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J R Soc Med. 2007 February; 100(2): 67.
PMCID: PMC1791007

The diagnosis of art: Diastrophic dysplasia and Hephaistos

The piece by Manoj Ramachandra and Jeffrey Aronson1 is quite interesting, but they seem to ignore some vital questions. Why assume that Hephaistos was believed to be lame from birth? The ancient Greeks would certainly have known the risks and effects of handling and working metal ores, some with moderate to high arsenic contents and also mercury. One effect can be the development of peripheral neuritis, which often leads to weakness in the legs and feet. Hephaistos was the Greek god of metal craftsmen in the first millennium BC and is lame, as are other gods of metalworkers—the Teutonic god Wieland, the Scandinavian deity Völunder and the Finnish Ilmarinen. Perhaps this is no coincidence?


Competing interests None declared.


1. Ramachandran M, Aronson J. The diagnosis of art: Diastrophic dysplasia and Hephaistos. J R Soc Med 2006;99: 584-5 [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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