Hephaestus and Vulcan are both a little rough around the edges. Nonetheless, these two switch back and forth between being Olympus’s cherished blacksmith and Rome’s most feared weapons master, depending on their mood. So let’s determine which is the definitive god of fire.
Judging a Book by its Cover
There’s no way to sugarcoat this. Brace yourself for unsightly lumps, lots of body hair, and, in the case of Vulcan, one leg being shorter than the other. It’s hard to judge who pulls off the look better. But who are we kidding? This was never going to be a beauty contest.
Arms and Hammers
The place where these two shine (with sweat) is in the forge. Each is known as the premiere blacksmith for his respective pantheon. They’re also known for creating weapons, armor, machines, and even a golden throne or two for the gods. However, the Romans seem to win more wars, which one could attribute to the quality of Vulcan’s weapons and armor. Not to the fact that the Greeks prefer to spend their time partying. That would be ridiculous.
Too Hot to Handle
In addition to their mastery of smithing and tinkering, Hephaestus and Vulcan are gifted with the power to generate and manipulate fire. You might think this would make them an essential part of every godly BBQ, but, in reality, pyrokinesis is a dangerous and unpredictable ability. If Apollo is to be believed, Vulcan once caused Mount Vesuvius to erupt simply by losing his temper. Point to Heph for . . . well, not doing that.
Both aspects of this god prefer machines to divine or mortal beings, but that hasn’t stopped them from having demigod children. Members of the Hephaestus Cabin at Camp Half-Blood may not get much help from Dad, but they have still managed to create some wondrous things, like the famous automaton, Festus. And if a giant fire-breathing bronze dragon doesn’t make your father proud, nothing will.
The Ultimate Fire Extinguisher
Despite their disinterest in humans, Hephaestus and Vulcan receive prayers from those seeking protection from wildfires. Monuments to Vulcan, in particular, can be found across the United States and England. Thankfully, when the statues of him were cast, most of his lumps got smoothed out.
This match-up was tough, but at the end of the day, we really don’t want another Mount Vesuvius incident. “Vulcan” is much easier to spell anyway. Another point for the Romans!