Ares, Aphrodite and Hephaestus

I found this one while looking through Homer’s “Odyssey”. It mainly concerns Ares, Aphrodite and Hephaestus (hence the title).

As it begins Aphrodite and Hephaestus are married, but Helios told Hephaestus that his wife had been playing at love with Ares (and in the married couple’s bed for that matter). Sometimes rumors aren’t true, but this one happened to be somewhat more trustworthy since Helios had seen the two embrace.

After hearing this news, Hephaestus went to his forge and hammered out a chain with links that could not be sprung or bent. He went to his and Aphrodite’s bed and strung the chain around the bed posts and from the ceiling rafters to trap the two. Because of his skillful craftsmanship, the chain was so light that even gods in bliss could not notice it.

Then he pretended he was going on a trip to “the trim stronghold of Lemnos, the dearest of earth’s towns to him.”

Ares watched Hephaestus leave for this trip and straightaway went to find Aphrodite (“or sweet Kythereia” as it says in this line). He found her in her chamber. Ares tenderly touched her hand and invited her to lie down with him.

Aphrodite welcomed the idea and the two lay down in bed, but as they did so the chains rained down upon them, pinning them both so they could neither rise nor move apart.

Helios had been spying on them for Hephaestus. Seeing the two caught, he told his friend to return immediately.

Hephaestus’ heart was filled with rage to see the two together. His voice boomed out to the other gods that these two would stay chained together in bed this way until Aphrodite’s father sent back his wedding gifts (“all that I poured out for his damned pigeon, so lovely, and so wanton”).

The gods crowded in to see the spectacle while the goddesses “stayed home for shame”. The gods laughed and jeered at Ares – being one who outran the wind and having been caught by someone with deformed legs.

However, Poseidon was not among those laughing. He stood there stone-faced until he finally began to urge Hephaestus to unpin Ares, and furthermore swore that Hephaestus would be paid if he did so.

Hephaestus did not trust Ares to pay, but Poseidon assured him that if Ares left without paying him, then he would pay on Ares’ behalf. Hephaestus agreed to these terms and released Ares and Aphrodite.

Ares lept into Thrace while Aphrodite fled to Kypros Isle and Paphos. In this place the Graces bathed her and anointed her with golden oil. The folds of her mantle fell in glory.

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