Mythology Monday: Hera

Hera, Goddess-Queen, Greek Mythology, Daughters of Zeus series, Kaitlin Bevis

I killed the gods. Isn’t that what you wanted to know? I see no reason to go through this charade. We both know where I belong.

But you won’t put me there, will you, Hades?  You can’t stand the thought of me wasting away in your hell-realm of darkness. Waiting in the endless shadows like The Before.

You love me too much for that.

~@~

Oh wow, where to begin on Hera. She is featured in nearly every Greek Myth, and personality wise grew more volatile with each retelling. Most of her mythology has actually been covered in other blogs, but this still may run a little long. Here goes…

Hera was the youngest of the “Big Six,” the children of Cronus and Rhea who led the rebellion against the Titans. I feel like I’ve discussed the Titanomachy, the myths surrounding Creation, her role in Jason and the Argonaut’s adventure, her role in Hercules, Dionysus, and Hephaestus’s life, and the Judgment of Paris enough in other blogs. She was the God-Queen, wife of Zeus, and the goddess of marriage, which was somewhat ironic because you’d be hard pressed to find a less faithful husband than Zeus. But Zeus was nothing if not charming. He won Hera’s heart by transforming into her favorite bird (a cuckoo). She took him home, made him her favorite pet Shaggy Dog style, and Zeus took notes on how to win her over.

At their wedding, Gaia gave her a grove of beautiful golden apples, which the Hesperides guarded until Hercules came along. 

Hera had several children by Zeus: Hebe, Ares, and Eilythia, and possibly Hephaestus, though he might have been created by Hera alone as revenge for Athena. If not, Hephaestus, then she gave birth to the monster Typhaon by striking the earth crying out…

“Hear now, I pray, Gaia and wide Ouranos above, and you Titanes gods who dwell beneath the earth about great Tartaros, and from whom are sprung both gods and men! Harken you now to me, one and all, and grant that I may bear a child apart from Zeus, no wit lesser than him in strength–nay, let him be as much stronger than Zeus as all-seeing Zeus than Kronos!” Homeric Hymn 3 to Pythian Apollo 300 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th – 4th B.C.)

Hera was nothing if not dramatic.

This is also likely how the War of the Giants started because turns out, Typhaon was ugly and Hera was ashamed of him, so she threw the child away (or gave him to the drakaina), and he caused all kinds of trouble with men before trying to take over Olympus.

According to some sources, she was a little like Persephone because she had different names depending on her stage in life. As a maiden, she was known as Pais (which also means girl), as Zeus’s wife, she was Teleia, and as a “widow,” (not in the sense that her husband was dead, just dead to her because she was so mad) she was Hera. You can guess which stage of life she lived in the most.

On at least one occasion, she and Poseidon were at odds over the worship of a particular region (Argolis). She claimed the land, but they lived off the sea, so he withdrew the sea because he’s petty like that. The rivers in that region are only rivers when there’s been rain from the sky.

An endless string of women (Semele, Leto, Callisto, Aegina and Aeacus, Elara, Echo, Lamia, Io— turned into a cow, Inyx– turned to stone,  Othries-learned enough from the other two to go into hiding and just leave her child out in the woods rather than risk a lifetime of pain, Gerana– claimed to be more beautiful than Hera and got turned into a crane, Chelon- disrespected Hera and got turned into a turtle,  and even Aphrodite to name a few) suffered Hera’s wrath along two notable men. One named Ixion. He tried to rape her, so she had Zeus tie him to a wheel, set it on fire, and used the  air keep it in motion. The other was a prophet referenced in the Iron Queen named Tiresias. Tiresias had been changed from a man to a woman back to a man again at the amusement of the gods. When Zeus and Hera asked him which form got the better deal when it came to sex he declared that “on a scale of ten, women enjoy it nine times to men’s one.” Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 71 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :

Hera didn’t like his answer so she blinded him, but Zeus was pleased enough that he turned hm into a prophet.

Sometimes Hera was nice. When a priestess of Hera impressed the goddess with her devotion so much that Hera offered her anything she wished. The woman wished for the best gift Hera could give to her children, so Hera promised when their time came, they would die peacefully in their sleep.

You’ll notice some names missing, like Minthe and Leuce. Hera had nothing to do with their transformation, nor did she and Hades have an epic romance as my book insinuated. But if they had, cursing those two women would have been very much in her character, so I figured that added a layer without too much of a stretch.

Hera is a complex character, and I’ve likely only scratched the surface of her mythology.

 

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