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Symbolism behind Hephaestus riding a donkey

When Hephaestus returns to Olympus after being thrown out by Hera, some authors/artists portray him as riding a donkey:

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(Source: Theoi.com)

Is there any reason why he rides a donkey? Why not a horse or a turtle?

Mythology & Folklore Asked by bleh on January 20, 2021

2 Answers

2 Answers

According to Wikipedia (though I cannot confirm), it is a mule.

A donkey would actually make more sense, as Dionysus was the one who helped Hephaestus return to Olympia after his fall (source), and the donkey is associated with Dionysus and his ways, according to The Book of Symbols (316).

Correct answer by chaimedes on January 20, 2021

It seems, according to Theoi.com, that Hephaestus' animal was a donkey, but nothing on why. My own thought is that it, like Hephaestus, was a worker rather than a warrior.

He may have ridden it on his return to Olympus to show that he came in peace, as riding a donkey could symbolize peaceful intent.

Answered by solsdottir on January 20, 2021

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