Differences between Helios and Apollo in Greek Mythology

Differences between Helios and Apollo in Greek Mythology

Ancient Greek gods: Apollo (left) and Helios

Helios and Apollo were both important deities in ancient Greek religion and mythology, but they were associated with different aspects of the sun.

Helios was specifically considered the god of the sun and was responsible for the daily rising and setting of the sun. He was often depicted as a powerful figure driving a chariot across the sky, with the sun represented as a fiery ball behind him.

Fast Facts: Helios

God of: the Sun, light, life, creation

Abode: the Sky

Parents: Hyperion and Theia (Thea)

Siblings: Selene (the goddess of the moon) and Eos (Dawn)

Consorts: Perse (or Perseis), Clymene, Rhodos

Children: Aeetes, Circe, Perses, Pasiphae, Phaethusa and Phaeton

Symbols: horses, chariot, aureole, oxen (cattle), sunflower

Epithets: ‘the radiant’, ‘gracious’ or ‘the all-seeing’

Roman equivalent: Sol

Apollo, on the other hand, was a more complex deity who was associated with many different aspects of Greek culture and mythology. He was often referred to as the god of music, poetry, prophecy, and healing, among other things, and he was also associated with the sun.

However, Apollo’s association with the sun was different from Helios’ in that he was associated with the sun’s spiritual and intellectual aspects, rather than its physical manifestation in the sky. Apollo was often depicted as the god of the sun’s light and reason, and he was believed to bring clarity and understanding to the world.

ALSO READ: 10 Major Events in Greek Mythology

According to ancient Greek poet Homer, Apollo was in fact a different god. Unlike Helios who was often associated with gold, Apollo wielded a silver bow. Thus he initially had no solar traits. However, with the passage of time, as well as the diminishing of Helios’s worship, Apollo gradually came to be identified with Helios.

Despite these differences, Helios and Apollo were both important and respected deities in ancient Greek religion, and their influence can be seen in many aspects of ancient Greek culture and art.

In Euripides’ play titled Phaethon, the Greek god Apollo is seen in the same light as Helios. This identification was more pronounced during the Hellenistic period, appearing in texts written by the likes of Plutarch, Crates of Thebes and Empedocles.

Apollo's family tree

In addition to being a solar deity, Apollo was associated with poetry, medicine, prophecy and music. Image: Olympian gods and goddesses | Names in blue are the Olympians; in some cases Hestia, the goddess of the hearth, and Hephaestus, the god of forges and fire, are excluded from the list of Olympian gods and goddesses


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