Who Are the Sun Gods and Goddesses?

Greek Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion
Harald Sund/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Who is the sun god? That varies by religion and tradition. In ancient cultures, where you find deities with specialized functions, you'll probably find a sun god or goddess, or several within the same religious tradition.

Riding Across the Sky

Many sun gods and goddesses are humanoid and ride or drive a vessel of some sort across the sky. It may be a boat, a chariot, or a cup. The sun god of the Greeks and Romans, for example, rode in a four-horse (Pyrios, Aeos, Aethon, and Phlegon) chariot.

In Hindu traditions, the sun god Surya travels across the sky in a chariot pulled by either seven horses or a single seven-headed horse. The chariot driver is Aruna, the personification of dawn. In Hindu mythology, they fight the demons of darkness.

There may be more than one god of the sun. The Egyptians differentiated among the aspects of the sun and had several gods associated with it: Khepri for the rising sun, Atum for the setting sun, and Re for the noontime sun, who rode across the sky in a solar bark. The Greeks and Romans also had more than one sun god.

Female Sun Deities

You may notice that most sun deities are male and act as counterparts to female moon deities, but don't take this as a given. Sometimes the roles are reversed. There are goddesses of the sun just as there are male deities of the moon. In Norse mythology, for example, Sol (also called Sunna) is the goddess of the sun, while her brother, Mani, is the god of the moon.

Sol rides a chariot that is drawn by two golden horses.

Another sun goddess is Amaterasu, a major deity in the Shinto religion of Japan. Her brother, Tsukuyomi, is the god of the moon. It is from the sun goddess that the Japanese imperial family is believed to be descended.

NameNationality/ReligionGod or Goddess?Notes
AmaterasuJapanSun GoddessMajor deity of the Shinto religion.
Arinna (Hebat)Hittite (Syrian)Sun GoddessThe most important of three Hittite major solar deities
ApolloGreece and RomeSun God 
FreyrNorseSun GodNot the main Norse sun god, but a fertility god associated with the sun.
GarudaHinduBird God 
Helios (Helius)GreeceSun GodBefore Apollo was the Greek sun god, Helios held that position.
HepaHittiteSun GoddessThe consort of a weather god, she was assimilated with the sun goddess Arinna.
Huitzilopochtli (Uitzilopochtli)AztecSun God 
Hvar KhshaitaIranian/PersianSun God 
IntiIncaSun GodThe national patron of the Inca state.
LizaWest AfricanSun God 
LughCelticSun God 
MithrasIranian/PersianSun God 
Re (Ra)EgyptMid-day Sun GodAn Egyptian god shown with a solar disk. Center of worship was Heliopolis. Later associated with Horus as Re-Horakhty. Also combined with Amun as Amun-Ra, a solar creator god.
Shemesh/ShepeshUgaritSun goddess 
Sol (Sunna)NorseSun GoddessShe rides in a horse-drawn solar chariot.
Sol InvictusRomanSun GodThe unconquered sun. A late Roman sun god. The title was also used of Mithras.
SuryaHinduSun GodRides the sky in a horse-drawn chariot.
TonatiuhAztecSun God 
Utu (Shamash)MesopotamiaSun God