Skip navigation

Get in touch

You are in:  Home » Stories » Metamorphoses » Phaethon » Story Summary

This site uses cookies. If you continue it is assumed that you are happy to receive all cookies. Accept and close. View privacy policy

Story summary: Phaethon

Phaethon is the shining son of a mother who also had three dark daughters. He discovers one day that he is the son of Helios, the sun. Helios visits his son one night and promises to grant a wish for his son to prove that he really is the sun. Phaethon asks to ride his father’s chariot across the sky. Helios immediately regrets being tied to his promise as he knows granting this wish will kill his mortal son. Helios looks on as Phaethon loses control of the chariot, swooping too close to the earth and burning everything in its path. Seeing the destruction, Zeus throws a lightning bolt at the carriage, hurling Phaethon to his death. His dark sisters weep over his broken body and Helios transforms them into weeping willow trees.

Key themes

Love and loss
The destructive nature of doubt
Danger of knowledge

>> Back to other teaching resources for this episode