Whether we see in the title Hephaestus the Greek type of the Sanskrit Yavishtha (the very younger), an epithet of Agni, the Vedic god of fireplace, or whether or not we derive it from the Greek phrases for ‘fireside’ and ‘to kindle’, there is little doubt that Hephaestus was, from remotest instances, the personification of terrestrial fireplace, of which volcanoes have been essentially the most terrifying manifestation.
Thus the cult of Hephaestus, who was maybe an Asiatic divinity, a local of Lycia, first arose on the volcanic island of Lemnos. From there it was introduced to Attica and, with the colonisations, launched into Sicily.
It is attainable that in primitive instances Hephaestus personified celestial fireplace and that he had thus been a thunder-god; his limping gait would then symbolise the zigzag of the lightning. If fireplace is of celestial origin then there is no purpose why Hephaestus mustn’t have such a personality. The fireplace which he represents is not, nevertheless, the destroying ingredient, however relatively the beneficent ingredient which allows males to work steel and foster civilisation. Thus Hephaestus seems because the divine blacksmith, the artisan-god, the demiurge who has created admirable works and taught males the mechanical arts.
That is why Hephaestus – who was at first depicted as a beardless younger man – was afterwards historically represented as a sturdy smith, with bearded face, highly effective neck and furry chest. His brief and sleeveless chiton leaves his proper shoulder naked; on his head he wears a conical bonnet and in his palms he grasps a hammer and tongs.
The Birth of Hephaestus
Although Hesiod’s family tree claims that Hephaestus was, like Typhon, born by Hera alone, it was typically admitted that he was tne son of Hera and Zeus. At most one was typically given to perceive that he was conceived earlier than the official marriage of the 2 deities and that Hera had invented this legend of a miraculous beginning in order to conceal her disgrace.
In distinction with the opposite Immortals, who have been distinguished by magnificence and the symmetry of their our bodies, Hephaestus was ill-made and lame in each legs. His toes have been twisted. His stumbling gait and dislocated hip aroused the ‘unquenchable laughter of the Immortals’ when he walked amongst them.
Contrary to what was typically stated Hephaestus’ infirmity was not the results of an accident. He was lame from beginning. Homer, in truth, recounts that Hera, ashamed of the ugliness of her son, tried to cover him from the Immortals ‘as a result of he was lame’.
She threw him from the heights of Olympus into the ocean, the place he was taken in by Thetis, daughter of Nereus, and Eurynome, daughter of the outdated Ocean. For 9 years he remained hid in their deep grotto, ‘forging a thousand ingenious objects for the 2 nymphs’, and on the identical time making ready a crafty revenge. One day Hera obtained a present from her son, a golden throne artistically wrought. She sat on it with delight, however when she tried to rise once more she was immediately gripped by invisible bands. The Immortals tried in useless to extricate her from the throne. Only Hephaestus was able to releasing her, however he refused to go away the depths of the Ocean.
Ares tried to drag him up by pressure, however was put to flight by Hephaestus who threw burning manufacturers at him. Dionysus was extra profitable: he made Hephaestus drunk and, whereas he was drunk, perched him astride a mule and thus introduced him again to Olympus. But they nonetheless had to meet his calls for: Hephaestus refused to set Hera free except they gave him the loveliest of the goddesses, Aphrodite – although some say Athene – for a bride. According to one other custom the rationale why Hephaestus certain up Hera was to make her inform him the key of his beginning.
From then on there was peace between Hera and her son. Indeed, forgetting his former rancour, Hephaestus on the peril of his life tried to defend his mom when she was crushed by Zeus. Irritated by his son, Zeus seized him by one foot and flung him from the courts of heaven. All day lengthy he tumbled by area and, at sundown, fell extra useless than alive on to the island of Lemnos, the place the Sintians gathered him up.
The Blacksmith of Olympus
Under this graceless exterior, nevertheless, lurked a delicate and creative spirit. Hephaestus excelled in the artwork of working metals. On Olympus he constructed palaces for the gods. For himself he constructed a ‘glowing dwelling of glittering and incorruptible bronze’. In it he had his workshop. There he might be seen beside the flaming furnaces, bathed in sweat, bustling about his bellows, poking the fires below twenty crucibles at a time, or hammering out the molten steel on an infinite anvil. When some god got here to go to him, the big blacksmith would pause to sponge his face, his palms, his highly effective neck and furry chest. He would placed on a tunic and, leaning in opposition to a heavy workers, attain his gleaming throne. In order to regular his uncertain footsteps – for his frail legs supported his large physique with issue – he had even normal two golden statues which resembled residing ladies. They had been endowed with motion and hastened to his aspect to help him as he walked.
The Earthly Dwellings of Hephaestus
Homer placed the workshop of Hephaestus on Olympus. But the fire-god additionally haunted the earth, the place he maintained numerous underground locations of residence. He had carried out his apprenticeship as a blacksmith in the isle of Naxos and it was stated that he unsuccessfully disputed the possession of the island with Dionysus. If so, understanding between the 2 gods was rapidly re-established, they usually at all times remained on glorious phrases. Often the Sileni and the Satyears helped Hephaestus in his work. To provoke him in the artwork of the forge Hera, it was stated, had confided Hephaestus to the dwarf Cedalion, whose id is relatively mysterious. Some name him the son, others the daddy of Hephaestus. All that is recognized is that he at all times remained connected to the fire-god and adopted him to Lemnos when Hephaestus arrange an institution there.
Hephaestus, certainly, had by no means forgotten the welcome the Sintians had given him on the event of his fall from Olympus and, in gratitude, settled in this volcanic island. His presence there was attested by the flaming vapours which escaped from Mount Mos-chylus to the accompanying sound of lifeless rumbling. This was the sound of the divine blacksmith’s hammers from the workshop he had arrange in the bowels of the mountain. Beside him labored the devoted Cedalion from whom he was by no means separated, besides on the event when he lent him as a information to the blind big Orion who wished to be carried out to the West in order to get better his eyesight. Hephaestus was additionally helped by the Cabeiri, who have been most likely his sons. One custom says Prometheus got here to Lemnos to steal the divine fireplace which he then gave to mankind.
Later on Hephaestus emigrated to Sicily. At first we discover him in the volcanic archipelago of the Lipari Islands. He it likely was, mysterious and obliging blacksmith, who at night time wrought the steel which was left in the night on the sting of a crevasse and located there once more subsequent morning wondrously labored. Subterranean ramifications related the Lipari Islands with Mount Etna in Sicily, the place Hephaestus lastly settled. He dislodged an indigenous demon known as Adranus. In Etna Hephaestus additionally acted as a gaoler to Typhoeus who, it is going to be remembered, had been crushed below this mountain by Zeus. Earthquakes and eruptions of lava have been due to the convulsions of this monster when he tried to break from his jail. But he couldn’t escape, for Hephaestus had placed on his head heavy anvils on which he energetically hammered bronze and iron. When sailors skirted the coasts of Sicily and noticed lengthy streamers of smoke escaping from the crest of Etna that they had little doubt that it was Hephaestus lighting his forge.
The god was helped in his process by the Palici, twins whom he had had by the Oceanid Etna (although others say that the Palici have been sons of Zeus and the nymph Aethalia, daughter of Hephaestus). The big Cyclopes additionally assisted him.
The exercise of Hephaestus was prodigious and solely equalled by his ability. He was ceaselessly employed on some work of nice delicacy. As effectively because the palaces on Olympus with their bronze trimmings, he normal Zeus’ golden throne, sceptre and thunderbolts, the fearful aegis, the winged chariot of Helios, the arrows of Apollo and Artemis, Demeter’s sickle, Hercules’ cuirass, the arms of Peleus, the armour of Achilles, the necklace which Harmonia, spouse of Cadmus, wore for her nuptials, Ariadne’s diadem, Agamemnon’s sceptre, the hypogeum or underground chamber of Oenopion. Nor ought to one neglect the golden goblet which Zeus provided to Aphrodite, a vase given by Dionysus to Ariadne, the harpe of Perseus and Adonis’ looking tools. To Hephaestus have been additionally attributed such works of marvel because the tripods with golden wheels which rolled of their very own accord into the meeting of the gods, the bronze bulls whose nostrils spurted forth flame, the golden and silver canines of Alcinous’ palace, and even the large Talos ‘that man of bronze’ whose obligation it was to guard the Cretan tree and stop its being approached.
Nothing was unattainable to him. When Zeus, in order to punish males, determined to create the primary girl, Pandora, it was to Hephaestus that he turned. He ordered Hephaestus to mould the physique of a lady with water and clay, to give it life and a human voice, and to type from it a virgin of ravishing magnificence.
To excellent his work Hephaestus encircled Pandora’s forehead with a golden crown which he himself had engraved. On many different events Hephaestus gave help to Zeus. He cut up his cranium with an axe in order that Athene would possibly spring out. On his orders he certain Prometheus to the Caucasus. Doubtless he remembered the tough lesson his father had given him when he had dared to cross Zeus’ will. For this purpose Hephaestus would pacify the opposite gods on Olympus, and particularly Hera, once they have been indignant with Zeus. To all he preached submission: ‘Have persistence, O my mom, and, in spite of thy sorrow, be resigned in order that I shall not see thee struck earlier than my eyes. No matter how distressing this is able to be I couldn’t come to thine help; for it is onerous to oppose the grasp of Olympus.’ And all these quarrels spoiled the enjoyment of residing. The best feast is with out pleasure when discord triumphs.’
Hephaestus was addicted to all pleasures. In spite of his ugliness he grew to become the husband of Aphrodite. The place was not with out its compensations, nor with out its dangers: his spouse was regularly untrue to him, particularly with Ares. We have already seen with what spirit Hephaestus avenged himself by imprisoning the 2 lovers in a internet and exposing them thus to the laughter of the Olympians.
This misadventure didn’t forestall Hephaestus himself from aspiring to the love of the clever Athene. But the goddess efficiently resisted him and he tried in useless to ravish her in the plain of Marathon. Certain legends say that Hephaestus’ ardour for Athene dated from the very second of her beginning. Before he struck Zeus with the axe which might liberate Athene from his head, Hephaestus had demanded the hand of the virgin who was about to seem. Zeus, they stated, consented; however Athene herself refused to hold her father’s promise. Must one see in these pursuits and evasions an emblem of the rivalry between these two working- gods, or an antagonism between celestial fireplace (Athene) and terrestrial fireplace (Hephaestus)? It is extra possible that their histories are mingled just because each have been patrons of males’s work and therefore continuously related.
Hephaestus was additionally stated to have married the attractive Charis and Aglaia, one of many Graces. By Cabeiro, daughter of Proteus, he was the daddy of the Cabeiri. The Oceanid Etna bore him twins, the Palici, the Dioscuri of Sicily; although one other custom says that they have been sons of Zeus and the nymph Aethalia, daughter of Hephaestus. To escape Hera’s vengeance Aethaiia begged the earth to conceal her till the day of her supply. Her prayers have been granted and when her time got here the 2 youngsters sprang from the earth, whence their title: ‘They who return to the sunshine’. Two small lakes on the foot of Etna, at all times filled with boiling sulphur water, marked the place the place that they had appeared. Their temple was there, and there they delivered oracles.
Among the opposite sons of Hephaestus could also be talked about Ardalus, Palaemon, Pylius – who cared for Philoctetes in Lemnos – and Periphetes who, like his father, was lame – which didn’t, nevertheless, forestall him from attacking travellers on the outskirts of Epidaurus and slaying them along with his brazen membership. He was killed by Theseus.
The Companions of Hephaestus
We have seen that Hephaestus was aided in his work by a sure variety of subterranean divinities or fireplace genii. The greatest recognized have been the Cyclopes, who assisted him on the forges below Etna. The first Cyclopes who seem in Greek mythology have been the three sons of Uranus and Gaea: Arges, Steropes and Brontes. It could also be remembered how after their father had forged them into Tartarus they have been delivered by Zeus, whom they helped in his battle in opposition to the Titans. Apart from thunder, the thunderbolt and the lightning which they gave Zeus, they introduced Hades with a bronze helmet and Poseidon with a trident.
They have been put to dying by Apollo, who took his vengeance on them for the dying of his son Asclepius. These earlier Cyclopes had nothing in widespread with the Cyclopes whom Homer introduces us to in the Odyssey. The latter have been males of gigantic stature and repellent ugliness with their single eye in the center of their brow, who inhabited the south-west coast of Sicily. Given to a pastoral existence, they have been gross and ill-mannered, residing in remoted caverns, slaughtering and devouring any strangers who approached their shores. The greatest recognized amongst them was Polyphemus, who took Odysseus and his companions prisoner.
In order to escape, the Greek hero made Polyphemus drunk and put out his single eye by way of a sharpened, burning stake; Odysseus and his companions then escaped from the cavern by tying themselves below the bellies of rams. Before this misfortune Polyphemus, had fallen in love with the Nereid Galatea. He paid court docket to her by sending her a every day current of a bear or an elephant. To this inelegant suitor Galatea most popular the shepherd Acis, son of the nymph Symoethis. Jealous of this rival Polyphemus crushed him beneath a rock, and Acis was modified by the gods right into a river. When custom made Mount Etna the abode of Hephaestus he was given the Cyclopes as companions. They borrowed their options from the Cyclopes of Hesiod and Homer.
They have been, says Callimachus, ‘huge giants, as large as mountains, and their single eye, below a bushy eyebrow, glittered menacingly. Some made the huge bellows roar, others, laboriously elevating one after the other their heavy hammers, struck nice blows on the molten bronze and iron they drew from the furnace.’ Their quantity was not acknowledged. Among the names which got to them we discover these of Brontes, Steropes, Acamas and Pyearacmon.
At Lemnos the Cyclopes have been changed by the Cabeiri, divinities whose origin and nature have remained relatively mysterious particularly since they happen in numerous areas with fairly distinct characters.
The Cabeiri of Lemnos, stated to be the sons of Hephaestus, have been benevolent genii, underground smiths evidently related to the volcanic nature of the island’s construction. At Samothrace the Cabeiri have been a sort of inferior god, sworn to the service of the good gods of the island; custom made them the sons of Zeus and Calliope. At Thebes in Boeotia the Cabeiri seem to have been related to the cult of Demeter and Kore, since their temple was located close to a grove sacred to these two goddesses. In Thessaly they spoke of a Cabeire who was put to dying by his two brothers and buried on the foot of Olympus.
Finally we discover Cabeiri at Pergamus in Phoenicia, and Herodotus believed he recognised them in Egypt. From all this it will appear that the Cabeiri, whose title has been in contrast with the Phoenician qabirim, ‘the highly effective’, have been in primitive instances underground spirits, originating in Phrygia, who in the volcanic islands naturally took on the character of fireplace genii. They have been reputed to be the primary metal-workers. The Greeks, nevertheless, recognised different metallurgical genii who, with out being instantly involved with the cult of Hephaestus, have to be talked about right here.
In the forests of Phrygian Ida there lived crafty magicians known as the Dactyls. Originally there have been three of them: Celmis, Damnameneus and the highly effective Acmon, ‘who in the caves of the mountains was the primary to practise the artwork of Hephaestus, and
who knew how to work blue iron, casting it into the burning furnace’. Later their quantity elevated. From Phrygia they went to Crete the place they taught the inhabitants using iron and the way to work metals. To them was additionally attributed the invention of arithmetic and the letters of the alphabet.
Genii who additionally performed a civilising position however afterwards assumed a malignant character have been the Telchines, stated to be the sons of Poseidon and Thalassa, although one other custom makes them Poseidon’s guardians. The centre of their cult was the Isle of Rhodes, whence they unfold to Crete and Boeotia. They have been nice metalworkers, because the names of three of them counsel: Chryson, Argyearon and Chalcon. They solid the primary statues of the gods, and amongst their works have been the sickle of Cronus and the trident of Poseidon. But they have been feared for his or her enchantments. They might forged the evil eye and, by sprinkling the bottom with the waters of the Styx blended with sulphur, they blighted the harvest and killed the flocks.