Who is Hephaistos? - Greek God Hephaistos

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Who is Hephaistos?


Hephaistos (heh-FAIS-toss) is the blacksmith god, the god of volcanoes and hot fires and smelting metal ore to make iron. People said he lived inside volcanoes, and when they erupted it was because Hephaistos was moving around.
Hephaistos was Hera's son. He had no father, just as Zeus' daughter Athena had no mother. People said that Zeus (or maybe Hera) had thrown Hephaistos off Mount Olympus down to earth, and he had injured his legs in his fall and couldn't walk well. Hephaistos is one of the earliest examples of a story about someone with physical challenges.

bearded man riding a donkey
Hephaistos riding back to Mt. Olympus

This story shows Hephaistos' connection to the earth in several ways: Hera, Gaia's daughter, is an earth goddess, and her son is also earthy. He is thrown from Mount Olympus down to the earth, and he crawls on the earth instead of walking with his head high like a sky god. Of course the god of volcanoes would have to be an earth god and not a sky god, because volcanoes are inside the earth.

In some stories, Hephaistos is married to Aphrodite, but they never seem to get along very well. Aphrodite likes Ares better. One time, Hephaistos waited until Aphrodite and Ares were together, and then suddenly dropped a net over them and trapped them. All the other gods came and laughed at them.

Learn by doing: visit a blacksmith forge
More about the goddess Hera

Bibliography and further reading about Hephaistos:

D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, by Edgar and Ingri D'Aulaire.

Greek Religion, by Walter Burkert (reprinted 1987). By a leading expert. He has sections on each of the Greek gods, and discusses their deeper meanings, and their function in Greek society.

More about Hera
Ancient Greece
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Copyright 2012-2015 Karen Carr, Portland State University. This page last updated September 2015.

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