Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Myth of Helios and Phaet(h)on

[painting in the public domain]

Myths teach us so much about "real" reality. Fairy tales are the down low version of myths (the people versus the aristocrats). And that's why I think they should stay grim like the Brueder Grimm and not get all cleaned up like Disney.

For example, I heard an interview recently on public radio where the guy was talking about the good old days. His dad, something of a character, put him in the bed of the pick up to ride. His job was to make sure the lawnmower didn't fall out the back. The flap was down and it was pretty bumpy. Finally they went over a bump so big it knocked both him and the lawnmower out the back and a Cadillac that was speeding by missed his head by six inches. (The lawnmower was ok.)

Granted this was back in the time before safety seats but what was that guy thinking?

Then I remembered the myth of Phaeton and Helios. From

In the version of the myth told by Ovid in the Metamorphoses, Phaeton bragged to his friends that his father was the sun-god. One of his friends, who was rumored to be a son of Zeus, refused to believe him and said his mother was lying. So Phaeton went to his father Helios, who swore by the river Styx to give Phaeton anything he should ask for in order to prove his divine paternity. Phaeton wanted to drive his chariot (the sun) for a day. Though Helios tried to talk him out of it, Phaeton was adamant. When the day came, Phaeton panicked and lost control of the mean horses that drew the chariot. First it veered too high, so that the earth grew chill. Then it dipped too close, and the vegetation dried and burned. He accidentally turned most of Africa into desert; burning the skin of the Ethiopians black. Eventually, Zeus was forced to intervene by striking the runaway chariot with a lightning bolt to stop it, and Phaƫthon plunged into the river Eridanos. His sisters the Heliades grieved so much that they were turned into poplar trees that weep golden amber.

In some versions Helios strikes his own son down. What was Helios doing, letting that kid in the chariot?

And then I remembered the myth of Icarus and Daedalus. Also from

Icarus' father, Daedalus who was a talented artist attempted to escape from his exile in Crete, where he and his son were imprisoned at the hands of King Minos, the king for whom he had built the Labyrinth. Daedalus, the master craftsman, was exiled because he gave Minos' Daughter, Ariadne, a clew of string in order to help Theseus survive the Labyrinth.

Daedalus fashioned a pair of wax wings for himself and his son. Before they took off from the island, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea. Overcome by the sublime feeling that flying gave him, Icarus soared through the sky joyfully, but in the process he came too close to the sun, which melted his wings. Icarus kept flapping his wings but soon realized that he had no feathers left and that he was only flapping his bare arms. And so, Icarus fell into the sea in the area which bears his name, the Icarian Sea near Icaria, an island
southwest of Samos.[1]

Two extremely talented, powerful, well meaning fathers .... fathers close to the very source of power ....

In real life I knew a family of two boys. The father took the kids out on the golf course in an open cart. They drove under an electric wire and the father and older boy forgot to tell the younger boy to duck. The accident was fatal. Grisly, tragic, but true.

Interesting that both myths involve the sun. Fathers like this show up in charts of Sun-ruled Leo boys or Saturn in Leo. Somehow the father is very , very jealous at a deep unconscious level. He absolutely cannot bear to share the limelight and destroys his own son "somehow".

Myths prepare us beautifully for some realities when we don't even know it.

1 comment:

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach said...

I have seen this happen with fathers and sons. Some say it's a "weak" son, others that it is the first son, or the second, or the last. I think it's when a son threatens the father in his greatest area of strength/vulnerability.

Fathers are not nurturers. Some call it male-nurturing, but there needs to be another name for it, because it is not nurturing. It is trial by fire.

Sometimes the son prevails and outdoes the father. Sometimes the son takes to drink or drugs. Sometimes he crosses over to find the sun.

I saw a grandfather the other day in the store. His grandson must have been 4 or 5. He was agitating for candy or gum. The Grandfather turned to him and said, "YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY MONEY."

I love your blog.

SInce I 'm a dating coach and help people find their mates, and also deal with blended families and step kids. I rely on the myths and fairytales. There is also "the wicked step mother."

Grim is reality. We hope to find the sun.

Love and peace,

The Dating Coach