Jesters to the Gods
( Greece and Rome: Myth: Second Millennium B.C.E. - Present)
Margery L. Brown
One of the puzzling aspects of deity is the trickster. The trickster occurs as a type of shaman, a being who is divinely elected, attains mastery of his vocation through suffering, and becomes some combination of the following: poetprophet, magician, priest, or guardian of arcane lore, either medicinal or religious. But the trickster is not an ordinary god or even an ordinary shaman. His role is to be perverse, to challenge the existing order, to create mischief. Often, as in the case of Prometheus and Hephaestus, he is chosen to create human beings, imbuing them with his spark of chaos and preventing them from attaining divine status. Although the trickster is clever and inventive, anything he creates or invents has a dark side. He is also a deceiver who sometimes becomes a victim of his own cleverness. The trickster, in spite of his considerable power, is often a figure of fun, laughed at by other gods. The question one may ask is why a god of considerable power would court derision. The answer is twofold: First, it is his nature, and second, in spite of the laughter directed at him, the trickster retains control of the situation, whereas direct confrontation would lead to his defeat by an older or more powerful god.
As a smith, Hephaestus represents a combination of the guardian of arcane lore and the magician. His divine choosing is evident in his parentage; he is the parthenogenic child of Hera, queen of the Olympian gods, according to both