Hephaistos’ MDT – Day 5: Family & Genealogy

Χαίρετε πάντες!

Today I will discuss the family connections of Hephaistos.

His first connection is with Hera, who is his mother in all accounts of his birth. His relationship with her had a rough patch beginning with her tossing him off Olympos. In other versions, it is his father, Zeus, if Hera is not the sole parent. As a son of Zeus and Hera, he is a prince, son of the Royal Couple of the Gods, who are Gods of Governance and States. Industry and Craftsmanship are essential parts of any society, so it seems fitting he be the child of at least Hera.


Hephaistos, Thetis, and the armour of Akhilleus. Athenian red-figure Nolan amphora C5th B.C., Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Image taken from Theoi.com, 5 May 2017.

A secondary parental relationship exists with Thetis and Eurynome, two of the Okeanides (daughters of Okeanos), his foster parents who saved him after his landing on Lemnos and who raised him afterwards. During his youth, he’d already show the promise of craftsmanship by making jewellery for them. Later he would also make the armour of Akhilleus after being requested this from Thetis, to which he acquiesced given his eternal debt to her for raising him.

His direct fraternal relationships include the other children of Zeus and Hera. Ares is his brother, who came to threaten him after Hephaistos had captured their mother Hera in a golden throne trap. He is also brother to Hebe, Goddess of Youth and handmaiden to Hera, and Eileithyia, Goddess of Childbirth. And according to some accounts of her parentage, Enyo as well, who is a War Goddess who delights in bloodshed.

Then, of course, there is the relationship with his half-brothers and -sisters via Zeus. Apollon, Artemis, Athena, Dionysos, and Hermes are but a few of them. In some accounts, even Aphrodite was said to be a daughter of Zeus and Dione, and so half-sister to Hephaistos if his father is indeed Zeus.

Speaking of Aphrodite, she is the first wife of Hephaistos, a marriage arranged by Father Zeus as recompense for his ill-treatment. The marriage did not last very long, however. A famous episode from mythology details how Aphrodite had an affair with Ares and Hephaistos got suspicious of this. So he prepared a trap with a net, and on his wedding night, he thus caught the adulterous lovers in his own marriage bed, catching them in his net. Then he called all the Gods to bear witness to it and the Gods had a good laugh about it.

The marriage was, of course, annulled after this, so Zeus arranged a new marriage for Hephaistos, a lasting one this time. His new wife was Aglaia, one of the Kharites, whose name means something like “the Smiling One”. It is fitting that the Divine Craftsman and Smith would receive as his wife the Goddess of Smiling, as a craftsman does when after all his hard work he has successfully made a finished product.

With Aglaia, Hephaistos would have several daughters. Eukleia, the Goddess of Glory and Goodly Fame, Eupheme, Goddess of being Well-Spoken of, Euthenia, Goddess of Prosperity, and Philophrosyne, Goddess of Friendliness. He is also father to Thaleia, a Sicilian nymph, though I could not find her mother, though perhaps her mother is Aitna, who is a Goddess of the volcano of the same name. Hephaistos is also said to have fathered the Palikoi, Deities of Hot Springs and Geysers in the region of the Etna volcano. Though other accounts say that the Palikoi were fathered by Zeus with Hephaistos’s daughter Thaleia.

Finally, he fathered the Kabeiroi and Kabeirides by the sea nymph Kabeiro. The Kabeiroi were divine twins – though other numbers of Kabeiroi are mentioned in ancient sources – and master metal-workers on Lemnos, who also oversaw the Mysteries of the Great Gods of Samothrake. The Kabeirides were three nymphs who, like their brothers, oversaw the Mysteries of the Great Gods of Samothrake.


Gaia and the birth of Erikhthonios, with Athena taking the child into custody. Athenian red-figure kylix C5th B.C., Antikensammlung Berlin. Image taken from Theoi.com, 5 May 2017.

Of his mortal offspring, Erikhthonios is the most well-known. At some point, Hephaistos fell in love with Athena and attempted to win her affection, though she, a virgin Goddess, spurned his advances. During this encounter, Hephaistos spilt his seed onto her robes, which she disgustedly flicked away with her hand. Thereupon the seed landed on the Earth, impregnating Gaia, who then brought forth Erikthonios. Still feeling somewhat responsible for this child, Athena arranged for his care.

I think that’ll do it for now.


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