Hephaestus (Greek: Ἥφαιστος, Hēphaistos) is the Greek god of fire, metalworking, craftsmen, sculpture, metallurgy and volcanoes. His parents were Zeus and Hera, Hephaestus was the blacksmith of the gods. He was married to the goddess Aphrodite, who cheated on him with his brother Ares. His symbols were a smith’s hammer, an anvil, and a pair of tongs. The donkey was his sacred animal. The god Vulcan is his Roman equivalent.
When Hephaestus was born, he was ugly and weak, with a broken foot. Hera did not like the way he looked and threw him off her castle which was on top of the clouds. Hephaestus fell for one day and one night before falling into the sea. The sea animals rescued him and took him to an island called Lemnos. There Hephaestus built his forge underneath a volcano. He collected precious metals, pearls and pieces of coral to fashion extraordinary jewelry. Hephaestus built little robots of gold to help him get around. Hephaestus even worked with the Cyclopes (one eyed creatures). To impress the gods and goddesses, he made a set of golden thrones for them.
Hera realized her mistake of throwing Hephaestus off Mount Olympus and wanted Hephaestus back. Hephaestus politely refused, saying that he was quite happy where he was. Hephaestus denied because he knew that the only reason that Hera wanted him back, was because he could make her items. He then set to work and fashioned a beautiful golden throne and sent it to Hera as a ‘thank you, but not really, gift.’ Hera felt delighted by his present. The instant she sat on it, golden ropes and chains flew out and tied her into the chair.
Hephaestus was still very angry with Hera because she threw him off Mount Olympus just because he was a little deformed. Hera was trapped on the throne three whole days without being able to eat or sleep. Everyone tried to free Hera from the great trap, but Hephaestus’ design was so clever that none of the gods could detach the ropes. So, Zeus sent his son Ares, god of war, to bring Hephaestus back to let Hera loose. Hephaestus made Ares run away by throwing firebrands at him, and Ares made a shameful retreat. Zeus used trickery next and sent Dionysus, the god of wine, to get Hephaestus drunk. Hephaestus was not a regular drinker, and Hephaestus got drunk very quickly. Soon Dionysus was making his proud return to Mount Olympus, with drunk Hephaestus on the back of a mule. Hephaestus still refused to let his mother out. Zeus offered him Aphrodite (the goddess of beauty) as a wife if he let his mother out. Hephaestus agreed to his offer and finally freed Hera. He moved back to the forges because he did not like the busy life of the palace. Although, he still refused to forgive Hera.
Hera felt very guilty and gave him loads of supplies, materials, tools, and helpers for his workshop. Hephaestus made the best weapons, jewelry, and armor. Some of his greatest creations ever were the silver bows and arrows of Artemis and Apollo as well as Apollo’s golden chariot. He also made the shield of Achilles, Athena’s spear, and Hercules’ breastplate. In addition to this he made the scepter of Zeus and the battle armor of the Olympian armies. He also made all of the gods and goddesses palaces (with help from Athena) and their unbreakable locks. On top of all this, Hephaestus was and is still credited with the invention of the three-legged stool and the world’s first robots. His helpers included a complete set of life size golden maids who helped around the house.
Marriage to Aphrodite
Hephaestus married Aphrodite. When Aphrodite emerged from the sea (created by the sperm of the severed member of Uranus,) Zeus feared that the gods would battle over her hand in marriage, so Zeus arranged that Aphrodite would marry Hephaestus if he let his mother out of the golden throne. Hephaestus gave Aphrodite his best creations and even gave her a magic girdle that made her irresistible to men. However, Aphrodite did not love him as she was married against her will and she didn’t like Hephaestus’ looks. She spent most of her time with Ares.
It is said that when his wife, Aphrodite, does something unfaithful, he smashes some of his materials through rage and makes the volcano he lives under erupt. One time, Hephaestus caught Aphrodite and Ares on a bed while they Aphrodite and Ares were making love. Hephaestus out of rage, trapped them on the bed and sent them to Mount Olympus to be ridiculed and laughed at by the other gods.
Hephaestus was well liked by all of the Olympians. He was not involved in their plots. Hephaestus preferred to be alone in his workshop. Hephaestus was also worshiped by the Greeks because he proved that those who labor are also noble. Hephaestus reminds us of the value and dangers of losing our selves in work.