This paper presents the case for reading the Hephaisteion as a temple planned and begun by the Philaid family early in the fifth century. It was originally designed to give a house to Hephaestus in Athens after the successful campaign of Miltiades brought the island of Lemnos, traditionally the home of Hephaestus, under Athenian control. Work on the temple was interrupted by the death of Miltiades but resumed in the wake of Cimon’s successful northern ventures. The strong association of Miltiades and Cimon with the strategic islands of the northern Aegean suggests that the correct interpretation of the Hephaisteion’s east frieze is the expulsion of the Pelasgians from Athens. Their punishment is interpreted here as a mythological analogue for the annexation of the Pelasgians’ island, Lemnos. Evidence from the island demonstrates that the Athenian cleruchs on Lemnos were eager to distinguish themselves from the Lemnians. The Pelasgian episode enabled them to demonstrate this, and to emphasize their Athenian identity.

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