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HEPHAESTUS (he-FEE-stus or he-FESS-tus; Roman name Vulcan) was the lame god of fire and crafts or the two together, hence of blacksmiths. Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and Hera or, in some accounts, of Hera alone. He limped because he was born lame, which caused his mother to throw him off Mount Olympus. Or in other accounts he interceded in a fight between Zeus and Hera, and Zeus took him by the foot and threw him from Olympus to the earth far below.

Hephaestus accomplished numerous prodigies of craftsmanship, such as the marvelous palaces that he built for the gods atop Mount Olympus, or the armor that he made for Achilles during the siege of Troy (the description of which occupies a great many lines of Homer's epic of the Trojan War).

Hephaestus also created the first woman, Pandora, at the command of Zeus, in retaliation for the various tricks by which the Titan Prometheus had benefited mortal men at the expense of the gods. Pandora was given to the Titan's brother, Epimetheus, as his wife. For her dowry she brought a jar filled with evils from which she removed the lid, thereby afflicting men for the first time with hard work and sickness. Only hope remained inside the jar.