Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Hephaestus was the Greek god of fire, especially the blacksmiths fire. He was the patron of all craftsmen, especially blacksmiths and others who worked with metal. There are two versions of how Hephaestus became crippled. One story says that he was born lame, and his mother Hera threw him from Mount Olympus and he fell for a day before landing in the sea. Nymphs rescued him and took him to an island, where the people took care of him. In the other story, Zeus, his father, threw him from the top of Mount Olympus after siding with his mother in an argument. Hephaestus fell for nine days and nine nights and landed on the island from the other story, Lemnos, and he built his forges under the Volcano there.
To gain revenge for his mothers rejection, Hephaestus made a magical throne. He brought it to Mount Olympus and when his mother sat in it, she got trapped. All of the gods begged Hephaestus to return to Olympus, but he would not. Dionysus, the god of wine, went to Hephaestus and had him drink a lot of wine. Dionysus brought him to Mount Olympus on the back of a mule while he was drunk. Once he was promised the beautiful Aphrodite as a wife, he released Hera from the chair. Even though Aphrodite was married to him, he suspected her of adultery. So he set a trap. He caught Aphrodite in a bed with Ares and threw a net over them that they could not escape from. He brought them before the other gods, but instead of punishing them, the gods let them go. Hephaestus was not born naturally. There was no participation from any male in his conception. Hera was jealous of Zeus' affair with Metis, she made herself pregnant and had Zeus.
Hephaestus helped in Athena's "birth", he split Zeus' head open with an axe and out popped Athena. Being a great craftsman Hephaestus manufactured wonderful articles from various materials, primarily from metal. With help from the Cyclopes, who were his workmen and assistants, he fashioned the thunderbolts for Zeus and his sceptre. He made weapons and armour for the other gods and heroes. For Athena, he made her shield or aegis and for the god of love, Eros, he made the arrows. The wonderful chariot which the sun god Helios rode across the sky was made by Hephaestus and in some versions it was a golden cup or goblet. He also fashioned the invincible armour of Achilles. Hephaestus helped to create the first woman, with the assistance of other gods, after Zeus had ordered that there be a new kind of human. Zeus plotted against Prometheus because he and his race of mortals had only included one gender, which was male, and so Hephaestus formed the first woman from clay. Her name was Pandora and from a supernatural jar, she released the evils of the world on mankind.