Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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translation from Homeric Greek by Denise Low

Helios (the Sun God)
Restrains the (Flawed) Son

Helios tried to calm his half-Titan son,
child of the Stars but also an Ocean spirit,
handsome and restless, nowhere at peace.

Eloquent Phaëthon was, as he demanded
his patrimony—his place in Sun’s orbit.
The father tried to reason with examples:

“Ares, son of Zeus, holds a soldier’s bugle,
not his father’s thunderbolts and lightning.

“Hephaestus the Blacksmith hammers iron
without demanding his father’s rumbles and claps.

“Hermes the Messenger carries a staff
not his father’s shield draped with Medusa’s head.

“Yes, Zagreus, favored by Zeus, held lightning—
but Titans envied him and killed him.

“He committed the sin of selfish hubris.
Zagreus’ body was chopped into bloody pieces.”

Helios, weeping, kissed his son and turned.
Higher than all gods, even Zeus, is Fate
who spins the length of every person’s life.

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