Iron and Phaethon

LA to Dean Ericson:

A few nights ago I saw an amazing two hour program on Discovery channel about the universe. I learned all kinds of things I didn’t know before, like how iron is created. You know how iron is created? All the iron that exists, all the iron we have on earth, all the iron that has been made into structural elements and tools and weapons, was created in the inside of gigantic stars before they exploded in super novae.

Dean replied:

… so when out on the highway I’m traveling, literally, in a star car! I could call my Honda “Phaeton,” from the sun carriage dude … Oh, no, I see from Wikipedia that Phaeton borrowed the sun chariot from Helios, his father, the drove it like a crack-head so Zeus had to blast him with a lightning bolt before he fried the world. Who wants a car named for a famous crash-and-burn punk? But that hasn’t stopped a bunch of cars named Phaeton, from horse-drawn carriages to Chrysler and Volkswagen.

LA replied:

When I was 13 and a fan of Greek mythology (via Edith Hamilton’s Mythology), I wrote a long poem telling the story of Phaethon. Sadly it was lost (along with all my papers, short stories, poems, and journals from my junior high school and high school years when my looseleaf notebooks were inadvertently thrown out). But I remember this one verse from my Phaethon poem:

Now mortal men and Mother Earth
To heaven raise a cry,
For Phaethon, son of Helios,
Is burning the earth and sky.

—end of initial entry—

LA writes:

To expand on Dean’s vivid summary of the myth: Phaethon, mortal son of the sun god Helios and a woman with whom he had an affair, comes to visit his father to claim his birthright. The god impulsively offers him anything he wants, and the boy says he wants to ride the sun god’s chariot as it pulls the sun across the sky. Helios is horrified, because he knows that the boy, a mere mortal, cannot handle the divine horses and the chariot. He begs him to ask anything but that. But the boy, in his hubris, insists, and Helios, having foolishly promised, has no choice but to let his son have his way. The boy takes the reins of the chariot and starts off, but soon loses control of the sun god’s horses, and the sun starts veering crazily across the sky, coming first too close to the earth and then too close to Olympus, threatening to the destroy all life on earth and the abode of the gods as well. Finally, Zeus sends a lightening bolt and kills Phaethon, saving mankind and the cosmos from destruction.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 28, 2010 08:47 AM | Send

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