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A Fragrant Mythology

Smelling doings and strong women on Lemnos

Vulcan. Marble, reception piece for the French Royal Academy, 1742.

Hephaistos (in Latin, Vulcan) was so weakly when he was born that his mother Hera hurled him off Mount Olympos. He survived by falling in the sea, near Lemnos, where the sea goddesses Thetis and Eurynome cared for him. Years later, when Hera found Thetis wearing a magnificent brooch made by Hephaistos, she had a change of heart, brought her son back to Olympos and married him to Aphrodite.

Hephaistos later tried to rescue his mother when Zeus hung her by the wrists from the sky for rebelling against him. Zeus in his fury once again hurled his son from Mount Olympos. This time he fell smack on Lémnos, a fall that crippled him for life, despite all the care lavished on him by the islanders. His lameness recalls the early days of metallurgy in many cultures, when the powers of the smith were so valued that he was hobbled like a partridge to keep him from running away or joining an enemy.

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Sidelights and Myths

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Egisto Sani, Guillaume Coustou the Younger , Jastrow on Wikimedia Commons, Mary Harrsch