The Misconception of Hephaestus

by Zoe
(New York)

On the eve of Halloween, Hephaestus spent hours with his children and his wife, Aphrodite, eating a hearty dinner, decorating their small abode, and carving Cerberus pumpkins. It had been a perfect night, and the whole household was winding down. It was past Erikhthonios, Olenos, and Spinther’s bedtimes, and Hephaestus led the children into the bedroom to tuck them in. Being that it was a special night, they squirmed under the covers, not wanting to fall asleep.


“Tell us a bedtime story!” chimed Erikhthonios.

“Yea! Tell us one!” encouraged Olenos and Spinther.

Hephaestus chuckled. “Alright, alright, what do you kids want me to tell you a story about?”

Wide eyed, Erikhthonios said, “How did your leg become like that?” They all glanced down at Hephaestus’ crippled leg, a subject he seldom talked about. After a long silence, Hephaestus began…

Most people think I was born this way. But I wasn’t. I was actually a popular and attractive young god, if I do say so myself. It was coincidentally Halloween night when this atrocity happened. The gods were having a Halloween party at Zeus’ villa. He always threw the most raging bacchanalia.

Everyone was having a great time until Hades suggested we play with the Ouija board. He’d always had a twisted mind. So all of us played, starting with harmless questions at first, such as asking it Hera’s favorite city (Argos), to deeper ones like whether or not Athena was still a virgin like she claimed.

Then, Apollo asked the question that would change the course of my life. “If it’s Halloween, where’s the evil and scariness?”

Within three minutes, we started to hear strange noises in the villa. There was creaking of the floor, groans that did not belong to any god, and the temperature of the room dropped about ten degrees. Out of nowhere appeared 16 zombies – the same number as there were gods. They were ghastly, wrinkled, and reeked of rotting flesh. Instantly the mood dropped from giddy to panic, as we knew we were up for a great fight.

“Petite!” yelled the zombie leader.

“Dei malī sunt, etiam nimis potestas habent.” cried a member of band of zombies.

“Zeus, capitisti amicos nostros!” accused another.
“Sumere tela et petite deos!” ordered the leader again.

The party was inevitably ruined, and the gods quickly huddled to devise a simple game plan.
“I’ll kill ‘em all,” growled Ares, who loved a good bloodshed.

“No, Ares, you can’t do that – not with your bare hands, at least. My arrows will take them all out,” argued Artemis.

Hermes, the clever negotiator, suggested, “Let’s all split up and cover one zombie – we’re bound to win that way.”

And so it was decided. Everyone split up and attacked one approaching zombie. There was no way I was going to let my fair Aphrodite – your beloved mother – take on such horrid, ruthless creatures. I pushed her aside and charged into the chaos, barehanded.

“Kill those dirty zombies!” cried Aphrodite, crouched in a corner.

“Non sordida, sed pura sumus!” replied a particularly ugly one.

Two gruesome zombies immediately approached me. They were bony, a mild shade of green, with eyes rolling around in their sockets. The next few minutes were chaos. I hardly remember anything, aside from the sound of bones crunching, zombie screams, and the sight of bodies and viscera on the ground.

“Iam oppugna crus!” I faintly heard, before I sank to the ground, with a sharp pain in my leg. Then I heard evil cackling and some voices.

“Deus stultus est. Aspicite sanguinem eius. Is numquam poterit ambulare.

“Is Aegrotat, ut puer.”

I heard Aphrodite screaming my name somewhere in the distance. Then were the familiar voices of the gods. They sounded happy.

“O dei, ita vero vicistis, autem veniemus iterum, cum finitimis et amplis armis. Munite villam tuam, o Zeus.”

That’s all I remember before I woke up on a lectus, with the gods peering down at me. When I opened my eyes, they smiled and started to reassure me.

"It's going to be alright," said Aphrodite lovingly. "I'm just glad you're alive."

I asked what had happened to me.

"Those zombies severed the lower portion of your leg. But don't worry, Zeus used his powers to restore it to the best of his ability. You will have a limp now, but at least you have a leg," said Athena.

"And we won the battle. We're all safe now!" cried Ares.

"So that's the story, boys," said Hephaestus as he adjusted the covers of his boys. As he did, he realized that their eyes were already closed. They had fallen asleep during the story.
With a warm grin, Hephaestus kissed the boys' foreheads, and cast a protective spell over their dreams so that no zombies would come to haunt them.

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