Hyperion (Titan)

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Member of the Titans
Personal information
ParentsUranus and Gaia
  • Briareos
  • Cottus
  • Gyges
Other siblings
OffspringHelios, Eos and Selene

In Greek mythology, Hyperion (/hˈpɪəriən/; Greek: Ὑπερίων, romanizedHyperion, 'he who goes before')[1] was one of the twelve Titan children of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky).[2] With his sister, the Titaness Theia, Hyperion fathered Helios (Sun), Selene (Moon) and Eos (Dawn).[3]

Hyperion was, along with his son Helios, a personification of the sun, with the two sometimes identified.[4] John Keats's abandoned epic poem Hyperion is among the literary works that feature the figure.


As is the case for most of the Titans, there are no myths or functions for Hyperion.[5] He seems to exist only to provide a father for the three celestial deities Helios (Sun), Selene (Moon) and Eos (Dawn).[6] As a Titan, one of the oldest generation of gods, Hyperion was a fitting father for these three sky-gods who, as elements of the natural world, must have been conceived of as having come into being near the beginning of the cosmos.[7]


Hyperion and Helios were both sun-gods. In early sources sometimes the two were considered to be distinct, with Hyperion being the father of Helios, but sometimes they were apparently identified, with Hyperion being simply a title of, or another name for, Helios himself.[8] Hyperion is Helios' father in Homer's Odyssey, Hesiod's Theogony, and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter.[9] But in the Iliad and elsewhere in the Odyssey, Helios is also called "Helios Hyperion" with Hyperion here either being used as a patronymic or other epithet, while also in the Homeric epics, and in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, besides being called Helios, he is sometimes also called simply Hyperion.[10] In later sources the two sun-gods are distinctly father and son.[11]

Diodorus Siculus[edit]

According to the rationalizing historian Diodorus Siculus, Hyperion was the name of the first person to understand the movement of the sun and moon, and their effect on the seasons, and explains that, because of this, he was said to be their "father":

Of Hyperion we are told that he was the first to understand, by diligent attention and observation, the movement of both the sun and the moon and the other stars, and the seasons as well, in that they are caused by these bodies, and to make these facts known to others; and that for this reason he was called the father of these bodies, since he had begotten, so to speak, the speculation about them and their nature.[12]


Hyperion's family tree [13]
The RiversThe OceanidsHeliosSelene [14]EosAstraeusPallasPerses
IapetusClymene (or Asia[15]Themis(Zeus)Mnemosyne
Atlas [16]MenoetiusPrometheus [17]EpimetheusThe HoraeThe Muses


  1. ^ Grimal, s.v. Hyperion; Smith, s.v. Hyperion.
  2. ^ Grimal, s.v. Hyperion; Tripp, s.v. Hyperion; Morford, p. 40; Keightley, p. 47; Smith, s.v. Hyperion; Hesiod, Theogony 131–136; Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter, 26, 74; Apollodorus, 1.1.3.
  3. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 371–374; Apollodorus, 1.2.2. The Homeric Hymn 31 to Helios 1–8 calls Hyperion's sister and mate "Euryphaëssa" probably, an epithet of Theia, see Morford, p. 40; West 2003b, p. 215 n. 61; Tripp, s.v. Hyperion. Other accounts make Selene the daughter of the Titan Pallas (Homeric Hymn 4 to Hermes, 99–100) or of Helios (Euripides, The Phoenician Women 175 ff.; Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44.191). For a genealogical table of the descendants of Hyperion and Theia see Grimal, p. 535, Table 14, see also Tables 5 and 12.
  4. ^ Tripp, s.v. Hyperion; Grimal, s.v. Hyperion.
  5. ^ Gantz, p. 30; Hard, p. 43.
  6. ^ Hard, pp. 37, 43; West 1966, pp. 36, 157–158 (on line 18).
  7. ^ Hard, p. 37.
  8. ^ Hard, p. 32; Gantz, p. 30; Tripp, s.v. Hyperion.
  9. ^ Gantz, p. 30; Homer, Odyssey 12.176; Hesiod, Theogony 371–374, 1011; Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter, 26, 74.
  10. ^ Gantz, p. 30. Helios called Helios Hyperion: Homer, Iliad 8.480, Odyssey 1.8, 12.133, 12.263, 346, 374; called simply Hyperion: Homer, Iliad 19.398, 1.24; Homeric Hymn 3 to Apollo, 369.
  11. ^ Gantz, p. 30; Eumelus fr. 17 West; Mimnermus fr. 12 Gerber; Stesichorus fr. S 17 Campbell [= 185 Poetae Melici Graeci]; Pindar, Olympian 7.39.
  12. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 5.67.1.
  13. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 132–138, 337–411, 453–520, 901–906, 915–920; Caldwell, pp. 8–11, tables 11–14.
  14. ^ Although usually the daughter of Hyperion and Theia, as in Hesiod, Theogony 371–374, in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes (4), 99–100, Selene is instead made the daughter of Pallas the son of Megamedes.
  15. ^ According to Hesiod, Theogony 507–511, Clymene, one of the Oceanids, the daughters of Oceanus and Tethys, at Hesiod, Theogony 351, was the mother by Iapetus of Atlas, Menoetius, Prometheus, and Epimetheus, while according to Apollodorus, 1.2.3, another Oceanid, Asia was their mother by Iapetus.
  16. ^ According to Plato, Critias, 113d–114a, Atlas was the son of Poseidon and the mortal Cleito.
  17. ^ In Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 18, 211, 873 (Sommerstein, pp. 444, 445 n. 2, 446, 447 n. 24, 538, 539 n. 113) Prometheus is made to be the son of Themis.