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AMBER - TEARS OF THE HELIADES

The Roman poet Ovid (43 BC-18 AD) in his work Metamorphoses, when relating about the emergence of amber, said that the sun god Helios and the mortal woman Clymene had a son Phaethon.

The latter appealed to his mother, asking for her confirmation that he was indeed of heavenly origins. His mother suggested Phaethon go to see his father and ask him. Phaethon leaped for joy and soon found himself in his father's land. Helios sat atop a golden throne in a palace. He confirmed that Phaethon was indeed his son, and wanting to disperse any doubts, granted him any wish. Phaethon asked for his chariot and the power to harness and ride his steeds. The father tried to talk his son out of riding across the sky as he was indeed a mortal and it was not within his powers to control the immortal steeds, but the son did not relent. The young demi-god lost control of the horses and found himself too close to Earth, and it caught on fire. Saving the Earth, Zeus cast Phaethon into the Eridanus River. Phaethon's mother Clymene and his sisters the Heliades cried for four long months until they themselves turned into trees. Their ceaseless tears were transformed into amber.

(Source: Lithuanian Art Museum, pgm.lt)