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May 1965

Why Did Hephaestus Limp?

Author Affiliations

From the State University of New York at Buffalo (Professor of Pathology), and Buffalo Children's Hospital (Director of Pathology).

Am J Dis Child. 1965;109(5):381-392. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1965.02090020383001

OF ALL THE Greek gods, only Hephasestus, the smith, is deformed. The "God of the Crooked Foot"1 is lame, hobbles, limps. This is an unusual trait to find in the tradition of a people with a sense of harmony so firmly rooted in their culture that their gods were created not just in the image of man, but of beautiful man. Hence it is not surprising that much interest should have been excited by this curious trait. The Ancients themselves were rather bewildered by it, and in their epic and graphic descriptions, gradually mitigated Hephaestus' deformity,2-4 in keeping with their esthetic feelings, until it was only hinted at5 or even completely omitted4 from some plastic reproductions from the 5th century.3 The explanations and interpretations offered for the limp of Hephaestus were also widely contradictory and reflect the attempts to come to terms with this peculiarity.

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