Hephaestus, the Blacksmith of Gods

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Hephaestus was the god of volcanoes, fire, craftsmen, technology, metals and sculpture in Greek mythology. His counterpart in Roman mythology was Vulcan. He was one of the sons of Zeus and Hera, however, Hera was told to be the only parent of him in some myths. He was married to the goddess Aphrodite. According to some myths, Hephaestus created the first woman out of clay upon being requested by Zeus after he saw all the people created by Prometheus had one gender and they were male. The first woman created out of clay was named Pandora and she was known to release all the evils of the world from a magical box (or a jar).

He was the blacksmith of gods and he crafted many of the supernatural equipments worn by gods including Agamemnon’s staff, Achilles’ armor, krotala – the clappers used by Heracles to chase away Stymphalian birds, Eros’ arrows and bow, the breastplate of Aegis, the girdle of Aphrodite, Helios’ chariot, Hermes’ helmet and sandals and Zeus’ thunderbolts. The Cyclopes were known to be his helpers at the forge.

One of the most important myths related to Hephaestus was about the affair between his wife, Aphrodite and Ares. Learning about the relationship between Ares and Aphrodite, Hephaestus built a device to trap two lovers in chains, caught them in a net of chains and brought them to mount Olympus to humiliate them. Poseidon convinced Hephaestus to release the lovers provided that Ares will pay for what he did. Hephaestus and Aphrodite did not have any children according to the accounts, however, Virgil, the famous Roman poet, stated that Eros was a child born out of this marriage.

Hephaestus was depicted as weak god who was also crippled. Being upset with her son, Hera threw Hephaestus out of Mount Olympus although some myths stated that he was thrown out of the mountain by Zeus since he defended Hera against Zeus in an argument. Hephaestus took revenge from his mother by crafting a golden throne for her, which was actually devised to trap her and prevent her from leaving. Other gods tried to convince him to return to Mount Olympus and release his mother but Hephaestus rejected them by stating he does not have a mother anymore. It was Dionysus who solved the conflict in the end. Dionysus tricked Hephaestus into drinking his wine and made him loosening his conscious and carried him back to Mount Olympus.

In some accounts, it was told that Hephaestus wanted Athena to be his wife but Athena refused him stating he was ugly for her.

Hephaestus was depicted as an ugly and crippled man with beards in most of the artworks. In literature and also in some paintings, he was depicted as a man walking with the help of a stick.