Hephaestus by Unknown
Symbols: Anvil, hammer, and tongs
Parents: Hera (and sometimes Zeus)
Children: Thalia, Eucleia, and King Erichthonius of Athens
Abode: Mount Olympus
Roman name: Vulcan
Hephaestus was the Greek god of fire, blacksmiths, craftsmen, and volcanoes. He lived in his own palace on Mount Olympus where he crafted tools for the other gods. He was known as a kind and hardworking god, but also had a limp and was considered ugly by the other gods.
How was Hephaestus usually pictured?
Hephaestus was usually shown working at a fiery forge with his hammer, tongs, and an anvil. He wasn't a good looking man, but he was very strong due to his work as a blacksmith. Unlike many of the other Greek gods, he did not ride a chariot, but rode a donkey.
What powers and skills did he have?
He was very skilled in metalworking, stonework, and other crafts that were typically performed by Greek men. He could control both fire and metal to do his will. He also had the ability to make his creations move. He used this power to create two golden handmaidens who assisted him in his work.
Birth of Hephaestus
In some stories, Hephaestus is the son of the gods Hera and Zeus. However, in other stories he only has Hera as his mother. Hera used a magical herb to become pregnant. When she birthed Hephaestus, she was disgusted by his lame foot and threw him from Mount Olympus hoping he would die.
Return to Olympus
Hephaestus fell from the sky for several days and eventually landed in the sea where he was rescued by some sea nymphs. The nymphs hid him from Hera and raised him in an underwater cave. It was during this time that he learned how to craft wonderful works from metal. Eventually, Zeus learned of his existence and let him move back to Mount Olympus.
A Great Craftsman
Hephaestus created all sorts of interesting items for the gods on Mount Olympus. Below are a list of some of his works:
- Palaces and thrones - He built palaces and thrones for the other gods who lived on Mount Olympus.
- Pandora - Zeus commanded him to mold the first woman from clay as a curse upon mankind.
- Chariot of Helios - He made a chariot for the god Helios that Helios used to pull the sun across the sky each day.
- Chains of Prometheus - Adamantine chains that bound the Titan Prometheus to a mountain.
- Thunderbolts of Zeus - In some stories, Hephaestus actually made the thunderbolts that Zeus wields as weapons.
- Arrows of Apollo and Artemis - He made magic arrows for the gods Apollo and Artemis.
- Aegis of Zeus - He forged the famous shield (or breastplate depending on the story) worn by Zeus (or sometimes Athena).
- Armor of Heracles and Achilles - He forged armor for some of the most powerful heroes including Heracles and Achilles.
- When Zeus got a terrible headache, Hephaestus split his head open with an axe and out jumped a fully grown Athena.
- Zeus arranged the marriage between Aphrodite and Hephaestus. He did it mostly to stop the other male gods from fighting over Aphrodite.
- His assistants in the forge were giant one-eyed monsters called Cyclopes.
- In some stories, he divorced Aphrodite and married Aglaea, the goddess of beauty.
- He used fire to defeat the river-god Scamander during the Trojan War.
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