Hephaestus by Kayleen Reusser (Mitchell Lane Pub)[/caption]
Did you ever feel different from everyone else?
The Greek god Hephaestus felt different because he was different! In Greek mythology he was made the god of the forge.
More importantly, he was the only Greek god who had to deal with a deformity. All of the Greek gods and goddesses were perfect and beautiful. Only Hephaestus had a disability.
It was interesting to me while doing research on Hephaestus to discover the Greeks created a god with a deformity. Of course, as you’ll see in the story below, he did not come by it naturally. Some people in modern day may be able to relate to his situation.
Even though Hephaestus had problems relating to people due to a bad temper, I felt sorry for him. Hephaestus was a complex chap. I’ve written two other books on Greek gods for Grades 4-8: Hades, Hermes.
Hermes by Kayleen Reusser
Hades by Kayleen Reusser
Shh! Don’t tell Hades and Hermes because they might get mad at me, but my book on Hephaestus may have been my favorite book about Greek mythology.
This excerpt of Chapter 1 from my book called Hephaestus (Mitchell Lane Publishing) lays the groundwork for his problems. What do you think about Hephaestus? Should we feel sorry for him? If your library does not carry this title, please ask a librarian to order it.
Chapter 1 – The First Fall
The heavy hammer slammed against the fiery-hot anvil, creating sparks in the blackened cave. Bent low over his work, Hephaestus (hi-fes-tuhs) barely noticed the raucous noise. Day after day, he stood in front of the forge, heating metal in the flames until it glowed red, orange, yellow, and finally white. At that stage Hephaestus knew the metal had softened and could be molded.
After years of swinging a heavy hammer at his anvil, Hephaestus’ huge muscles glistened from sweat. Bending, twisting, he held the hot piece with a pair of tongs, pounding gold and bronze sections into a variety of resplendent and useful items.
The metal might become a nail, sword, or even a goddess’ canopy bed. The Greek god of the forge could create them all.
Usually Hephaestus worked on assignment, making items others had requested. A long list awaited his attention, but Hephaestus’ current project took priority.
He was making a throne for his mother Hera (her-uh). 1 The royal seat he had designed would delight the queen of the gods, Hephaestus knew, as it was like no other in Olympus. Golden cuckoos and willow leaves decorated the back, a full moon hung above it, and a white fur adorned the seat. 2
Hephaestus smiled grimly as he pictured Hera’s pleased expression upon seeing the graceful throne. He had made it fancier than any of the other gods’ thrones on Mount Olympus. “When my mother sits on it,’ he chortled, “she will know how much I love her.”
Hephaestus’ reputation as the best blacksmith on Mount Olympus was well known. He had become skilled after spending years at his forge. Everyone knew Hephaestus preferred working at his forge than being with people.
Hephaestus’ problems with people had started at birth.
Unlike the other gods and goddesses who were born beautiful and perfectly formed, Hephaestus had entered the world with a humped back and skinny legs that stuck out from his torso like toothpicks. Black hair covered his body and Hephaestus’ swarthy face looked pinched as a raisin. 3
Hera was mortified at her baby’s appearance. How could she, queen of the gods, have produced something so ugly? Hephaestus fussed constantly, annoying Hera further. Greatly aggravated, she put Hephaestus and his crib in a closet in the back of her palace to keep from hearing his pitiful cries.
Hera couldn’t escape the guffaws of ridicule from the other gods. “Hera has birthed the ugliest child in all Olympus!” they cried until Hera wanted to plug her ears.
Hera strode furiously back and forth in her chambers. “First a babe that cries like a banshee and now a passel of gods who laugh at me!” she shrieked. Hera’s face burned with shame. “That ugly son has brought nothing but trouble to me,” she told herself. Hera’s anger towards Baby Hephaestus grew daily, even as she ignored him in the room where he stayed.
One day, Hephaestus cried so much Hera’s ears hurt. Hera’s temper erupted. She stormed into Hephaestus’ closet, picked him up, and threw him out the window. “Never again will the other gods laugh at me!” she cried.