Helios has it rough, there is no denying that. Dragging the sun behind your chariot as you race across the sky, day after day, is hard enough. Not many people can work an 8+ hour work day (24 hours up in Alaska, at certain times of the year!) for seven days a week, but he manages. I just wonder how he manages the deadly radiation.
I guess that’s why we invented suspension of disbelief.
Helios, the Titan associated with the particulars of managing the sun was an important figure in Greek mythology, though he wasn’t really a focal point for many stories (or, at least, many famous stories). One famous tale involves his chariot and one of his mortal offspring, but we’ll have to skip on that for now. It’s definitely going to become a strip at some point!
A lot of people get Helios mixed up with the Olympian Apollo, god of light and music (and much more), myself included. The problem is that their names and some of their symbolism have been interchangeable, used to describe the other figure from time to time, but it’s clear (with some research) that the two were seen as distinct mythological figures.
Looking back at Greek mythology today, it’s hard to imagine these myths and stories as part of a vibrant, living religion, but instances such as this overlap between Helios and Apollo, and the differences between their particular cults breathe some life into the issue. As a religion with many different deities, Greek worshipers were free to express their religion in a variety of ways and through a variety of cults and temples. Apollo, being a beautiful god and a god of light, was obviously a very popular candidate for worship. Helios, on the other hand was a Titan, one of the old deities whose rulership had been supplanted by the Olympians. Unlike the unfortunate Cronus, however, some of the Titans continued their duties in one form or another after the new gods took over. Helios, god of the Sun, god of Light, carried on his work of riding across the sky much as he had before the usurpers took over and even maintained a cult in certain areas outside of Athens. Athenians, who supply much of the history we have today about Greek culture in general, had a distinct bias toward their own brand of culture, so it can be difficult to know just how Helios was seen outside the great city and among the islands and along the coasts of the Mediterranean.
One thing is for sure, however: though he was not actively worshiped, though he did not have a particularly strong Athenian cult, Helios was still seen as an active force in the mythology of the Athenian people.
Perhaps it is his association with the Sun that helped to keep this deity relevant while the other Titanic gods fell by the wayside. Our own little yellow star is so important to life on earth that it has been worshiped in one form or another since the dawn of humanity. Whether it was praised as a kind of nebulous force or as an anthropomorphized deity, the Sun has maintained a place close to the spiritual heart of our species for good reason.
It can be easy to forget, with the fast paced lives we lead today, just how lovely and important that churning ball of gas and light and energy is. The ancient gods were ever present reminders of the power and fury present in the forces of nature, but we, as a species, have largely moved on. Though most of us may be content with monotheistic religions and omnipotent singular deities disconnected from the natural world, it is still important for us to remember our surroundings, to consider the world we live in and to appreciate it and care for it. Although, it is important to protect ourselves from nature sometimes…
Thank Science for sunscreen!
I just wanted to say real quick that we will be returning to our regularly scheduled…schedule. I’ve taken the last couple of Mondays off from doing strips so as to decompress after school and the holidays. It’s time to get going again, though! No more late/missing strips! Woo!