Greece: Outdoing Hephaestus

They roll'd from place to place, around the bless'd abodes

Self-moved, obedient to the beck of gods.

—Iliad

Homer thus described the 20 threewheeled chariots built in a single day by the Greek god of fire, Hephaestus, the master craftsman who dwelt on Mount Olympus. Though ordinary Greek chariots lacked the gift of self-propulsion, the Greeks once led the ancient world in the production of wheeled vehicles. For the past several millennia, however, the Greek vehicle industry has been in quite a slump. In modern times, while such smaller nations as Portugal and Israel have managed to produce autos of their own,...

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