Meanwhile the bard began to sing the loves of
Mars and Venus, and how they first began their intrigue in the house of Vulcan.
Mars made Venus many presents, and defiled King Vulcan's marriage bed, so the
sun, who saw what they were about, told Vulcan. Vulcan was very angry when he
heard such dreadful news, so he went to his smithy brooding mischief, got his
great anvil into its place, and began to forge some chains which none could
either unloose or break, so that they might stay there in that place. When he
had finished his snare he went into his bedroom and festooned the bed-posts all
over with chains like cobwebs; he also let many hang down from the great beam
of the ceiling. Not even a god could see them, so fine and subtle were they. As
soon as he had spread the chains all over the bed, he made as though he were
setting out for the fair state of Lemnos, which
of all places in the world was the one he was most fond of. But Mars kept no
blind look out, and as soon as he saw him start, hurried off to his house,
burning with love for Venus.
Now Venus was just come in from a visit to her
father Jove, and was about sitting down when Mars came inside the house, an
said as he took her hand in his own, "Let us go to the couch of Vulcan: he
is not at home, but is gone off to Lemnos among the Sintians, whose speech is
She was nothing loth, so they went to the
couch to take their rest, whereon they were caught in the toils which cunning
Vulcan had spread for them, and could neither get up nor stir hand or foot, but
found too late that they were in a trap. Then Vulcan came up to them, for he
had turned back before reaching Lemnos, when his scout the sun told him what
was going on. He was in a furious passion, and stood in the vestibule making a
dreadful noise as he shouted to all the gods.
"Father Jove," he cried, "and
all you other blessed gods who live for ever, come here and see the ridiculous
and disgraceful sight that I will show you. Jove's daughter Venus is always
dishonouring me because I am lame. She is in love with Mars, who is handsome
and clean built, whereas I am a cripple- but my parents are to blame for that,
not I; they ought never to have begotten me. Come and see the pair together
asleep on my bed. It makes me furious to look at them. They are very fond of
one another, but I do not think they will lie there longer than they can help,
nor do I think that they will sleep much; there, however, they shall stay till
her father has repaid me the sum I gave him for his baggage of a daughter, who
is fair but not honest."
On this the gods gathered to the house of
Vulcan. Earth-encircling Neptune came, and Mercury the bringer of luck, and
King Apollo, but the goddesses stayed at home all of them for shame. Then the
givers of all good things stood in the doorway, and the blessed gods roared
with inextinguishable laughter, as they saw how cunning Vulcan had been,
whereon one would turn towards his neighbour saying:
"Ill deeds do not prosper, and the weak
confound the strong. See how limping Vulcan, lame as he is, has caught Mars who
is the fleetest god in heaven; and now Mars will be cast in heavy
Thus did they converse, but King Apollo said
to Mercury, "Messenger Mercury, giver of good things, you would not care
how strong the chains were, would you, if you could sleep with Venus?"
"King Apollo," answered Mercury,
"I only wish I might get the chance, though there were three times as many
chains- and you might look on, all of you, gods and goddesses, but would sleep
with her if I could."
The immortal gods burst out laughing as they heard
him, but Neptune took it all seriously, and kept on imploring Vulcan to set
Mars free again. "Let him go," he cried, "and I will undertake,
as you require, that he shall pay you all the damages that are held reasonable
among the immortal gods."
"Do not," replied Vulcan, "ask
me to do this; a bad man's bond is bad security; what remedy could I enforce
against you if Mars should go away and leave his debts behind him along with
"Vulcan," said Neptune, "if
Mars goes away without paying his damages, I will pay you myself." So
Vulcan answered, "In this case I cannot and must not refuse you."
Thereon he loosed the
bonds that bound them, and as soon as they were free they scampered off, Mars
to Thrace and laughter-loving Venus to Cyprus and to Paphos, where is her grove
and her altar fragrant with burnt offerings. Here the Graces hathed her, and
anointed her with oil of ambrosia such as the immortal gods make use of, and
they clothed her in raiment of the most enchanting beauty.
He is a dark haired man and has trouble walking due to his mis-formed feet.