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Hera

By Frances Ward,2014-07-03 08:33
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Hera

Hera

    EE ra

    'Ηρα

    Queen of the Immortals

The Daughter of Kronos and Rheia

    Hera and Zeus

    Hera and Io

    Hera and Ixion

    Hera and Hephaistos Hera and Typhaon

    Hera and Apollon

    Hera and Herakles

    Hera and Jason

    Hera and the Trojan War

     The Judgment of Paris

     Hera Takes Sides

     Hera and Hypnos

    Hera in The Iliad (reference)

    Hera in The Odyssey (reference)

    Other Text References

    Images of Hera

    The Daughter of Kronos and Rheia

    Hera is a daughter of Kronos (Cronos) and Rheia (Rhea). Hera's parents were Titans and were the first of the Immortals to take human form. The Titans were an indulgent and arrogant race ... their exploits became legendary because of their complete disregard for discretion and restraint. Hera's father Kronos was given a prophecy by Gaia (Earth) and Ouranos (the Heavens) that one of his children would usurp his powers and take his Throne of Eternity. To prevent to prophecy from coming true, Kronos swallowed each of his children as they were born ... Hera was thus swallowed when she was born. Kronos's wife Rheia was determined to save her sixth child from Kronos's obsessive fear and substituted a stone in the child's place. In his haste to swallow his newest child, he did not notice the deception. Rheia named her sixth child Zeus and secreted him away so that he could mature and eventually confront his father. The prophecy of Gaia and Ouranos came true when Zeus attacked Kronos ... the five gods and goddesses inside Kronos's body were vomited up in the violent struggle. Hera was thus 'born' as an adult goddess along with her four siblings. Zeus was regarded as the father and leader of the newly born gods and goddesses. Kronos enlisted the help of his Titan brothers and sisters to wage war on his upstart children. The War of the Titans was long and destructive but Zeus and his allies prevailed and took up residence on Mount Olympos (Olympus) to become the Olympians. The children of Kronos and Rheia divided creation:

    Zeus became the master of the sky;

    Poseidon became lord of the Sea;

    Hades became lord of the Underworld;

    Histia (Hestia) became the goddess of the Hearth;

    Demeter became the goddess of the Harvest; and

Hera became the queen of the Immortals.

    Hera's duties and authorities were not as clearly defined as those of her brothers and sisters but she clearly commanded respect and reverence second only to that shown to Zeus.

    Hera is the most beautiful of the Immortals ... even more beautiful than the goddess of Love, Aphrodite. Her beauty is renewed each spring as she magically washes away the wear and worry of her immortal existence. Her name appears in many stories and she is often regarded as petty and unforgiving, especially in the case of Herakles (Hercules), but in her relationship with Jason she was compassionate and protective. (Back to Top)

    Hera and Zeus

    Hera's relationship with her brother/husband, Zeus, is very complicated and filled with tender love and bitter rivalry. She and Zeus are the parents of Ares (god of War), Hebe (goddess of Youth) and Eileithyia (goddess of Childbirth). Zeus was not a faithful husband but in most cases, he did not try to hide that fact from Hera. When Hera was trying to distract Zeus from the battlefield of Troy, she cloaked herself in irresistible sensuality and tried to seduce Zeus on Mount Ida. Zeus swooned at her beauty and recounted his many affairs and indiscretions as his way of telling her that she was the most beautiful of all his lovers. For her part, Hera was not always concerned with Zeus's best interests either. Her vengeful reaction towards Zeus's son Herakles (Heracles) was nothing less than murderous and hateful. Her relentless punishment of the maiden Io was unforgiving and without merit because Io had resisted Zeus's amorous advances so there was no reason for the young girl to suffer such ill treatment. The births of Hephaistos (Hephaestus) and Typhaon were acts of pure spite to punish her wayward husband, Zeus.

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    Hera and Io

    Of his many infatuations, Zeus's desire for the young maiden Io is one of the saddest. Zeus came to Io and announced his desire but she rejected his advances. Zeus told Io's father that if Io did not submit to him, he would punish her entire family. Io's father feared the retribution of Zeus

    and forced Io out of his house, thinking that she would submit to Zeus rather than be alone in the wilderness. Io was stronger willed than Zeus or her father imagined ... she refused to surrender to Zeus's desire and wandered into the wide world without hope or companion. In his rage, Zeus changed Io into a black and white heifer to punish her and also to hide her from Hera. Hera saw through the ruse and sent Argos (Argus), the hundred-eyed herdsman, to keep watch on Io. Zeus sent Hermes to kill the

    vigilant Argos so that he might still have an opportunity to seduce ever

    the maiden but Hera would not be deterred from her vengeance. She sent a gadfly to torment and constantly prod the poor heifer-maiden so that she could never rest or find comfort. Finally, Io was driven to the ends of the earth and ended up in Egypt, where she was finally returned to her human form.

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    Hera and Ixion

    Zeus's love for Hera had many interesting and tragic consequences. King Ixion of Thessaly was a selfish man who offended Zeus by cheating the father of his bride of his dowry and then killing the man. Zeus forgave Ixion but the egotistical king would not cease his offensive behavior ... he tried to seduce Hera. Zeus created a woman from a cloud in the likeness of Hera and sent her to Ixion. Her name was Nephele. Ixion mated with Nephele and the race of Centaurs was born from that union. When Ixion died, Zeus condemned him to spend eternity in the Underworld revolving on a wheel.

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    Hera and Hephaistos

    Hephaistos is the lame son of Hera. In The Iliad (book 1, line 590),

    Hephaistos reveals how he became lame. At the climax of an domestic dispute, Hephaistos stood with his mother in defiance of Zeus. The Olympian Zeus, in his rage, caught Hephaistos by the foot and hurled him from the magic threshold of Mount Olympos (Olympus) to the earth far below. Three days later Hephaistos landed on the island of Lemnos, broken and nearly lifeless. The Nereid, Thetis, and Eurynome, mother of the Graces, found the shattered god and nursed him back to health. They were responsible for saving his life and he never forgot their kindness. Hera was violently shamed at the sight of her lame son and would have done him further harm had not Thetis and Eurynome hidden him. He worked secretly with the two

    goddesses for nine years in a cave perfecting his craft before emerging to claim his rightful place among the Olympians.

    Hera tells a different story of how Hephaistos was ejected from Mount Olympos. In the Homeric Hymn to Apollon (lines 311+), she says that she,

    not Zeus, cast Hephaistos from Mount Olympos into the sea. Hera also curses Thetis for caring for Hephaistos and says that surely there must have been other services that Thetis could have performed for the Immortals without encouraging her lame son.

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    Hera and Typhaon

    After Hera had given birth to the lame Hephaistos without Zeus, she was distressed and angry that Zeus had given birth to Athene without her. When Zeus's affair with Maia resulted in her pregnancy, Zeus became concerned that Maia's child would be too powerful and threaten his authority. He swallowed Maia and she was never seen again. However, in the infinite confines of Zeus, the goddess Athene was born. Maia attired Athene in armor and she burst from Zeus's head dressed for battle. When Hera saw the magnificent and perfect Athene, she thought of her crippled son, Hephaistos, and began to plot her revenge. She withdrew from Zeus and refused to associate with him. After ten months, she gave birth to Typhaon. Her new son was violent and lawless. He had the body of a serpent and became a cruel plague to the people of the earth. Hera then gave her horrible son a wife ... the grisly Echidna. Typhaon joined in love with the nymph-serpent, Echidna and fathered the two-headed dog, Orthos, the hound of Hades, Kerberos (Cerberus) and the Hydra. (Back to Top)

    Hera and Apollon

    When Leto, another of Zeus's lovers, was about to give birth to Apollon, she was attended by many of the goddesses but the goddess of Childbirth, Eileithyia (Eilithyia), was deliberately distracted by Hera so that she could not know of Leto's needs. Leto was in labor for nine days and nights before the goddesses in attendance sent Iris to Mount Olympos to fetch Eileithyia. Iris drew Eileithyia aside so that Hera would not interfere and told her Leto's plight. Eileithyia immediately went to Leto ...

    Apollon was born without further delay. Hera did not prevent the birth of Apollon but she managed to make Leto suffer needlessly as punishment for her role in Zeus's infidelity.

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    Hera and Herakles

    It's odd that the name Herakles actually means 'Hera's Glory' when in actuality, her treatment of Herakles was the opposite of glorious. In one of his many acts of infidelity, Zeus had relations with a mortal woman named Alkmene (Alcmene). Zeus hoped that their child would be a king and an incomparable leader of men. When Hera learned of the impending birth of Herakles, she began to plot and scheme against the unborn child. She went to Zeus and made him take a solemn oath that the next son born in the bloodline of Perseus would become the king of Argos. Since Hera is often called 'Hera of Argos,' Zeus did not perceive the trickery that was hidden beneath her demand for an oath. Zeus agreed because he assumed that the next son born in the bloodline of Perseus would be Herakles. Hera asked her daughter, Eileithyia, to delay the birth of Herakles so that another child in the bloodline of Perseus could be born first and claim the title of king of Argos. Thus Eurystheus was born before Herakles and became Herakles's earthly master.

    Hera was not content to humble Herakles and humiliate Zeus ... she wanted murder. She placed two vile serpents in Herakles's crib with the intention of killing him before he was able to defend himself. The infant Herakles grabbed a snake in each hand and strangled both of them before they could harm him.

    The precise role that Hera played in the domination of Herakles by Eurystheus is not clearly defined but the series of tasks known as The Labors of Herakles were the direct result of Eurystheus being born before Herakles. Eurystheus assigned Herakles twelve impossible Labors that were intended to humiliate Herakles. Hera could not resist the urge to continually complicate the life and Labors of Herakles.

    Perhaps the most troubling and destructive thing that Hera did was regarding the murder of Herakles's children. While Herakles was still a teenager, he settled a dispute for Kreon (Creon), the king of Thebes, and as a reward for his services, Herakles was allowed to marry Megara, the king's daughter. After he and Megara had produced several children, Hera cast a spell of confusion and madness on Herakles and he proceeded to kill his children. Some accounts say that Herakles also killed Megara but

    different authors and examples of ancient artwork dispute that accusation.

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    Hera and Jason

    King Pelias of Iolkos (Iolcos) had robbed the inheritance of Jason and the stage was set for punishment and glory.

    As a child, Jason was removed from Iolkos and put in the care of the Centaur, Cheiron (Chiron), for his protection and education. The goddess, Hera, on one of her frequent excursions into the world of mortal humans, disguised herself as an old woman and waited on the banks of the river Anauros for a kind stranger to help her cross the surging waters. Jason, now a young man, assisted Hera across the river and, by this simple demonstration of his chivalrous character, earned the eternal love and protection of the queen of the Immortals.

    King Pelias, on the other hand, earned Hera's wrath by neglecting her at his sacrifices. Hera's love of Jason and her hatred of Pelias combined to set the stage for the quest for the Golden Fleece, the love affair with Medeia (Medea) and the cruel death of king Pelias.

    When Jason came to Iolkos in the bloom of his manhood, Pelias knew that he was doomed unless he could contrive Jason's death. Pelias had been given an oracle that said that a youth wearing one sandal would come to Iolkos and take his throne. Jason had lost one of his sandals in the river Anauros and had entered Iolkos just as the oracle had predicted. Pelias was foolish, or arrogant, enough to think that he could thwart the will of the Immortals and avoid his prescribed fate by sending Jason on a seemingly hopeless quest. He commanded Jason the retrieve the Golden Fleece from king Aietes (Aeetes) in the far-off land of Kolchis (Colchis). Pelias knew that king Aietes would not surrender the Golden Fleece willingly and that, if he was lucky enough to survive the dangerous sea voyage to Kolchis, Jason would probably be killed by king Aietes.

    Jason and most of the Argonauts survived the arduous voyage to Kolchis but Hera was not content to allow things to proceed without her intervention. She went to Aphrodite and asked the goddess of Love to persuade Eros to wound king Aietes's daughter, Medeia, with one of his golden arrows of love. When the love-smitten Medeia saw Jason, she could not resist the feelings of unconditional love that overwhelmed her. She

    defied her father and used her skills as a sorceress to help Jason steal the Golden Fleece and flee Kolchis.

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    Hera and the Trojan War

    The causes of the Trojan War are many, intertwined links that seem to defy logic and reason but Hera's manipulative hand was ever present. She was bound and determined to see the walls of Troy topple and she would stop at nothing to achieve that goal.

    The Judgment of Paris

    Of course, the most ready explanation for the Trojan War was the abduction of Helen by the Trojan prince, Paris (Alexandros). The infatuation that Aphrodite placed on Helen for Alexandros was a reward for him because of his selection of her as the most beautiful of all the goddesses. At the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the goddess Eris (Discord) threw down a golden apple with the inscription "For the most beautiful one." Aphrodite, Athene and Hera all assumed that the golden apple was intended for them and a conflict soon arose. This was clearly the intention of Eris ... she was at the wedding to cause discord and strife. Zeus commanded Hermes to escort Hera, Athene and Aphrodite to Mount Ida and allow Paris to be the judge as to which goddess was the most beautiful ... this dilemma has come to be known as The Judgment of Paris. Being secretly promised the beautiful Helen as a wife, Paris chose Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess and thus earned her affection and likewise the wrath of Athene and Hera. Hera Takes Sides

    During the Trojan War, Hera was clearly on the side of the Greeks and aggressively against the Trojans.

    ; 1) Hera tried to protect Achilles even though she distrusted

    Achilles's mother, Thetis. When the river Xanthos (Xanthus) and

    Hephaistos where about to attack Achilles, Hera intervened and

    saved Achilles. When Achilles was at the peak of his murderous

    frenzy, Hera cast a mist about the Trojans so that they could not

    escape his sword and spear.

    ;

    ; 2) Hera sent the Oneiroi (Dreams) to Agamemnon to encourage him to

    press the fight against the Trojans and when he donned his armor

    for battle she and Athene caused thunder to resound in the heavens

    to show their approval.

    ;

    ; 3) Hera sent Athene against Ares on the battlefield and he was

    severely wounded. When Ares complained to Zeus of his injuries, Zeus

    said that he should just accept his wounds because his mother, Hera,

    was unstoppable in her anger towards the Trojans.

    ;

    ; 4) When the Trojans were gaining the upper hand in the battle, Mount

    Olympos shook with Hera's anger. She secretly encouraged Athene and

    Poseidon to defy Zeus and assist the Greeks. Hera even drove Helios

    (the Sun) into the depths of Okeanos (Ocean) to shorten the day and

    avert a victory by the Trojans.

    Hera and Hypnos

    In the tenth year of the Trojan War, Hera tried to defy Zeus and influence the fighting between the Trojans and Achaeans (Achaians). She was clearly on the side of the Achaeans and wanted to help them when the Trojans seemed to be gaining the upper hand in the fighting. Zeus forbade the Immortals from entering the battle and retired to Mount Ida to watch the carnage. Hera devised a plan to distract Zeus and allow her brother Poseidon to openly fight on the side of the Achaeans. First, Hera went to Aphrodite and asked the goddess for a special charm that would make Zeus receptive to love. In the past, Hera had mocked Aphrodite and even called her a dog-fly because she took the side of the Trojans but now she was polite and respectful to the goddess of Love. Aphrodite agreed to help and gave Hera a love charm that could be hidden under her clothing. Next, Hera flew to the island of Lemnos to enlist the help of Hypnos (god of Sleep). She persuaded Hypnos to cast a spell on Zeus so that his attention would be averted from Troy. Hypnos was understandably hesitant because he had defied Zeus on a previous occasion and barely escaped a harsh punishment but Hera offered him one of the Graces, Pasithea, as a wife if he would assist her. Hypnos reluctantly agreed but made Hera swear an oath on the river Styx that she would keep her promise.

    Hera went to Zeus on Mount Ida and told him that she was on her way to the depths of the sea to visit the wife of Okeanos (Ocean), Tethys. Zeus was effected by the love charm that Hera had concealed in her clothing and asked her to stay with him so that they could renew their love. Hera's plan was working perfectly. When Zeus was dulled in the afterglow of love, Hypnos wove his spell and Zeus drifted off to sleep. Hypnos then took the

    form of a bird and, following Hera's instructions, swooped down to the battlefield to tell Poseidon that he could enter the fray without Zeus knowing. When Zeus awoke, he realized that he had been tricked and threatened Hera with violence but her feigned pleas of innocence calmed his anger. He dismissed Hera and told her to return to Mount Olympos and send Iris and Apollon to him. Hera returned to Mount Olympos so visibly shaken that the other Olympians could tell that she had narrowly escaped the wrath of Zeus.

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