Greek queen of the gods and sister-wife of Zeus. Her Roman counterpart was Juno. She was worshiped as queen of heaven and patron of marriage and women. She also held the h1 Eileithyia, the goddess of birth. She was the patron deity of Samos and Argos, which held celebrations and processions in her honor. Her sacred animal was the cow. In literature she was depicted as a jealous wife who vindictively pursued the women Zeus seduced.
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In the Olympian pantheon of classical Greek Mythology, Hera (or /ˈhɛrə/, Greek Ήρα) or Here (Ήρη in Ionic and Homer) was the wife and older sister of Zeus. Her chief function was as goddess of women and marriage. In Roman mythology, Juno was the equivalent mythical character. The cow and, later, the peacock were sacred to her.
Hera was born of Cronus and Rhea, but was swallowed by her father after birth due to a prophecy that one of his children would take over the throne. Zeus was not swallowed because of a plan hatched by Rhea and Gaia. The former wrapped a stone in baby clothes and gave it to Cronus. Zeus, meanwhile, was moved to a cave on Crete. Rhea later gave Cronus a herb which, she said, could make him completely invincible, but it actually made him regurgitate the five other Olympians: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades and Poseidon, as well as the previously ingested stone. When Zeus grew older, he banished Cronus to Tartarus, the deepest chasm in the underworld, because the Titans were immortal and could not be killed.
Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned, and crowned with the polos (a high cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great Goddesses), Hera may bear in her hand the pomegranate, emblem of fertile blood and death, and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy. Greek mythology scholar Walter Burkert writes in Greek Religion, "Nevertheless, there are memories of an earlier aniconic representation, as a pillar in Argos and as a plank in Samos".
Hera was well known for her jealous and vengeful nature, most notably against Zeus's paramours and offspring, but also against mortals who crossed her, like Pelias and arguably even Paris, who offended her by choosing Aphrodite as the most beautiful of goddesses, thus earning her hatred.
"The name of Hera, the Queen of the gods, admits a variety of mutually exclusive etymologies; one possibility is to connect it with hora, season, and to interpret it as ripe for marriage." So begins the section on Hera in Walter Burkert's Greek Mythology In a note, he records other scholars' arguments "for the meaning Mistress as a feminine to Heros, Master." A.J. van Windekens, offers "young cow, heifer", which is consonant with Hera's common epithet βοώπις (boôpis, cow-eyed). E-ra appears in Mycenaean tablets.
Greek altars of classical times were always under the open sky. Hera may have been the first to whom an enclosed roofed temple sanctuary was dedicated, at Samos about 800 BC. (It was replaced later by the Heraion, one of the largest Greek temples anywhere.) There were many temples built on this site so evidence is somewhat confusing and archaeological dates are uncertain. We know that the temple created by the Rhoecus sculptors and architects was destroyed between 570- 60 BC. This was replaced by the Polycratean temple 540-530BC. In one of these temples we see a forest of 155 columns. There is also no evidence of tiles on this temple suggesting either the temple was never finished or that the temple was open to the sky.
Earlier sanctuaries, whose dedication to Hera is less secure, were of the Mycenaean type called "house sanctuaries". Samos excavations have revealed votive offerings, many of them late 8th and 7th century, which reveal that Hera at Samos was not merely a local Greek goddess of the Aegean: the museum there contains figures of gods and suppliants and other votive offerings from Armenia, Babylon, Iran, Assyria, Egypt, testimony to the reputation which this sanctuary of Hera enjoyed and to the large influx of pilgrims. Compared to this mighty goddess, who also possessed the earliest temple at Olympia and two of the great fifth and sixth century temples of Paestum, the termagant of Homer and the myths is an "almost...comic figure" according to Burkert.
Both Hera and Demeter had many characteristic attributes of the former Great Goddess. The Minoan goddess represented in seals and other remains, whom Greeks called Potnia theron, "Mistress of the Animals", many of whose attributes were later also absorbed by Artemis, seems to have been a mother goddess type, for in some representations she suckles the animals that she holds. Sometimes this devolved role is as clear as a simple substitution can make it. According to the Homeric Hymn III to Delian Apollo, Hera detained Eileithyia, to already prevent Leto from going into labor with Artemis and Apollo, because the father was Zeus. The other goddesses present at the birthing on Delos sent Iris to bring her. As she stepped upon the island, the divine birth began. In the myth of the birth of Heracles, it is Hera herself who sits at the door instead, delaying the birth of Heracles until her protegé, Eurystheus, had been born first.
Hera's importance in the early archaic period is attested by the large building projects undertaken in her honor. The temples of Hera in the two main centers of her cult, the Heraion of Samos and the Heraion of Argos in the Argolid, were the very earliest monumental Greek temples constructed, in the 8th century BC.
The Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo makes the monster Typhaon the offspring of archaic Hera in her Minoan form, produced out of herself, like a monstrous version of Hephaestus, and whelped in a cave in Cilicia. She gave the creature to Gaia to raise.
At Olympia, Hera's seated cult figure was older than the warrior figure of Zeus that accompanied it. Homer expressed her relationship with Zeus delicately in the Iliad, in which she declares to Zeus, "I am Cronus' eldest daughter, and am honourable not on this ground only, but also because I am your wife, and you are king of the gods. Though Zeus is often called Zeus Heraios ("Zeus, consort of Hera"), Homer's treatment of Hera is less than respectful, and in late anecdotal versions of the myths (see below) she appeared to spend most of her time plotting revenge on the nymphs seduced by her Consort, for Hera upheld all the old right rules of Hellene society and sorority.
Her archaic association was primarily with cattle, as a Cow Goddess, who was especially venerated in "cattle-rich" Euboea. On Cyprus, very early archaeological sites contain bull skulls that have been adapted for use as masks (see Bull (mythology)). Her familiar Homeric epithet Boôpis, is always translated "cow-eyed", for, like the Greeks of Classical times, its other natural translation "cow-faced" or at least "of cow aspect" is rejected. A cow-headed Hera, like a Minotaur would be at odds with the maternal image of the later classical period. In this respect, Hera bears some resemblance to the Ancient Egyptian deity Hathor, a maternal goddess associated with cattle.
The pomegranate, an ancient emblem of the Great Goddess, remained an emblem of Hera: many of the votive pomegranates and poppy capsules recovered at Samos are made of ivory, which survived burial better than the wooden ones that must have been more common. Like all goddesses, images of Hera might show her wearing a diadem and a veil.
Hephaestus gained revenge against Hera for rejecting him by making her a magical throne which, when she sat on it, didn't allow her to leave it. The other gods begged Hephaestus to return to Olympus to let her go but he repeatedly refused. Dionysus got him drunk and took him back to Olympus on the back of a mule. Hephaestus released Hera after being given Aphrodite as his wife.
While Heracles was still an infant, Hera sent two serpents to kill him as he lay in his cot. Heracles throttled a single snake in each hand and was found by his nurse playing with their limp bodies as if they were child's toys. The anecdote is built upon a representation of the hero gripping a serpent in each hand, precisely as the familiar Minoan snake-handling goddesses had once done. "The picture of a divine child between two serpents may have been long familiar to the Thebans, who worshiped the Cabeiri, although not represented as a first exploit of a hero".
One account of the origin of the Milky Way is that Zeus had tricked Hera into nursing the infant Heracles: discovering who he was, she pulled him from her breast, and a spurt of her milk formed the smear across the sky that can be seen to this day. The Etruscans pictured a full-grown bearded Heracles at Hera's breast.
Some myths state that Hera befriended Heracles for saving her from a giant who tried to rape her, and that she even gave her daughter Hebe as his bride. Whatever myth-making served to account for an archaic representation of Heracles as "Hera's man" it was thought suitable for the builders of the Heraion at Paestum to depict the exploits of Heracles in bas-reliefs.
Hera assigned Heracles to labor for King Eurystheus at Mycenae. She attempted to make almost each of Heracles' twelve labors more difficult.
When he fought the Lernaean Hydra, she sent a crab to bite at his feet in the hopes of distracting him. To annoy Heracles after he took the cattle of Geryon, Hera sent a gadfly to bite the cattle, irritate them and scatter them. Hera then sent a flood which raised the water level of a river so much that Heracles could not ford the river with the cattle. He piled stones into the river to make the water shallower. When he finally reached the court of Eurystheus, the cattle were sacrificed to Hera.
Eurystheus also wanted to sacrifice the Cretan Bull to Hera. She refused the sacrifice because it reflected glory on Heracles. The bull was released and wandered to Marathon, becoming known as the Marathonian Bull.
Hera was also worshipped as a virgin: There was a tradition in Stymphalia in Arcadia that there had been a triple shrine to Hera the Virgin, the Matron, and the Separated (Chêra, Widowed or Divorced). In the region around Argos, the temple of Hera in Hermione near Argos was to Hera the Virgin; at the spring of Kanathos, close to Nauplia, Hera renewed her virginity annually, in rites that were not to be spoken of (arrheton).
For a long time a nymph named Echo had the job of distracting Hera from Zeus' affairs by leading her away and flattering her. When Hera discovered the deception, she cursed Echo to only repeat the words of others (hence our modern word "echo").
When Hera discovered that Leto was pregnant and that Zeus was the father, she banned Leto from giving birth on "terra-firma", or the mainland, or any island at sea. Leto found the floating island of Delos, which was neither mainland nor a real island and gave birth there. The island was surrounded by swans. As a gesture of gratitude, Delos was secured with four pillars. The island later became sacred to Apollo. Alternatively, Hera kidnapped Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into labor. The other gods forced Hera to let her go. Either way, Artemis was born first and then assisted with the birth of Apollo. Some versions say Artemis helped her mother, Leto, give birth to Apollo for nine days. Another version states that Artemis was born one day before Apollo, on the island of Ortygia and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo.
A follower of Artemis, Callisto took a vow to remain a virgin. But Zeus fell in love with her and disguised himself as Artemis in order to lure her into his embrace. Hera then turned Callisto into a bear out of revenge. Later, Callisto's son with Zeus, Arcas, nearly killed her in a hunt and Zeus placed them in the heavens. An alternate version: One of Artemis' companions, Callisto lost her virginity to Zeus, who had come disguised as Artemis. Enraged, Artemis changed her into a bear. Callisto's son, Arcas, nearly killed his mother while hunting, but Zeus or Artemis stopped him and placed them both in the sky as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
Another alternate version: Artemis killed Callisto in bear form, deliberately.
Dionysus was a son of Zeus by a mortal woman. When Hera learned that Semele, daughter of Cadmus king at Thebes, was pregnant by Zeus, she disguised herself as Semele's nurse and persuaded the princess to insist that Zeus show himself to her in his true form. When he was compelled to do so, his thunder and lightning blasted her. Zeus took the child and completed its gestation sewn into his own thigh. In another version, Dionysus was originally the son of Zeus by either Demeter or Persephone. Hera sent her Titans to rip the baby apart, from which he was called Zagreus ("Torn in Pieces"). Zeus rescued the heart and gave it to Semele to impregnate her; or, the heart was saved, variously, by Athena, Rhea, or Demeter. Zeus used the heart to recreate Dionysus and implant him in the womb of Semele--hence Dionysus became known as "the twice-born". Certain versions imply that Zeus gave Semele the heart to eat to impregnate her. Hera tricked Semele into asking Zeus to show his true form, which killed her. But Dionysus managed to rescue her from the underworld and have her live on Mount Olympus.
See also Dionysus' birth for other variations.
Hera almost caught Zeus with a mistress named Io, a fate avoided by Zeus turning Io into a beautiful white heifer. However, Hera was not completely fooled and demanded that Zeus give her the heifer as a present.
Once Io was given to Hera, she placed her in the charge of Argus to keep her separated from Zeus. Zeus then commanded Hermes to kill Argus, which he did by lulling all one hundred eyes to sleep. In Ovid's interpolation, when Hera learned of Argus' death, she took his eyes and placed them in the plumage of the peacock, accounting for the eye pattern in its tail. Hera then sent a gadfly (Greek oistros, compare oestrus)) to sting Io as she wandered the earth. Eventually Io was driven to the ends of the earth, [which the Romans believed to be] Egypt, where she became a priestess of the Egyptian goddess Isis.
Lamia was a queen of Libya, whom Zeus loved. Hera turned her into a monster and murdered their children. Or, alternately, she killed Lamia's children and the grief turned her into a monster. Lamia was cursed with the inability to close her eyes so that she would always obsess over the image of her dead children. Zeus gave her the gift to be able to take her eyes out to rest, and then put them back in. Lamia was envious of other mothers and ate their children.
Gerana was a queen of the Pygmies who boasted she was more beautiful than Hera. The wrathful goddess turned her into a crane and proclaimed that her bird descendants should wage eternal war on the Pygmy folk.
This honor bestowed upon the children was later used by Solon as a proof while trying to convince Croesus that it is impossible to judge a person's happiness until they have died a fruitful death after a joyous life.
Hera's housemate: living with a dog-reactive dog is hard enough ... adding another dog to the family is not for the faint-hearted.(A GOOD EXAMPLE)
Nov 01, 2006; If your dog is reactive to other dogs, but you are thinking about getting another dog anyway, read the following for both a sober...