Because the Greek Homer always refers to the god Vulcan as the god Hephaestus, that is how I will refer to him here. (Although not necessarily important to the Iliad, it is interesting to note that Hephaestus is a god with many different epithets to his name, some of them having to do with his deformity and some of them having to do with his metalworking occupation.) Known as the god of metalworking and blacksmiths and sometimes semi-considered the god of fire, one of Hephatestus’ main job is to make the thunderbolts for Zeus’ enjoyment and plunder; however, he is also described as making ALL of the weapons of the gods from Mount Olympus. As a result of his occupation, Hephaestus is usually represented as wielding a hammer, an anvil, and a pair of tongs for taking weapons out of the fire for honing. Anything important and made of metal and owned by the gods is generally attributed to the art of Hephaestus. A few of the most important elements he has made are Hermes’ helmet (complete with wings), Aphrodite’s girdle, Agamemnon’s kingly staff, the armor of Achilles, Cupid’s arrows, Hercules’ bronze instruments, Helios’ chariot, ALL of the thrones on Mount Olympus as well as other important things. Adding to his art form and power, Hephaestus also was seen to give his creation “motion.” Therefore, he could make his metal lions bite and his other images move on their own. This is increasingly important in Homer’s Iliad because he is shown to create some humanlike bronze moving machines that help him move around in the ranks of the Greeks and Trojans. Hephaestus is famous for his deformity: a crippled leg. There are many stories about how Hephaestus contracted his deformity. The simplest of the stories is that Hephaestus had his crippled leg from birth. However, the most interesting story is that Hephaestus was thrown off of Mount Olympus by Zeus. This version of the story occurs after Hephaestus was already grown. Zeus and Hera were fighting as usual. Even though he was always adored by Zeus, Hephaestus unfortunately took the side of Hera in that argument. As a result of Hephaestus siding with Hera, Zeus hurls Hephaestus off of Mount Olympus, crippling his leg. Unbeknownst to Zeus, Hephaestus is nursed back to health by a sea nymph. Another myth is that Hephaestus was actually rescuing his mother from Zeus’ advances. And Zeus flings him off the mountain in anger. Yet another story of Hephaestus’ deformity is that Hera rejected Hephaestus and ejected him from Mount Olympus because he was “shriveled of foot.” Regardless of how Hephaestus became deformed, perhaps it’s more important to note that he is the only god to return to Mount Olympus in good graces after his exit. In fact, Hephaestus’ return is often depicted in Greek art. Further, the idea of Hephaestus’ deformity is most often attributed to the common issue of arsenic poisoning in the life of the Greeks. Arsenic had to be added to copper to harden it into tools befitting a warrior; therefore, many people were in fact made lame by this chemical. The story of Hephaestus’ marriage is an interesting one. Loved by Zeus, Hephaestus is given a wonderful wife from the sea foam. As Aphrodite appears out of the sea foam, Zeus knew how jealous the goddesses would be of her beauty and how interested all of the gods would be to marry her. Zeus then betroths Aphrodite to the happy Hephaestus. Another important connection to make is the connection between Hephaestus and Athena. Hephaestus is often likened as a “male Athena,” although Athena is seen as far more powerful. Both are noted with healing powers and with giving lots of skill to mortal artists. As a result they share many festivals as well as temples in Greece.