The Gods of Greek and Roman Mythology - Hephaestus (Vulcan)
Role in the Mythos: God of Fire
- Workman of the Immortals
- Patron of Handicrafts and Arts
- Protector of Smiths and Weavers
- Parents: Hera
- Spouse: Aphrodite
- Famous Children: Erichthonius
- Hammer, anvil, and tongs
- Only god who was ugly
- Born with physical deformities
- Popular on earth
Note: It was believed that Hephaestus’s workshop was under volcanoes and that he caused volcanoes to erupt.
Myths to Know:
Birth and Exile
After Zeus "gives birth" to Athena, Hera decides to take revenge by having her own child without him. When Hephaestus is born, however, he is deformed. Vain Hera cannot bear having an ugly child, so she casts him out of Olympus. He is rescued by Thetis and Eurynome and raised in a cave to be a skilled smith.
Birth of Erichthonius
One day, the virgin goddess Athena comes to Hephaestus’s workshop to get weapons. Struck by her beauty, he is overcome by lust and pursues her. Though he tries to rape her, Athena fights him off. His semen falls onto her thigh, and she wipes it off with a scrap of wool, which she then casts down to the earth in disgust. Erichthonius, who becomes a legendary ruler of Athens, is born from this wool.
Marriage to Aphrodite
Angry at his mother for casting him away, Hephaestus creates a golden throne for Hera and sends it to Olympus. When she sits upon it, she is unable to move. Zeus commands that anyone able to bring Hephaestus back to Olympus to free Hera will be given Aphrodite as a wife. Ares attacks Hephaestus’s forge, but the smith fights him off with showers of flaming metal. Dionysus next goes to Hephaestus, and after a few drinks, tells the god that if he goes to Olympus willingly, he can bargain to take Aphrodite for himself. Hephaestus agrees, and after he frees his mother, he is allowed to marry the Goddess of Love, despite her reluctance.