Only once was the established order in the world violated, and the sun god did not go to heaven to shine on people. It happened like this. There was a son of the Sun-Helios from Klimena, daughter of the sea goddess Thetis, his name was Phaeton. Once a relative of Phaethon, the son of the thunderer Zeus Epaf, mocking him, said:
- I do not believe that you are the son of the radiant Helios. Your mother is not telling the truth. You are the son of a mere mortal.
Phaethon was angry, a blush of shame flooded his face; he ran to his mother, threw himself on her chest and complained with tears about the insult. But his mother, stretching out her hands to the radiant sun, exclaimed:
- Oh, son! I swear to you by Helios, who sees and hears us, whom you yourself now see that he is your father! May he deprive me of his light if I am not telling the truth. Go to him yourself, his palace is not far from us. He will confirm my words to you.Phaethon immediately went to his father Helios. Quickly he reached the palace of Helios, shining with gold, silver and precious stones. The whole palace seemed to sparkle with all the colors of the rainbow, so wonderfully decorated by God himself Hephaestus. Phaethon entered the palace and saw Helios sitting there in a purple robe on the throne. But Phaethon could not approach the radiant god, his eyes -the eyes of a mortal - could not stand the radiance emanating from the crown of Helios. The sun god saw Phaeton and asked him:
- What brought you to my palace, my son?
- Oh, the light of the whole world, oh, father, Helios! Only dare I call you Father? Phaethon exclaimed. "Give me proof that you are my father." Destroy, I pray you, my doubt.
Helios took off the radiant crown, called Phaeton to him, embraced him and said:
- Yes, you are my son; your mother told you the truth, Klimena. And so that you no longer doubt, ask me what you want, and I swear by the waters of the sacred river Styx, I will fulfill your request.As soon as Helios said this, Phaethon began to ask to be allowed to ride through the sky instead of Helios himself in his golden chariot. The radiant god was horrified.
- Crazy, what are you asking for! Helios exclaimed. "Oh, if I could break my oath! You're asking the impossible, Phaeton. After all, you can't do it. After all, you are a mortal, and is this a mortal's business? Even the immortal gods cannot stand on my chariot. The great himself Zeus-the thunderer cannot rule it, and who is more powerful than him. Just think: at first the road is so steep that even my winged horses can barely climb it. In the middle it goes so high above the ground that even I am seized with fear when I look down at the seas and lands spread out below me. At the end, the road descends so rapidly to the sacred shores of the Ocean that without my experienced management, the chariot will fly headlong down and break. You think maybe you will meet a lot of beautiful things on the way. No, there is a way among dangers, horrors and wild animals. It is narrow; if you deviate to the side, then the horns of the terrible taurus are waiting for you there, the centaur's bow, the furious lion, the monstrous scorpion and cancer threaten you there. There are many horrors on the way across the sky. Believe me, I don't want to be the cause of your death. Oh, if you could look into my heart with your eyes and see how afraid I am for you! Look around you, look at the world, how much beauty there is in it! Ask for anything you want, I won't refuse you anything, just don't ask for it. After all, you're not asking for a reward, but a terrible punishment.
But Phaethon would not listen to anything; wrapping his arms around Helios' neck, he asked to fulfill his request.
- OK, I will fulfill your request. Don't worry, because I swore by the waters of Styx. You'll get what you ask for, but I thought you were smarter," Helios replied sadly.
He led Phaethon to where his chariot was parked. Phaeton admired her; she was all golden and sparkled with multicolored stones. They brought the winged horses of Helios, fed with ambrosia and nectar. The horses were harnessed to the chariot. Roseate Eos opened the gates of the sun. Helios rubbed Phaethon's face with a sacred ointment so that the flame of the sun's rays would not scorch him, and placed a sparkling crown on his head. With a sigh full of sadness, Helios gives the last instructions to Phaeton:
- My son, remember my last instructions, fulfill them if you can. Don't drive the horses, hold the reins as firmly as possible. My horses will run themselves. It's hard to keep them. You will clearly see the road by the ruts, they go through the whole sky. Don't go too high, so as not to burn the sky, but don't go too low, or you'll burn the whole earth. Don't dodge, remember, neither to the right nor to the left. Your path is right in the middle between snake and altar. I entrust everything else to fate, I hope for her alone. But it's time, the night has already left the sky; the roseate rose has already risen Eos. Take the reins tighter. But maybe you will change your mind yet - because it threatens you with death. Oh, let me shine on the earth myself! Don't ruin yourself!But Phaeton quickly jumped on the chariot and grabbed the reins. He rejoices, rejoices, thanks his father Helios and hurries on his way. The horses beat their hooves, the flame bursts from their nostrils, they easily pick up the chariot and through the fog they quickly rush forward along the steep road to heaven. The chariot is unusually light for horses. Here the horses are already racing across the sky, they leave the usual path of Helios and rush without a road. And Phaeton does not know where the road is, he is unable to drive horses. He looked down from the top of the sky at the earth and turned pale with fear, so far below him was she. His knees trembled, darkness clouded his eyes. He already regrets that he begged his father to let him drive his chariot. What should he do? He has already traveled a lot, but there is still a long way ahead. Phaeton can't handle the chariot, he doesn't know their names, and he doesn't have the strength to hold them with the reins. He sees terrible heavenly beasts all around him and gets even more scared.
There is a place in the sky where a monstrous, menacing scorpion is spread out - horses are carrying Phaeton there. The unfortunate young man saw a scorpion covered with dark poison, threatening him with a deadly sting, and, distraught with fear, released the reins. The horses raced even faster then, sensing freedom. Then they rise up to the very stars, then, having descended, they rush almost over the earth itself. The sister of Helios, the goddess of the moon Selena, looks with amazement at how her brother's horses are racing without a road, not controlled by anyone, across the sky. The flame from the chariot that has descended close covers the earth. Big, rich cities are dying, whole tribes are dying. Burning mountains covered with forest: double-headed Parnassus, shady Kiferon, green Helikon, Caucasus Mountains, Tmol, Ida, Pelion, Ossa. The smoke covers everything around; the Phaeton does not see in the thick smoke where it is going. The water in rivers and streams boils. Nymphs cry and hide in horror in deep caves. The Euphrates is boiling, Orontes, Alpheus, Evrot and other rivers. The earth cracks from the heat, and a ray of sun penetrates into the gloomy realm of Hades. The seas are beginning to dry up, and the sea deities are suffering from the heat. Then the great goddess Gaia-Earth rose up and loudly exclaimed:
- Oh, the greatest of the gods, Zeus the Thunderer! Must I perish, must your brother's kingdom perish Poseidon, must all living things perish? Look! Atlas can barely withstand the heaviness of the sky. After all, the sky and the palaces of the gods can collapse. Is everything going to return to primal Chaos? Oh, save what's left from the fire!Zeus heard the plea of the goddess Gaia, he waved his right hand menacingly, threw his sparkling lightning and extinguished the fire with its fire. Zeus smashed the chariot with lightning. The horses of Helios scattered in different directions. The fragments of the chariot and the harness of the horses of Helios are scattered all over the sky.
And Phaeton, with curls burning on his head, swept through the air like a shooting star and fell into the waves of the Eridani River, far from his homeland. There the Hesperian nymphs lifted his body and buried it. In deep sorrow, Phaethon's father, Helios, closed his face and did not appear in the blue sky for a whole day. Only the fire of the fire illuminated the earth.For a long time, the unfortunate mother of Phaeton, Klimena, was looking for the body of her deceased son. At last she found on the shores of Eridan not the body of her son, but his tomb. The inconsolable mother wept bitterly over the tomb of her son, and the deceased brother and daughter of Klimena, Heliades, mourned with her. Their grief was boundless. The great gods turned the weeping Heliads into poplars. There are poplars-heliades, bending over Eridanus, and their tears-resin fall into the icy water. The resin hardens and turns into transparent amber.
His friend also mourned the death of Phaeton Kicn. His lamentations carried far along the shores of Eridanus. Seeing Kikn's inconsolable sadness, the gods turned him into a snow-white swan. Since then, the Kikn swan has been living on the water, in rivers and wide bright lakes. He is afraid of the fire that killed his friend Phaeton.