Hephaistos’ MDT – Day 16: How does Hephaistos represent Hellenic ideals?

Χαίρετε ἀναγνώστες!

Today’s topic is the way in which Hephaistos represents the values and ideals of the Hellenic pantheon and culture.

Hephaistos is a bit of an oddity in the Hellenic pantheon. Most Gods are typically represented in idealised human forms, without any physical imperfections. The most archetypal example of this is Apollon, represented as the ideal kouros, a handsome youth with an ideal athletic body. Hephaistos is a clear exception to this as he is known as Amphigyeis “Lame in Both Legs” and Kyllopodion “Club-footed”. The fact that he is not only handicapped but is well-known and famed for it is most unusual in a society that values ideal body imagery as the Hellenes did. Hephaistos is also described as having an ugly visage, and likely his hammering arm would be disproportionate to his other arm if we think about how human physiology ends up if only one arm is regularly trained. Clearly, Hephaistos is not a good example of what Hellenes considered an ideal body.

I do feel, however, that he is an excellent example of persistence and perseverance, of not giving up in the face of adversity. When Hera threw him of Olympos in shame for her son’s disfigured body, he spent his youth on Lemnos acquiring his skills in various crafts, sharpening his mind with his keen wit, and planning for the reclaiming of his place on Olympos. He succeeded in doing so, in spite of his adversities, he looked them in the eye and spit in it. His refusal to give up, his refusal to just accept things, his indomitable will to take back what is his by right paid off. This is how I think he exemplifies Hellenic values, through his perseverance.

That will be all, for now.


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