This is a portrait of my friend
Joe Scarpa as Hephaestus. It was inspired by
The Greek god Hephaestus was the only
on of the Greek gods of Mount Olympus who had a "regular" job
and actually worked with his hands. Hephaestus was also the
only one of the Olympians who was born with a physical defect.
It is unclear exactly how Hephaestus came to be lame. Several
different explanations are given in different versions of
In one version, he was born with a clubfoot
and then thrown out of Mount Olympus because his parents
could not accept his imperfection. In another version, the
infant Hephaestus was injured in the fall after he was thrown
out by Zeus, who was angry at his mother for having the nerve
to conceive the baby without his help.
Hera, with the help of a magical herb,
had managed to "get herself pregnant" with the help of Zeus
or any man, a process called parthenogenesis. (Note: Many
myths name Hephaestus as the son who was born as a result
of this immaculate conception, but in some versions the son
Hera had done this to even the score
with her husband for having given birth to Dionysus by himself.
Here is short version of that story: Semele, one of Zeus'
many lovers, lay dying while pregnant with Zeus' son Dionysus.
With the help of Hermes, Zeus removed the unborn child and
implanted him under the skin of his thigh where he remained
until he was ready to be born.
In an account written by Hesiod, Zeus
cast Hephaestus out because he had attempted to rescue his
mother from Zeus’ anger. Zeus had strung Hera from
the starts for having caused the wreck of a sailing ship
under Zeus’ protection during the Trojan war. Hephaestus
had tried to free her from her bonds, was caught, and punished
with expulsion from the heavens.
Some versions of the myths name Zeus
as the one who cast him out, others say it was Hera, and
still others tell that both parents rejected him. The bottom
line . . . Hephaestus got off to a rocky start in life, unwanted
son of rejecting parents who saw no beauty in their little
son. Not to mention ending up with a physical defect that
left him lame.
Whatever the reason, Hephaestus fell
to earth, landing in the sea near the Island of Lemnos. He
had the good fortune to be rescued and nursed back to health
by a group of sea nymphs and Titan goddesses. They went to
great lengths to keep him hidden from his parents, hiding
him in their underwater cave.
Living there, Hephaestus began his career
of craftsmanship. Collecting coral, pearls, and precious
metals from the ocean floor, he began to fashion exquisite
jewelry. He even built little robots made of gold to help
him get around. With the help of the one-eyed Cyclopes who
were master metal smiths themselves, Hephaestus built a set
of golden thrones for the Olympian gods and goddesses.
Soon his creations were all the rage.
Hera, wanting some of the marvelous jewelry that all the
goddesses were wearing forced the goddess Thetis, who was
one of the goddesses who had cared for Hephaestus while he
was in hiding, to tell her who had made her gorgeous jewelry.
Thetis told her that it was made by her own talented son.
Hera saw that they had been wrong to
reject Hephaestus, that in spite of his imperfections, he
had the talent (not to mention good taste) of a god. She
persuaded Zeus to welcome him back. And so, Hephaestus was
invited to return to Mount Olympus and to take his place
among the gods.
Also, see http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Hephaistos.html
by Izzy Schwartz.