Greek God of Fire and Metalworking
Hephaestus was the god of fire, metalworking, stone masonry, forges and the art of sculpture. He was the son of Zeus and Hera and married to Aphrodite by Zeus to prevent a war of the gods fighting for her hand. He was a smithing god, making all of the weapons for Olympus and acting as a blacksmith for the gods.
He had his own palace on Olympus where he made many clever inventions and automatons of metal to work for him. Hephaestus’s ugly appearance was the reason Zeus chose him to marry Aphrodite, but despite this she had many affairs with both gods and men.
In one story, Hephaestus builds a tricky invention which catches Aphrodite laying with the Ares, the god of war, trapping them both in the bed to be laughed at and ridiculed by the other gods.
He is similar to Athena in his giving skill and help to mortals – in his case artists. It was believed that Hephaestus taught men the arts alongside Athena. However, he was also considered far inferior to that of the goddess of wisdom.
Facts about Hephaestus
- Hephaestus was known as the God of Fire.
- In some accounts, he was said to be the son of Zeus and Hera; in others, he was the son of Hera alone, conceived in order to get back at Zeus for bringing forth Athena.
- Hephaestus was the only ugly god among perfectly beautiful immortals.
- Hephaestus was born deformed and was cast out of heaven by one or both of his parents when they noticed that he was imperfect.
- He was the workman of the immortals: he made their dwellings, furnishings, and weapons.
- In his workshop, Hephaestus had assistants who were made out of gold and who helped him with his work.
- His forge or workshop was located under a volcano, and the work he did within it caused frequent eruptions.
- In most accounts, Aphrodite is named as his wife, although she was unfaithful to him (with Ares, for one). Theirs was an arranged marriage.
- Hephaestus was a patron of the arts.
- He was a kind and peace-loving god.
- In art, Hephaestus is usually depicted as bending over an anvil or walking with the assistance of a cane.
- He was worshipped primarily in Athens, where he had a temple.
- Hephaestus manufactured the aegis (or shield) that Athena is known for carrying.
- The arrows of Eros (known also as Cupid) were fashioned by Hephaestus as well.
- Hephaestus was the god of the ceremony when children were officially admitted to the city organization.
- According to a story told both by Homer and Hesiod, Hephaestus married Aglaia, one of the three Graces.
- Hephaestus was known for making a gold basket that Europa, daughter of the King of Sidon, used to gather flowers when she happened upon Zeus in the meadow.
- Hephaestus crafted the armor that Achilles wore in the Trojan War. The same arms, despite their connection to divinity, brought about the death of Ajax.
- Aphrodite gave Harmonia an extraordinary necklace made by Hephaestus. The piece of jewelry brought disaster to later generations.
- Erichthonius was the son of Hephaestus: he was half man, half serpent.
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