Hera, The Goddess of Women and Marriage

Hera is the name given by Greeks to the Queen of Mount Olympus and the goddess of marriage and women who was born as the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. She was also one of the sisters and the wife of Zeus. She was also defined in the myths as the goddess of starry heavens and the sky.

According to the myths, Hera met Zeus for the first time in Hesperides region and she rejected him in spite of his dense efforts for seducing her. Then Zeus found a way to be with her by fooling her and taking advantage of her nurturing instincts. He transformed into a cuckoo and faked to be frozen out in the cold. As Hera tried to warm the cuckoo Zeus transformed back into his own self and raped Hera. Later he convinced her to marry him to cover the situation she was put in.

The marriage ceremony of the two deities is told in different manners in different myths. One of the most common stories suggests that Zeus and Hera married in the garden of Hesperides, which is considered as one of the symbol of fertility. Another myth suggests that they were married in Euboea, the second largest island in modern day Greece.

Hera is the mother of Hebe, Hephaestus, Ares and Eilethia and the sister and the third wife of Zeus (after his first wife, Methis and his second wife Themis). She was always disturbed by Zeus’ affairs and betrayals and in some storied she is told to act furiously on Zeus’ offsprings from his affairs.  A short time after their marriage Hera left Zeus and returned to the island of Euboea. Zeus could not convince her to return and once again resorted to trickery; he spread a rumor suggesting that he has a new fiancée and that caused Hera to immediately return to Mount Olympus out of jealousy. Hera’s jealousy was also displayed when she became furious on Paris for claiming Aphrodite is the most beautiful goddess, not Hera.

Most important stories depicting Hera’s vengeful nature are related to her hatred against Heracles (Hercules), Zeus’ son from Alcmene and one of the most famous heroes of Ancient Greek culture in the modern world. Not only she tried to prevent him from being born she also tried to kill him many times during his adventures.

In another story, Zeus assigned a nymph called Echo to distract Hera by speaking constantly thus preventing her from hearing about Zeus’ affairs. When Hera discovers to truth she cursed her to be able to talk only by repeating what others said. This is where the term “echo” in the modern world is derived from.

Hera is symbolized with pomegranate (the fruit being the symbol of fertile blood), peacock, feather and Diadem (a specific type of crown) figures whereas she is mostly depicted as wearing the polos, (the cylindrical crown worn only by the Great Goddesses).