Phaethon (Gr. , the shining), in Greek mythology, the son of Helios (the sun) and the Oceanid Olymene. To satisfy those who doubted whether the sun was his father, he obtained from Helios a promise that he would grant him any favor he asked, and thereupon demanded permission to drive his chariot across the heavens. The horses, despising their driver, turned out of their path, and when the chariot went so near to the earth as almost to set it on fire, Jupiter killed Phaethon with a thunderbolt, and hurled him into the river Eridanus (Po). His sisters, the Heliades, who found him, were changed into poplars and their tears into amber.
Phalaris, tyrant of Agrigentum in Sicily, from about 570 to about 555 B. 0. He was a native of Agrigentum, or, less probably, of Asty-palgea in the AEgean sea. The means by which he acquired the supreme power are doubtful, one legend attributing his elevation to a stratagem by which he forcibly gained control of the city; others to a sudden usurpation, like a modern coup d'etat, made while he held one of the higher offices. The early part of his reign was mild, but he afterward pursued a career of cruelty and oppression. It is related that Pe-rillus, an Athenian artist, constructed for him a brazen bull in which his victims were roasted, and the first sufferer by the machine was the maker himself. His misgovernment at last caused a popular outbreak, in which he was stoned to death. The "Epistles of Phalaris," first published at Venice in 1498, were proved by Bentley to be spurious.
See Athens, vol. ii., p. 59.
Pharaoh, the Egyptian word for king, applied particularly to the native rulers of Egypt before the Persian conquest. The title is derived by Rosellini, Lepsius, Chabas, and others from the Egyptian ph-Ra, the sun. It denoted .that the king was an emblem of the god of light, and derived his authority directly from heaven. The name is found in the hieroglyphics, as the regular royal praenomen, expressed by a ring or disk, the character representing the sun. De Rouge and Ebers, however, read the word pe-raa, meaning " grand house," and consider it a title corresponding to the modern " Sublime Porte." In the Old Testament Pharaoh is generally used without the addition of the individual name of the king, Pharaoh Necho and Pharaoh Hophra being the only exceptions.
Pharos, the ancient name of a small island off the coast of Egypt, seven stadia from the ancient Alexandria, connected with the mainland by a mole, and famous for its lighthouse, which was numbered among the seven wonders of the world, and gave the name of Pharos to all structures of a similar kind. (See Lighthouse, vol. x., p. 458.) The island became at length a suburb of Alexandria by means of a street running along the mole, and retained some importance even to the time of Julius Caesar, but subsequently sank into its original condition of a fishing station.