|Cambridgeshire hero Peacock|
jaw hit the ground watching local Cambridgeshire hero Jonnie Peacock yesterday win gold in Rio by
running 100 metres in 10.9 seconds. I could not run it in 50 seconds and I have
my original two legs. His victory came
as I prepare a paper for a conference in Patras on the only Greek god who was disabled (and the only one in
full-time employment). But he had the last laugh on Olympus.
was born clubfooted and his callous mother Hera (the Queen of Heaven to whom peacocks happen to be
sacred) threw him away. He was brought up by sympathetic nymphs in Lemnos and
trained in metalwork
|"Who's laughing now, mum?" says Hephaestus (left)|
But he got his revenge on his mother by sending her a golden throne with a
secret mechanism which entrapped her. She was the one being mocked now.
Only he had the know-how to release her.
war-god Ares failed to get Hephaestus back to Olympus by force. Dionysus, who
had also been snubbed by other gods, had more success by plying him with wine.
Hephaestus, sometimes on a donkey, along with Dionysus and a retinue of
revelling satyrs and bacchants, was at last welcomed on Olympus, club feet and
|Club feet did not stop Hephaestus getting last laugh|
another occasion Hephaestus was mocked because his recent bride Aphrodite had an
affair with Ares. Hephaestus devised a trap which caught them in flagrante in a net. Inextinguishable
laughter arose amongst the gods. He got his status and pride back, plus an
instant divorce with full financial compensation.
|Pin the Tail on the Donkey, anyone?|
Return of Hephaestus, a.k.a. ‘Gods Behaving Badly’, was a popular scene on
Athenian wine jugs. It was reenacted by citizen pals every year on the booziest
day of the religious calendar, the feast of the wine-jugs at the Anthesteria festival. I
want to be there.
|A Useful Handle for Hanging refills on|
The vase-paintings fascinate me for the variety of joyous things
Hephaestus’ gang could do with wine jugs, as well as the phalluses and tails of
satyrs and donkeys. Revenge of the ParOlympian indeed.