The Myth of Phaethon
Ovid's Metamorphoses
Child of the Light. To Drive the Sun. He Knows Not Their Names. Cry of Creation. Fell, But Tried.


Now Phaethon, whose father was the Sun,
was equal to his rival, Epaphus,
in mind and years; and he was glad to boast
of wonders, nor would yield to Epaphus
for pride of Phoebus, his reputed sire.
Unable to endure it, Io's son
thus mocked him; "Poor, demented fellow, what
will you not credit if your mother speaks,
you are so puffed up with the fond conceit
of your imagined sire, the Lord of Day."

Shame crimsoned in his cheeks, but Phaethon
withholding rage, reported all the taunts
of Epaphus to Clymene his mother:
"'Twill grieve you, mother, I, the bold and free,
was silent; and it shames me to report
this dark reproach remains unchallenged. Oh,
if I am born of race divine, give proof
of that illustrious descent and claim
my right to Heaven." Around his mother's neck
he drew his arms, and by the head of Merops,
and by his own, and by the nuptial torch
of his beloved sisters, he implored
for some true token of his origin.

Or moved by Phaethon's importuned words,
or by the grievous charge, who might declare?
She raised her arms to Heaven, and gazing full
upon the broad sun said; "I swear to you
by yonder orb, so radiant and bright,
which both beholds and hears us while we speak,
that you are his begotten son.--You are
the child of that great light which sways the world:
and if I have not spoken what is true,
let not mine eyes behold his countenance,
and let this fatal moment be the last
that I shall look upon the light of day!
Nor will it weary you, my son, to reach
your father's dwelling; for the very place
where he appears at dawn is near our land.
Go, if it please you, and the very truth
learn from your father." Instantly sprang forth
exultant Phaethon. Overjoyed with words
so welcome, he imagined he could leap
and touch the skies. And so he passed his land
of Ethiopia, and the Indies, hot
beneath the tawny sun, and there he turned
his footsteps to his father's Land of Dawn.

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