Helios was the god of the sun, the brother of Selene (the Moon) and Eos (the dawn) and the first child of Hyperion and Theia, two titans who governed the Night and the Day in the age before the rise of the Olympian gods. During the war between the Titans and the Olympians, Helios and his siblings wisely stayed neutral, thus preserving their roles in the pantheon after the other Titans were banished to Tartarus. Though not a principal god, Helios was a popular figure in classical art and he had an extremely devout cult on the island of Rhodes, where a massive statue of him known as “the Colossos” stood over the harbor to the island’s capital city and was considered one of the great wonders of the ancient world. Helios makes numerous cameo appearances in many myths, often functioning as a divine spy since his place in the sky allowed him to see everything that happened on earth, a prime example being the first to tell Demeter of the kidnapping of Persephone by Hades. He was also the protector of oaths and a symbol of honesty- light being the banisher of intrigue and shadow. It is partly this omniscience and association with honor that is the source of his later identification with Apollo, who was the god of prophecy and law and later became a sun god when post-Hellenic writers attempted to symplify the Greek pantheon by combining gods. There are several myths where Helios is the main character, most notably the one where his son Phaethon attempts to drive his chariot, almost destroying the world in the process before being killed by Zeus to prevent the scorching of the Earth. He was also famous for having wooed the princess Leocothea, who was burried alive by her father Orachamus after her sister, Clytie, revealed the affair out of jealousy. Helios, trapped at the top of the world because the princess was executed at noon, was unable to intervene and was forced to witness her death until his sister, Selene, out of pity, drove her own chariot in front of him, thus creating the first eclipse. In vengeance, Helios killed Orchamus and turned Clytie into a heliotrope- a flower which follows the path of the sun every day. Aside from Phaethon, Helios’ only other known children were from his second wife: the first daughter was the sorceress Circe, who had golden eyes like her father, the second was Pasiphae, who became the mother of the Minotaur, and the third was Aeetes, the king of Colchis who guarded the Golden Fleece. In Roman mythology, Helios was known as Sol, and the element helium is named after him.
Stuart Bousel’s play Hyperion to a Satyr places Helios in modern day San Francisco, making him a 39 year old business heir struggling to find his identity in the shadow of his imposing father figure and against the rising star of his golden boy cousin, Apollo. A tongue-in-cheek metaphor for Helios’ own precarious place in mythology (he is often replaced by Apollo in modern mythology books, or occasionally absorbed into Hyperion), the play also explores the relationships between fathers and sons, as well as the pressure and lonliness that often comes with being a member of America’s privledged classes, with commentary on the dangers of modern self-created spirituality, hero-worship, ambition, self-pity and all the other things that blind us from seeing what life is really all about.
HELIOS or “Hyperion to a Saytr” by Stuart Bousel
staged reading October 15, 2011
Directed by Stuart Bousel
Timothy Beagley (Hal)
Tonyanna Borkovi (Chloe)
Kevin Copps (Hyperion)
Juliana Egley (Serena)
Eric Hannan (Pan)
Dashiell Hillman (Allen)
Kelley B. Greer (Stage Directions)
Jennifer Lucas (Clara)
Brian Martin (Peter)
Stuart Bousel graduated from Reed College with a degree in English/Creative Writing. He has served as the artistic director of three theater companies: Quicksilver Productions (1997-2000) and Horror Unspeakable Productions (2000-2002) in Tucson, and No Nude Men Productions in San Francisco (2003-2011). He has directed a number of classic plays, including Lysistrata, Orestia, Faust Part One, Salome, Edward II, Le Cid, Love’s Labors Lost, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Phaedra, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, M. Butterfly and The Frogs, as well as the Arizona premiere of Derek Walcott’s Odyssey and the world premieres of David Duman’s Fishing, Alison Luterman’s Oasis, Morgan Ludlows Ruth and the Sea and Nirmala Nataraj’s The Monk and The Book of Genesis Remixed and Remastered. Additionally he writes plays, productions of which include Edenites, The Exiled, Speak to Me, Love Egos Alternative Rock, Troijka, Housebroken, Queen Mab In Drag, Killing Me Softly, Speak Roughly and Polyxena In Orbit. His play Vincent of Gilgamesh was nominated for the MAC Award in 2001; Wild Blue Peaks was nominated for the Heideman Award in 2003; Mathew 33:6 was a finalist for the Sky Cooper Award in 2007. His play Giant Bones is an official stage adaption of work by internationally acclaimed novelist Peter S. Beagle. Places Mr. Bousel’s work has been performed include New York City, San Francisco, Melbourne, Dublin, Tucson, Portland and West Orange, New Jersey (go JCC!). He co-wrote the Cosgrove winning short film Insomnia with Chris McCaleb and Amanda Karam and authored (and cameoed in) the Hostelling International mocu-drama Wish U Were Here. He executive produced the 2010 San Francisco Olympians Festival and where his play Juno En Victoria received its first staged reading. It was later produced by Wily West Productions. He occasionally acts as well and numbers among his credits the title role in Macbeth, Carl in The Baltimore Waltz, Matt in The Fantasticks, the Record Keeper in Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol , Ned Points in The Boar’s Head and the opera Tosca with the Arizona Opera Company, in addition to voicing a number of radio and television commercials. He is the Director of Events for Atmostheatre Inc. and a founding member of the San Francisco Theater Pub, where he frequently writes, directs and performs. His first novel, Dry Country, came out 2008 and is available on Amazon.com.
The image of Helios was created by Cody Rishell. His portfolio can be viewed, here.