Hephaestus (Vulcan, Phtha, Khousōr)

Category: Gods > The “Twelve” Gods

1 Introduction

It is easy to get the historical understanding of a god like Hephaestus exactly backward, calling him something along the lines of a ‘personification of the element of fire’ – when, firstly, Hephaestus appears in the earliest Greek literature as a “personal” god long before anyone identified him with fire. Then, secondly, his association (not yet identification) with fire dates back to long before anyone in the Mediterranean thought of it as one of four fundamental elements.

The four-element theory in its classical form probably originates with the 5th-century BCE poet-philosopher Empedocles, while Hesiod and the Homeric poets are thought to have composed their works from as early as the 8th century BCE. I have not yet seen anything directly equating Hephaestus with fire that is older than the Stoic school of philosophy (founded around 300 BCE) – although I will happily acknowledge such evidence if it should be pointed out to me.

! Empedocles in Aristotle, De anima

2 Hephaestus as described by Homer and Hesiod

In the early poets, Hephaestus is decidedly not fire, but a god “excelling in crafts (or ‘arts’, tékhnai) over all the heavenly ones (Ouraníōnes)” (Hesiod, Theogony 929). Alongside Athena, he also teaches people “all manner of craft”, especially smithing (Odyssey 6.232–234; 23.160). Hence it is said that “iron, although it is exceedingly strong, is overcome by burning fire in the glens of the mountain, and melted in the divine Earth by the hands of Hephaestus” (ibid. 864–866). Indeed, so many excellent weapons and other items in Homer are said to have been made by Hephaestus that the Homeric commentators took up the word Hēphaistoteúkton, ‘wrought by Hephaestus’, as a technical term. The most famous of the Hēphaistoteúkta are probably the shield of Achilles, to be discussed below, and the aegis of Zeus (D-Scholia on Iliad 1.202). The thunder (brontḗ) and lightning of Zeus (keraunós = asteropḗ), by contrast, were forged by the Cyclopes Brontes, Steropes and Arges (‘shining’, Theogony 139–141), although later poets subordinate these gods to Hephaestus, as assistants in his forge.

Genealogically, Hephaestus is either the son of Hera alone, as Hesiod claims (Theogony 927–928), or of Zeus and Hera, as in Homer (a difference already well-recognized in antiquity, cf. A-Scholia on Iliad 14.338). There seems to be no disagreement about the fact that he is married, but his wife is identified variously: as Aphrodite in the song of Demodocus in the Odyssey, as Charis (Kháris) or ‘Grace’ in the Iliad, and as Aglaia – one of three Graces – in the Theogony (as will be discussed below). No offspring is mentioned in any of the three poems – although this need not mean that later texts which will mention children of Hephaestus do not reach back to equally ancient traditions.

In appearance, like his divine parents, siblings, and spouse (whichever she may be), Hephaestus is human-shaped (in the ancient grammarians’ terminology, anthrōpómorphos or anthrōpoeidḗs; alternatively, sōmatoeidḗs, ‘body-shaped’), although of course only the most beautiful people are conversely called ‘god-like’ (isótheos). This is not to say that the Homeric gods are nothing more than beautiful people, “for they do not need food, nor do they drink fiery wine, because they do not have (mere) blood, and they are said to be immortal” (Iliad 5.341–342). In this and many other respects, the gods are Greater Beings (kreíttones), meaning greater than us.

Hephaestus’ status among the gods is somewhat fraught, however, due in part to an unspecified deformity in both of his legs (whence he has the perpetual epithet amphigyḗeis, ‘lame in both legs’), and from birth (Odyssey 8.267…). Zeus once grabbed him by his leg and hurled him from Olympus down to the island Lemnus, so that “only a little breath (thymós) was left in him”, and he was nursed back to health by the Sintian people (Iliad 1.590–594). Homeric Hymn 4.311ff. In the myth of Ares and Aphrodite’s dalliance as narrated by Demodocus (Odyssey 8.266–369), Hephaestus is not only humiliated by his wife’s infidelity, but effectively becomes the laughing stock of the gods. In the Iliad, on the other hand, Hephaestus deliberately uses the comic effect of his limp to deflate tensions among the gods, by serving as the cupbearer at their feast (Iliad 1.595–599). But each of the gods owes the mansion they return to after the banquet to Hephaestus, and his disability does nothing to lessen his fame: he is called periklytòs amphigyḗeis Hḗphaistos, ‘famed, lame-on-both-sides Hephaestus’ (ibid. 1.606–608), meaning that he is ‘famous for his craft’ (polytékhnēs, Iliad 1.571, etc.).

strong upper body; his tools, workshop and creations/mechanisms/assistants

In sum, everything in Homer or Hesiod implies that Hephaestus was understood as first and foremost a “personal”, i.e., person-like god, with complex attributes, relationships to the other gods and oversight over varied human endeavors. To think that all this is a mere by-product of “personifying” fire is very far-fetched, especially when the god is not called something transparent like Fire (Pýr), but by an enigmatic name of non-Greek derivation.

3 Hḗphaistos as ‘fire’ in Homer

Now, all that being said, there are indeed passages in Homer where the word Hḗphaistos has to be understood as ‘fire’ – such as Iliad 2.426 or Odyssey 24.71 –, but as the ancient grammarians well understood, this does not mean that Hephaestus is fire. On the contrary, they regarded this as a different sense of the word, as the following passages from ancient grammarians show. (Since grammatical texts generally use quite elliptical language, add words in brackets to clarify what is meant.)

  • In the Homeric Scholia we read, “Hephaestus (means) fire here” – as opposed to the usual meaning (D-Scholia on Iliad 17.88).
  • Zenodorus writes, “Hephaestus (means) fire; and the body-shaped (god)” (On Usage, s.v. Ἥφαιστος, ed. Latte & Erbse, Lexica Graeca minora).
  • Apion, “Hephaestus (means) the deity; and fire” (Homeric Glosses, s.v. Ἥφαιστος, ed. Ludwich, Über die homerischen Glossen Apions).
  • Apollonius, “Hephaestus (is so called) because he is áphaistos, by negation of haphē (‘kindling’);* and it refers to the god. (Homer) also (uses it) in reference to fire: ‘they fixed the innards on a spit and held them over Hephaestus’ [Iliad 2.426]; but this is the figure metonymy” (Lexicon Homericum s.v. Ἥφαιστος, ed. Bekker).

*Greek a– meaning un-, this ahistorical etymology would
yield the sense of ‘unkindled (=self-burning)’ fire.

As the entry from Apollonius suggests, it is not really even the case that ‘fire’ is a distinct (‘lexicalized’) meaning of the word Hḗphaistos. Rather, it takes on that meaning by transference through the rhetorical figure (trópos) of metonymy while retaining a single primary meaning, ‘Hephaestus’.

Here, it seems apposite to quote some ancient discussions of metonymy in full, both from Greek and from Latin sources (since they represent essentially one tradition). The first comes from Pseudo-Plutarch’s On Homer: “There is also another figure, metonymy, the use of a word (lêxis) that means one thing in its proper sense (kyríōs), but a different thing by reference. For example, in Homer, the line, ‘When the strong men cut down Demeter’,* for he means the crop of wheat, using the name because Demeter discovered it. Also, when he says: ‘they fixed the innards on a spit and held them over Hephaestus’ [Iliad 2.426]. In this line, he calls fire by the name of Hephaestus. […]” (Pseudo-Plutarch, De Homero, lines 287–293, ed. Kindstrand).

*A fragment from an unknown poem, ascribed to Homer here,
but “some poet” in Plutarch (
On Isis and Osiris 377e).

And from the fourth book of the Latin Art of Grammar of Chrisius: “On metonymy. Metonymy is the use of a word (dictio = gr. lêxis) transferred from one meaning (ab aliis significationibus) to another related one (ad aliam proximitatem). Metonymy is a rather broad figure (tropus), and, in order to include all of its forms in our technical account (ut possit per omnes species in artem referri), it will be necessary to explain it through examples:

  • “That which is contained (may be referred to) by that which contains it, as in, ‘Now libate the vessels to Jupiter’ [], in the sense of that which is in the vessels, and ‘’ [], that is, the the gods, who are ‘contained’ in heaven.
  • “That which contains something by that which is contained in it, as in ‘’ []: not wines, but jars in which there are wines.
  • “A discovery/invention or subject by its inventor (inventor) or ruler (dominans), as in ‘Without Ceres and Liber, Venus is frigid’ []; for by ‘Ceres’ we are meant to understand ‘bread’, by ‘Liber’, ‘wine’, and by ‘Venus’, ‘sex’.
  • “Through the invention or subject, the inventor or ruler, as when someone might wish to mean Vulcan (=Hephaestus) and says fire.
  • “From the doer, that which is done, as in […]
  • “From that which is done, that which is doing, as in […]” (p. 359–360, ed. Barwick).

The scholiasts list some other examples too: “Eileithyiai (mean) birth-pangs by metonymy, as Ares (signifies) iron, and Hephaestus fire” (bT-Scholia on Iliad 19.119).

[+Tryphon II]

A somewhat different understanding of metonymy is given by the Greek rhetorician Tryphon, who writes: “Metonymy is an expression (lêxis) indicating a synonym from a homonym.” According to Luigi Arata,* this describes a transitional step, homonymy (where Hḗphaistos has two meanings, ‘Hephaestus’ and ‘fire’), and a result, synonymy (where ‘Hephaestus’ and ‘fire’ become interchangeable). Tryphon continues: “For example: ‘they fixed the innards on a spit and held them over Hephaestus’ [Iliad 2.426], for Hephaestus is the discoverer of fire; also when we call wheat ‘Demeter’. Either the discoveries from the discoverers; but also the discoverer from the discovery, for example: ‘Wine, the greatest of deities, persuaded me’” (On Figures, p. 195, ed. Spengel, Rhetores Graeci, vol. 3).

*“The Definition of Metonymy in Ancient Greece”,
Styles 39.1 (Spring 2005), p. 57.

3 Hephaestus as lord of fire and inventor of crafts

Still, I have not yet properly accounted for Hephaestus’ close connection to fire. Going by the ancient theory of metonymy, he ought to govern and rule over fire, or to have discovered it to humanity. A few references to “the flame (phlogós) of Hephaestus” (Iliad 9.468; 17.88; 23.33) point in the same direction. But beyond the fact that Hephaestus uses fire to melt iron, as Hesiod said, what are we told about this?

The mentions of Hephaestus’ fire occur most often in the context of cooking the meat of sacrificial victims – and in one case, the flames of a funeral pyre (Odyssey 24.71). This may be simply because sacrifices are the most common occasion for the use of fire in the Iliad and Odyssey, not because cooking is an activity particularly associated with Hephaestus.

Station of his smithies – mountains? Already in Homer/Hesiod, maybe? Or not? What about Works and Days?
crafts (hymn);

Tacitus Annals 15.44 (cf. Vulcanus Quietus, below)

lêmnion blepeis (other proverbs?)

Homeric Hymn 4 to Hermes 115 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
„The strength of glorious (klytos) Hephaistos was beginning to kindle the [sacrificial] fire.“

Plato, Cratylus

If, as Aelius Aristides would later write, “the gods discovered/invented (heuron) each thing and showed them” to humans, then “the Muses and Apollon invented the art of poetry, Hermes rhetoric, Hephaestus smithing, and the others, other arts (tékhnai)” (Scholia on Aelius Aristides, Against Plato On Rhetoric 32,6).

? Works and Days commentary

The rhetorician Aphthonius, in a praise of wisdom, writes that “of the gods, each has cho…



N Hephaestus’ names

As we now begin to branch out from the Greek-language sources, it is necessary to have the other names of the god in view:

  • As we have seen, our god’s name in Greek is Hḗphaistos (or in some poets dialects, Hā́phaistos), anglicized as ‘Hephaestus’ or, more rarely, ‘Hephaistos’. It is, however, perhaps not quite right to say this is a Greek name per se, since it is not derived from any Greek word root. It is, as modern scholars are wont to say, of “pre-Greek” origin. (Contrast the Indian god Agni, whose name is simply the Sanskrit word for ‘fire’, and a word derived from Proto-Indo-European, cognate with Latin ignis.)
  • Similarly, his Latin name, Vulcānus, also spelled Volcanos or Volkanos (pronounced the same way, as /wʊlˈkaː.nʊs/) and anglicized as ‘Vulcan’, is thought to be loaned from some other language unrelated to Latin, although this is less clear. (At any rate, probably not from Etruscan Velchans, wo seems to be a different god entirely.)
  • Another Latin name for the god, albeit one used rarely and mainly in poetry, is Mulciber […]
  • What is to be made of his Etruscan name, Sethlans, I do not know. With the state of our knowledge of the language, probably little can be said about its derivation, except that the element –an is also found in the Etruscan names of other gods.

What we can learn from this is that the meaning of names is not defined by their ultimate origin (be that conceived in ethnic or linguistic terms) but by their usage. And in usage, the ancients treated Hḗphaistos, Vulcānus and Sethlans as mutually translatable, referring to the same god, recognizable despite language boundaries (Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods 1.24) and artistic idiosyncracies. Thus, for instance, the iconography of the figure label Sethlans in Etruscan art is derived from Greek models even if Etruscan art is distinctive. Latin poets call Hephaestus’ island ‘Vulcanian Lemnos’ (Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2.79) without losing sight of uniquely Roman traditions. In turn, Greek-speakers called the Roman festival of Vulcānālia the Hēphaístia (Hermeneumata Leidensia 2, section De diebus festis), the same name applied to an Athenian festival.

N Hephaestus, the Phoenician Khousōr (Kothar) and the Egyptian Phtha (Ptah)

There are other languages where translation is more complex. Firstly, Phoenician. The craftsman god who is called Kothar-wa-Khasis (‘skillful and intelligent one’) or simply Kothar in Ugaritic (early Phoenician), is said in the Ugaritic Baal Cycle to dwell in Egypt, and specifically in what appears to be Memphis (ḥkpt), reflecting an identification with the Egyptian Ptḥ (Ptah, himself identified with Hephaestus in Greco-Egyptian literature). Apparently punning on this Egyptian name, Ptḥ, Kothar (“Son of the Sea”, “Son of the Confluence”) is described as opening (phoen. ptḥ) a window in the mansion of Baal, allowing him to thunder and rain down (Ugaritic Baal Cycle VII). The god further builds palaces and forges weapons for the gods, and this role in Phoenician narrative poetry can be confidently said to have inspired the role of Hephaestus in later Greek epic poetry, either through direct Phoenician-Greek contacts, through intermediary traditions, or both.

There are two Greek-language sources that cite the Phoenician name Kothar, each with its difficulties. The first stems from Philo of Byblos, a Greco-Phoenician scholar, translating or adapting a Phoenician text ascribed to the ancient sage Sanchouniathon, in turn dependent on Taaútos, “whom the Egyptians called Thōýth, the Alexandrians Thṓth, and the Greeks translated as Hermes” (quoted by Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel 1.9.24). According to Eusebius’ summary of Philo, “there were two brothers, discoverers of iron and the benefits thereof. One of them, Khousṓr, practiced orations, incantations and divinations; and he is Hephaestus, and invents the fish-hook, bait, fishing-line, and raft, and was the first of all people to make a sea journey; and for this reason, they worshipped him as a god after his death. And he also called Zeus Meilichios” (ibid. 1.10.11). Khousṓr is the expected Greek transliteration of Kothar, and despite some different emphases in his domain, he is appropriately interpreted as Hephaestus. But it is notable that Philo nevertheless chooses to give the Phoenician name in Hellenized form in addition to a translation, and further offers what appears to be an alternative translations. The greater difficulty is that Philo interprets the gods as nothing more than human rulers and inventors, and thus leaves out mythological details we would be interested in.

The other Greek source on Kothar is the Peripatetic philosopher Eudemus’ report of a Phoenician theogony by Mochus, surviving via a summary-cum-exegesis of the late Neoplatonist Damascius. According to this, there were at first only Aether and Air (and after them Wind, then Southerly and Northerly Wind). From the two first principles or gods came Time or Eternity (Oulōmós = hebr. ʿOlam). From him, in turn, Kothar was born. His name is not translated, but Hellenized as Khousōrós. On the other hand, he is called “the first opener (anoigeús)”, which we do not get the Phoenician wording for, but it was probably a pun on Ptḥ (‘Ptah’) and ptḥ (‘to open’). He produces an egg, which is broken to produce Heaven and Earth (Ouranos and Gē = Ugaritic Shamayim-wa-ʾAreṣ), that is the cosmos, as Damascius says (Damascius, On Principles, p. 323, ed. Ruelle).

This Phoenician myth appears to adapt an Egyptian story about Ptah, which is construed in reverse order by Porphyry, On Cult Statues: “The demiurge, whom the Egyptians call Knēph […] brought forth an egg from his mouth, they say, from which the god whom they call Phthā, and the Hellenes call Hephaestus, was born. And they interpret the egg as the cosmos” (as quoted/summarized by Eusebius, Preparation of the Gospel 3.11.46). In short, it seems that the Phoenicians were greatly influenced by Egyptian tradition (so that Kothar can be said quite definitively to be Ptah, even if the reverse is not equally true), and in turn, they influenced the Greek tradition. Yet these relationships were not so clear to ancient Greek-speakers engaging with Phoenician and Egyptian culture, at least as far as the extant literature goes.

As for the Greek approach to Egyptian traditions about Ptḥ, the Coptic pronunciation Ptah was adapted to Greek phonetics as Phthā́ or Phthâ, but he was also called by the Greek name Hḗphaistos. In other words, the equivalence of the Egyptian and Greek names was not simply assumed and made invisible by complete mutual translatability (as with Latin), but could be debated. Yet unlike with some Egyptian deities (such as Isis and Osiris), there was a consistent equation of Phtha with Hephaestus.


Adranos; Kabeiroi

Cicero DND 3.22
Suda s.v. Phtha; Iamblichus

Volcanoes & islands: Solinus 5.9;23, 6.1, 11.32

N One Hephaestus or many?

Plutarch: one Hephaestus

Lydus 4.86

N Hephaestus as fire

Stoics; Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris

PGM 7.379; 12.177
(cf. Servius)

N Worship of Hephaestus-Vulcan

Information about the worship of Hephaestus is comparatively meagre, at least in part because he simply was less prominent in the rites of Greek cities than many of the other “Twelve” Gods.

There are two Greek hymns that survive, the brief Homeric Hymn 20, which praises the god for teaching his crafts to humanity, and Orphic Hymn 66, which is a little longer, and characterizes Hephaestus as cosmic fire. The latter also prescribes a type of incense (libanomanna, probably frankincense powder), and mentions libations, which would have been of wine. For a private bloodless sacrifice, this information can suffice. But there is more to consider.

Pausanias in his Description of Greece only mentions one temple (that in Athens, which stands to this day) and less than a handful of altars – one of which, moreover, was connected to a different god by some of the locals (Pausanias 5.14.6). This impression of relative unimportance, at any rate in Greece proper, is corroborated by the rarity of Greek inscriptions mentioning him, except in one interesting context. From the Lycian city of Olympus, there are very many inscriptions of the pattern “X built this tomb for himself and Y”, e.g., wife and children, and “it is not allowed for anyone to bury someone else here, or else the one who buried them must pay/sacrifice Z denarii to the god Hephaestus, of which a third will go to the informant” (Tituli Asiae Minoris II, e.g. 979; 1036). Presumably this reflected a local law and was to the benefit of a temple of Hephaestus. Note that Olympus was near a town called Hephaestia, supposedly so called because of the volcanic Mount Chimaera in Lycia (Solinus 39).

There is much more inscriptional evidence of dedications to the god in Latin, and in Latin-speaking regions: notably one of the exeedingly few Greek dedicatory inscription to him, reading simply “to Hephaestus”, is from the vicinity of Rome (Inscriptiones Graecae XIV 1119). Just on the (far from complete) database of Latin inscriptions kept by the Eagle Project (off-site link), I was able to find, for instance:

  • a dedicatory inscription Volcano Quieto Augusto et Statae Matri Augustae, “to peaceful, august Vulcan and august Stata Mater”, from Rome.
  • mention of cult statues (signa) and a temple (aedem) for Volcano et Veneri Aug, that is, Vulcan and Venus Augusta, from Pannonia.
  • a dedication NV VLCO, i.e. numini Vulcano, “to the deity Vulcan”, from Britain.

There is also an altar dedicated to Volk(anus) from my hometown of Regensburg (Castra Regina in Latin), dedicated on the day of the Vulcanalia, perhaps in the year 178, discovered at the Arnulfsplatz in 1900, and now displayed in the local Historische Museum (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum III 5799).

Of course, all the altars dedicated to the god – whether inscribed in Greek or Latin, some other language or none, whether of lasting material or long since vanished – existed not just for their own sake, but as a platform on which to kindle fires and cast offerings into the flame. What were these offerings, other than libations of wine and suffumigations of frankincense? A general answer is difficult to find in the sources (there are no all-purpose handbooks on such things that survive), but we have enough data to derive some general rules.

Firstly, we have an inscription from Athens containing a decree about a festival of Hephaestus, probably the Hephaestia; text and translation can be found in the Collection of Greek Ritual Norms (off-site link). This festival involved torch-races (on which below), the lifting of oxen by large groups of young men, and most importantly for our purposes, a sacrifice on the altar of Hephaestus – almost certainly of the same oxen. Cattle were a common, albeit costly sacrifice, fit for a major festival, but not (it would seem) related particularly to Hephaestus.

Secondly, we have a description of a ritual performed in a certain cave on Sicily. It is found in the Cynegeticon (a poem about hunting) of the Latin poet Grattius, but not markedly Roman. If it is a real Sicilian rite, it may have been performed in Greek or one of the other local languages. I will discuss this in detail below, but briefly put, it consists in a prayer spoken thrice, three offerings of incense, and branches burned on an altar. There are also some words to be spoken by a priest, who has an olive bough in hand. Again, neither this use of the olive bough by a sacrificer or priest, nor the offering of branches (especially such with aromatic smell or laden with leafs or fruit) are peculiar to Hephaestus/Vulcan.

From these two instances, we can conclude that Hephaestus received the same kinds of offerings as other gods normally received, and his offerings were not limited to a certain kind of animal or plant. However, as we will see next, there were rites at which he did receive unusual sacrifices, and these may suggest a preference that can be generalized.

I am referring to the Roman festival of Vulcanalia on August 23rd, especially as performed in the city of Rome itself. While there is no discussion of this festival in the Fasti of Ovid (which discuss only the first half of the year), Macrobius’ Saturnalia or John Lydus’ On the Months, there is a partially preserved inscription on an altar dedicated by the emperor Domitian, which sets down that every year, a red calf and a red boar (or male pig) were to be sacrificed (Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae 4914). These animals are a little more idiosyncratic than the ox of the Hephaistia, but more importantly, the choice of a red animal in both cases indicates an underlying rule, that the god prefers red animals because he is fiery, and fire is red. Not all sacrificial animals are chosen on the basis of similarity (see Servius, On the Georgics 2.380; On the Aeneid 3.118), but in this case, it is so, and the logic can be generalized. The association of the color red with our god is in any case not limited to Rome (see the section on stones below).

More unique to Rome is that, also on the Vulcanalia, “the people throws animals into the fire in their own stead” (Varro, On the Latin Language 6.20), namely onto an altar in the area Volcani, and that (perhaps referring to the same occasion, and at any rate to the same place) “live fish are given to this god in place of human souls” (Festus, s.v. Piscatori ludi).

Apparently, there was also a custom to get up and light lamps before sunrise on the Volcanalia (for good luck? Pliny, Letter 3.5.8); and further of “hanging up clothes” (in the sun?), the mythical reasoning for which is given in a less than clear way by the Christian poet Paulinus of Nola,* a man of considerable pagan learning: Vesta, “as Hyginus teaches, first weaved vestments (vestem), called after her proper name, from new thread; she handed it to Vulcan, who then showed her to guard the open hearths. In turn, gladdened by the gift, he gave it to the Sun, with whose help he had once captured Mars in adultery. Now the credulous mass hang up vestments for the Sun (Soli) through the Vulcanalia” (Paulinus, Poema ultimum 131–138).

*Assuming the modern ascription of the poem to him is correct.

What is clear in any case is that the festival was regarded as an important even in the course of the year, marking the beginning of autumn (cf. the sources cited in Ilona Opelt, “Die Volcanalia in der Spätantike”, in: Vigiliae Christianae 24.1, pp. 59–65), not just in the city of Rome, but across the Roman world. They are, for instance, referred to multiple times in the agricultural handbook of Columella, to provide temporal orientation for his directions.

Another peculiarly Roman festival for Vulcan, feriae Volcano, was held on May 23rd, but its nature is obscure. According to Ovid’s Fasti, its occasion was the purification of the Roman war-trumpets, which Vulcan creates (Ovid, Fasti 5.725–726), at any rate in the sense that their makers use the crafts of the god. Yet some modern scholars argue that the honors or feriae for Vulcan were separate from this purification festival, called Tubilustria.

As for dedications (i.e., non-consumable offerings) to Hephaestus the epigram by Pancrates, in which a smith consecrates his hammer, pliers and tongs to the god, is exemplary (Greek Anthology 6.117).

N Grattius’ Sicilian rite

Grattius, Cynegeticon 430–467

N Greek torch-races for Hephaestus

N Stones of Hephaestus

[Damigeron XXVIII: Lapis lychnites; Dionysius + scholia; Cyranides; Historia Alexandri Magni; Lithika Kerygmata]
[‚Orphic‘ Lithika 699 – 747. -> ritual separately; cf. Nonnus in Context III]
[Cyranides: hêphaistitês]

6 Hephaestus’ wife/wives

Schol Od. 8.267, Od.(?) 8.364, Il. 14.275, Il. 18.382


Maia/Maiestas (Aulus Gellius, Macrobius) – Flamen Volcanalis

The flamen Volcanalis, an obscure priest evidently related to Vulcan, made an offering to Maia, the wife of Vulcan, on the Kalends of May (May 1st); she is not to be confused with Maia, the mother of Mercury (see Maia and Maiesta).

The Shield of Achilles