Greek mythology is filled with gods and goddesses who possessed various powers and greatly influenced ancient Greek. The goods were worshiped and sacrifices were made to them by their followers. Hera is one of the powerful ancient deities in Greek mythology. Hera was worshipped throughout the Greek world and she had major cult centers at the city of Argos. This paper will offer an overview of this great Greek goddess and highlight the various roles she appeared in.
Hera was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea and she was the Queen of Olympus. She was of great importance in Green religion since she was the queen of all Olympian gods and the sister and wife of Zeus (Roman 204). The relationship between Hera and Zeus represented the change in Greek culture. In early Greek Mythology, women were the supreme gods and the Earth Mother was the creator of new life. However, with time the importance of the queen mother declined and male gods assumed more power. Daly and Rengel declare “This decline is typified in Greek mythology by the attitude of Zeus toward his sister-wife, Hera” (67).
Hera was regarded as the patron of women and marriage. Daly and Rengel document that Hera was depicted as a young woman who was fully clad and had regal beauty (67). The close relationship between Hera and marriage can be seen from the fact that her emblems included a pomegranate, which was the Greek representation of married love. Marriage was of great importance to Hera and she Hera is said to have assisted in child-bearing and she was especially affectionate of married women. Hera and Zeus had four children; Ares, Hephaestus, Eileithyis and Hebe (Sacks 107).
Hera is constantly portrayed as a jealous and angry wife. This jealousy is caused by Zeus’ numerous romantic engagements. Sacks confirms that while Hera was married to Zeus, this marriage was an unhappy one since Zeus was unfaithful to his wife (107).Hera was vindictive and she often sought ways to make Zeus’ love interests suffer.
Silver states that Hera devoted a lot of her energy to persecuting Zeus’s lovers and their children by him (6). For example, when Zeus had an extramarital affair with Alcmene leading to the birth of Hercules; Hera sent two serpents to kill Hercules in his cradle (Roman 204). Zeus was also at times the object of Hera’s vengeance. Silver reveals that to avenge the many infidelities against her by Zeus, Hera schemed many plots to harm or destroy Zeus (6). However, none of Hera’s plans led to the destruction of Zeus.
Hera is also presented as a beautiful and desirable woman. Figures of Hera show her to be a physically attractive woman who has a sexual appeal (Sacks 107). Her beauty made many men want her in spite of the fact that she was ever faithful to her husband Zeus. Daly and Rengel document that many powerful kings tried to seduce her of capture her for themselves. However, her powerful and jealous husband Zeus was always able to defeat her suitors.
In spite of her jealousy and vengefulness, Hera is mostly depicted as the patron of women. Her constant fidelity to the unfaithful Zeus was extorted by her worshipers. Her beauty and regal nature made her the model woman in Greek mythology. For this reason, Hera remained to be the revered goddess of marriage and the patron of women.
Daly, Kathleen and Marian Rengel. Greek and Roman Mythology, A to Z. NY: Infobase Publishing, 2009.
Roman, Luke. Encyclopedia of Greek and Roman Mythology. NY: Infobase publishing, 2010.
Sacks, David. A Dictionary of the Ancient Greek World. Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Silver, Drew. Greek Gods and Goddesses. Boston: Courier Dover Publication, 2001.