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



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

Being an Olympian Deity, Íphaistos is one of the most important Gods in the pantheon of Ællînismόs (Hellênismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. He is the son of Íra (Hera, Ήρα) and Zefs (Ζεύς), this according to Apollódôros (Apollodôrus, 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 (Charis, Χάρις) in Iliás (Iliad, Ἰλιάς) and, for a time, Aphrodítî (Aphroditê, Ἀφροδίτη) in Odýsseia (Odyssey, Ὀδύσσεια).

Characteristics of Íphaistos

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

διὰ δὴ ταῦτα καὶ οἱ θεολόγοι τῶι Ἡφαίστωι τὴν Ἀφροδίτην (Fragment 184) συζεύξαντες οὕτως αὐτὸν χαλκεύειν εἰρήκασι τὸ πᾶν (Fragment 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 Aphrodítî and have proclaimed that he in this way forges everything, and again from Íphaistos and Agläía (Ἀγλαΐα), producing Éfkleia (Eucleia, Εὔκλεια) and Efthînía (Euthênia, Ευθηνία) and Efphímî (Euphêmê, Εὐφήμη) and Philophrosýnî (Philoprosynê, Φιλοφροσύνη), to adorn the material world with beauty.” [3]

(trans. by the author)

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

Íphaistos is depicted in the mythology as dwelling in a glorious palace in Ólymbos (Olympus, Ὄλυμπος) where is his workshop and anvil, in which he crafts 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 Athîná 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 Kyllopodíôn (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 Evrynómî (Eurynomê, 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 (Ethêr, Αἰθήρ) in the Middle Sky, like a bent or lame foot. Therefore, like Poseidóhn (Poseidôn, 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 (chitôn 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]

A festival of Íphaistos: Khalkeia


[1] Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου 1.19.

[2] Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 927.

[3] Kern Orphic frag. 182. (140) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 29a (I 333, 2 Diehl).

[4] Περὶ ἀγαλμάτων Πορφυρίου Frag. 8, excerpt, trans. Edwin Hamilton Gifford, died 1905.

[5] Ὁμηρικὸς Ὕμνος 20 Εις Ἥφαιστον, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914.

Please visit these pages:

The Orphic Hymn to Íphaistos

The Epithets of Íphaistos

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic 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.

This logo 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 Apóllôn (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 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.

S PELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

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