Hephaestus, Athenian red-figure skyphos
C5th B.C., Toledo Museum of Art
HEPHAISTOS was the great Olympian god of fire, metalworking, stonemasonry and the art of sculpture. He was usually depicted as a bearded man holding hammer and tongs—the tools of a smith—and riding a donkey.
In Olympus, Hephaestus had his own palace, imperishable and shining like stars: it contained his workshop, with the anvil, and twenty bellows, which worked spontaneously at his bidding. (Il. xviii. 370, &c.) It was there that he made all his beautiful and marvellous works, utensils, and arms, both for gods and men. The ancient poets and mythographers abound in passages describing works of exquisite workmanship which had been manufactured by Hephaestus. In later accounts, the Cyclopes, Brontes, Steropes, Pyracmon, and others, are his workmen and servants, and his workshop is no longer represented as in Olympus, but in the interior of some volcanic isle. (Virg. Aen. viii. 416, &c.)