In Greek mythology, Phaethon was the son of the sun god Helios and the sea nymph Clymene. Phaethon's friends teased him because they did not believe that the sun was his father. Phaethon journeyed to Helios's palace to determine the truth. Helios replied that he was Phaethon's father and promised to grant his son a wish.

nymph minor goddess of nature, usually represented as young and beautiful

Phaethon asked to drive his father's chariot across the sky. Helios tried to discourage Phaethon, for no one except the sun could control the horses that pulled the chariot. However, Phaethon did not listen to the warning and insisted on driving the chariot. Helios could not take back his promise, so he let the youth take the reins. Soon after the chariot rose into the sky, Phaethon lost control of the horses, causing the sun to come too near the earth and burn it. To stop further destruction, Zeus* killed Phaethon with a thunderbolt, and the boy fell into the Eridanus River. Phaethon's sisters mourned for him so much that they turned into poplar trees on the banks of the river, and the tears they shed hardened into drops of amber.

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