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Hephaestus. 5814: Vulcain. IIe siècle après J.-C. Ostia Antica, Musée.

"A strangely potent tie is kinship, and companionship as well." (Hephaestus. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 39).

Hephaestus is the god of the smiths. He discovered the ways of working iron, copper, gold, silver, and everything else which requires fire for working. Hephaestus is called son of Zeus and Hera. However, some say that Hera, being angry at Zeus because he had fathered Athena without her participation, gave birth to Hephaestus alone. If this is so then it was Prometheus 1, as some say, and not Hephaestus, as others affirm, the one who smote the head of Zeus with an axe in order to let Athena be born from the head of the god.

Chaining Prometheus 1

But it was Hephaestus, who following Zeus' instructions, chained Prometheus 1 to the rock in Mount Caucasus with the help of Cratos (Power) and Bia (Violence):

"Against my will, no less than yours, I must rivet you with brazen bonds … Such is the prize you have gained for your championship of man." (Hephaestus to Prometheus 1. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 20).

Hephaestus chained Prometheus 1 reluctantly:

Hephaestus: Oh handicraft that I hate so much!
Cratos: Why hate it? Since in truth your craft is in no way to blame for these present troubles.
Hephaestus: Nevertheless, I wish it had fallen to another's lot!
(Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 45).

Falls from heaven during a whole day

Hephaestus was lame in his legs because he fell at sunset after a whole day fall on Lemnos when Zeus cast him out of heaven. This happened because Hephaestus came to the rescue of Hera when Zeus chained her because of the storm she sent against Heracles 1 when the latter was at sea (see Lemnos, the island where Hephaestus is particularly worshipped.) But it is also said that it was Hera who cast him, not on Lemnos but on the sea, because she was ashamed of her limping son. In revenge, Hephaestus sent to Hera a golden chair with invisible fetters and when she sat down she was held fast. Some say that Dionysus 2 made him drunk, and finally brought him back to Olympus.

Aphrodite visiting Hephaestus in his smithy. 0830: Venus in Vulcan's workshop. Painting by Gaetano Gandolfi, 1734-1802. Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart.

Unhappy married

Hephaestus was married to Aphrodite, but she loved Ares in the house of Hephaestus whenever he was away. However, Hephaestus, trapped the two lovers in bed with a clever invention, and exposed them to the laughter of the other OLYMPIANS. Later, Hephaestus attempted to have intercourse with Athena when she came to have new arms made by him. But she resisted him, and the god dropped his seed on Athena's leg. And as she fled the seed fell on the ground, and Erichthonius 2 was born. Some affirm, however, that the mother of Erichthonius 2 was Gaia (see Offspring below).

Extraordinary works

Hephaestus made some extraordinary constructions. He gave King Aeetes the brazen-footed bulls that puffed fire from their mouths. He also wrought the famous Necklace of Harmonia 1, and he made a bed forged of gold, in which Helius (the Sun) is carried in sleep. Oenopion 1's underground house was also constructed by Hephaestus; and when Heracles 1 did not know how to drive the Stymphalian Birds from the wood, Athena gave him brazen castanets to scared them with, which she had received from Hephaestus. Hephaestus also made a scepter for Zeus, which the god gave to Hermes, Hermes to Pelops 1, Pelops 1 to Atreus, Atreus to Thyestes 1, and Thyestes 1 to Agamemnon (these are the Pelopides). This scepter is the only work considered to be authentic by Hephaestus. But others have shown bowls, and chests, falsified necklaces, and even temples, saying that Hephaestus had done them. But Hephaestus gave a golden breastplate to Heracles 1, and he also made Achilles' new armour, when he laid aside his wrath and decided to return to the fight at Troy. And when Achilles killed Asteropaeus, grandson of the river Axius, the river god rushed at him, but Hephaestus dried up his streams with a powerful flame.

A strange creature

Zeus gave Talos 1 to Europa to be the warder of Crete, but this creature made of bronze was, according to some, the work of Hephaestus. Curiously enough, some have represented Hephaestus as son of Talos 1, and Talos 1 as son of Cres. But, as it has been remarked: "The legends of Greece generally have different forms, and this is particularly true of genealogy." (Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.53.5).


Parentage (three versions)




Zeus & Hera


Hera. (alone)

Talos 1 & unknown



Alcon 5

Cabiro was a Thracian woman, daughter of Proteus 2.
Alcon 5 followed Dionysus 2 in his Indian campaign.
Nonn.14.21, 17.195, 30.49.



The CORYBANTES, the CABIROI, the DACTYLS and the TELCHINES are sometimes represented as identical with the CURETES, and sometimes as kinsmen of one another. Roughly speaking, they are represented as a kind of inspired people, and as subject to Bacchic frenzy, as inspiring terror at the celebration of the sacred rites by means of war-dances, noise and cymbals and drums and arms.
DH.1.23.5; Hdt.3.37; Nonn.14.19; Strab.10.3.21.



The NYMPHS CABIROIDES, were honoured in Lemnos. (See NYMPHS.).



Eurymedon 5

Followed Dionysus 2 in his Indian campaign.
Nonn.14.21, 17.195.



Ardalus is said to be the inventor of the flute.



A fire-breathing half-human creature who ate human flesh and nailed the heads of men in the doors of his cave. He was killed by Heracles 1.
DH.1.39.4; Ov.Fast.1.577; Prop.4.9.16; Vir.Aen.8.195ff.



The founder of Praeneste and an ally of Turnus against Aeneas in Italy.
Vir.Aen.7.678, 10.543.


Cercyon 1

An Arcadian. He compelled passers-by to wrestle, and in wrestling killed them. Theseus killed him and ravished his daughter.
Apd.Ep.1.3; Dio.4.59.4; Hyg.Fab.38, 173, 187; Pau.1.14.3; Plu.The.11.1, 29.1.



Another evil-doer killed by Theseus. He carried a club and with it killed anyone who passed by.
Dio.4.59.2; Hyg.Fab.38, 158.


Eagle 1

This Caucasian eagle who devoured the liver of Prometheus 1 was fashioned by Hephaestus, but some say it was the offspring of Typhon & Echidna. The eagle was killed by Heracles 1.
Apd.2.5.11; Dio.4.15.2; Hes.The.527; Hyg.Ast.2.15; Hyg.Fab.31; QS.10.200.

a) Atthis

Erichthonius 2

("a)", "b)", etc., stand for different versions). The lower part of Erichtohius 2's body was snakeformed. He became king of Athens after having expelled Amphictyon.
Apd.3.14.6-7; Hyg.Ast.2.13; Hyg.Fab.48, 166; Eur.Ion.21; Pau.1.2.6.

b) Gaia

c) Athena


Olenus 1

After him the city Olenus in Aulis was named.


Palaemon 1

One of the ARGONAUTS.
Apd.1.9.16; Hyg.Fab.14.

Anticlia 2

Periphetes 2

An evil-doer who carried a bronze club with which he dispatched the passers-by. Killed by Theseus.
Apd.3.16.1; Plu.The.8.1.



Philammon was famous for his song and zither. He was killed by an armed force of Phlegyans that marched against the sanctuary at Delphi.
Apd.1.3.3; Hyg.Fab.158, 161, 200; Ov.Met.11.317; Pau.4.33.3, 9.36.2.


Philottus 1




Rhadamanthys is one of the three JUDGES OF THE DEAD.
Apd.2.4.11, 3.1.1-2; Hes.CW.19A; Hom.Od.4.564; Hyg.Fab.155; Lib.Met.33; Pau.7.3.6, 8.53.4-5; Pin.Oly.2.70.


Servius Tullius

Servius Tullius was King of Rome after Tarquinius Priscus.
DH.1.75.2; Ov.Fast.6.624-627, 6.588.






Charis is one of the CHARITES.

Aglaia 1


One of the CHARITES.



Genealogical Charts

Names in this chart: Acamas 1, Aegeus 1, Aglaia 1, Alcon 5, Anticlia 2, Aphrodite, Ardalus, Atthis, Cabiro, CABIROI, Cacus, Cadmilus, Caeculus, Cecrops 2, Cercyon 1, Charis, Corynetes, Cranaus, Cronos, Eagle 1, Erechtheus, Erichthonius 2, Eurymedon 5, Eurynome 3, Gaia, Hephaestus, Hera, Munitus, NYMPHS CABIROIDES, Ocresia, Olenus 1, Palaemon 1, Pandion 2, Pandion 4, Periphetes 2, Philammon, Philottus 1, Poseidon, Proteus 2, Rhadamanthys, Rhea 1, Servius Tullius, Spinther, Tarquinius Superbus, Theseus, Tullia, Uranus, Zeus.

0536: Anton van Dyck 1599-1641. Thetis receives Achilles' new armour from Hephaestus. Künsthistorische Museum, Wien.

Related sections OLYMPIANS

Apd.1.3.5, 1.9.16, 3.14.6, 3.16.1; Cal.Ze.75; Dio.5.74.2; Hes.The.929ff., 945; Hom.Il.1.571, 18.382ff.; Hyg.Ast.2.13; Hyg.Fab.38, 158; Nonn.14.21; Ov.Fast.6.627; Pau.1.2.6, 2.31.3, QS.2.139, Val.2.88; Vir.Aen.7.678, 8.195, 8.372.