, Athena, CentaursCyclopesDemeterDionysos, Eros, GaiaHadesHephaestus, Hera, HerculesHermesKronosMedusaNikePanPandoraPegasusPersephonePoseidonRheaSelene, and Zeus.

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Regula, deTraci. "Fast Facts on Helios - Greek God of the Sun." ThoughtCo, Sep. 12, 2022, Regula, deTraci. (2022, September 12). Fast Facts on Helios - Greek God of the Sun. Retrieved from Regula, deTraci. "Fast Facts on Helios - Greek God of the Sun." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).