Hephaestus, the god of fire, especially the blacksmith's fire, was the patron of all craftsmen, principally those working with metals. He was worshiped predominantly in Athens, but also in other manufacturing centers. He was the god of volcanoes and the fire within them represented the smith's furnace.
Hephaestus was associated with Mount Etna, which is on the island of Sicily. Known as the lame god, Hephaestus was born weak and crippled. Displeased by the sight of her son, Hera threw Hephaestus from Mount Olympus, and he fell for a whole day before landing in the sea. Nymphs rescued him and took him to Lemnos, where the people of the island cared for him. Other versions say Zeus threw him from Mount Olympus after Hephaestus had sided with his mother in a quarrel. This legend says that Hephaestus fell for nine days and nine nights, and he landed on the island of Lemnos. It was here that he built his palace and his forges under a volcano.
To gain revenge for his rejection by Hera, Hephaestus fashioned a magic throne, which was presented to her on Mount Olympus. When Hera sat on the throne, it entrapped her, making her a prisoner. The gods on Mount Olympus pleaded with Hephaestus to return to their heavenly domain, and to release Hera, but he refused. Hephaestus released Hera only after being given the beautiful Aphrodite as his bride.
Being a great craftsman, Hephaestus manufactured wonderful articles from various materials, primarily from metal. With help from the Cyclopes, who were his workmen and assistants, he fashioned the thunderbolts for Zeus, as well as his scepter. For Athena, he made her shield and for the god of love, Eros, he made the arrows. The wonderful chariot which the sun god Helios rode across the sky was made by Hephaestus. He also fashioned the invincible armor of Achilles. Hephaestus helped to create the first woman, with the assistance of other gods, after Zeus had ordered that there be a new kind of human. Zeus plotted against Prometheus because he and his race of mortals had only included one gender, which was male, and so Hephaestus formed the first woman from clay. Her name was Pandora (all gifts) and from a supernatural jar, she released the evils of the world on mankind.
Hephaestus is usually shown as an animated cripple bent over his anvil. He wears a beard and is normally depicted as being ugly, and in some art forms he walks with the aid of a stick. Hepheastus was worshiped mainly in Athens, where the Temple of Hephaestus and Athena (the Hephaesteum) still stands (see image). It was built in 449 BCE and stands on a hill close to the Agora at the foot of the Acropolis. Hephaestus and Athena were honored with the festival "Chalceia" on the 30th day of the month Pyanopsion.