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The Story of Phaethon from Ancient Mythology
Read about gods, goddesses and mythical creatures in the myth story of Phaethon

The short mythical story of Phaethon is one of the famous legends that feature in the mythology of ancient civilizations. Discover the myths about the ancient gods, goddesses, demigods and heroes and the terrifying monsters and creatures they encountered on their perilous journeys and quests. The amazing story of Phaethon really is easy reading for kids and children who are learning about the history, myths and legends of the ancient Roman and Greek gods. Additional facts and information about the mythology and legends of individual gods and goddesses of these ancient civilizations can be accessed via the following links:

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Phaethon and the Sun God Helios
The mythical story of Phaethon
by Emma M. Firth

The Myth of Phaethon
Phaethion was a tall, handsome youth, with flashing eyes and a dauntless spirit. He was known as the most daring among his companions, for no deed, however reckless it might be, was too dangerous for Phaethon to undertake. And yet, with all his bravery he was a great boaster, often bringing ridicule upon himself because of his vanity.
One day he was boasting about his father, Helios. Now, as every one knows, a great and wise father may not always have a son as wise and great as himself, and Phaethon's friends taunted him with this; and even declared that his father was not a god at all. This was too much for Phaethon's pride, and rushing to his mother, Clymene, he earnestly besought her to tell him the truth, and assure him of his noble birth. " My son," said Clymene, " thou art too apt to boast, and wilt surely come to grief in consequence; but of a truth, thou art the son of thy father, Helios, and to convince thyself, go and ask him."
Now Phaethon had never seen his father. In order that he might be self-dependent he had been brought up far away from the palace to which his mother intended to take him when he had proven himself worthy. Clymene told him how difficult he would find the journey; but Phaethon was willing to overcome all difficulties, and he started at once. On the way he had many adventures, but at last found himself in a far Eastern country, which has for its boundary a wall of high mountains.
On the top of the highest mountain was the palace of the sun-god, a palace of far greater beauty than any which Phaethon had ever seen, and its brightness dazzled him. It had golden columns, great silver doors, and its ceilings were of ivory. On the walls were vast pictures of the sky, the rivers, oceans, and lands of the earth; and most wonderful of all were the pictures of all the people of the earth in their cities and villages.
But Phaethon did not stop to look at these beautiful things, or to listen to the sweet music of many fountains. He entered the hall in which Helios was preparing to take his daily journey; and walking straight up to the sun-god exclaimed, " light of the boundless world, my father, claim me, I pray thee, as thy son, for such I surely am." Helios bade him approach, and kissing him, exclaimed, " Thou art most welcome, my son. I have looked long for thy coming, and to prove my love for thee, thou shalt ask what thou wilt, and it shall be granted thee." At this moment the goddess of the morning, Eos, drew aside a beautiful crimson veil, and the chariot and horses were brought in. It was a glorious moment. The attendants burst into a chorus of glad music; the air became sweet with perfume, as from many flowers, and the spirited horses stamped impatiently at the delay.

Myths and Stories about gods and goddesses - Apollo riding his golden chariot

The Golden Chariot of Helios

Phaethon looked at the horses, and then at, the dazzling chariot. Hephaestus had given it to Helios. With its wheels of gold and spokes of silver, which sparkled and flashed with many-colored jewels, it was charming. Phaethon became possessed of a great desire to drive the fire-flashing horses. '' Let me but drive them for a day," he asked; " then shall I prove to thee how worthy a son am I for so great a father.' Then, bending low, he exclaimed, " Grant this one wish, I pray thee." "I cannot grant thee that wish, my son. The horses can be safely driven only by Helios himself. Ask anything else."

But Phaethon, foolish lad, insisted, and as Helios had promised, he at length yielded, after trying in vain to turn Phaethon from his intention. Phaethon was very stubborn. He longed for the glory of having driven the sun-chariot for a day, and with this desire strong in his heart, he forgot to respect the wishes of an older and wiser person. When he started upon his journey the chorus ceased; the Hours, Minutes, and Seconds looked sad; Spring dropped her flowers; Summer threw down her garlands of roses, and Autumn's rosy face turned pale, while old Winter's icicles began to melt. At first it was fine sport holding the reins over the fire-breathing horses. Helios had wisely allowed them their own pace, which was far from slow; but Phaethon urged them on until they were rushing at a terrific speed quite out of their regular course. At length they came so near to the poisonous Scorpio, that Phaethon was in danger of being grasped by the great claws, and dropping the reins in his fright, he clung desperately to the chariot.

The horses plunged wildly on. They came so near to the earth that the oceans and rivers dried up, the mountains began to smoke, and the people cried to Zeus for help. When Zeus saw what had been so foolishly done, he became very angry, and sent a bolt which hurled Phaethon from the chariot, down, down his hair and clothes on fire-into a river which hid him jn its cool waters. A sad ending was this to Phaethon's great day.

But, sadder still, two maidens who were standing on the bank of the river, saw in the boy-comet their brother. They could not help him; they could only stand and weep, and they wept so long that their feet became rooted to the ground, and they turned into poplar-trees. If you will listen near one of these trees you may still hear the gentle sighing of the poplarsisters for their brother.

Phaethon's friend Cygnos saw the fall, and was deeply grieved. Day after day he mourned, and each day his neck grew longer as he lingered near the water and looked into its waves. He became a swan and spent his time floating on the river, always looking for, but never finding Phaethon. Only once did he call Phaethon, and that was when he was dying.

The Legend and Myth about Phaethon

The Myth of Phaethon
The story of Phaethon is featured in the book entitled Stories of Old Greece by Emma M. Firth first published 1895.

Phaethon - A Myth with a Moral
Many of the ancient Myth Stories, like the legend of Phaethon, incorporate tales with morals that provided the old story-tellers with short examples of exciting tales for kids and children of how to act and behave and reflected important life lessons. The characters of the heroes in this type of fable demonstrated the virtues of courage, love, loyalty, strength, perseverance, leadership and self reliance. Whereas the villains demonstrated all of the vices and were killed or punished by the gods. The old, famous myth story and fable, like Phaethon, were designed to entertain, thrill and inspire their young listeners...

The Fall of Phaeton

The Fall of Phaeton

The Myth of Phaethon - the Magical World of Myth & Legend
The story of Phaethon is one of the fantastic stories featured in ancient mythology and legends. Such stories serve as a doorway to enter the world of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The names of so many of the heroes and characters are known today through movies and games but the actual story about such characters are unknown. Reading a myth story such as Phaethon is the easy way to learn about the stories of the classics.


The Magical World of Myth and Legend

The Short Story and Myth of Phaethon
The myth about Phaethon is featured in the book entitled Stories of Old Greece by Emma M. Firth first published 1895. Learn about the exciting adventures and dangerous quests undertaken by the mythical characters that feature in the hero myths, fables and stories about the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece and Rome that are available on this website.



  • Short story of Phaethon
  • A Myth Story of the Ancient World
  • The gods, goddesses of the ancient Myth Stories & Legends
  • The monsters and beasts of classical Mythology
  • The story of Phaethon by Emma M. Firth
  • A famous Myth Story and fable of the Ancient World for schools and kids

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