At sunset, when the forge was cooling, Sotirios wiped the sweat from his eyes and laid down his hammer. The grandson of the renowned smith, Dysmas, had grown to fine manhood, his fame spreading to rival that of his grandfather. Laying aside his leather apron, he made his way down to the shore, never noticing the admiring glances of a score of maidens. At the water's edge, Sotirios dropped his tunic and plunged into the waves, swimming with strong strokes and powerful kicks.
At that moment, on Olympus, a young nymph had just stepped to a palace window, to watch the sun setting into the sea. She had many names, but her mother, Demeter and father, Zeus fondly called her Cora. In her innocence, she had never seen a body as magnificent as that of the bronzed half-god sporting in the cooling Mediterranean. Her heart was instantly lost.
When Sotirios emerged, dripping, from the water, in front of him stood the most beautiful maiden his eyes had ever beheld. She offered him the edge of her chiton, to dry himself and he, taking it, said, “Oh, wondrous vision who would let me touch your robe, give it all to me, that I might feast my eyes on your whole self.” Then she dropped her robe and stood before him in all the naked glory of a goddess.
He reached out his hand, but before he could touch her, another suddenly appeared between them. Hades, king of the underworld, had long coveted the girl and now, she was unprotected by her parents. This was his opportunity to steal her for his bride. Quickly wrapping her in his own cloak, Hades disappeared, taking Cora with him.
When Demeter found what had taken place, she flew into a rage. The story of how she retrieved her daughter, (who, as Hades queen, became know by another of her names – Persephone) is well told, elsewhere. What has not been told is how Demeter then turned her rage upon Sotirios.
Not knowing which island to punish, Demeter unleashed a rain of hail and lightnings upon all of the Mediterranean and caused the waters to flood the shore. Fearing for his family and friends, Sotirios fled to the shores of the Bosporus, where he hid himself in the citadel of Artezian. The story was spread of a mythic island called Nysion. Unable to locate it, Demeter abandoned her persecution by weather, and Icaria was saved. She never ceased her search for Sotirios.
The lovers were doomed to be forever separate, but, twice a year, at sunset of equinox, Sotirios would plunge into the sea and Persephone, on her way to and from the underworld, would gaze upon him and shed enough tears to keep the Bosporus full. It was several ages later, that Demeter, still searching, discovered their tryst and sent an army of Romans to destroy the stronghold of Artezian.
Thus, Sotirios, son of the god Hephaestus, became the savior of one city and the doom of another.
**Uncredited photo of vase, in Greek museum, depicting ancient smith
Challenge: Last week's challenge was to take a known Greek god/goddess or create a new one and tell us the story that created a child. This week, tell us the story of this child. Is he/she mortal or half mortal? Perhaps the child is a full fledged god/goddess. Describe him/her to us and tell us the child's life story (or at least a few adventures).