Hephaistos and Hera


Hephaistos, figure for yesterday and tomorrow?

This decorated Kylix from the Berlin Staatliche Museen (c. 430 BCE) illustrating the legendary account of the foundation of Athens sheds an interesting side light on the drama of the family structure. Kekrops (left), first king of Athens was said to have sprung direct from the Attic soil and his indigenous nature is shown here in this representation of him as half man half snake. Gaia seated centre-left holds up the infant Erichthonios and presents him to Athena. Erichthonios was said to have sprung from the fallen seed of Hephaistos (rejected son of Hera and Zeuss) after Athena refused his amorous advances.

Hephaistos himself watches centre right with Herse, one of the daughters of Kekrops. Erichthonios was said to have been a special favourite of Athena and became the first of the Erechtheids, chthonic deities and founders of the first Athenian dynasty. Hephaistos (later identifiable as the Roman Vulcan) was attributed with bringing the art of forging metals and in some legends is the creator of Pandora.

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