Hephaestus was an Olympian god of craftsmanship, blacksmiths and stonemasonry. He was also known as a god of fire, mainly because his crafting expertise has emerged from dilligently working with the help of fire. Hephaestus had his own palace at Olympus, containing his workshop with an anvil and twenty bellows that worked at his bidding. He forged plenty marvelous weapons and equipment, such as Hermes' winged helmet and sandals, Achilles' armor, bronze clappers for Heracles, silver arrows for Apollo and Artemis, adamantine blade for Perseus, aegis breastplate for Zeus, Diomedes' corselet and more. In some cases, he is even said to had helped the Cyclopes forge Zeus' thunderbolt, Poseidon's trident and the helm of darkness for Hades. Hephaestus is also credited with forging most of the automatons, animated creatures specified for performing certain tasks.
In the art works, he is usually depicted as a fully grown bearded man in a working suit, holding a hammer and tongs. He is either standing by anvil or riding a donkey.
Abandoned at birth and the return to Olympus
According to Hesiod's Theogony, Hephaestus was a son of Hera alone. Several sources confirm this story, while others claim that he was an offspring of the kingly marriage of Zeus and Hera. Anyway, he is often described as lame, imperfect and not appreciated by parent or parents and dropped in the ocean where Thetis and Eurynome received him. He dwelt with them for nine years in a grotto, surrounded by Oceanus. He improved his skills over those years and in a myth of his return, he had built a golden chair with invisible fetters and sent it to Olympus as a gift for his mother. When Hera sat on the chair, she triggered a trap which bound her to the chair. The gods were unable to release her and therefore asked Hephaestus to free his mother. But he refused the request stating that he had been treated like a boy without mother. He wouldn't listen to any of them except Dionysus who had full trust from Hephaestus. However, Dionysus was only going to talk to him on the condition that they would let him back to Olympus so they had no choice but to agree. Thereafter, he went to Hephaestus and offered him wine during the debate. When Hephaestus was drunk enough, he brought him before the council at Olympus. Zeus would offer him anything, if he was to release Hera. Hephaestus, being drunk enough, asked for Aphrodite to be married with him. Zeus didn't like the idea one bit but had no other choice but to grant his wish and Hera was finally released
Marriage with Aphrodite
This marriage was bound to fail from the beginning as Aphrodite had her eyes already on Ares and the love was mutual. They had an affair and were taking action right there in the palace of Hephaestus. However, this affair has not gone unnoticed, because Helios, the titan god of sun, randomly spied one day on the couple and immediately reported to Hephaestus when found out of their affair. Hephaestus in fury went to his workshop, brooding revenge. He made a magical net in his plan to trap the couple in action. He placed the invisible net on the bed and all around it, even on the roof wall. Then, after he departed, Ares came to make love with Aphrodite. When they had lain in bed, the net of magical chains enveloped them and they could not escape. In the meantime, Helios was reporting everything to Hephaestus and the god of craftsmanship was already on his way home, frustrated and angered. He also called all the gods to come and see this infidelity. Because of this adultery, Ares was banished from Olympus.
Shortly after Ares was banished from Olympus, Aphrodite took revenge on Hephaestus by casting a spell on him. Clouded by the love spell, Hephaestus fell in love with Athena when she came to him with the request for fashioning her arms. He began chansing her in order to embrace her but she would not submit to him. When he got close enough, he tried to enter her by force but Athena was able to prevent him and therefore he dripped his seed on her leg. Disgusted by his act, she wiped the seed with wool and threw it on the ground. And from the earth, Erikhthonios, a giant serpent, was born. Some sources claim that it was Gaea who made this birth possible and make her the mother of the serpent, while others simply say that Athena is the mother.
Hephaestus in other myths
Hephaestus, yet with another of his crafty inventions, chained Prometheus to Mount Caucasus, when he was punished by Zeus for stealing back fire for mankind. And the most famous of his creation is Pandora whom he created on the order of Zeus who wanted to punish mankind. He made her out of earth and clay, filled with water, and infused her with a human voice and vigor and make her face like immortal goddess. Other gods were instructed to fill her with their gifts. Athena also clothed her with silvery raiment and embroidered veil. Zeus gave her the name Pandora and married her to Epimetheus.
At the time of the Trojan war, Hephaestus fought against the river-god Scamander who was trying to drown Achilles in his stream. Hera, in fear of losing Achilles, called for her son to come to rescue with fire, a true opposite of the watery Scamander. He first torched the bodies on the river stream to clear the way for Achilles and then boiled the stream until the river stopped and evaporated. Scamander was left with no other choice but to flee away.