Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Hephaestus from Philip's Encyclopedia

Ancient Greek god of fire and crafts. Son of Zeus and Hera, he is equivalent to the Roman Vulcan. Blacksmith and armourer to the Olympian gods, with a forge under Etna, he is depicted as crippled and uncouth.


Summary Article: Hephaestus
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In Greek mythology, the god of fire and metalcraft (Roman Vulcan); the lame son of Zeus and Hera; and in Homer's Odyssey, husband of Aphrodite, goddess of love. He created armour for the Greek hero Achilles, Harmonia's magic necklace, and other objects famed in legend.

Myth According to Homer, Hephaestus was born lame and thrown down from Olympus by Hera immediately after birth. Rescued by the sea goddesses Eurynome and Thetis, he dwelt in their undersea grotto for nine years before returning to Olympus. He was then hurled earthwards a second time by Zeus, for taking his mother's part in a quarrel. He fell for a whole day, landed in the evening on the island of Lemnos, but returned to Olympus once more. Later writers attributed his lameness to this fall.

His workshop contained an anvil and 20 pairs of bellows which worked spontaneously at his bidding. It was originally sited in his palace in Olympus, where he was said to have made all the palaces of the gods, but later accounts placed the forge beneath various volcanoes.

In Homer's Iliad, Charis was depicted as the wife of Hephaestus, while according to the later Greek poet Hesiod, she was the goddess Aglaia, youngest of the three Graces.

Worship His original place of worship was probably Mount Olympus in Lycia, where natural gases still escape from the soil. The cult spread to other places in Asia Minor and to some islands, notably Lemnos. It reached Athens in about 600 BC, but did not appear to penetrate further into mainland Greece. He was also adopted in volcanic regions; for instance from the Lipari Islands, the cult spread to Sicily and parts of Campania.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles


Full text Article Hephaestus
Bloomsbury Dictionary of Myth

Hephaestus (Hephaistos, 'dayshine'; Latin Vulcanus, Vulcan, 'volcano-god'), in Greek and Roman myth, was the son of Zeus and Hera - or, some...

Full text Article Hephaestus
Who's Who in Classical Mythology, Routledge

Other writers believed that Zeus was his father. He was the smith and metal-founder of the gods, and his worship was sometimes...

Full text Article Hephaestus
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

The Greek god of fire and crafts, the son of Zeus and Hera. According to Hesiod he created Pandora , the first woman. He is identified with...

See more from Credo