Hephaestus' Trap

Artwork details: pencil, 16 x 12 inches (41 x 30 cm), 2006.

Aphrodite and Aries (Venus and Mars) caught in Hephaestus' Trap. Scroll down to see the close-up detail and a rather lengthy explanation...

Aphrodite and Aries, (or Venus and Mars) caught in Hephaestus' Trap
Aphrodite and Aries caught in Hephaestus'Trap
Aphrodite and Aries, close-up detail, drawing by Nancy Farmer
Hephaestus'Trap - drawing from Greek Mythology by Nancy Farmer

Following the picture 'For the Fairest' - a Greek Mythology-inspired piece - I thought I'd take a look at Homer and perhaps continue the theme into a series of pieces drawn from the Greek Legends - possibly from the story of Troy since the event in 'For the Fairest' starts off the whole tragic story, in a distant way. I had read bits of the Odyssey (in translation) in school, and a lot of other stuff on the Greek Legends for years, but I though a little refresher course would be a good idea - so I got first the Iliad and then the Odyssey on CD to listen to - no chance I'd get round to reading them myself, and I can listen while I work which suits me much better...

Hmm, interesting - you'd think there would be a lot of heroic stuff in these two mighty tomes, wouldn't you?... and there is, to an extent, but what the Iliad mostly consists of is long periods of sulking and complaining (mainly by Achilles who even runs crying to his mother about how no-one appreciates him), interspersed with shorter periods of extreme violence. The Odyssey is the same, only with more complaining. From my point of view this is great stuff! Never been much good at heroic paintings. Curiously, the Iliad ends before one of the most memorable bits - the thing with the wooden horse - and the Odyssey barely mentions it in passing.

Well, anyway, now a complete about-face, because this is in fact a drawing which has nothing to do with Troy, but is a story about the Gods that pops up in the Odyssey - "Hephaestus' Trap". This is how it goes:

Hephaestus (or Vulcan in the Roman stories) is the god of fire and metalworking, and married to Aphrodite (Venus), goddess of love, but apparently alone among the gods and goddesses he's crippled, and limps around causing much amusement amongst the other gods, even when they find his skills extremely useful. Aphrodite, not really keen on her un-glamorous husband, is busily having an affair with the ever-so-much more macho Aries (Mars) god of war, and Hephaestus finds out, and sets his trap. He goes down into his workshops and spends some time fashioning a network of gold chain so fine it's invisible and yet strong enough to trap a couple of gods, then he hangs it above the bed.

He then goes out, telling Venus he'll be gone some time, off to visit friends in distant parts, and of course Aries pops up at once and the two lovers hot-foot it to the bedroom. The net falls down and the pair are trapped in the most embarrassing fashion. Hephaestus, who of course turned back soon after he'd left, calls very loudly to all the other immortals to come and see the spectacle, although his victory is a little tarnished as all the goddesses stay away in solidarity with Aphrodite, and Hermes and Apollo reckon they'd still like to trade places with Aries, even trussed up like that...

Ok, so the chains could not really be invisible in my drawing (and this is unfortunate as I had to draw every one of the bloody things - as bad as scales on a dragon...), but you get the idea. Maybe the series would be better as a group of drawings about Aphrodite - I feel I should certainly have a 'Judgment of Paris' piece.

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