Hephaestus god of fire was the son of Zeus and Hera. He was the god of fire, blacksmiths, craftsmen in general, metallurgy and volcanoes. In fact, volcanoes were considered his furnaces. His Roman counterpart was Vulcan.
There are several versions about Hephaestus’ childhood. When he was born, his mother saw he was very ugly and so she threw him from Mount Olympus. He fell and landed into the ocean, where he was brought up by the Nereid Thetis (Achilles' mother) and the Oceanid Eurynome. Because of this fall, he was crippled. (Alternatively, his mother saw he was lame and that's why she threw him.) He remained with them for nine years and worked as a blacksmith, making all kind of beautiful things.
When he grew up, he wanted revenge for this. That’s why he made a magic gold throne that he sent as a gift to Hera. When she sat on it, she was magically tied by invisible chains and she couldn't go away. The other gods begged Hephaestus to come back to Olympus and free her, but he just declared he had no mother. Greek god Dionysus got him drunk and brought him to mount Olympus on the back of a mule. He finally freed Hera when he was promised the beautiful Aphrodite as a wife.
Another version of the story says that it was Zeus who threw Hephaestus god of fire from mount Olympus. Hera made Zeus sleep and sent a storm against Hercules. When Zeus found out, he was very angry and tied Hera by her arms, with anvils attached to her ankles. The little Hephaestus tried to defend his mother and Zeus threw him from mount Olympus. He fell for one day and remained crippled forever because of this fall. He landed in the island of Lemnos, where he was well received by the tribe of the Sintians, who taught him to be a blacksmith.
As regards his birth, there is another version, according to which Hera was jealous because Zeus had given birth to Athena without the contribution of a woman (even if initially Athena had a mother, but Zeus swallowed her). So she decided to have a child without the help of a man (as for the result, see her reaction above!). Yet others say this is not possible, because when Athena was about to be born, Zeus had horrible headaches, so Hephaestus god of fire blew a hit and split Zeus' head, and Athena sprung out completely armed.
Even if ugly, Hephaestus managed to marry the beautiful goddess Aphrodite as a wife. Of course she was not happy at all with this arrangement, because she was in love with Ares. Anyway, that was not a problem for her, and she kept seeing her secret lover. Helios saw them and told everything to Hephaestus, who decided to take revenge. He built a net with links thinner than a spider's web, which was invisible, and he put it around the bed and hanging from the ceiling. Then he pretended to leave for Lemnos, the place that he loved most on earth. Ares noticed that and came to visit Aphrodite. The net enveloped them fast and they could not move an inch. Hephaestus returned home and called all the other gods to see them. He asked from Zeus to be given back all the betrothal gifts he had brought, that is, he divorced Aphrodite.
From this affair the goddess Harmonia was born. Hephaestus still wanted revenge for the fact that Aphrodite gave birth to a child who was not his. That's why he made a beautiful, but cursed necklace that he gave Harmonia as a wedding gift. This necklace would then bring bad luck to all her descendants.
Hephaestus and Aphrodite had no children. Some ancient writers say that she tried to pass Eros as his son (when in fact he was Ares' child). Hephaestus god of fire expected the child to be hobbled, just like him. When he saw the baby was healthy, he understoond he was not the father. That's why he made the cursed necklace, which he gave to Aphrodite as a gift for their son's birth. Later Aphrodite would give the necklace to her daughter, Harmonia, and thus she doomed all her descendents.
Hephaestus wanted to marry Persephone, but her mother, Demeter, turned down all the suitors. In Homer's Illiad, Hephaestus god of fire is married to Aglaia, the youngest of the Charites (Graces).
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