The cult of Hephaestus, Vulcan for the Romans, began on the
isle of Lemnos in the northern Aegean, an island of volcanic origin. Hephaestus was
born of Zeus and Hera and, according to some sources, lame at birth. For shame, his
mother cast him down from Olympus.
He was rescued by Oceanus, who Homer calls father of all Things and even of the Gods,
by his wife Tethys and their daughter "Eurinome" who took care of him in
the shelter of a sea cave. According to other legends, Hephaestus was lamed by his
father who assailed him when the young God came to the defence of his mother Hera,
grabbing him by the legs and casting him down from Olympus.
Hephaestus' long and ruinous fall came to an end on the isle of Lemnos. Here, in
the bowels of the earth, Hephaestus and his workmen, the Cyclops, gave life to the
art of metallurgy. Their hammers which incessantly struck the forge's anvils created
weapons but also jewels and the objects and accessories precious to Heroes and Gods
alike: the Sun Cart, the golden cuirass of Heracles, the weapons with which Achilles
killed Hector in battle.
The hands and strength of this deformed and ugly God, husband to Aphrodite, Goddess
of beauty and love, instilled beauty and grace in the many objects we associate with
images of classical mythology. Hephaestus' forge was not found only on Lemnos, but
in every volcano or every place associated with the presence of fire, an element
indispensable to the work of the Gods and men.