Skip to main content Accessibility help


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 May 2016

Maura Brennan
University of Cincinnati
E-mail address:


The Return of Hephaistos to Olympus was a popular scene in Attic vase-painting from the beginning of the sixth century through the end of the fifth century bce, and it is found occasionally on other forms of pottery as well. According to myth, Hephaistos was lame, and this disability is sometimes depicted on painted pottery, almost always in scenes of his Return. The most well-known example is the François Vase, which is often the only vase cited when discussing instances of Hephaistos's lameness on Athenian pottery. Although three other Attic vases are occasionally cited as showing the disability, one of which does not show his Return, but instead the Birth of Athena, there are actually quite a number more Attic vases that depict his lameness than have previously been recognised. In this paper I present seven new Attic examples that clearly display his lameness, and consider both the different ways in which his disability is rendered and how they relate to the various epithets associated with him For example, he is often associated with the epithet ‘clubfoot’, and while there was an established iconography of clubfoot Corinthian komasts, the god's disability is never rendered in this manner on Attic vases. Instead, he is depicted in ways more similar to other epithets associated with him. Most notably, four vases represent the disability in a fashion that seems to be connected with Hephaistos's most common Homeric epithet, ἀμφιγυήεις, or ‘with both feet crooked’.

Ὁ χωλὸς Ἥφαιστος

Η Eπιστροφή του Ηφαίστου στον Όλυμπο αποτελεί δημοφιλή σκηνή της αττικής αγγειογραφίας μεταξύ των αρχών του 6ου και του τέλους του 5ου αιώνα π.Χ. Η ίδια σκηνή ενίοτε απαντά και σε άλλα είδη αγγειοπλαστικής. Σύμφωνα με τον μύθο, ο Ήφαιστος ήταν χωλός, και σε ορισμένες περιπτώσεις η εν λόγω αναπηρία απεικονίζεται σε επιζωγραφισμένα αγγεία, σχεδόν πάντα σε σκηνές της Eπιστροφής του. Το πιο διάσημο παράδειγμα είναι ο μελανόμορφος ελικωτός κρατήρας Francois, το μοναδικό αγγείο στο οποίο παραπέμπει συχνά η εκάστοτε πραγμάτευση της χωλότητας του Ηφαίστου, όπως αυτή απεικονίζεται στην αττική αγγειογραφία. Αν και οι ερευνητές παραπέμπουν ενίοτε σε τρία επιπλέον αττικά αγγεία που απεικονίζουν την εν λόγω αναπηρία, ένα εκ των οποίων δεν αναπαριστά την επιστροφή του, αλλά τη γέννηση της Αθηνάς, στην πραγματικότητα υπάρχουν αρκετά περισσότερα αττικά αγγεία που εικονίζουν τη χωλότητα του θεού σε σύγκριση με όσα είχαν ταυτιστεί στο παρελθόν. Στο ανα χείρας άρθρο παρουσιάζω επτά νέα αττικά παραδείγματα που αναπαριστούν εμφανώς τη χωλότητά του, και πραγματεύομαι τους ποικίλους τρόπους με τους οποίους εξεικονίζεται η χωλότητά του αφενός, και τον συσχετισμό τους με τα ποικίλα λατρευτικά επίθετα του θεού αφετέρου. Παραδείγματος χάριν, ο Ήφαιστος σχετίζεται με το επίθετο “ῥαιβός”, και ενώ υπήρχε διαμορφωμένη εικονογραφία ραιβών Κορίνθιων κομαστών, η αναπηρία του θεού δεν αποδίδεται με τον τρόπο αυτόν στα αττικά αγγεία. Πιο αξιοσημείωτο είναι το παράδειγμα τεσσάρων αγγείων που απεικονίζουν την αναπηρία με τρόπο που υποδηλοί τον συσχετισμό της με το στερεότυπο ομηρικό επίθετο του Ηφαίστου “ἀμφιγυήεις” ή “στραβοκάνης”.

Μετάφραση: Μαρία Γ. Χανθού

Copyright © The Council, British School at Athens 2016 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


Ahlberg-Cornell, G. 1984. Herakles and the Sea-Monster in Attic Vase-Painting (Stockholm).Google Scholar
Angiolillo, S. and Giuman, M. (eds) 2007. Imago, Studi di iconografia antica (Cagliari).Google Scholar
Backe-Dahmen, A., Kästner, U., Schwarzmaier, A., Laurentius, J. and Geske, I. 2010. Greek Vases, Gods, Heroes and Mortals (London).Google Scholar
Bartsocas, C.S. 1972. ‘Hephaestus and Clubfoot’, Journal of the History of Medicine and the Allied Sciences 24, 450–1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Battaglia, G., Pallottino, M. and Proietti, G. 1980. Il Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia (Rome).Google Scholar
Bazopoulou-Kyrkanidou, E. 1997. ‘What makes Hephaestus lame?’, American Journal of Medical Genetics 72, 144–55.3.0.CO;2-V>CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Beazley, J.D. 1956. Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters (Oxford).Google Scholar
Beazley, J.D. 1971. Paralipomena (Oxford).Google Scholar
Beazley, J.D. 1986. The Development of Attic Black- figure, 2nd edn (Berkeley).Google Scholar
Bilde, G.D., Nielsen, I. and Nielsen, M. (eds) 1993. Aspects of Hellenism in Italy: Towards a Cultural Unity? Acta Hyperborea, vol. 5 (Copenhagen).Google Scholar
Boardman, J. 1974. Athenian Black Figure Vases (London).Google Scholar
Boardman, J. (ed.) 1993. The Oxford History of Classical Art (Oxford).Google Scholar
Boardman, J. 1996. Greek Art, 4th edn (London).Google Scholar
Boardman, J. 1998. Early Greek Vase Painting: A Handbook (London).Google Scholar
Boardman, J. 2001. The History of Greek Vases. Potters, Painters and Pictures (London).Google Scholar
Brommer, F. 1937. ‘Die Rückfuhrung des Hephaistos’, Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 52, 198219.Google Scholar
Brommer, F. 1978. Hephaistos (Mainz).Google Scholar
Carpenter, T.H. 1986. Dionysian Imagery in Archaic Greek Art: Its Development in Black-Figure Vase Painting (Oxford).Google Scholar
Carpenter, T.H. 1991. Art and Myth in Ancient Greece (London).Google Scholar
Carpenter, T.H. 1997. Dionysian Imagery in Fifth-Century Athens (Oxford).Google Scholar
Carpenter, T.H., Mannack, T. and Mendonca, M. 1989. Beazley Addenda, 2nd edn (Oxford).Google Scholar
Dasen, V. 1993. Dwarfs in Ancient Egypt and Greece (Oxford).Google Scholar
Deacy, S. and Villing, A. (eds) 2001. Athena in the Classical World (Leiden).Google Scholar
De Ciantis, C. 2005. ‘Reconstructing the fragmented mythos of the Maker’ (unpublished PhD thesis, Pacifica Graduate Institute). (Available online <> accessed June 2015.)+accessed+June+2015.)>Google Scholar
Detienne, M. and Vernant, J.-P. (trans. Lloyd, J.) 1978. Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society (Atlantic Highlands).Google Scholar
Drougou, S. 1975. Der attische Psykter (Würzburg).Google Scholar
Fineburg, S. 2009. ‘Hephaestus on foot in the Ceramicus’, TAPA 139, 275324.Google Scholar
Forsdyke, E.J., Smith, C.H. and Walters, H.B. 1893. Catalogue of Vases in the British Museum, I–IV (London).Google Scholar
Frazer, J.G. 1921. Apollodorus: The Library (Cambridge).Google Scholar
Garland, R. 1995. The Eye of the Beholder: Deformity and Disability in the Graeco-Roman World (Ithaca).Google Scholar
Gorbunova, K. 1983. Chernofigurnie atticheskie vazi v Ermitazhe, Katalog (Leningrad).Google Scholar
Hedreen, G. 1992. Silens in Attic Black-figure Vase-painting (Ann Arbor).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hedreen, G. 2004. ‘The Return of Hephaistos, Dionysiac processional ritual and the creation of a visual narrative’, JHS 124, 3864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Heilmeyer, W.-D., Goemann, E., Giulianai, L., Platz, G. and Zimmer, G. 1988. Antikenmuseum Berlin, Die ausgestellten Werke (Berlin).Google Scholar
Hirayama, T. 2010. Kleitias and Attic Black-Figure Vases in the Sixth-Century B.C. (Tokyo).Google Scholar
Hyatt, S. (ed.) 1981. The Greek Vase: Papers Based on Lectures Presented to a Symposium Held at Hudson Valley Community College at Troy, New York in April of 1979 (New York).Google Scholar
Isler-Kerényi, C. 2007. Dionysos in Archaic Greece: An Understanding Through Images (Leiden).Google Scholar
Jameson, M. 2003. ‘Asexuality of Dionysos’, in Golden, M. and Toohey, P. (eds), Sex and Difference in Ancient Greece and Rome (Edinburgh), 319–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Keuls, E.C. 1993. The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens (Berkeley).Google Scholar
Knittlmayer, B. and Heilmeyer, W.-D. 1998. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Die Antikensammlung, Altes Museum – Pergamonmuseum (Mainz).Google Scholar
Kunze-Götte, E. 1992. Der Kleophrades-Maler unter Malern schwarzfiguriger Amphoren, Eine Werkstattstudie (Mainz).Google Scholar
Lattimore, R. 1965. The Odyssey of Homer (New York).Google Scholar
Marris, W. 1934. The Iliad of Homer (Oxford).Google Scholar
Moretti, M. 1975. Nuove scoperte e acquisizioni nell'Etruria Meridionale (Rome).Google Scholar
Oakley, J.H. 2013. The Art of the Storyteller (Los Angeles).Google Scholar
Padgett, J.M. 2000. ‘The stable hands of Dionysos: satyrs and donkeys as symbols of social marginalization in Attic vase painting’, in Cohen, B. (ed.), Not the Classical Ideal: Athens and the Construction of the Other in Greek Art (Leiden), 43–70.Google Scholar
Pasquier, A. 2009. ‘Le vin frais. Psykters et rafraîchissoirs’, in Brunn, J.-P., Poux, M. and Tchernia, A. (eds), Le vin, nectar des dieux, genie des hommes, 2nd edn (Gollion), 100–1.Google Scholar
Pipili, M. 1987. Laconian Iconography in the Sixth Century B.C. (Oxford).Google Scholar
Pipili, M. 2000. ‘Wearing an Other hat: workmen in town and country’, in Cohen, B. (ed.), Not the Classical Ideal: Athens and the Construction of the Other in Greek Art (Leiden), 150–79.Google Scholar
Poux, M. 2009. ‘De Midas à Luern: le vin des banquets’, in Brunn, J.-P., Poux, M. and Tchernia, A. (eds), Le vin, nectar des dieux, genie des hommes, 2nd edn (Gollion), 7197.Google Scholar
Ratinaud-Lachdar, I. 2010. ‘Hephaestus in Homer's epics: god of fire, god of life’, in Christopoulos, M., Karakantza, E.P. and Levaniack, O. (eds), Light and Darkness in Ancient Greek Myth and Religion (Lanham), 153–66.Google Scholar
Rouse, W.H.D. 1940. Nonnus: Dionysiaca (Cambridge).Google Scholar
Rumpf, A. 1927. Chalkidische Vasen (Berlin).Google Scholar
Schefold, K. (trans. Griffiths, A.) 1992. Gods and Heroes in Late Archaic Greek Art (Cambridge).Google Scholar
Schlesier, R. and Schwarzmaier, A. (eds) 2008. Dionysos, Verwandlung und Ekstase (Berlin).Google Scholar
Schwarzmaier, A., Scholl, A., Geske, I., Laurentius, J. and Maischberger, M. (eds) 2012. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, die Antikensammlung, Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Pergamonmuseum (Berlin).Google Scholar
Seeberg, A. 1965. ‘Hephaistos rides again’, JHS 102, 102–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shapiro, H.A. 1995. Art and Cult under the Tyrants in Athens (Mainz am Rhein).Google Scholar
Shapiro, H.A., Iozzo, M. and Lezzi, A. (eds) 2013. The François Vase: New Perspectives. Papers of the International Symposium (Zürich).Google Scholar
Smith, T.J. 2007. ‘The corpus of komast vases: from identity to exegesis’, in Csapo, E. and Miller, M.C. (eds), The Origins of Theater in Ancient Greece and Beyond: From Ritual to Drama (Cambridge), 4876.Google Scholar
Smith, T.J. 2009. ‘“Komastai” or “hephaistoi”? Visions of comic parody in Archaic Greece’, BICS 52, 6992.Google Scholar
Sutton, R.F. Jr 2000. ‘The Good, the Base, and the Ugly: the drunken orgy in Attic vase painting and the Athenian self’, in Cohen, B. (ed.), Not the Classical Ideal: Athens and the Construction of the Other in Greek Art (Leiden), 180202.Google Scholar
Vierneisel, K. and Kaeser, B. (eds) 1990. Kunst der Schale, Kultur des Trinkens (Munich).Google Scholar
Von Bothmer, D. 1998. ‘La Villa grecque Kérylos, domaine d'un collectionneur’, Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 142, 527–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Walsh, D. 2009. Distorted Ideals in Greek Vase-Painting: The World of Mythological Burlesque (Cambridge).Google Scholar
West, M.L. 2003. Homeric Hymns, Homeric Apocrypha, Lives of Homer (Cambridge).Google Scholar
Ziskowski, A. 2012. ‘Clubfeet and Kypselids: contextualising Corinthian padded dancers in the Archaic period’, BSA 107, 211–32.Google Scholar

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 166
Total number of PDF views: 218 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 5th December 2020. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Hostname: page-component-b4dcdd7-kbvxn Total loading time: 1.393 Render date: 2020-12-05T02:08:48.176Z Query parameters: { "hasAccess": "0", "openAccess": "0", "isLogged": "0", "lang": "en" } Feature Flags last update: Sat Dec 05 2020 02:00:26 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time) Feature Flags: { "metrics": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "peerReview": true, "crossMark": true, "comments": true, "relatedCommentaries": true, "subject": true, "clr": false, "languageSwitch": true }

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *