Garner's Greek Mythology

EP 27: The Dishonored Sky Gods

July 18, 2021 Patrick Garner Season 2 Episode 27
Garner's Greek Mythology
EP 27: The Dishonored Sky Gods
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to EPISODE 27 -- The Dishonored Sky Gods

Zeus did not have the sky to himself, and shared it with the sun god Helios, the moon goddess Selene, and others. This arrangement worked well until an even greater force than Zeus came on the scene.

This episode tells the story of the sky gods who were bested by science. That was a new way to explain the workings of the world—one without the flourishes of divine powers and personalities—and it continues to this day.

Narrated by mythologist and best-selling author, Patrick Garner, Garner's Greek Mythology is unlike any other Greek history series.  Here these divine beings are viewed as if they were anything but mythical…

A shoutout to Saraz Handpans and Mark Garner for background handpan music.

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EPISODE 27-- The Dishonored Sky Gods

THE SUN IS A GOD ... THE MOON & DAWN & DUSK ARE ALL GODDESSES. THEIR NAMES? EELIOS, SELENE, EOS & THE HESPERIDES

THE GREEKS ALMOST UNIVERSALLY BELIEVED IN THESE BEINGS UNTIL AROUND 450 B.C. IN THAT YEAR A GREEK THINKER NAMED ANAXAGORAS CONCLUDED THAT THE SUN WAS A BURNING STONE. 

EVEN THEN, MOST GREEKS SCOFFED AT HIS CONCLUSIONS.

THE SUN, THE MOON, SUNRISE & SUNSET — ALL CELESTIAL PHENOMENA WERE OBVIOUSLY SKY GODS & ALL WERE UNDER THE COMMAND OF ZEUS & HERA

THE SUN A BURNING STONE? RIDICULOUS. THE SUN WAS A GOD NAMED EELIOS. THOSE WHO ARE NOT GREEK ADD AN "H" TO THE GOD'S NAME & REFER TO HIM AS HELIOS

AS RECENTLY AS 2500 YEARS AGO, NO ONE QUESTIONED HIS EXISTENCE. BUT WITHIN CENTURIES, BELIEF IN HELIOS HAD DISAPPEARED 

WERE GREEK PHILOSOPHERS RESPONSIBLE? PROBABLY. TODAY WE CONSIDER MANY OF THEM TO BE THE FIRST SCIENTISTS, AS THEY TRIED TO MAKE SENSE OF THE WORLD.

INCREASINGLY, THEY VIEWED THE SUN AS A CELESTIAL PHENOMENON, NOT AS A GOD IN A GOLDEN CHARIOT ...

THIS IS EPISODE 27 OF GARNER'S GREEK MYTHOLOGY. WE HAVE LISTENERS FROM 131 COUNTRIES & COUNTING. WELCOME TO EVERYONE, WHEREVER YOU ARE.

I'M YOUR HOST, MYTHOLOGIST & BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, PATRICK GARNER. 

THESE STORIES ABOUT THE GODS HAVE BEEN TOLD FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. BUT NOW THERE ARE NEW STORIES THAT ARE AS COMPELLING.

IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO ALREADY, CHECK OUT MY BOOKS ABOUT THE GODS IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD. 

YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT THEM & ABOUT THIS PODCAST AT PATRICKGARNERBOOKS.COM. 

AND AS ALWAYS, THIS PODCAST FOCUSES ON ONE THING ... GREEK GODS, OF COURSE. THEY, LIKE YOU, ARE HERE, NOW ...

AS THE OLD GREEK WORLD FELL TO ROME & THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY, HELIOS & THE SKY GODS WERE MOCKED, BANISHED & REPLACED WITH SOLEMN CHURCH DOGMA.

THAT IS, UNTIL NICOLAUS COPERNICUS RE-DISCOVERED THE TRUTH 1600 YEARS LATER. HE AFFIRMED THE CONCLUSIONS OF THE EARLY GREEKS.

PLANETS REVOLVED AROUND THE SUN, NOT THE SUN AROUND THE EARTH.

REJECTING THE EARTH-CENTRIC ARTICLES OF FAITH — & AS A NOD TO THE OLD GREEK GODS — HE CALLED HIS PLACEMENT OF PLANETS HELIO-CENTRIC ...

THUS HELIOS HAD, IN A SMALL WAY, COME FULL CIRCLE ... WE TOO WILL NOW RETURN TO ANCIENT GREECE & PUT MODERN SCIENCE ASIDE ...

IN OLD GREECE, HELIOS, IN HIS BLAZING CHARIOT DRAWN BY FOUR GOLDEN STALLIONS, IS THE INDISPUTABLE SUN-GOD.

HIS SISTERS ARE SELENE, WHO WE KNOW AS THE MOON, & EOS, WHO IS THE LOVELY DAWN. 

HELIOS, SELENE & EOS WERE THE CHILDREN OF HYPERION & THEIA, BOTH TITANS & THEREFORE OLDER THAN THE OLYMPIC GODS.

HELIOS WAS DESTINED TO BECOME THE SUN GOD. HE LIVED IN A GOLDEN PALACE ON THE RIVER OCEANUS WHICH LAY ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD EAST OF GREECE.

HE EMERGED FROM HIS PALACE EACH DAWN, CROWNED IN A FIERY HALO. HE WAS GREETED BY EOS, KNOWN AS THE ROSY-FINGERED GODDESS OF DAWN.

MAJESTICALLY, HE ROSE ON HIS CHARIOT IN AN UPWARD ARC UNTIL NOON, THEN GLORIOUSLY DESCENDED INTO THE WESTERN SKY. 

AT THE END OF HIS DAILY JOURNEY HE WAS MET BY THE HESPERIDES, SISTERS OF DUSK. THEY WERE BORN FROM A UNION BETWEEN ATLAS & THE PRIMAL GODDESS OF NIGHT, NYX. 

THEY HAD MANY DUTIES BUT ONE WAS TO GREET HELIOS WITH OPEN ARMS ... ONCE HE ARRIVED TO THEIR APPLAUSE, HE THEN DESCENDED INTO THE CIRCLING RIVER OF OCEANUS.

THE MIGHTY RIVER THEN CARRIED HIM SWIFTLY TO HIS PALACE IN THE EAST. 

THERE, SURROUNDED BY HIS CHILDREN, HE CELEBRATED HIS JOURNEYS WITH GREAT FEASTS & DANCING, WAITING TRIUMPHANTLY FOR THE NEXT MORNING TO BEGIN.

HELIOS, LIKE MANY OF THE GODS, WAS FOREVER YOUNG ... HE DRESSED IN FLOWING, PURPLE ROBES, WAS BEARDLESS & CROWNED WITH A GOLDEN HALO.

IN GREEK ART HIS FOUR STEEDS WERE OFTEN DEPICTED AS WINGED. A HOMERIC HYMN TO HELIOS STATES,

"Helios rides his chariot, he shines upon men & deathless gods, & piercingly he gazes with his eyes from his golden helmet. 

"Bright rays beam dazzlingly from him, & his bright locks stream gracefully from the temples of his head ...

"A rich, fine-spun garment glows upon his body & flutters in the wind & stallions carry him. 

"Then, when he stays his golden-yoked chariot & horses, he rests there upon the highest point of heaven, until he marvelously drives them down again through heaven to Oceanus."

HELIOS & HIS CHILDREN — & HIS CHILDREN'S CHILDREN —HAD AN UNMISTAKABLE CHARACTERISTIC THAT DIFFERENTIATED THEM FROM OTHER GODS.

THEIR EYES RADIATED LIGHT. THEY WERE NEVER MISTAKEN FOR AN OLYMPIAN. APOLLONIUS, WRITING IN THE 3rd CENTURY B.C., SAID ...

"ALL THE CHILDREN OF HELIOS WERE EASY TO RECOGNIZE, EVEN FROM A DISTANCE, BY THEIR FLASHING EYES WHICH SHOT OUT RAYS OF GOLDEN LIGHT ..."

ONE OF THOSE CHILDREN WAS THE INFAMOUS CIRCE, WHO HEALED THE WARRIOR ODYSSEUS WITH HER EYES.

HELIOS HAD A BETTER LIFE THAN HIS SISTERS, PARTICULARLY EOS. HER LIFE TOOK A TURN FOR THE WORSE WHEN THE GODDESS APHRODITE CAUGHT HER DALLYING WITH THE WAR-GOD ARES

IT WAS ALL A BIT MESSY, AS APHRODITE HERSELF WAS SIMULTANEOUSLY INVOLVED WITH ARES.

APHRODITE PUNISHED EOS CRUELLY, CONDEMNING HER TO FALL IN LOVE WITH A SUCCESSION OF MORTALS.

AS A CONSEQUENCE — & MUCH TO HER DISMAY — EOS FELL IN & OUT OF LOVE WITH ENDLESS MEN. HER LONGEST RELATIONSHIP WAS WITH A TROJAN PRINCE NAMED TITHONOS.

MADLY IN LOVE WITH HIM & SICK OF SHUTTLING FROM MAN TO MAN, EOS PETITIONED ZEUS TO MAKE TITHONOS IMMORTAL.

BUT SHE FORGOT TO ASK THAT TITHONOS BE GRANTED ETERNAL YOUTH LIKE HER OWN. ZEUS GRANTED EXACTLY & ONLY WHAT SHE ASKED. 

IN TIME, THE IMMORTAL PRINCE TURNED INTO AN OLD, OLD MAN ... ONE AFTERNOON EOS DISCOVERED THAT ZEUS HAD BEEN UP TO HIS TRICKS.

THE THUNDER GOD HAD TURNED TITHONOS INTO A DRY, GRAY GRASSHOPPER. EOS CRIED AS SHE WATCHED HIM HOP SADLY FROM POINT TO POINT.

FOR EOS, APHRODITE'S CURSE WENT ON.

I'LL NOTE AS AN ASIDE THAT EOS PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN MY SECOND NOVEL, CYCLADIC GIRLS. THERE SHE BEFRIENDS, & THEN BETRAYS, THE GREAT GODDESS ...

AND SELENE? WHAT DO WE KNOW OF THE MOON-GODDESS? SHE'S DESCRIBED AS BEAUTIFUL, WITH LONG SILVER WINGS.

THE ANCIENT WRITER AESCHYLUS IN ONE OF HIS PLAYS CALLS HER "THE EYE OF NIGHT." HE DESCRIBES HER AS MOVING ACROSS THE DARK SKY IN A HORSE-DRAWN CHARIOT.

SELENE HAD GREATER LUCK IN LOVE THAN EOS. ONE MORNING SHE SPOTTED A SHEPARD & FELL IN LOVE.

SHE, LIKE EOS, PLEADED WITH ZEUS TO GRANT HER LOVER IMMORTALITY ... UNLIKE EOS, SHE REMINDED ZEUS TO MAKE HIM FOREVER YOUNG.

ZEUS GRANTED HER WISH. AND AFTERWARDS, IT WAS SAID THAT ON NIGHTS WHEN SELENE WAS NOT MOVING AMONG THE STARS, SHE WAS CONSORTING WITH HIM IN HER GETAWAY ON MOUNT LYDIA ...

BOTH SISTERS HAD CHILDREN FROM THEIR LIASONS, BUT EOS SUFFERED FROM HERS.

EON'S SON, MEMNON, FOUGHT FOR THE WRONG SIDE IN THE TROJAN WAR. ZEUS FAVORED THE GREEKS & MEMNON HAD SIDED WITH THE TROJANS. 

GREATER GODS THAN EOS WERE MOVING THE PIECES. HER SON WAS KILLED BY GREECE'S GREATEST WARRIOR, ACHILLES.

EOS WAS BROKENHEARTED, WHILE SELENE, HANGING SERENELY IN THE SKY, WATCHED WITHOUT SHEDDING A TEAR ...

THE OFFSPRING OF THE MORE FORTUNATE SELENE INCLUDED DAUGHTERS CALLED THE HORAI, WHO BECAME KNOWN AS THE FOUR SEASONS. 

THE HORAI, IN ADDITION TO MAKING THE CONSTELLATIONS REVOLVE FROM SEASON TO SEASON, ACCOMPANIED HELIOS ON HIS DAILY PATH ACROSS THE SKY.

SOME SAID THEY HELPED HIM NAVIGATE, BUT HELIOS HAD ARCED ACROSS THE SKY LONG BEFORE THEIR BIRTH.

AS WE VIEW EOS & SELENE, IT MUST BE SAID THAT THEY  WERE MARGINAL PLAYERS. OF THE SKY GODS, HELIOS ALWAYS LOOMED GREATER IN THE MINDS OF THE GREEKS.

WHEN MORTALS WERE AWAKE, HE GAVE THEM HEAT ... WITHOUT HIS GOLDEN LIGHT, PLANTS & ANIMALS WOULD NOT EXIST.

BUT HELIOS ALSO SERVED IN AN UNUSUAL ROLE. BECAUSE HE WAS ALWAYS OVERHEAD, FUNCTIONED AS A WATCHMAN — SOME MIGHT SAY A SPY.

HIS EYES WERE EVERYWHERE AS HE PASSED OVER THE EARTH EACH DAY.

IT'S FAIR TO THINK OF HELIOS AS AN ANCIENT SATELLITE, ONE PROGRAMMED TO TRACK EVERYONE'S ACTIVITIES ... NOT EVEN THE GODS WERE IMMUNE. 

HE'S THE ONE WHO SPOTTED APHRODITE & ARES IN AN OPEN FIELD & SHARED THE INFORMATION WITH APHRODITE'S HUSBAND ...

THAT SAID, HELIOS WAS AS PETTY AS APHRODITE WHEN DISPLEASED.

FOR INSTANCE, THE GREEK WARRIOR ODYSSEUS CROSSED THE SUN-GOD AS HE TRIED TO NAVIGATE HOME AFTER THE TROJAN WAR.

HE HAD LEFT HELIOS' DAUGHTER, CIRCE, AFTER SPENDING A YEAR WITH HER. BUT THAT'S NOT WHY HE WAS PUNISHED. IT WAS FOR EATING HELIOS' COWS & SHEEP.

HOMER WRITES, “Circe warns Odysseus, ‘You will reach a certain island. 

“There you will find grazing cows & fat flocks of sheep; they are Helios'. In each herd & each flock there are fifty beasts; no births increase them, no deaths diminish them, as they, like Helios, are immortal. 

“They are pastured by goddesses, lovely-haired nymphs whose father is the sun-god Helios ... If you leave these unharmed — if you set your mind only on return — you may all of you still reach Ithaka, though with much misery  ...” [UNQUOTE]

OF COURSE ODYSSEUS' STARVING MEN ARE UNABLE TO RESIST SLAUGHTERING SOME OF THE COWS & SHEEP.

THE MEN FEAST AT LENGTH & THE ALL-SEEING HELIOS DISCOVERS THE THEFT & CONTACTS ZEUS. 

HELIOS DEMANDS REVENGE, SAYING THAT IF THERE IS NO ATONEMENT, HE WILL DESCEND TO HADES & WITHDRAW FOREVER HIS GLORIOUS LIGHT FROM THE WORLD.

ZEUS RESPONDS, "Soon enough I will strike their ship with white-hot thunderbolts & shatter it & shiver it into the sea.’

WITHIN MOMENTS — & TO THE MEN'S BEWILDERMENT — THE DEAD SHEEP & CATTLE BEGAN TO MOVE, BLEATING & BELLOWING & REFORMING THEMSELVES INTO HELIOS' GOLDEN ANIMALS.

PANICKING, KNOWING THIS TRANSFORMATION CAN ONLY BE THE WORK OF SOME MIGHTY GOD,THE MEN FLED TO THEIR SHIP & LAUNCHED INTO THE SEA.

BUT AS CIRCE PREDICTED,  ZEUS SENT A TEMPEST & DESTROYED THE SHIP WITH A THUNDERBOLT ... 

HELIOS WAS SATISFIED. 

NOT TO MAKE A PUN, BUT HELIOS WASN'T ALWAYS ON TOP OF THE WORLD ... HE HAD NUMEROUS DAUGHTERS & A BELOVED SON, PHAETHON.

LIKE EOS HE SUFFERED AT TIMES BECAUSE OF HIS OFFSPRING. ONCE SON, PHAETHON, PLEADED WITH HIM TO DRIVE HIS CHARIOT.

ZEUS WARNED HELIOS THAT THE BOY WAS TOO YOUNG. HE WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO CONTROL THE HORSES. BUT HELIOS COULD NOT RESIST THE CHILD. 

ON A MORNING WHEN HELIOS THOUGHT ZEUS TO BE DISTRACTED, THE SUN-GOD HANDED THE BOY THE REINS.

PHAETHON CRACKED HIS WHIP & ROSE UPWARD LIKE A ROCKET, BUT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY HE LOST CONTROL. 

THE SUN PLUMMETED, SETTING THE EARTH AFIRE. THE GREEN PLAINS OF AFRICA WERE SCORCHED INTO DESERT & MORTALS FOR MILES AROUND CHARRED BLACK.

ZEUS WATCHED IT ALL.

HE CAUGHT THE SUN & SET IT BACK ON COURSE. AND THEN, HEARTLESSLY, HE STRUCK DOWN THE CARELESS BOY WITH A THUNDERBOLT ...

SEVEN OF PHAETHON'S SISTER GATHERED AROUND HIS SMOKY GRAVE. IN THEIR UNRELENTING GRIEF, THEY CRIED TEARS OF AMBER.

HELIOS COULD NOT BRING HIS SON BACK TO LIFE. INSTEAD, HE TURNED THE BOY INTO A CONSTELLATION THAT HE NAMED THE CHARIOTEER. 

THUS HE COULD IMMORTALIZED HIM SO THAT HE  WOULD FOREVER SHINE BESIDE SELENE IN THE NIGHT SKY.  

HELIOS HIMSELF CAME TO NO FIERY END. HE DIDN'T DIE AS A MYTHIC GREEK HERO. INSTEAD, THE LIGHT THAT HE & HIS SISTERS GAVE OUT GREW FAINTER & FAINTER. 

THEIR BRILLIANCE WAS STEADILY DIMMED BY PHILOSOPHERS & EARLY SCIENTISTS ... APOLLO, ARTEMIS, ATHENE, POSEIDON & APHRODITE WENT ON TO PURSUE OTHER THINGS. 

BUT THE SKY GODS, FOR ALL THEIR RADIANCE, LOST RELEVANCE.

THEY WERE BROUGHT DOWN BY MORTALS, WHO, WITH A BIT OF MATHEMATICS & CRUDE TELESCOPES, DISCOVERED ALTERNATE EXPLANATIONS FOR CELESTIAL PHENOMENA. 

AND SO, AS THE NEW MILLENNIUM BEGAN, HELIOS, THE BRIGHTEST OF THE OLD GODS, NO LONGER GUIDED HIS HORSES THROUGH THE SKIES OF GREECE ... 

JOIN ME ... FOR THE NEXT EPISODE OF GARNER'S GREEK MYTHOLOGY

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I ASSURE YOU, MY NOVELS ABOUT THE GREEK GODS ARE AS ENTERTAINING AS MY PODCASTS!

A GREAT WAY TO FIND OUT IS TO DOWNLOAD MY AUDIBLE BOOK, HOMO DIVINITAS. YOU CAN GET IT AT AMAZON OR AUDIBLE.

AND THANKS FOR LISTENING ... THIS IS YOUR HOST, PATRICK GARNER ...