Hammer and Tong

The world has been shaped by industrious people be it by hard labour, scientific and health discoveries, technological and mechanical advances and the arts. Without such people where would we be today? The world and we, the general populace, need these extraordinary persons for without them, it would be dull and well, we’d still be paddling up the river without an oar. Out of all the gods, Hephaistos was perhaps the one most people could relate to, for he was worshipped in all aspects of manufacturing and industrial developments.

Temple of Hephaestus Athens . Photo by Scott Ware. Used with permission. August 2007

Temple of Hephaestus
Athens
Photo by Scott Ware. Used with permission. August 2007

Hephaistos, god of fire and the forge, had many aspects for which he was worshipped. Blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, those skilled in use of metals and metallurgy honoured him. He was a gifted blacksmith of which many of the objects he created are told in many stories, but first to the unusual circumstances of his birth.

But Hera without union with Zeus—for she was very angry and quarrelled with her mate—bare famous Hephaestus, who is skilled in crafts more than all the sons of Heaven.
Hesiod Theogony line 924

According to mythology, Hera was jealous of Zeus for birthing Athene  by himself and after an argument, decided to have a child on her own. Unlike the other gods, Hephaistos was born lame, and Hera disgusted and shamed by his disability threw him from Mount Olympos. He was saved and cared for by Thetis. In another myth, it was Zeus who hurled him out. It was during the time Hera tried to kill Herakles, Zeus found out and hung her up in fetters. Hephaistos attempted to free her when Zeus caught him and hence, how he ended up with a bad leg/foot.

Stories say he was ugly which I don’t necessarily believe but more attributed to the fact he was crippled. In any case, to exact revenge on his mother, he made a golden throne for Hera and when she sat, it magical bonds refused to let her go. He left her there and only released her when Dionysos got him drunk, took him back to Mount Olympos and was promised Aphrodite  as his wife. His marriage with the goddess of love was a turbulent one and in turn, she had an affair with Ares.

He also crafted Pandora  from mud, gave her form before the other gods bestowed their gifts. He made a necklace for Harmonia which was cursed and doomed her descendants to a cycle of tragedy. A more renowned legend was the armour and shield he fashioned for Akhilleus.

First of all he forged a shield that was huge and heavy, elaborating it about, and threw around it a shining triple rim that glittered, and the shield strap was cast of silver. There were five folds composing the shield itself, and upon it he elaborated many things in his skill and craftsmanship . . . Then after he had wrought this shield, which was huge and heavy, he wrought for him a corselet brighter than fire in its shining, and wrought him a helmet, massive and fitting close to his temples, lovely and intricate work, and laid a gold top-ridge along it, and out of pliable tin wrought him leg-armour.
Homer, The Iliad 18, 478 and 610

Hephaestus hands in the new Achilles' armour to Thetis  Attic red-figure Kylix, 490–480 BC.

Hephaestus hands in the new Achilles’ armour to Thetis
Attic red-figure Kylix, 490–480 BC.

Out of all the gods, Hephaistos I feel was a visionary, a master craftsman who used his skill that out shone the others. Perhaps more humble in virtue, but don’t be fooled, he had a temper. After all look at what he did to Hera, Aphrodite and Ares and Harmonia. Not quite forgiving of those who wronged him. I think we can relate to that in some way.

For more information visit Greek Mythology.com

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