Characters From Greek Mythology
Nationality: Ancient Greece
Religion: Greek pantheon
Cause of Death: Conflicting accounts in the myths
Parents: Helios and Clymene (some accounts disagree)
Turtledove Appearances:
"Miss Manners' Guide to Greek Missology"
Satirical Fantasy
Type of Appearance: Direct
Occupation: Driver
Phaëthon (Ancient Greek: Φαέθων, "shining one"), was most commonly considered to be the son of the sun god Helios and the sea nymph Clymene, although his parentage was uncertain. Wanting to prove his pedigree, he asked his father to be allowed to drive the sun chariot for a day. While crossing the sky, he was unable to control the horses. The Earth was in danger of being incinerated, forcing Zeus to destroy the chariot with a thunderbolt. Although a lost play by Euripides (known from external reviews) had Phaëthon survive the fall, most versions of the story do not. His precise cause of death has been reported variously as being from the chariot's internal fire, electrocution from Zeus' bolt, blunt impact with the ground, or drowning in a river where he landed.

Literary commentEdit

There are many different spellings of this character's name. This article uses the version which Harry Turtledove uses in his story where the character appears.

Phaëthon in "Miss Manners' Guide to Greek Missology"Edit

Phaëthon drove the chariot which took Perseus and Andromeda from the wedding feast to the honeymoon suite. The bride was unnerved by the driver's recklessness, but the groom assured her that Phaëthon hadn't burned rubber, or anything else, for quite a while.[1]


  1. E.g., Counting Up, Counting Down, p. 285-286, paperback.