ALTAR & ARTHUR
Posted: Dec 13, 2006
Thank ye JB
Hephaestus was born the son of Zeus and Hera, and was the god of fire and the chief workman of the gods. Hephaestus was lame and ugly, and was twice thrown from heaven on Olympus, once by his mother in shame and anger at his deformity, and once by his father because of a quarrel in which he sided with his mother. The first time, Hephaestus fell into the ocean where he was received with great kindness, by the nymphs Eurynome and Thetis. With them he lived in secrecy for nine years in a subterranean cave, making many beautiful works of art and lovely ornaments for them to show his gratitude for their goodness in taking care of him. The second time, Hephaestus fell onto the island of Lemnos, one of the largest island in the Aegean Sea, where he again had the good fortune to be kindly treated by the Sintians, the earliest inhabitants of the island. Some idea of the distance involved in this enforced journey may be gathered from the fact that, although he was hurled from heaven early in the morning, it was not until late in the evening, as the sun sank, that Hephaestus dropped in on the surprised but hospitable Sintians.
During Hephaesuts’ period of residence, he made a beautiful golden throne, which he sent to his mother as a gift. The remarkable feature of this seat was that it held fast by invisible chains the person sitting in it, and Hephaestus was the only one who could set the person free. With the queen of the heavens fastened to the and unable to rise, it was of course, vitally necessary to recall Hephaestus to the region where he had been so unceremoniously ejected. Ares was sent to fetch him, but even the god of war was frightened of the fire torch that his brother held in his hand, and it took the art of Dionysus to bring Hephaestus back to Olympus by making him drunk. It was on this occasion that the god of fire incurred his father’s wrath and suffered his second expulsion from the abode of the gods.
In spite of his physical unattractiveness, Hephaestus had three wives, and beautiful wives they were: Charis, Aglaia and Aphrodite. Charis was the personification of grace and beauty. Aglaia, representing brilliance, was the youngest of The Graces or Charities. Aphrodite was unfaithful to him, preferring the company of other gods, especially Ares. With the help Apollo, Hephaestus discovered the meeting place of the lovers, threw an invisible net around them, and brought them before the assembled gods. The hearty laughter of the gods at the embarrassment of the guilty pair was one of the rare occasions when the majestic dwellers on Mount Olympus were moved to laughter.
Hephaestus fathered many children, among whom the most important were Erichthonius, Cacus and Caeculus. Erichthonius, in his babyhood, enjoyed the protection of Athene, who hid him in a casket as she did not want the gods to know that she was taking care of the child. Agraulos, Herse and Pandrosus, the three daughters of Cecrops, the first king of Attica, were placed in charge of the box and were given strict instructions by Athene not to lift the cover of the box. But their curiosity overcame them and they raised the lid; the sight that met their eyes – Erichthonius in the shape of a serpent – drove them mad and they hurled themselves into the sea.
Erichthonius was distinguished as being the first to use a chariot with four horses, for which feat he was placed among the stars of Auriga, the Charioteer. Cacus, an enormous giant, lived in Latium on Mount Aventine, and plundered the surrounding area with impunity. Emboldened by his success, he stole some cattle belonging to Heracles, a rash act for which he paid with his life.
Caeculus, who like Cacus, lived by plunder, was credited with having built Praeneste, one of the most ancient towns of Latium
As the master workman of the gods, Hephaestus had forges as Lemnos, Lipara, Hiera and Sicily, in addition to his splendid palace at Olympus, which contained a fully equipped workshop, anvils and twenty bellows, which operated spontaneously at his order. Among the specimens of his skill as a craftsman, may be mentioned all of the palaces of the Olympian gods, the thunder-causing and fear-inspiring shield of Zeus, the armour of Achilles and Aeneas, the sceptre of Agamemnon, the fire-breathing bulls of Aetes, king of Colchis, the crown or Ariadne, and the beautiful but fatal necklace of Harmonia, the wife of Cadmus. For himself, he made two beautiful gold maidens, gifted with the power of movement, to help him in his lameness and to support him when he walked. Perhaps the most important far-reaching contribution made by Hephaestus was his invention of Pandora, the first woman on earth, whom he made out of clay, at the command of Zeus, in order to plague mankind.