Emily Wilson’s translation of Aphrodite’s affair & Hephaestus’s snare – The Odyssey, Book 4, lines 265-367:

‘The poet strummed and sang a charming song

about the love of fair-crowned Aphrodite

for Ares, who gave lavish gifts to herHephaestus catching Aphrodite and Ares in their affair; circo del herrero imagery for the poem

and shamed the bed of Lord Hephaestus, where

they secretly had sex. The Sun God saw them,

and told Hephaestus–bitter news for him.

He marched into his forge to get revenge,

and set the might anvil on its block,

and hammered chains so strong that they could never

be broken or undone. He was so angry

at Ares. When his trap was made, he went

inside the room of his beloved bed,

and twined the mass of cables all around

the bedposts, and then hung them from the ceiling,

like slender spiderwebs, so finely made

that nobody could see them, even gods:

the craftsmanship was so ingenious.

When he had set the trap across the bed,

he traveled to the cultured town of Lemnos,

which was his favorite place in all the world.

Ares the golden rider had kept watch.

He saw Hephaestus, famous wonder-worker,

leaving his house, and went inside himself;

he wanted to make love with Aphrodite.

She had returned from visiting her father,

the mighty son of Cronus; there she sat.

Then Ares took her hand and said to her,

 

“My darling, let us go to bed. Hephaestus

is out of town; he must have gone to Lemnos

to see the Sintians whose speech is strange.”

 

She was exited to lie down with him;

they went to bed together. But the chaisn

ingenious Hephaestus had created

wrapped tight around them, so they could not move

or get up. THen they knew that they were trapped.

The limping god drew near–before he reached

the land of Lemnos, he had turned back home.

Troubled at heart, he came towards his house.

Standing there in the doorway, he was seized

by savage rage. He gave a mighty shout,

calling to all the gods,

 

“O Father Zeus,

and all you blessed gods who live forever,

look! You may laugh, but it is hard to bear.

See how my Aphrodite, child of Zeus,

is disrespecting me for being lame.

She loves destructive Ares, who is strong

and handsome. I am weak. I blame my parents.

If only I had not been born! But come,

see where those two are sleeping in my bed,

as lovers. I am horrified to see it.

But I predict they will not want to lie

longer like that, however great their love.

Soon they will want to wake up, but my rap

and chains will hold them fast, until her father

pays back the price I gave him for his daughter.

Her eyes stare at me like a dog. She is

so beautiful, but lacking self-control.”

 

The gods assembled at his house: Poseidon,

Earth-Shaker, helpful Hermes, and Apollo.

The goddesses stayed home, from modesty.

The blessed gods who give good things were standing

inside the doorway, and they burst out laughing,

at what a clever trap Hephaestus set.

And as they looked, they said to one another,

“Crime does not pay! The slow can beat the quick,

as no Hephaestus, who is lame and slow,

has used his skill to catch the fastest sprinter

of all those on Olympus. Ares owes

the price for his adultery.” They gossiped.

 

Apollo, son of Zeus, then said to Hermes,

“Hermes my brother, would you like to sleep

with golden Aphrodite, in her bed,

even weighed down by might chains?”

 

And Hermes

the sharp-eyed messenger replied, “Ah, brother,

Apollo lord of archery: if only!

I would be bound three times as tight or more

and let you gods and all your wives look on,

if only I could sleep with Aphrodite.”

 

Then laughter rose among the deathless gods.

Only Poseidon did not laugh. He begged

and pleaded with Hephaestus to release

Ares. He told the wonder-working god,

 

“No let him go! I promise he will pay

the penalty in full among the gods,

just as you ask.”

 

The famous liming god

replied, “Poseidon, do not ask me this.

It is disgusting, bailing scoundrels out.

How could I bind you, while the gods look on,

if Ares should escape his bond and debts?”

 

Poseidon, Lord of Earthquakes, answered him,

“Hephaestus, if he tried to dodge this debt,

I promise I will pay.”

 

The limping god

said, “Then, in courtesy to you, I must

do as you ask.” So using all his strength,

Hephaestus loosed the chains. The pair of lovers

were free from their constraints, and both jumped up.

Ares went off to Thrace, while Aphrodite

smiled as she went to Cyprus, tot he island

of Paphos, where she had a fragrant altar

and sanctuary. The Graces washed her there,

and rubbed her with the magic oil that glows

upon immortals, and they dressed her up

in gorgeous clothes. She looked astonishing.’

From HOMER THE THEOLOGIAN:

“In another context, late in the essay, Proclus again has occasion to speak of Hephaestus and his role as demiurge. There are no apparent contradictions with the present passage, and on is inclined to believe that Proclus had firmly in mind a comprehensive doctrine regarding the mythology of Hephaestus. He is described as ‘lame in both lets’…because, as Timaeus had said, the created world is ‘legless’…Plato’s explanation of the term ‘legless’ is transferred to the Homeric myth: ‘that which is moved by the motion generated around the intellect and thought had no need of feet.’

The Union of Ares and Aphrodite creates ‘harmony and order for the opposites,’ that of Hephaestus and Aphrodite creates in this world beauty and radiance ‘to make the world the most beautiful of all visible things.’ The hypercosmic nuptial embrace and the encosmic adultery are, in fact, simultaneous and eternal, but the mythoplasts have distorted the account according to the familiar pattern. If the cuckolded husband observes the encosmic goings-on from his hypercosmic perch and binds the couple together, the truth behind the screen is that this world has need both of the power of separation (Ares) and of that of combination (Aphrodite), and if he subsequently breaks the chains (at the urging of Poseidon, whose preeminent role it is to preside over the cycle of coming to be and passing away), it is because a static union of the two would bring the process to a standstill—Hephaestus’s act simultaneously destroys the physical universe and (since eternal destruction and eternal coming to be are the life of that universe) creates it anew.”

–Robert Lamberton

Quotes on Hephaistos from FACING THE GODS:

“As the proletarian worker is seen by the Marxist to be the workhorse of industrial society,  so is Hephaistos the only Olympian God who works…

Hephaistos is a quintessential fringe-person on Olympus…

Hephaistos-consciousness drifts a bit toward the Frankenstein phenomenon: his brother is the monster Typhon, but that goes beyond the fringe of Olympian society.

…The feet of Hephaistos tell volumes: they are turned back to front, and when he walks he goes with a rolling gait that strikes the other Gods as somehow hilarious…On this particular occasion his buffoonery has the effect of keeping the Gods from each other’s throats.

The island of Rhodes, Samothrace, Delos, Lemnos were much associated with a race of cretaures variously called Dakyloi, Telchines, Kouretes, Korybantes, or Kabeiroi; on Lemnos they were called Hephaistoi, in the plural. These names refer to dwarf-like servants of the Great Mother Goddess. Invariably, they occupy themselves with metallurgy at subterranean forges, deep in the body of the Mother herself, for the islands were in earliest times identical with the Great Goddess. As the Idaean Daktyloi (‘Daktyloi’ meaning ‘fingers,’ thus as the ‘fingers’ of the Great Goddess), these smith-dwarfs learne dtheir matallurgic arts originally from the Great Mother herself.

…Hera, the Olympian mother of Hephaistos, preserves associations from earlier, pre-Olympian times with beings of Dactylic nature. The importance of this incestuous pattern in the Hephaistian configuration is central.

Invariably the mythical smiths were set apart by some defect or oddity…

…But the fire of Hephaistos is fundamentally not a daytime, Olympian fire but a subterranean fire.

…Baccaccio argued that Greek imagination gave Hephaistos to the apes because apes imitate nature by practicing the arts and crafts.

…The furnace itself is an ‘artificial uterus,’ as Eliade has pointed out; the smith stands in the service of the metallurgic processes that occur in the furnace just as the Idaean Daktyloi served the Great Mother in her labor. Whereas the heroes o fsolar masculinity perform great tasks to free themselves from bondage to the maternal background, Hephaistos remains always in the service of the feminine. And the Hephaistian passion for creative work is deeply of the Mother.

This intimacy between Hephaistos and the feminine world finds mythic expression through an incident of his boyhood. When Hera flings him in disgust from the gates of heaven, the crippled child falls into the sea and is rescued from drowning by the sea-nymphs Thetis and Eurynome, who take him home and nurture him for nine years.

…To the feminine ego the Hephaistian constellation may appear perhaps even more problematical and threatening. Hephaistos connects to her deepest feminine-maternal impulses, yet wants something other than simple maternity….Hephaistos goes contra naturam (his feet turned the wrong way round!) in a way that profoundly threatens to undermine or rechannel the essence of purely natural feminine creativity. Hephaistos may be, therefore, a monstrous offense to feminine naturalism, a sick-making disharmony in the tones that vibrate between feminine ego=consciousness and the Great Mother.

…And yet, in a subtle way unseen by Hera, Hephaistos is a precise response to Athene, from hermaphroditic femininity to hermaphroditic masculinity. If as W. F. Otto says ‘Athene is a woman, but as if she were a man,’ Hephaistos is a man, but as if he were a woman.

Because she sees in Hephaistos a failure, Hera tries again and produces, finally, Ares. Whether or not Ares satisfies her is not said, but he certainly does reflect his mother’s ferocious, battle-crazy animus…

In temperament, too, the brothers are very unlike, Ares thriving on strife and drinking too deeply of the bloody waters of mortal combat, Hephaistos rather the peace-maker who tends to shy away from conflict.

Hephaistos, it is told, won the hand hand of Aphrodite as reward for freeing Hera from the chains with which he had bound her. What sort of marriage this was remains in the dark, but it seems quite clear that Hephaistos spent much of his time on Lemnos with his smithy-friends, leaving the voluptuous Aphrodite home alone to mind the house. Her affair with Ares, begun during these interludes and carried on while Hephaisots was introverting at his underground forge, is marked by high erotic intensity: it is a as through in the coming together of Ares and Aphrodite two sexual opposites meet which were simply not present tin the Hephaistos-Aphrodite combination.

Not that Hephaistos is at all effeminate and soft. The many drawings and paintings of him show generally a robust specimen of the masculine sex with heavily muscled arms and thick neck. And he is, after all, God of smiths and craftsmen (‘hardhats’!), probably the least effeminate elements of the population.

Even more than Hephaistos, Dionysos is ‘a man but as if he were a woman.’ But whereas Hephaistos tends to tie down and fixate (a kind of compulsion to ‘show them’), Dionysos is the God of dismemberment, dissolution, and loosening.

The mythic ties between Hephaistos and Athene show, both in their quantity and profundity, a deep-going association between these two figures. More than Aphrodite, Athene is the ‘soul-mate’ of Hephaistos. Yet a kind of cloudy mysteriousness shrouds their relationship; no single tradition was ever clearly established on this subject, and so what confronts us is a blurred image based on rumors and conflicting reports…Whether, as in some reports, he marries her or not, the outcome is the same: Hephaistos seeks impetuously and passionately to make love to Athene: at the moment of climax she pushes him aside, and his semen falls to the earth where it impregnates Gaia…” – James Hillman, “Hephaistos: A Pattern of Introversion,” from Facing the Gods. 

Symbols of the gods

Symbols of the gods.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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Aphrodite’s gears are a little rusty…

Work them gears, gurl.
Work them gears, gurl.

There is a Goodreads giveaway going on right now for the print edition of THE AUTOMATION – Vol. 1 of The Blacksmith’s Circus series.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, and goodreads.]