Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (www.sirwilliamwesley.com)
He is the God of all Craftsmen, particularly those who work in metals, a sometimes God of Fire and Volcanoes. He also was an exiled child who became a disgruntled and disfigured adult. Then he went on to construct the most important items in all of creation. When you talk about overcoming handicaps to achieve great things, look no further then Hephaestus.
Some stories say this Greek deity is the child of Zeus and Hera, other stories explain that Hephaestus was conceived by Hera alone, without you know, having known anyone (wink, wink). One telling of his life’s tale explains that Hephaestus stood up for his mother Hera when she was fighting with Zeus, and thusly Zeus expelled him from Olympus. Quite forcefully in fact, he literally tossed him out and Hephaestus fell for nine days. When he landed it caused him to become crippled and disfigured. Another version says that Hephaestus was born crippled and that Hera was so repulsed by her newborn son that she discarded him, which also involved him doing some falling from Mount Olympus. No matter how it happened, Hephaestus is always shown as unattractive and misshapen, lame and hunched over his anvil. He walks with the aid of a stick because of his physical ailments, which are sometimes played up to such an extreme that his feet are actually back to front! An interesting note here is that some people mention that Hephaestus’s physical appearance could be a caused by low levels of arsenic poisoning. This is interesting because arsenic was sometimes added to bronze to help it harden, which resulted in many smiths of the Bronze age suffering from low levels of arsenic poisoning. This meant that many smiths of that era would bear some of the same marks as their patron Hephaestus. It should be noted that I am not a medical expert, nor a history buff, so I cannot vouch that this is 100% true, but I found it to be an interesting theory at the very least.
Hephaestus was crippled and tossed aside. He only made it back to Olympus by being dragged there drunk after having constructed a chair that held his mother Hera prisoner. Athena, a suitable partner didn’t want him, Aphrodite, his sometimes wife cheated on him. Also, let’s call it a hunch; I’m guessing Mom and “Dad” never really welcomed him back like the long lost son he was. Overall, Hephaestus had it tough, but to get all symbolic ironic on your ass, sometimes the hottest fires forge the toughest steels.
It’s true, Hephaestus did not have a lot in his favor, but what he did have was mad skills (as the kids say) at the forge. Once the gods realized this, he was the go to guy for all your legendary item needs! Firstly, it is said that he built all the homes for the gods on Mount Olympus, but that’s child’s play compared to his other creations. Hephaestus is credited with having constructed Achilles’ armor, Hercules’s bronze clappers, Helios’s chariot, the Aegis breastplate, Eros’s bow and arrow, and much more. Anyone who was anyone in the Greek pantheon’s prime had to have at least one item that Hephaestus created, but all the mythological bling bling is overshadowed by one very important creation, woman.
When the gods decided to give man the gift of woman, Hephaestus created her out of clay. So ultimately it was Hephaestus that gave man the gift of woman, a beautiful woman named Pandora that was bestowed to man bearing a very special jar (or box). Of course, that is another story all together….