Mythology Mondays: Hephaestus

Every Monday, I highlight a different Greek myth that has woven its way into the Turning Creek series. The first book, Lightning in the Dark, is out now. If you pay close attention to the details, you will see where some of the elements and history of the series originated.

Today, we are talking about Hephaestus, the god of the forge, fire, masonry, metalworking, sculpture, and craftsmanship. In some myths, he is the son of Zeus and Hera. In others, he is the son of Hera alone.

Hephaestus, though a powerful man, was born sickly and ugly. In anger over his appearance, Hera threw him off Mount Olympus when he was born. He lived in a grotto for nine years, cared for by sea divinities. He learned to work the forge and he plotted revenge.

To regain his place among the gods of Olympus and to retaliate against Hera, Hephaestus crafted a golden throne for his mother. When she sat in it, overwhelmed by the gift, invisible fetters encircled her and she was immobilized. Dionysus, with motivations of his own, went down from Mount Olympus, got Hephaestus drunk, and convinced him to let his mother go. Hephaestus did as asked and Dionysus was rewarded with a place in the heavens with the gods.

Hephaestus crafted all manner of weapons and furnishings for the gods of Olympus. He made and wielded the ax which split Zeus’s forehead to birth Athena. He also crafted golden handmaidens who assisted him in the forge. As an aside, knowing what I know about Greek myths, I have to wonder exactly what kind of “assisting” they were doing.

In the myths, Hephaestus has two wives. Aphrodite was his first wife. She was an unfaithful companion to the god of fire and pined for her true love, Ares. Hephaestus takes revenge on her infidelity by creating chains which bound Aphrodite and her lover to the bed. Once ensnared, Hephaestus called all the gods to come and mock them. He divorced Aphrodite and married Algaia, one of the three Graces. Algaia is said to have borne him many children.

In my series, Hephaestus is Henry Foster, the blacksmith of Turning Creek. He is a quiet, hardworking man who is one of the few people the harpies count as a close friend.