Mount Etna: Europe’s Fire-Breathing Monster

By | June 3, 2019

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The Etna Volcano erupts from the south-east crater, spewing lava and ash on December 22, 2018 in Catania, Italy. Source: (Photo by Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images)

In recent days, Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, has roared back to life and is spewing lava across the island of Sicily. To the people of Sicily, however, the current eruption is just one of a long line of volcanic activity that stretches back into antiquity. Myths, legends, and folklore have surrounded Mount Etna and the volcano has even played a decisive role in history. 

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Hephaestus, the god of fire and metalworking. Source: (

Greek Mythology

The rumblings of Mount Etna were familiar to the ancient Greeks. According to Greek stories, the workshop of Hephaestus. The god of fire and metalworking, Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and Hera and was married to the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Hephaestus ruled over metalworking, blacksmithing, and weapon making. The legends about Hephaestus state that his fiery workshop was located beneath Mount Etna. When the volcano spewed fire, smoke, and lava, and the ground shook with rumbling earthquakes, it was because Hephaestus was in his workshop crafting new weapons for the gods on Mount Olympus.