Hephaestus was god of smithing and craftsmanship in general, of fire and volcanoes (hephaesteia), which were so named after Vulcan, his counterpart in the Roman pantheon. He was son of Zeus and Hera, but was such an ugly infant that Hera hurled him down from heaven in a rage. He landed on Lemnos, with both his feet crippled, and set up his smithy on the island. The Greeks believed that Hephaestus’ smithies lay beneath volcanoes.
As the gods’ master craftsman, he was credited with the chariot of the Sun, Achilles’ shield, automata (robots) and other mythological artefacts. He was married to Aphrodite, who cheated on him with Ares. His cult was widespread in volcanic areas (Aetna, Lipari Islands, etc.), while the entire island of Lemnos was sacred to the god. In Athens, the so-called Theseum was actually a temple of Hephaestus, where he was worshiped as patron of craftsmen together with Athena Ergane.
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