Phaëthon fā´əthən, –tən [key] or Phaëtonfā´ətən [key], in Greek mythology, son of Helios and the nymph Clymene. He tried to drive his father's golden chariot, but he could not control its great steeds. As the chariot plunged to earth it burned Mt. Oeta and dried the Libyan Desert. The universe would have been destroyed by fire if Zeus had not killed Phaëthon with a thunderbolt.
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