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Hephaestus - Greek God of Fire and Metalworkers

Updated: Jan 14

Given my affinity for craftspeople, I am intrigued by the God of Fire and Metalworkers, Hephaestus. Also known by his Roman name - Vulcan. Honestly, the guy had such a rough go of things, I decided he deserved to have his story told.

Hephaestus was the son of the Greek goddess Hera. You know, the one that was unhappily married to Zeus. I can’t blame her since Zeus was a serial cheater, but the story of Hephaestus reveals that she wasn’t much better. Hephaestus was born ugly and malformed. There are conflicting descriptions: some say he had an enlarged torso and crippled legs and others claim he was covered in hair and one of his legs was longer than the other. Hera was so ashamed of his appearance that she threw him out of Olympus. He landed in the ocean and luckily was found by a couple of nymphs that cared for him until he was old enough to apprentice as a blacksmith. After he perfected his skills, he devised a plan to get back at his cruel mother. He crafted an elaborate throne made of gold and sent it to Olympus. Hera was so delighted by the throne that she sat in it right away. The golden claws that adorned the throne, grabbed onto Hera and wouldn't release her from their clutches.

The Gods begged Hephaestus to come to Olympus to release Hera, but he refused. Dionysus successfully bought Hephaestus back to Olympus by getting him drunk and hauling him up there on the back of a donkey. However, the metalworker still refused to release Hera. He only agreed after he was offered Aphrodite as his bride. Of course, the marriage didn’t last. Aphrodite was not a faithful companion and soon left poor Hephaestus for Ares. Hephaestus again sought revenge by gifting Aphrodite's daughter, Harmonia, a cursed necklace as a wedding gift. The necklace would bring misfortune and destruction to anyone that possessed it.

Hephaestus consoled his broken heart by building grand underground workshops throughout the world, complete with female apprentices made of gold. It is said that the smoke and flame that spouted from volcanos was the exhaust from his workshops buried deep in the earth. He came to be greatly admired by the gods and was regularly summoned to forge great weapons and armor. Some of his most acclaimed works include the winged helmet and sandals of Hermes, the armor of Achilles, and Poseidon’s trident.

This story has it all. Revenge, redemption, lost love. The upside is that Hephaestus began his life weak and disfigured but ended up being greatly admired and revered for his talents. It could've been the ultimate underdog story, but sadly, Hephaestus proved to be just as ruthless and vengeful as his fellow gods.

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