HEPHAISTOS was the great Olympian god of fire, metalworking, building and the fine arts.
This page describes both the favour and wrath of the god in myth.
His favour usually took the form of the gift of crafted artifacts. These are more fully described on the Hephaistos Works pages.
Of the stories of his wrath, the two most famous incidents concerned the Cursed Necklace of Harmonia and the Cursed Throne of Hera.
|(1) FAVOUR CRAFTSMAN
|GODS, THE Hephaistos crafted the palaces, furnishings, chariots, jewellery, armour and weapons of the gods.
[see Hephaistos Works]
|HEROES & KINGS The god crafted numerous artifacts god-for favoured kings and heroes, from weapons and armour, to palaces, automotones and jewellery. [see Hephaistos Works]
|(2) FAVOUR OTHER
|DARES A Trojan priest of Hephaistos, whose only surviving son Idaios was rescued from certain death in combat by the god.
|KABEIROI, THE Two sons of Hephaistos who the god armed and provided with a fabulous chariot drawn by metallic horses. Twice in the Indian Wars of Dionysos Hephaistos personally intervened to rescue them from danger.
|ORION A Giant who was blinded by King Oinopion of Khios. When he came to Hephaistos on Lemnos seeking help, the god gave him his servant Kedalion to guide him to the Sun-God Helios and have his sight restored.
|PELOPS A Lydian prince and later King of Pisa, who after murdering Myrtilos the son of Hermes, sought out Hephaistos on the banks of the River Okeanos to purify him of the crime.
|(3) WRATH GENERAL
|APHRODITE & HARMONIA Hephaistos wrothful at Aphrodite's infidelity inflicted his vengeance on the daughter born of her adulterous union with Ares, Harmonia. On the girl's wedding day he presented her with a beautiful, cursed necklace which brought doom to her and her descendants.
|HERA Hera cast Hephaistos from Olympos when she saw that she had born a crippled son. In revenge, upon reaching adulthood, Hephaistos sent her a cursed throne made of adamantine which trapped the goddess fast in its unbreakable bonds.
HEPHAISTOS FAVOUR: ORION
LOCALE: Lemnos (Greek Aegean)
Hesiod, The Astronomy Fragment 4 (from Pseudo-Eratosthenes, Catasthenes Fragment 32) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"[Oinopion] blinded him [Orion, for raping his daughter] and cast him out of the country. Then he came to Lemnos as a beggar and there met Hephaistos who took pity on him and gave him Kedalion his own servant to guide him. So Orion took Kedalion upon his shoulders and used to carry him about while he pointed out the roads. Then he came to the east and appears to have met Helios (the Sun) and to have been healed."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 26 - 27 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[Oinopion king of Khios] blinded him [Orion, for raping his daughter] and tossed him out on the beach. He made his way to the bronze workshop of Hephaistos [on the island of Lemnos] and seized a boy [Kedalion], set him on his shoulder, and ordered him to guide him towards the east . . . [where he was healed by Helios]. Immediately he started back to confront Oinopion. But Poseidon had provided Oinopion with a house beneath the earth, built by Hephaistos."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 34 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"He [Orion] was blinded by Oenopion [for raping his daughter] and cast out of the island of Chios. But he came to Lemnos and Volcanus [Hephaistos], and received from him a guide named Cedalion. Carrying him on his shoulders, he came to Sol, and when Sol healed him returned to Chios to take vengeance on Oenopion."
For MORE information on this giant see ORION
HEPHAISTOS FAVOUR: PELOPS
LOCALE: River Okeanos (Ends of the Earth)
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E2. 9 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Pelops [having killed Myrtilos, charioteer of Oinomaos] went to Okeanos, where he was purified by Hephaistos, then returned to Pisa in Elis."
HEPHAISTOS FAVOUR: DARES
LOCALE: Troy (Anatolia)
Homer, Iliad 5. 9 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"There was a man among the Trojans, Dares, blameless and bountiful, priest consecrated to Hephaistos, and he had two sons, Phegeus and Idaios, well skilled both in fighting . . . [the Greek hero] Diomedes threw with the bronze, and the weapon cast from his hand flew not in vain but stuck the chest [of Phegeus] between the nipples and hurled him from behind his horses. And Idaios leaping left the fair-wrought chariot nor had he the courage to stand over his stricken brother. Even so he could not have escaped the black Ker (Death-Spirit) but Hephaistos caught him away and rescued him, shrouded him in darkness, that the aged man [his priest] might not be left altogether desolate."
HEPHAISTOS FAMILY / FAVOUR: THE KABEIROI
LOCALE: India (Southern Asia)
Hephaistos' twin sons the Kabeiroi fought beside Dionysos' in his War agains the Indians. Twice during the battle, Hephaistos intervened to carry his sons to safety.
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 24. 77 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Hephaistos took care of his sons the Kabeiroi [when the Indian River Hydaspes tried to drown them and the rest of the army of Dionysos], and caught up both, like a flying firebrand."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 27. 120 ff :
"[Deriades to his Indian troops:] ‘Let Lemnian Kabeiro unveiled lament the death of her two sons; let sooty Hephaistos throw down his tongs, and see the destroyer of his race sitting in the car of the Kabeiroi, see Deriades driving the bronzefoot horses!’"
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 27. 325 ff :
"[Zeus to Hephaistos:] ‘Do you sit still, Hephaistos, and will not you save your children? Lift your accustomed torch to defend the Kabeiroi; turn your eye and see your ancient bride, your Kabeiro, reproaching you in love for her sons.’"
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 30. 42 ff :
"The prodigious [Indian chief] Morrheus attacked the warriors of Bromios [Dionysos]. He wounded [the Kabeiros] Eurymedon, cut through the groin with his blood-stained spear: the mad point ran through the thigh and tore the skin from the fat of the flesh; collapsing he fell on his knee to the ground. Mailclad Alkon did not neglect his brother's fall; but lifting spear and round buckler he made for the fallen man, and covered the warrior well, holding the shield tower-like over his body, and thrusting right and left his unresting spear, brother protecting brother against the foe. He stradled across the wounded man, as a lion over his cubs, shouting loud and letting out mad Korybantic cries from his lips. When Morrheus saw him moving with neat steps about his brother, defending the fallen Kabeiros, the monster went raging like Typhon and attacked both brothers, that Kabeiro might shed her tears for two dead sons, slain in one day with one spear.
And now he would have dealt equal destruction to both, but Eurymedon called upon his Lemnian father [Hephaistos] with voice that gasped and strained from his mouth:
‘O Father, firebreathing lord of our laborious art! . . . Save your son I pray, whom savage Morrheus has wounded!’
At these words fiery Hephaistos leapt down from heaven, and sent a flame leaping and fluttering with many tongues about his son, whirling in his hand a shoot of fire. About Morrheus’ neck the flame crawled and curled itself as if it knew what it was doing, and rolled round his throat a necklace of fireblazing constraint; the blazing throat once encircled, it ran down with a springing movement to the end of his toes, and wove a plait of fiery threads over the warrior's foot, and there firmly fixt the earth scattered its dancing spars - the helmet caught fire and his head was hot enough! And now he would have fallen flat, struck with the fiery shot, had not Deriades' [river-god] father Hydaspes come to the rescue. For he sat watching the battle high on a rock, his full-form having a false guise of human shape. He poured a quenching stream and saved the man’s life, cooling the hot blast from the firebeaten face, brushing off the ashes and dirt from the helmet. Then he caught up Morrheus wrapt in a darksome cloud, covered and hid his limbs in a livid mist; that the firebearing Crookshank [Hephaistos] might not destroy him with his blazing shower of deadly Lemnian flame; that old Hydaspes, the tender-hearted father, might not see another goodson of Deriades perish after the first, and lament the death of Morrheus along with Orontes.
But firebearing Hephaistos drove away all the warriors who stood round the just-wounded boy. Then lifting his son on his shoulder he took him out of the fray and rested him against an oaktree hard by; he spread simples upon the wounded groin, and saved him alive his after his collapse."
HEPHAISTOS WRATH: HERA
LOCALE: Mount Olympos (Home of the Gods)
HEPHAISTOS WRATH: APHRODITE & HARMONIA
LOCALE: Samothrake (Island in the Greek Aegean) OR Thebes, Boiotia (Central Greece)
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 148 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When Mars [Ares] came to the rendezvous, he together with Venus [Aphrodite] fell into the snare so that he could not extricate himself . . . From their embrace Harmonia was born, and to her Minerva [Athene] and Vulcan [Hephaistos] gave a robe ‘dipped in crimes’ [and also a necklace, ommitted by Hyginus] as a gift. Because of this, their descendants are clearly marked as ill-fated."
Statius, Thebaid 2. 265 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"The dread necklace of Harmonia . . . The Lemnian [Hephaistos], so they of old believed, long time distressed at Mars' [Ares'] deceit and seeing that no punishment gave hindrance to the disclosed armour, and the avenging chains removed not the offence [of his affair with Hephaistos' then wife Aphrodite], wrought this [a cursed necklace] for Harmonia on her bridal day to be the glory of her dower [description of the necklace follows] . . .
The work first proved its worth, when Harmonia’s complaints turned to dreadful hissing, and she bore company to grovelling Cadmus, and with long trailing breast drew furrows in the Illyrian fields [the pair were turned into serpents in Illyria]. Next, scarce had shameless Semele [their daughter] put the hurtful gift about her neck, when lying Juno [Hera] crossed her threshold. Thou too, unhappy Jocasta, didst, as they say, possess the beauteous, baleful thing, and didst deck thy countenance with its praise - on what a couch, alas! to find favour; and many more beside. Last Argia shines in the splendour of the gift, and in pride of ornament and accursed gold surpassed her sister’s mean attiring. The wife of the doomed prophet [Eriphyle wife of Amphiaraus] beheld it, and at every shrine and banquet in secret cherished fierce jealousy, if only it might be granted her to possess the terrible jewel, nought profited, alas!"
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 3. 373 & 5. 88 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Harmonia . . . that maiden immigrant from heaven, whom Ares the wife-thief begat in secret love with Aphrodite . . .
Aphrodite wishing to delight Ares in the deep shrewdness of her mind, clasped a golden necklace showing place about the girl’s [Harmonia] blushing neck [on her wedding day], a clever work of Hephaistos set with sparkling gems in masterly refinement. This he had made for his Kyprian bride, a gift for his first glimpse of Archer Eros (Love). For the heavyknee bridegroom always expected that Kythereia would bear him a hobbling son . . . and when he beheld a whole-footed son [Eros] brilliant with wings like Maia’s son Hermes, [suspecting adultery] he made this magnificent necklace."
- Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C9th-8th BC
- Hesiod, The Astronomy - Greek Epic C8th-7th BC
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd BC
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
- Hyginus, Astronomica - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
- Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st AD
- Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th AD