Many theories exist in Greek mythology regarding Aphrodite’s origins. Some sources say she was born by a reaction between Ouranos’ seed and sea foam. Others claim that she was the daughter of Zeus and a Titaness named Dione. However, her beauty, her attitude towards her lovers, and the problems that ensued are undisputed.
Many gods in Olympus and even quite a few mortals, sought Aphrodite’s hand in marriage. And Aphrodite, being the goddess of love and lust, was happy to oblige most of them. This resulted in a wide range of conflicts both among mortals and the immortals. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the myth where the war god Ares transformed into a boar and murdered Adonis, one of Aphrodite’s favorite mortal lovers.
As the myths go, the wise old god Zeus saw the troubles that Aphrodite’s beauty caused and decided that she should be married off to someone. And who would be a better spouse for the goddess of beauty than Hephaestus, the ugly and deformed god of blacksmiths, forgery and fire?
Does that sound a bit odd? You’re probably assuming that Aphrodite remained faithful to Hephaestus throughout their marriage. Rather, she maintained affairs with all the gods she had loved in the past. Many myths accept that Aphrodite had children with Ares, Dionysus and Hermes. Some less legitimate sources claim she bore the children of many other gods, including Zeus.
Some sources provide a different explanation for Hephaestus’ marriage to Aphrodite. But for this, we have to start with his birth. Again, some myths state that Hephaestus was the child of Hera and Zeus. Others claim that Hera produced Hephaestus on her own, the same way that Zeus gave birth to Athena. However, all legitimate sources agree that at birth, Hephaestus’ deformity was so shocking that Hera tossed him off Olympus down to Earth.
After landing on Earth, Hephaestus was raised by a sea nymph named Thetis. During his time in the mortal realm, Hephaestus became a skilled blacksmith capable of forging any material known to God or man. He began crafting beautiful items and sending them to the gods, hoping to earn his place back on Olympus.
However, Hephaestus still held a deep sense of resentment against Hera for what she had done to him. His gift to Hera was a beautiful golden throne. However, there was a catch, the throne had a mechanism hidden within it that would bind and restrain Hera. Neither Hera nor Zeus were able to break the bonds, so Zeus offered Aphrodite’s hand in marriage as a reward to anyone who could free the goddess.
Not even mighty Ares, the god of war, could break apart Hephaestus’ throne. Thus, the gods decided to win Aphrodite by being the one to capture Hephaestus and bring him to Olympus. But this too failed, because even thorough Hephaestus was ugly, he was most certainly not weak.
Eventually, Hephaestus received word of the reward for freeing Hera. he approached Olympus of his own free will and released her from the throne. And thus, Zeus had no choice to marry Hephaestus to Aphrodite. However, some sources say this was Zeus’ plan all along. He had to resolve the issue of the gods fighting over Aphrodite anyway. Luring in Hephaestus with the god of beauty, Zeus managed to calm Olympus down and free Hera in one go.
The featured image at the beginning of this post is from Jandenouden of PixaBay.