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Metamorphoses: Book 1: Phaëthon (1) Summary & Analysis

Io gives birth to Épaphus, who is rumored to be Jupiter’s son. When Épaphus starts school, he jeers at one of his peers, Phaëthon, for boasting that his father is the sun god. Phaëthon turns red with shame and runs to his mother, Clymene. He asks her to give him a sign that he really is the sun god’s son. Clymene looks up at the sun and says that if she is lying that the sun god is Phaëthon’s father, then the sun may refuse to give her light for the rest of her life. Clymene then tells Phaëthon where his father lives, and Phaëthon sets out eagerly to find him.
The conflict between Épaphus and Phaëthon—both rumored to be the sons of gods—reveals the pride that humans feel to be associated with divinities. However, Phaëthon’s rumored association with the sun god also makes him restless because he can’t see the sun god and therefore has no proof that he is really his son. In this way, association with the gods can lead humans to a reckless desire to see the divine realm.
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