Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 148

critical archetypal character, the Chief or Warrior. Many myths have the Blacksmith fashioning the weapon that the leader of the gods needs to destroy the Enemy threatening the new order of the universe. Hence, in Canaan, the divine smith Kôshar-wa- Hasis forges the cudgels that Baal uses to defeat Yam, the lord of the underground waters (Eliade 97-98); in Egypt, Ptah makes the weapons that Horus uses to defeat Set (97-98); in Greece, Hephaestos creates the thunderbolt that Zeus uses to destroy Typhon (97-98); in India, Tvaṣṭṛ makes the thunderbolt that Indra uses to slay the water serpent Vṛtra (West 155, 256); in Ireland, Goibniu fashions the spear with which Lug kills Balor, the Fomorian king (155). Yet again, showing the ambiguity inherent in the character, the same Blacksmith may also display his skill as craftsman, healer, and feast-giver of the gods. Kôshar-wa-Hasis, for example, builds Baal’s palace and furnishes the abodes of the other gods (Eliade 98). Similarly, Hephaestos fashions Zeus’s golden throne, the golden houses of the gods, and the robots that serve within them (West 154-55). He is also the cupbearer of the gods, plying them with the nectar that keeps them immortal (156). Likewise, Tvaṣṭṛ makes the drinking vessel of the gods (155), and Goibniu is a healer who invites the Dé Danaan to a feast at which he supplies an ale that makes them ageless (156). Several stories show the Blacksmith providing aid to mortals as well. The Ossetic smith Kurdalagon creates a cradle for the young hero Soslan, as well as armor, weapons, a plough, and a flute that plays by itself (155). The Old English hero Beowulf wears a mail shirt given to him by his grandfather Hrethel but originally created by the smith Weyland (ll. 450-55). In the Iliad, when Achilles loses his armor, his mother, the goddess Thetis, asks Hephaestos to supply him with even better equipment, including a marvelously wrought shield (book 18). In the Russian fairy tale “Iván Popyalof,” the hero Iván asks his father three times to make him a cudgel so that he can defeat the Snake that has made it always night and never day; at the end of the same tale, a group of smiths led by Kuzma and Demian defeat the Snake’s Wife. In modern times, we see the ingenious Lucius Fox in Batman Begins create the Tumbler, the Bat suit, and an antidote to the Scarecrow’s hallucinogen for Bruce Wayne, and the similarly clever Q furnish James Bond with any number of tools and weapons to help him face his assorted villains. Final Observations One final note about the Blacksmith centers on a peculiar physical detail: The smith is often depicted as crippled or blinded. Hephaestos and Vulcan, for example, were lame from birth. Weyland, as noted above, was hamstrung by his captor Nidhad. 148