Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 144

influence, the perfection of his processes signaling the rise of the industries that have shaped recorded human history. In turn, later incarnations of the Blacksmith follow the development of science and technology, two prime manifestations being the alchemist and the scientist. An Ambiguous Character Smithcraft by its nature excites awe and dread, for it symbolizes humankind’s power to alter natural forces, to fashion forms and materials that Nature cannot create or would take eons to produce (Eliade 47). Yet the Blacksmith is an ambiguous character. In the Proto-Indo-European tale mentioned above, which survives in the ATU Index as “The Smith and the Devil,” the Blacksmith sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for the power “to weld any materials together” (Graça da Silva and Tehrani 9); the Blacksmith regains his soul (and keeps his power) only because he invents the means to bind the Devil to an “immovable object” (9). This somewhat sinister origin points to how the Blacksmith is seen as a hero who brings tools, song, agriculture, and many of the things that ease human existence (Eliade 87-89), but also as the creator of weapons that have brought untold suffering (28-9, 90). In Yoruba legend, this ambiguity is signaled in the person of Ogún, the iron god, who lives in the “cutting edge” of all iron tools, both helpful and hurtful, and in the flames of the smith’s fire (Thompson loc. 805). The amula, an apronlike pendant fashioned from iron and brass to honor Ogún, typically has representations of hoes, knives, needles, chains, bells, arrows, shovels, swords, hammers, horseshoes, and other metal tools (loc. 835-67) fashioned to foster civilization or promote destruction. Further, his songs characterize him as the “support of the newborn child” (loc. 811) but also as the killer of the “husband,” the “wife on the hearth,” and “the little people who flee outside” (loc. 818). Joseph Campbell discusses the Blacksmith’s ambiguity further. In describing Daedalos, the famed architect of the Minotaur’s Labyrinth, he defines this character type as the “artist-scientist” (Hero 24). This character is both “curiously disinterested” and “diabolic . . . beyond the normal bounds of social judgment” (24). Morally, the character is not tied to the customs of his society or time but to the rules of his own craft (24). Conversely, he is the hero of the “way of thought,” searching for the truth that shall set us free (24). Main Storyline 1 A common image of the Blacksmith shows him working on clever inventions in his underground lair. Hephaestos, to take a well-known example, has his workshop under the volcano on the island of Lemnos, or, alternately, under Mount Etna in Sicily. Vulcan, 144