Hephaistos and Ares

A little blurp I started on twitter has the rocks really rolling around in my head….just how close is the relationship between Hephaistos and Ares? I started with the remark that Hephaistos in Argos was called the Warrior Zeus according to Pausanias which suggest that Hephaistos was recognized as attached to the warrior nature of Zeus (much like we see Dionysos connected to the genitive functions of Zeus, or Athena to the nous/mind of Zeus).. Yet this seems odd considering that it is commonly held that Hephaistos was conceived by Hera alone in result of Zeus birthing Athena on his own (although Hephaistos is still held to be a son of Zeus in other traditions), so it seems odd that he would have this title onto himself when the recognized child of Zeus and Hera as war god is Ares. That made me start to wonder if there is some kind of mystery in the relationship between Hephaistos and Ares that ties them intimately together.

Take for instance the fact that both are closely united with Aphrodite. Hephaistos as her husband (although he later takes Kharis as his bride, yet when know that this is also a recognized title associated with Aphrodite and is likely directly associated with Aphrodite as a goddess of the Khairites/Graces. Ares as her lover whom she both mellows and enflames. They even have an awkward relationship with Athena, Ares as one who is constant contest with her, and Hephaistos whose adore was spurned by her and yet still touched by his semen as she fled his company and yet is often depicted in her company as one who forges and mends her armor. Yet whereas Hephaistos is the god for the forge and smithy, Ares too in his Orphic hymn seems to have some direction towards the end of creating arms and implements of agriculture as he is called to give forth his weapons to Demeter, suggest that he transform his weapons of war into tools of agriculture…or if nothing else he feeds his metals into the forge of Hephaistos to transform them. In either case we have hot natured deities associated with war and the tools of warfare

What I find interesting is alternative myths, that are believed to have been based on those of Hephaistos, wherein Ares is conceived not by Zeus but by a flower. The direct inspiration and borrowing from the former into the latter is not without interest. It may suggest a more close relationship in how the gods functioned and were viewed, even if they appeared functionally very different as one was a lamed god and the other one who was called poetically most loathsome among the gods and yet was praised in hymns for peace keeping and keeping men in obedience of the laws of the state. Between the two we can see a certain functional benevolence in which warfare protects the homeland and strength of arms aids in peace and order among the citizens, wherein the tools of war give rise to new tools and potential benefits for humanity. We find this still true today as warfare gives rise to new inventions. The important thing of course would be the tempering of Ares that he not go off on a mad ruckus but rather stay near the home and give protection and aid to its development.

Even in their relationship with Aphrodite we can get a touch of this in which the goddess is bared with what could be considered the noble constructive nature of warfare via Hephaistos, and the more bold, ruthless and valiant nature of warfare through Ares through his passion and fury. This is certainly reflected in their respective offspring where the children sired by Hephaistos to the goddess are of benevolence to humanity, whereas those sired by Ares are troublesome and violent. Yet under the tender ministrations of Aphrodite it can be considered there that he assumes a nature not unlike Hephaistos in laying down his arms and benevolently functioning as the Orphic Hymn calls upon him. Even the Kaberoi, children of Hephaistos, were considered to be of mystic deities of a warrior nature not unlike the Korybantes (the children of Apollon) and the Kuretes..

It does give some food to thought it how profound a mystery might be lurking beneath it.

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