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Hephaestus

Tales beyond belief

Hephaestus for kids
Discover the legends and myths surrounding Hephaestus. Hephaestus was the Greek god of fire and the patron of all craftsmen and metal workers. His forge and workshop was believed to be situated under the volcano at Mount Etna where he created the weapons and the thrones of the Greek gods who resided on the summit of Mount Olympus.

According to Greek mythology he was assisted in his forge by the Cyclopes (one-eyed monsters) and had the powers to make amazing mechanical robots, such as the giant Talos.

Hephaestus (Roman Counterpart was Vulcan)
When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC, the Romans assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Ancient Greeks. Many of the Greek gods and goddesses, such as Hephaestus, were therefore adopted by the Romans but were given Latin names. The Roman counterpart of Hephaestus was Vulcan.

Facts about Hephaestus
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Hephaestus:

  • Personality: Kind, faithful and loveable

  • Appearance: Bearded, mighty shoulders, lame and ugly

  • Role & Function: The function of Hephaestus is described as being the god of fire and the forge. His role was that of the master craftsman and blacksmith of the gods.

  • Status: Major God and one of the Twelve Olympians

  • Symbols: Fire, hammer, axe, tongs, donkey and quail

  • Gender: Male

  • Roman Counterpart: The Roman name for this god was Vulcan

  • Name of Wife: Aphrodite

  • Name of Father: Zeus

  • Name of Mother: Hera

  • Names of Children: Hephaestus and Aphrodite had no children together, but both had children with other lovers

Hephaestus and Aphrodite
According to Greek mythology and legends despite his ugly appearance Hephaestus married Aphrodite, the most beautiful of all the goddesses. He had previously fallen in love with Athena who rejected him with the utmost contempt. To console Hephaestus and at the same time punish the Goddess of Beauty for her vanity Zeus bestowed upon him the hand of Aphrodite, and sent her and her mischievous train of hand maidens (the Graces) to reside in his forge in the dark caves of Mount Etna. At first Aphrodite was intrigued by her unusual surroundings but she became bored and left her husband and took many (more handsome) lovers.  Some time later, Hephaestus married Aglaia the youngest of the Graces, but she also soon wearied of his society and also deserted him.

The Children of Hephaestus
Hephaestus had numerous children with other lovers and included:

  • Cacus was a fire-breathing demon
  • Another son called Periphetes 'the club-bearer' was a violent creature who murdered his victims with an iron club and was eventually killed by the hero Theseus
  • The Palici were twin brothers who were associated with geysers and the Underworld
  • Hephaistos was the father of Black Men and the great spirited Ethiopians
  • He was also father of the Subterranean Men and the strength-less Pygmies

Hephaestus and Mount Olympus
In Greek Mythology the principle Greek gods, that included Hephaestus, were referred to as the Twelve Olympians and lived on the summit of Mount Olympus which was protected by a special layer of clouds. The gods and goddesses who lived on Mount Olympus attended sumptuous banquets in the council-chamber of the gods and feasted on ambrosia (the food of the gods) and nectar (the drink of the gods). The names of the other Olympian gods were Zeus, Hera, Athena, Hestia or Dionysus, Apollo, Ares, Aphrodite, Poseidon, Demeter, Artemis, Hephaestus and Hermes.

The Symbols of Hephaestus
In the sculptures, vases, mosaics and paintings of Greek Art the god Hephaestus was often illustrated with images representing his symbols - fire, anvil, hammer, axe, tongs, donkey and quail.

  • Symbols of Fire, anvil, hammer, axe and tongs
    • The symbol of the fire was associated with the myth that he introduced fire to mortals. The anvil, hammer, axe and tongs were all tools used in his forge
  • The symbol of the Donkey
    • He was often depicted on the back of a donkey and the donkey was also used instead of bellows to make the forge fire hot
  • The Quail
    • The symbol of the quail was because the bird that does a hobbling dance in springtime

Hephaestus in Greek Mythology
The god of fire and the forge is famous for making the weapons and the armor for the gods and some of the Greek heroes such as the bows and golden chariots for Apollo and Artemis, golden shields for Greek heroes such as Heracles (Hercules) and Achilles. Hephaestus also made the thrones for all the gods on Mount Olympus and constructed their fabulous palace that was made of bronze. However, his supernatural and powerful skills as a metal worker led him to make many other astonishing items using gold, silver and bronze, including magnificent metal robots that served the gods and their favorites. Many of the marvelous mechanical robots were made for King Aietes in gratitude for the kindness shown to him by his father. The fantastic robotic devices made by Hephaestus included:

  • Robotic gold statues that looked like young men that could think and speak. They acted as torch bearers in the palace of King Aiedes
  • Gold and silver mechanical dogs that guarded the doors of the palace of Alcinous
  • The bronze giant Talos, who he gave to King Minos to guard the island of Crete. Talos features in the mythology surrounding Jason and the Argonauts

Facts about Hephaestus in Greek Mythology
Discover interesting information and facts about Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire featured in the stories, myths and legends in Greek Mythology.

  • When his mother Hera first saw Hephaestus she was so affronted by his ugly appearance that she threw him into the sea from Mount Olympus, causing him to become lame

  • His forge and workshop was situated under a volcano

  • Hephaestus worked with a one-eyed Cyclopes to create weapons for the gods

  • Zeus commanded Hephaestus to create the first female mortal by mixing earth and water to fashion a maiden with a voice, strength and the face of a goddess . The name of the first female mortal was Pandora

  • Ares was caught in an invisible net by the god Hephaestus whilst committing adultery with the god's wife Aphrodite

  • When Hephaestus was thrown off Mount Olympus he was tended by Eurynome and Thetis, who were the nymphs called Nereids

  • Hephaestus built the golden palaces of all the Olympian gods and goddesses and fitted them with locks that others could not open

Gods and Deities
Greek Gods and Goddesses

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