Jesus H. Phaethon and the House of the Sun

Adapted from Edith Hamilton’s Account of the Myth

The Great House of the Sun is a radiant place. Its floors of pure white marble and walls of glass were special-ordered by the Sun and built by her sweat-covered artisan slaves. From every wall and fixture emanates pure golden light. The House seems to be strung upon beams of light, spilled out across the intersection of warm time and supple space. The Sun herself is adorned with all varieties of jewels, which she wears to accent and enhance her radiant beauty. Daily she changes her jewels and wardrobe in order to cast yet another shade of light upon the lower world, which is only a shadow of her radiance. High Noon lives in the House of the Sun. Twilight is her long-lost and lonesome cousin. Darkness and Night are Her Titans cast down. Few men can endure the brilliant beauty of her House, but then again few have stumbled upon the hidden stair to her house.

Even so, one day a young half-boy named Jesus happened upon her gates. He had been on a mid-day walk through the Egyptian countryside when he became lost in thought and wandered away from the beaten path. When the gates were opened unto him, he removed his clothing and began to ascend, knowing the light would scorch his clothes and burn him in the process. He dared to make his way up the lazy, living stair, which rippled and shook with light as he stepped out upon it. Often the half-boy stopped to clear his dazzled eyes and regain his sight. So bright was it that was unsure if he could continue. “I will be blind upon my return to Earth if I continue up into this light,” he thought to himself. Then another thought jumped into his head.

The half-boy, Jesus, knelt down upon the stair and prayed. “Eli,” he said, “send to me some golden sun glasses.” Then he heard music from on high and beheld that the clouds parted. From far off, he beheld winged glasses flying towards him. Closer and closer they came, until they nested on his nose and rested on his ears. He could not describe his joy. Now he clearly perceived the staircase and continued on up, more certain of himself than ever before.

Before long he passed through the bright polished doors which stood open before him. He continued down the long golden atrium and into the burning heart of the Sun’s chamber. There She lounged, light and color radiating from every inch of her body. She yawned and stretched out lazily among the clouds, some of which floated about her chamber noiselessly at random. She rubbed her sleepy eyes and the half-boy came to a halt. From her cozy bed she smirked out upon him.

He knew that nothing escapes the eyes of the Sun. He felt a rush of warm radiant light flow through him. She looked him up and down with her warm glowing eyes.

“What brings you here?” She asked.

“I have come,” Jesus said, “to find out if you are my mother. Some tell me that you are, while others say you are not. Until today I have had no opportunity to ask you myself.”

“You have always had the opportunity, just not the eyes” She said, motioning for him to come lay with her in her bed of clouds. She wanted to hold him close and run her fingers of light through the boy’s dark hair. She smiled down at him and began removing her jewels so that he could see her better.

“Come here, Jesus,” she said. “You are one of my many beautiful half-sons. From the beginning your brothers and sisters have told you this was so.”

“Before the day is out, will you wrestle with her?” the breath of High Noon whispered in hushed and honeyed music to the half-boy’s ears.”

Jesus gazed out at his step-mother through his golden winged sunglasses, astonished at High Noon’s windy words. The Sun laughed gently and pulled him to her breast. “Surely you do not doubt my words, my sweet Jesus? Ask anything you want of me and you shall have it! I swear upon my title to the heavens!” She offered, flush with emotion and longing to have her half-son.  

The half-boy, face flushed, was at a loss for words. Soft white petals began to rain down from the trees of light in the Sun’s chamber. He thought to himself what he might most want. Doubtless the half-boy had, at moments of his early life, watched his step-mother roll lazily across the sky, half in awe, half in excitement, thinking, “that’s my beautiful mother up there.” Surely he often had wondered what it would be like to be wrapped in her arms and rolling across the sky in a dizzy dance, showering down light upon the world.

Now, feeling the wind of High Noon’s wild words, his boyish daydreams overtook him once more. His giddy excitement could barely contain itself. In his step-mother’s arms, he cried out, “Mother, let me roll with you across the sky! That is the only thing I want! Just for a day, a single day, let me roll with you across the sky!”

The Sun immediately realized her mistake. She had smothered this half-son in kisses and offered up too much. Why had she taken that fateful oath and given herself over to whatever came into a rash half-boy’s head? “Son,” she said, running her fingers through his dark hair, “this is the only thing that I would have refused to you. If I indulge you, it is likely you will slip from my grasp and fall down and hang upon a tree. You know it is said, ‘cursed be those that hand upon a tree.’ However, sweet boy, you know that I cannot refuse. I have sworn by my title to the heavens. I must give in to you if you persist, but surely you will understand and ask something else of me.”

She had taken off her jewels and held them in her hands, offering them enticingly to the boy with one eyebrow raised. Jesus shook his head, incorrigible, as rash half-boys tend to be.

“Listen while I tell you what this is you want. Midheaven is so high that even I rarely look down. You are the Moon’s son as well as mine. You are mortal and no mortal can roll with me. Indeed, no God or Goddess except myself can do that. Jesus looked up at his mother through the winged glasses. “Aren’t you ever lonely, mother?” The Sun laughed a gentle laugh, the boys head rising and falling on her breast as She did so. “Son, there is so much you do not know. I am never alone, nor could I ever feel this loneliness of which you speak, for your father is forever in me, and I am in him. My heart burns with love, so I am never alone.”

A shining tear glimmered on her cheek and fell down upon his arm. His grubby fingers clutched at the golden tufts of hair beneath her arms. “My hands are tied to the heavens with the cords of Fate. Son, you must again return to your Other Mother’s House. She will watch over you and keep you. Through all her actions you will see me. And you will see with your own unaided eyes, which you could never do within my House of Light. I may have cast Darkness away, but She will guard you, sleep at your side, make her home beside you. How else can a half-boy become a half-man? I will send you many other lovers to light your darkened days. My daughter Sophia will be among your frequent loves. Sweet one, if I let you roll with me, it would be in defiance of the Fates…” She pleaded with the boy.

But his ears had flown away. This wise talk meant nothing to the boy. With an absence where his ears had been, the golden glasses slipped from his nose, were carried off on the winds of High Noon. For an instant he looked into her flickering eye, more radiantly beautiful than any other eye. Desire burst forth within his chest. “Mother roll with me across the sky!” Jesus cried out. She could see the longing in his shining eyes.

With title to heaven between her teeth,

she scooped him up and rolled they out.

Wrapped in arms and legs and golden hair,

A lighter love he never felt.

Light her touch, and strong her limbs,

Rolling through the sacred sky.

Quickly cresting heaven’s mound,

Sweat did pour and wash him down.

Cries rang out,

‘cross her bed of clouds.

From between her teeth

Her title fell.

The Sun beheld her beautiful young half-boy strung upon a hawthorn tree in the House of the Moon. There he hung, pierced and bleeding, the title to the heavens in his hand. The Sun smirked down at the rash half-boy. She would always remember this most ambitious mortal love. Her tears rained down and the Moon awoke. In the dark she saw the half-boy hanging there and took pity on him. Very carefully, she took him down, winked at the Sun with her sleepy eye. Then she brought Jesus into her cave, so this half-boy she might save.

Every Sunday I Visit a Cyclops

Well, some Sundays I can’t drag myself to his Cave (having been seduced by the gentle Hands of Spring, Summer, or Fall)…

But when I do attend that place where shadows chase themselves among the Sheep and mildewed air, I can’t stop staring at His ominous and stormy Eye, into which I gaze too confidently, with a confidence that comes from my position as a ghostly messenger between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead.

With His one large Eye, He sees into me, and knows that one of his Sheep, I am not. I have travelled too far and wide. And He is one Cyclops among many…

But this is my Cyclops, and I love Him for it. When I do visit his Cave, I am warmed by the His Sheep and His hot breath as he tells His stories, enchanting His Sheep.

With his one large Eye, he seems to gaze off into the distance, to reach out across time…But the poor fool is too near-sighted to see very much…How could I, with hundreds of Eyes in my pocket, judge Fate’s fortunate plan…

Some of His Sheep come to the Cave with fleece of gold, which He hopes to shear, no doubt. But no matter to me. I am in need of no wool, for Science, She brings Heat to my Temple, Love, She brings Truth to the Fire, and Mystery, She sews us a cloak in the night…

The Cyclops and I, we are good for each other. He is the hot-breathed Voice of the Dead. Once upon a time, He would have eaten me whole, unless I first could put a stake through His Eye. He will not pay a visit to me, but insists I visit Him. I feel this is fair, for in my Temple there is too much too see. I once tried speaking with Him, but soon noticed that He had no ears…

“Poor fool,” I thought to myself. “No wonder that he likes his life in the Cave.”