Foto by Marie-Lan Nguyen who has kindly released it to the public domain. Section of fresco from ancient Pompeii.

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4. Íphaistos (Hephaestus; Gr. Ἥφαιστος, ΗΦΑΙΣΤΟΣ. Pronounced: EE'-fays-tohs, with the accent on the first syllable.) 

Being an Olympian Deity, Íphaistos is one of the most important Gods in the pantheon of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. He is the son of Íra (Hera, Ήρα) and Zefs (Ζεύς), this according to Apollódohros (Apollodorus, Ἀπολλόδωρος) [1] , although some sources say that he is a "wind-child" (ὑπηνέμιον πᾶιδα) of Íra alone, that is, conceived without the help of Zefs, this according to Isíodos (Hesiod, Ἡσίοδος) [2] .

Various stories say Íphaistos was married to different Goddesses, including Kháris (Χάρις) in Iliás (Iliad, Ἰλιάς) and, for a time, Aphrodíti in Odýsseia (Ὀδύσσεια).


Characteristics of Íphaistos 

The most important characteristic of Íphaistos is his Fire. It is the Fire-Aithír (Ether, Αἰθήρ) with which he works with Form. In the theogony, he, along with Athiná (Athena, Ἀθηνᾶ), were taught skills by the Kýklohpæs (Cyclopes, Κύκλωπες). They taught him how to make beautiful works of bronze, but his depiction as a coppersmith is symbolic: 

διὰ δὴ ταῦτα καὶ οἱ θεολόγοι τῶι Ἡφαίστωι τὴν Ἀφροδίτην (fr. 184) συζεύξαντες οὕτως αὐτὸν χαλκεύειν εἰρήκασι τὸ πᾶν (fr. 180), καὶ αὖ ἐξ Ἡφαίστου καὶ Ἀγλαΐας Εὔκλειον καὶ Εὐθένειον ἀπογεννῶσι καὶ Εὐφήμην καὶ Φιλοφροσύνην, αἳ καὶ αὐταὶ τὸ σωματοειδὲς τῶι κάλλει διαπρέπον ἀποτελοῦσι.

“Therefore the theologians yoke Íphaistos with Aphrodíti and proclaim that he in this way forged everything, and again from Íphaistos and Agläía (Ἀγλαΐα), producing Éfkleia (Eucleia, Εὔκλεια) and Efthinía (Euthenia, Ευθηνία) and Efphími (Eupheme, Εὐφήμη) and Philophrosýni (Φιλοφροσύνη), to adorn the material world with beauty.” (trans. by the author) [3]

In other words, Íphaistos creates the Form of the universe.

Íphaistos is depicted in the mythology as dwelling in a glorious palace in Ólympos (Olympus, Ὄλυμπος) where is his workshop and anvil, in which he crafted beautiful things such as the armor of Akhilléfs (Achilles, Ἀχιλλεύς), the palaces of the Gods, their jewelry, and many other things. Therefore, Íphaistos is associated with workers, smiths, sculptors, skills, and craftsmen. Both Íphaistos and Athiná bestow skills to artists and craftsmen and teach the arts to civilize and beautify life.


The Lameness of Íphaistos

The most familiar mythology concerning Íphaistos relates the story of how he was born lame, for which he is known by the epithet Kyllopodíohn (Cyllopodium, Κυλλοποδίων), the club-footed one. The myth states that he was cast out of Ólympos into the sea by his mother, where he was cared for by Thǽtis (Thetis, Θέτις) and Evrynómi (Eurynome, Εὐρυνόμη). He is often depicted in the stories as ugly and hobbling about. This "lameness" is symbolic of the Fire-Aithír of Íphaistos, changing the direction of the Aithír (Ether, Αἰθήρ) in the Middle Sky, like a bent or lame foot. Therefore, like Poseidóhn (Poseidon, Ποσειδῶν), Íphaistos is connected with the Middle or Copper Sky, but in a different way: Íphaistos is called the Lord of the Gates, the Gates being the entrance to the great copper palaces of the Olympians which he prepares for those who are deified. He also has dominion over those souls in the highest realms of the Middle Sky who are near to being deified. 

Íphaistos in Iconography

Íphaistos is depicted in art as a strong and burly craftsman, bearded, with an oval cap and wearing a simple khitóhn (chiton or tunic, χιτών) with hammer and anvil, laboring in his workshop. Porphýrios (Porphyry, Πορφύριος) describes Íphaistos thus:


"...the power of fire they called Hephaestus, and have made his image in the form of a man, but put on it a blue cap as a symbol of the revolution of the heavens, because the archetypal and purest form of fire is there. But the fire brought down from heaven to earth is less intense, and wants the strengthening and support which is found in matter: wherefore he is lame, as needing matter to support him." [4]


The Homeric Hymn to Íphaistos

The Homeric hymn to Íphaistos describes him as a God who, by teaching skills and crafts, has the effect of civilizing mankind:


"Sing, clear-voiced Muses, of Hephaestus famed for inventions. With bright-eyed Athena he taught men glorious crafts throughout the world, -- men who before used to dwell in caves in the mountains like wild beasts. But now that they have learned crafts through Hephaestus the famed worker, easily they live a peaceful life in their own houses the whole year round. Be gracious, Hephaestus, and grant me success and prosperity!" [5]


Íphaistos in Orphismós

Íphaistos rules the fourth Orphic House, the month of Aigokǽrohs (Capricorn, Αἰγοκέρως) from December 21 through January 20. Mighty Íphaistos presides over the Solstice at the commencement of Aigokǽrohs, December 21. His dominion is the Natural Law of Morphí (Form, Μορφή). The Divine Consort of Íphaistos is the Goddess Æstía (Hestia, Ἑστία). Both Íphaistos and Æstía have fire: Æstía has the Fire of Life while Íphaistos possesses the Fire-Aithír which works with the Forms. The Orphic Hymn to the Íphaistos suggests an offering of livanománnan (λιβανομάνναν), frankincense + manna, (μάννᾰ) to the great God.

A festival of Íphaistos: Khalkeia



[1] Ἀπολλόδωρος (Apollodorus) Βιβλιοθήκη (The Library) 1.19.

[2] Ἡσίοδος (Hesiod) Θεογονία 927.

[3] Kern Orphic frag. 182. (140) Πρόκλος Commentary on Τίμαιος Πλάτωνος 29a (I 333, 2 Diehl).

[4] Πορφύριος (Porphyry) On Images, Fragment 8, excerpt, trans. Edwin Hamilton Gifford, died 1905.

[5] Homeric Hymn 20 Εἲς Ἥφαιστον, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914.

Please visit these pages:


The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.
How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.


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