Hephaestus, the Greek God of Fire (Vulcan)


(Painting by Peter Paul Rubens 1636 – Vulcan forging the thunderbolts of Jove.)


Here is a little about the mythology around Hephaestus (Vulcan), the Greek God of Fire….

When Hera gave birth to Hephaestus and discovered he was lame, she reluctantly threw him down from heaven into the sea. There Thetis, the goddess of the sea, took care of him and hid him in a cave, unnoticed by Hera or the other gods. But Hephaestus had not gotten over his mother’s unnatural behaviour and, being a skilful and talented artist, he later constructed and presented her with a beautiful golden throne. When Hera seated herself upon it, she could not get up from it again. The gods begged Hephaestus to forgive his mother and set her free, and when he hesitated, only Dionysus succeeded in taking advantage of his credulity to get him drunk and bring him to Olympus, where he then set Hera free.

According to Homer, however, it was Zeus who cast Hephaestus out of Olympus onto the island of Lemnos for coming to Hera’s aid when Zeus wanted to punish her, because she had opposed him. Hephaestus. lamed by the fall, set up his forge there and became not just a simple blacksmith but a gifted artist, whose skilful hands created marvellous inventions which because the stuff of legend. He made palaces for the gods, Zeus’ sceptre, and Achilles’ famous suit of armour. It was also Hephaestus who released Athena from Zeus’ head with a blow from an axe and later crated the aegis – a shield decorated with the head of Medusa – for her. Commanded by Zeus, he also chained Prometheus to the rocks.

On Lemnos or on Sicily, Hephaestus’ was always connected with subterranean fire, the earth’s volcanic activity, which he harnessed. But he is also the lame, crippled or dwarfish smith of folk tales who, with his helpers, the Cyclopes, created ingenious devices in his forge, and along with Prometheus, he was worshipped as the creator and protector or crafts and craftsman.


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