Now that I have told you about Zeus – God of The Sky and Thunder, it is time to take a look at his beautiful and jealous wife Hera – Goddess of women, marriage, family, and childbirth
Hera is the daughter of Kronos and Rhea and married to her brother, the Olympian god Zeus. The name means ruler, and Hera is an old fertility goddess and goddess of home and marriage. She watches over women’s lives, menstruation, marriage, and birth, and is portrayed as a housewife. As the Queen of the gods, Hera is dazzlingly beautiful. She wears golden sandals and sits on a throne made out of gold. Her character is dignified and ruling. Before their marriage, Zeus tried to seduce Hera for a long time. However, she resisted him until he came to her in the shape of a little bird. When he suddenly turned into his own impressive figure, she was so surprised that Zeus could rape her, and to hide her shame, he suggested they got married. Together with Zeus, she has the children Hephaestus, Ares and Hebe.
In the myths, Hera is portrayed as Zeus’ jealous wife. I have already told you about some of the problems they have in their marriage, and at one point their relationship was so bad that she, together with the other gods, tried to overthrow Zeus from the throne. Hera is constantly driven mad by jealousy and tries to prevent Zeus’ many extramarital relationships with other goddesses and, not the least, with the earthly women: Danae, Europe, Io, Kallisto, Semele.
One time in order to divert Hera’s attention, Zeus has his nymph Echo distract Hera by continuously speaking to her. When Hera realizes this, she punishes Echo by depriving her of the ability to say something first. In return, she must always have the last word – namely, by repeating what the first speaker has said. When Leto became pregnant with Zeus, Hera prevented her from finding a place to give birth and chased her off the lands and the seas. The only place she could stay was on the island of Delos, according to the legend it was a floating island, and therefore neither land nor sea.
Hera is associated with the peacock. In the myths, it is said that the goddess Hera transformed Argus into a peacock. Argus is a monster with 100 eyes all over the body. Hera commanded Argus, with the nickname Panoptes (‘Altseer’), to guard the nymph Io. Zeus then sent Hermes down to rescue Io, and with a flute and some magic herbs, he made Argus fall asleep and then he killed the monster. Hera transformed Argus into a peacock whose tail is full of eyes. Since ancient times, Argus has been a symbol of vigilance.
Hera is worshiped throughout Greece and the oldest and largest temples are dedicated to her. Heras main shrines were in Argos, Olympia, and Samos; the head of the cult statue in Olympia from approx. 600 BC is preserved. Her role as a woman and as a mother goddess is perhaps most evident in Samos, where she regained her virginity every year by her statue being bathed in a river by the sanctuary, and then in a cult drama celebrating the sacred wedding (Hieros Gamos/Hierogamy ) with Zeus.
In visual art, Hera is portrayed in the married women’s suit with a scepter in her hand and often with a diadem in her hair.
Next time I will tell the tale of Poseidon, the god of the Sea and other waters; of earthquakes; and of horses.
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