- Basic Information about Hera
- Hera’s Nature, Temperament, and Attributes
- Hera’s Timeline, Birth and Death
- Family tree of Hera
- Festivals of Hera
- What was sacred to Hera
- Uniqueness of Hera
- The Power of Hera
- The Truth of Hera
- Hera’s Marriage to Zeus
- The Nudity of Hera
- The Worship of Hera
- The Temples of Hera
- Pictures of Hera
- Myths and Stories about Hera
- Resources for Hera
- Ask a Question about Hera
- Questions and Answers about Hera Set I
- Questions and Answers about Hera Set II
- Questions and Answers about Hera Set III
- Questions and Answers about Hera Set IV
Basic Information about Hera
–Hera, Queen of Heaven
Hera (Ήρα) is goddess of women and marriage, and queen of the heaven. Her name may be a feminine version of Eros (Ἔρος). A better meaning may be ‘the earth allotted’ from Indo-European ‘er-‘, ‘Earth’ and ‘ai-1′, ‘To give, allot’. This would bring Hera in line with Rhea and Gaea. In the Theogony of Hesiod he speaks of a separation of earth and sky and then a sexual union of the two. The result is Cronus and Rhea who then produce Zeus and Hera. All the male deities are sky gods and the females are earth goddesses. Gaea is the mother earth while Rhea is the mother of the gods. Hera is the goddess of motherhood. These three goddess have similar realms as though one was developed from the other.
Every goddess has a realm or domain over which she rules and Hera’s realm is the
domains of marriage and majesty. She is the wife of Zeus and quite active in the
Iliad. In the ancient Greek myths she seemed jealous of Zeus and his power and often seemed to be getting back at people. Though there is meaning to these stories care must be taken attributing such things to Hera. Jealousy is not a suitable attribute of a goddess and it would be best not to interpret Hera’s acts in this way. The fact is that as a goddess she has access to all knowing and would have no reason to be jealous. As an immortal she has little reason to fear anything. She is free to move through space and she knew the future before it happened. But her seeming jealousy and rocky relation with Zeus made her seem fallible and this made her more endearing to her worshippers. She seemed much more
accessible than the perfect Athena, Artemis, or Aphrodite. Another aspect of this jealousy is that it might be interpreted as a characteristic of married women in general in the ancient Greek times. Since it was a fact of domestic life it may have been logical to attribute it to Hera.
In fact the Iliad of Homer Demonstrates the extremes of marital bliss which varies from the following extreme treatment of Hera by Zeus, (15.17) “Verily I know not but thou shalt yet be the first to reap the fruits of thy wretched ill-contriving, and I shall scourge thee with stripes. Dost thou not remember when thou wast hung from on high, and from thy feet I suspended two anvils, and about thy wrists cast  a band of gold that might not be broken? And in the air amid the clouds thou didst hang, and the gods had indignation throughout high Olympus; howbeit they availed not to draw nigh and loose thee.” to (14.347) “Therewith the son of Cronos clasped his wife in his arms, and beneath them the divine earth made fresh-sprung grass to grow, and dewy lotus, and crocus, and hyacinth, thick and soft, that upbare them from the ground.  Therein lay the twain, and were clothed about with a cloud, fair and golden, wherefrom fell drops of glistering dew.”
Hera was one of the children of Cronus and Rhea as was Zeus. The
Samians held that she was born in Samos on an island by the river
Imbrasus under a very old willow tree. The Titans Ocean and
Tethys brought her up. Zeus courted her unsuccessfully. He then turned to
trickery, changing himself into a disheveled cuckoo. Hera, feeling sorry for the
bird, held it to her breast to warm it. Zeus then resumed his normal form and
taking advantage of the surprise he gained, raped her. She then married him to
cover her shame. She wedded Zeus and had by him three
children. She was called the Queen of Heaven and the queen of the
immortals. But Zeus was not a faithful husband and had affairs
with numerous other women. Hera proved to be vengeful even when
the women Zeus dallied with were forced against their will. She was capable of
goodness, though, and it is to her that married women turned for help.
Hebe, Eileithyia, Hephaestus, and Ares were her children by Zeus.
Classical Greeks had her as the sister and wife of
Zeus, however, her worship predates the worship of Zeus. She seems to be an
image of the ancient mother goddess that Zeus never quite conquered.
The ancient Greeks did not understand why marriage between a
brother and a sister was a bad thing so they tolerated it in
their deities. It is bad because it allows recessive genes to
dominate and produces a greater proportion of babies with genetic
diseases such as hemophilia. Though they were not from the same
mother or father, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite were treated as
sisters. They form a group which is much like the Charities, a
triple goddess group. Sometimes Artemis is included in this group as a fourth goddess.
At first Hera acted as though it seemed like fun to be married to the most powerful man in the universe. But he was not a very faithful husband. He kept raping beautiful damsels. Was it his fault or theirs? They were beautiful and may have prayed for fertility. Hera, of course, seemed concerned and often jealous. Hera was as perfectly beautiful as any other goddess. But Zeus seemed quickly to tire of her conquest. Hera often had to resort to the tricks of Aphrodite to get him involved in sex. But when she did, she was able to get her way. See book XIV of the Iliad for details. Her physical beauty was of course perfection as was the beauty of most of the goddesses. It is really not possible to assign one goddess the title of most beautiful even though Paris, son of Priam pretended to do just this. One of the points of the judgment of Paris that is often missed is the notion that beauty of a woman involves other gifts besides physical appearance. One consideration is that the stories of Hera may reflect the fears and aspirations of the women of Classical Greece.
Hera is designated as the queen of heaven and this seems important but
there are other goddesses that are similarly situated. Rhea has more
important children and seems more justly called the mother of the gods. Gaia
has a similar situation. As mother of the Titans she is the mother of the
earlier generation of gods. Hera, Rhea and Gaia are often confused for this
reason. The name of Zeus is related to the Indo-European word
for sky god and Jupiter comes from the same word plus father. Many believe that the
Minoan pantheon was dominated by females and that the Zeus marriage with
Hera actually represents a conquest of the Minoan pantheon by the Indo-European. An interesting notion, along these lines is contained in the myth of Europa. In the Myth Europa is carried from Tyre to Crete on the back of a bull. This could be a story about Hera coming from that region to Crete. This is supported by the importance of the bull in Minoan religion. But Europa would have to be equated with a triple goddess of which Hera is a part. Aphrodite and Athena also have precedents from the area of Tyre. But the name Hera is Indo-European. It comes from the Indo-European word ser-1 meaning to protect. Hera is a female hero.
Hera has several symbols. A peacock is a symbol of her pride. Her pride comes from her strong marriage and the family it provides. A cow is a symbol of her role of giving birth to children that she raises with her milk. Another symbol is the pomegranate, symbol of marital love and fruitfulness. She is usually pictured with a crown and scepter which represent her position as the queen of heaven. This means essentially that she is the wife of Zeus, the head god.
Hera’s Nature, Attributes, and Temperament
Hera is an immortal goddess. This means that though she was born, she will
never die. A goddess cannot be killed, though she can be confined. Zeus
confines deities in Tartarus who should no longer be active. All goddesses
have a number of attributes which Hera shares. They can move through the
air and are often symbolized with wings because of this. They can change their
shape so they can appear to mortals as a bird, a beast, or another mortal.
They know what has happened and will happen. They can foretell the future and
they live outside of time and are not bound by time. They are, however,
bound by fate, and necessity. Every goddess is assigned a realm at conception.
Some realms are small, such as a spring, or a tree. Others are much larger and
can be a natural process. Hera was assigned the realm of marriage. This
means that she is the personification of marriage. This means that she is
not different from the marriage institution and her personality can be
directly derived from it. It is her realm because her thoughts determine
the natural laws of that marriage. She also listens to prayers on that subject
and issues modifications where desirable. It is here that her main power
lies. A goddess has no real enemies, but Zeus encourages them to strive
against one another. In order to bring about action in another realm a goddess
will have to make a deal with the deity that controls that realm.
She was a beautiful goddess, but she was vindictive. She was
jealous of the women Zeus had affairs with even when he had tricked or
deceived them. She considered each of these affairs a personal injury to
herself and she punished the women, sometimes even to their descendents.
What follows are some quotes from the Iliad that suggest her nature:
Then said Hera all crafty and full of guile….
“Apollo made her no answer, but Zeus’s august queen was angry and
upbraided her bitterly. ‘Bold vixen,’ she cried, ‘how dare you cross
me thus? For all your bow you will find it hard to hold your own
against me. Zeus made you as a lion among women, and lets you kill
them whenever you choose. You will find it better to chase wild
beasts and deer upon the mountains than to fight those who are
stronger than you are. If you would try war, do so, and find out by
pitting yourself against me, how far stronger I am than you are.’
“She caught both Artemis’ wrists with her left hand as she spoke,
and with her right she took the bow from her shoulders, and laughed as
she beat her with it about the ears while Artemis wriggled and writhed
under her blows. Her swift arrows were shed upon the ground, and she
fled weeping from under Hera’s hand as a dove that flies before a
falcon to the cleft of some hollow rock, when it is her good fortune
to escape. Even so did she fly weeping away, leaving her bow and
arrows behind her.”
“Zeus, Poseidon, and Zeus’s grey-eyed daughter, who persisted in the
hate which they had ever borne towards Illium with Priam and his
people; for they forgave not the wrong done them by Paris in
disdaining the goddesses who came to him when he was in his
sheepyards, and preferring her who had offered him a wanton to
“I shall have trouble if you set me quarrelling with Hera, for she will
provoke me with her taunting speeches; even now she is always railing at me
before the other gods and accusing me of giving aid to the Trojans.”
“Wife,” said Zeus, “I can do nothing but you suspect me and find
it out. You will take nothing by it, for I shall only dislike you
the more, and it will go harder with you. Granted that it is as you
say; I mean to have it so; sit down and hold your tongue as I bid
you for if I once begin to lay my hands about you, though all heaven
were on your side it would profit you nothing.”
“On this Hera was frightened, so she curbed her stubborn will and sat
down in silence.”
Hera’s Timeline, Birth and Death
The Samians held that she was born in Samos on an island by the river
Imbrasus under a very old willow tree. The Titans Ocean and Tethys brought
her up. The ancient Greeks believed that she was an immortal goddess who
will never die. In fact she is as alive today as she was during the time of
According to myth Hera was literally born twice. Her father Cronus had learned that one of his children would overthrow him. He decided to prevent this by swallowing them as soon as they were born. Cronus is a god and can change his shape and size to accommodate this task. Cronus might have changed himself into a blue whale, for example, before he ate the baby Hera. Hera, for her part, is immortal and cannot be killed. So swallowing her did not kill her. It is interesting to speculate on what effect this had on her powers over her realm. Ultimately Zeus conquered Cronus and caused him to regurgitate his siblings including Hera.
It seems as though Hera was born full-grown and naked the second time because
Zeus could not contain himself and he had to have her for his wife. They
were married shortly afterward. But there is no record to how long Hera was in Cronus nor whether she matured while she was there. There are those goddesses who have been named as her guardians so she could have taken a while to develop. As the goddess of marriage she quickly learned all the worst of what a marriage could be by having to deal with Zeus’s former affairs and many yet to come. For mankind this does not turn out so bad because she then could advise mortal women on the very worst that men could be. She even had to endure being strung up and beaten with anvils hung from her legs. As a result of this difficult birth and marriage, she seems to have been a very understanding goddess who real women could turn to for help.
My best guess as to the date of her birth relates to the date of the Venus of Willendorf, which is about 24,000 BCE. This means that I assume that Hera was born about the time humans first seemed to be aware of goddesses. Her relation to childbirth connects her to other goddesses and the Moon in particular. This connection with women suggests that she was an important part of Minaoan Culture as their religion was more focused on women and goddesses.
More than likely some aspect of her came from Phoenicia to Crete with Aphrodite. The Phoenicians had contact with Crete far into the distant past. The Phoenicians had two goddesses who shared many traits: Astarte and Anath. The myth of Europa seems to relate to this transfer though only one female, Europa, is involved. The myth as we have it was constructed more recently. The fact that Zeus rapes Europa probably relates to the domination of Zeus over the religion dominated by the goddess.
If we strip Zeus out of the picture what we have is the story of a
woman riding a bull over to Crete. We can then see that the bull is
related to the religion of the Minoans. That the bull was important to
the Minoans is strongly suggested by the archeological remains from that
culture. But the many stories about Cretan religion seem to confirm
this. This is especially true of the story of Pasiphae giving birth to
the Minotaur. We can then interpret the story of Europa as a female
goddess riding the Bull of religion over to Crete.
The next step in the process involves the transfer of Hera and Aphrodite to the Mainland. But by this time Athena had come to Crete, possibly from Africa. In much ancient Greek art these three goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite are treated together. The Greeks, probably the Mycenaeans, were fond of tripling goddess and there were several such goddesses even in classical times, including the Fates, the Graces, the Charities, and the triple-triple, the Muses. Most remnants of the tripling of Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite relate to the judgment of Paris. It is important to note that early on this was not a beauty contest, but rather a sharing of gifts. The story that seems to relate to this transfer is Theseus and the Minotaur. Unlike the previous step where two goddesses are represented by Europa, now three, or even four goddesses are represented by Ariadne. Like Europa there is symbolism in the story, but it is not clear what the symbolism is.
Theseus goes to Crete in the company of children to be served up to
the Minotaur. This does not sound like an invading army. And the
Minotaur is only half a bull. That Theseus defeats the Minotaur with
the help of Ariadne might suggest that Theseus has realized the value of
both Aphrodite for having Ariadne fall in love with him and Athena for
using the wisdom of the string so he could find his way out. The role
of Hera is not yet clear.
Why Ariadne is lost on the island of Naxos is also not clear either. But this does bring another goddess into the story. In the Odyssey, when Odysseus visits the Kingdom of the dead in book XI, Odyssesu states “I saw … fair Ariadne, the daughter of grim-hearted Minos, whom Theseus carried off from Crete; he was taking her to Athenian soil, but he had no joy of her, for Artemis slew her first on the island of Dia because Dionysos told tales.” What we know from other myths was that she was not just slain but was transformed to the wife of Dionysus.
Athena, Aphrodite and Hera, and maybe even Artemis, are taken to Athens by Theseus. Now the Europa story is rewritten so that Zeus no longer is seen to rape
Hera, but she never becomes a very willing bride. Now in the Odyssey, Book XX to the daughters of Pandereus: “And Here gave them beauty and wisdom beyond the lot of women” and “Athene taught them skill in all famous handiwork.” It is possible that Hera provided the wisdom at this time and Athena was only involved with handiwork.
As a result of these observations the timeline of Hera starts in ancient Crete and is joined by an aspect from Phoenicia. The other move to the Greek mainland occurs at the time of Theseus just before the Trojan War. The final collapse of the worship of Hera occurs about 125 AD.
Some support to this is given by a study of the names of the gods and goddesses. Of the major Greek deities only the derivation of the name of Zeus is clear. Guthrie points out that the name for Zeus comes from the Indo-European word for shining. This name is better related to Dionne and it is known Zeus and Dione were consorts. The name ‘Hera’ is better related to the word “Herakles’ and some believe that Hera and Herakles were once consorts. Guthrie points out (p. 66) that A. B. Cook proposed the present arrangement that seemed to be a result of the merger of two tribes. From Guthrie we can also conclude that Hera had Mediterranean roots and Zeus came with the Indo-Europeans. We know the Mycenaeans were that Indo-Europaean culture because Michael Ventris was able to prove that their writing, linear B, was Greek and Greek is an Indo-European Language. We do not know where the names of the other goddesses came from. Phoenician is unlikely because their writings containing no mention of these gods. The Minoan culture is a distint possibility but we cannot know the truth of this until their writing, linear A, is translated. At present Hera has not been found among Minoan remains. But ‘Era’ has been found in linear B.
In should be noted that pairing of a goddess and consort seems to have been originally a factor of fertility festivals. The mating of these two provided the fertility. And it was in the orgiastic ritual that the human participants were able to achieve ecstasy and union with their divine counterparts. According to Guthrie the orgy was more generally celebrated and was not confined to Dionysus. The worship of Hera may have originally involved such things.
One other note is that the nature of Hera obviously involved a transformation over a fairly short time. We consider ourselves cultured and civilized and quite different from the savages such as the American Indians and the Aborigines. If we trace our culture back through the Greeks we can say we are quite distant from the culture of the savages. Yet the Greeks achieved a very high level of culture is a very short time and were not at all distant in time from the savages and their culture. In fact the immediate ancestors of the Greeks had similar aspects in their culture to the cultures of the North American Savages. It is not surprising to find that what we consider savage culture to have been transformed into Greek culture. What is more surprising is that our culture has regressed into savagery and is some ways less cultured than that of the Greeks. Perhaps the study of Hera can cause a reconsideration of what is culture and what should be pursued and what should be dropped about our culture.
Hera is an immortal goddess and will never die.
Family tree of Hera
Hera was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea and the sister of Hestia,
Hades, Poseidon, Zeus, and Demeter. Ares, Hebe, and Hephaestus were
her children. Uranus and Gaea were the parents of Cronus and Rhea.
Hebe, Ilithyia, Hephaestus, and Ares were her children. Eris,
Hecate, and the Charities might also have been her children. The children
who married are as follows:
- Hebe married Hercules
- Ilithyia (Eilithyia) might have been a virgin but she might have been the
mother of children by unspecified fathers.
- Hephaestus married Aphrodite.
- Ares had many lovers and children but no wives.
- Eris had many children but no lovers.
- Hecate may have had children but was never married.
- The Charities were virgins.
Goddesses are born to their realm, normally as a
result of the personifications of their parents. Hera, the queen of
heavens, was the daughter of father time and mother of the gods. She became
the wife of Zeus quite naturally since he was the king of earth and heavens.
Festivals of Hera
Request: heras festivals held in honor.
Answer: In Harrisons’s Prolegomena p. 315 she says: “At
Samos, at the curious festival of the Tonea, it is the
image of a woman goddess that is carried out of town and bound
among the bushes,..” referring to Hera. Later festivals to
Zeus also included Hera.
Question: What type of events were included in the festival of Hera
Answer: One or more processions were done, perhaps carrying an image of
Hera. Sacrifices and their associated festivities were done including
a celebratory banquet where the roasted animal victims were eaten. One festival
included a footrace of maidens.
Question: why were the festivals in ancient greece held in honor of hera
Answer: Hera ruled and important realm and it is always helpful to
obtain the favor of a powerful goddess.
What was sacred to Hera
Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.17.6:
“There is an altar upon which is wrought in relief the fabled marriage of Hebe and Heracles. This is of silver, but the peacock dedicated by the Emperor Hadrian is of gold and gleaming stones. He dedicated it because they hold the bird to be sacred to Hera.”
“According to their mythologies, Hera created the peacock from the eyes of her one hundred-eyed guard, Argus. There are two versions of this myth. In one, the jealous Hera sets Argus to guard Zeus’s secret lover, Io, whom he has disguised as a heifer in a vain attempt to protect her from his wife’s wrath. Eventually, Zeus has Argus killed and Hera rewards the faithful guard by turning him into a peacock. In another version of this story, Argos falls asleep on the job and Hera plucks out every one of his eyes and sets them in the peacock’s tail. Needless to say, Hera was quite the zealous protectress of marriage and the
Hera is the goddess of married women and honor. The most important symbols for Hera are the cow and the peacock. The symbols are thought to relate to the myth of Io. The myth of Io represents a time so long before the Trojan War that Io may have been contemporary to the Minoan Culture. There is a lot of symbology using horns of cattle in that culture and there is the belief that there was a dominant goddess in that culture similar to Hera. The cow seems to be a suitable symbol of a wife and mother but it also may be related to the Minoan culture. The peacock is a symbol of Hera because of its beauty and the eye symbol repeated many times on its tail. The eye symbol may represent the eyes of of the community that help assure the morality of the family. The peacock may also represent pride and vanity
The uterus of a woman is shaped a lot like the head of a cow with horns. The Minoans and Mycenaeans may have worshipped the bull for this reason. When the Indo-European people came into Greece their god was a bull so he was married to a cow. The bull became Zeus and the cow became Hera.
A list of what is sacred to Hera.
- Any temple of Hera
- the hole of Atargatis was sacred to Hera according to Lucian. He visited this hole under one of her temples in Syria itself at Hierapolis Bambyce. But Atargatis was a Syrian mother god simalar to Hera.
- Hera had sacred music and dance
- Wine, water, or mead was poured into clefts and other natural openings in
the Earth. Each adult wore a crown of flowers and received one of Hera’s sacred
pitchers with characteristic trefoil mouth,
- A noble woman, she held a scepter and pomegranate; wild marjoram, the cow,
the Milky Way, and lilies were sacred to her.
- In earlier times, the souls of “sacred kings” (priests elected to enact
the part of Her consort and be sacrificed to Her) belonged to her after death.
- Pear trees were sacred to Hera, Queen of the gods in Greek mythology.
—Fruits & Nuts in Symbolism & Celebration
- Hercules committed a terrible crime. In order for him to be forgiven, he
had to complete twelve difficult tasks. One of these tasks was to fight and
win against the terrible water-serpent, Hydra. Hydra was sacred to Hera. During
the great battle, Hera sent a large crab to help Hydra. It was a violent fight
and Hera bit Hercules on the heel. Hercules used his strength to smash the crab
shell with his foot. He returned home as a hero. Hera placed the crab’s image
in the night sky as a reward to the crab’s service.
Uniqueness of Hera
For a mortal their uniqueness involves the makeup of their body and
the way they behave. We talk about an individual personality of a mortal.
A goddess is different. A goddess is tied up more with a realm which in
fact determines the personality of a goddess. A goddess is pictured with
a body but this is only for convenience. A goddess presents herself to a
mortal as a body for the purposes of communication. Actually the body of the
goddess extends to all parts of her realm. This is what allows the goddess to
respond to every event in her realm at once. And the nature of the realm
determines the nature of the response to guarantee that the response is
appropriate. The nature of the realm is in turn determined by the decisions
the goddess has made regarding the realm from the beginning. So the response
of the goddess in her realm is what mortals see as her personality.
Hera is the goddess of marriage and married women. Marriage and married
women are the way they are because of decisions that Hera has made. So Hera
is much like marriage and married women and she knows how to respond to them
and does this easily. That she is seen as jealous is perhaps because
jealousy benefits married women. Because of her realm Hera acts like a married
woman. That is part of her personality. Artemis must be a maiden because
she is the goddess of maidens. Hestia must have the personality of the hearth
in a home, etc.
The Power of Hera
Hera is a goddess by birth. She gained more power by being
born than by being married to Zeus. She was conceived as the goddess of
marriage and this was her birthright. She also has a claim to the realm of majesty
As with all goddesses she had the power to prophecy, the power to
move through the air, and the power to change her shape. A goddess can
also negotiate with other deities for other temporary powers. She is the
goddess of heaven and the goddess of marriage and the life of married women
and so she had most of powers in these realms. But she seems to associate status and majesty with this realm. This is consitent with the fact, especially of those days, that the status of a man depended upon his acts while the status of a woman often depended upon the status or acts of her husband. Within her own realm she could set the natural law and provide fixes when her law went awry. She could change the nature of a marriage and what happened to the two partners, including how the woman’s birth goes and whether the husband is faithful.
Zeus is the King of the gods and Hera is his wife. Zeus is more
powerful than all the other gods and goddesses combined, but Hera is just
a major goddess. Hera was respected but not that powerful. The story of
the Trojan War seems to make Aphrodite the most powerful goddess with Athena
second with Artemis and Hera third or fourth. It takes Hera and Athena to
defeat Aphrodite in the Trojan War.
The Minoan culture may have had a supreme goddess that was eventually transformed into Hera. That Zeus is supposed to have raped her may represent the political act of Hera being absorbed into the Greek culture in a role subservient to Zeus. It is probably not correct to interpret this rape in the ordinary way. It is true that this would have been a sex act against the will of Hera but it is related to a fact of ancient Greek life. Young women were an important part of their family and it took some effort by a young man to get her away from her family. The custom was to steal her away. To complicate this was the notion, developed later, that the maiden was the responsibility of her father and it was up to the father to arrange the marriage. The young man might be asked to perform a great feat for the father to win the bride. Finally there was the fertility function associated with Zeus. When young ancient Greek women prayed for fertility she may have been asking for Zeus to rape her as this would guarantee that she would be pregnant. It might have been a time when becoming pregnant was the most important consideration for the girl. This was especially true if the rape was by Zeus because the child would invariably become a hero. So Hera may have been considered lucky for being raped by Zeus because it meant she would bear important children. She also obtained a marriage to the most powerful god in the universe
- Demeter is the goddess of conception.
- Artemis is the goddess of pregnancy.
- Eileithyia is the goddess of childbirth.
- Hera is more properly the goddess of the nurturing of children after they
The Truth of Hera
Question: why did the greeks make up her?
Answer: Neither Hera nor any of the Greek myths are fictions. Myths are
not made up. The truth of myths is revealed to one or more people in the
culture and they convince others of the truth. We think they are myths because
we do not see them as true. The ancient Greeks were very logical people and they
thought the stories about Hera went a long way to explaining the world as they
Question: If the goddesses of ancient greece were highly respected and
honored by the other male gods and most importantly, the mortal men,
why weren’t the mortal women more respected and treated more fairly?
Answer: The truth seems somewhat different. Goddesses were not that
highly respected and mortal woman were more respected than you indicate.
Thetis was captured against her will by Peleus. Zeus did not respect Hera
enough to be faithful. Zeus is not recorded as raping a goddess yet the story
of Europa may represent this concept. The woman in this story may have been
demoted from goddess to mortal just because she was raped. Poseidon was not
very respectful of Athena when he raped medusa in the temple of Athena. On
the other hand stories of the rape of women by men can have some complimentary
connotations. The women of Greece were so beautiful that the Gods were driven
to acts of passion. This meant that many mortals could trace their lineage to
Athough the argument that the women of ancient Greece were treated unfairly
is quite strong, there is also reason to believe that they were much better off
in Greece than elsewhere. The women of ancient Greece seem to be relatively
free of the taboos that are quite crippling of the women of many primitive
societies, and others that are not even that primitive. Furthermore, the
practice of isolating the women did serve to protect them from many vulgar acts
and conversation. The incidence of rape was greatly reduced and adultery was
fairly uncommon. Unfortunately, the education of women was ignored, so women
tended to be illiterate and the stories of their experience were not written
down for posterity to evaluate.
Question: How can you say what the Greeks and the Romans did were
Answer: Consistencies support truth and inconsistencies take that support
away. Consider the following quote from Pausanias, Description of Greece,
1.14.1. “Above the Cerameicus and the portico called the King’s Portico is a
temple of Hephaestus. I was not surprised that by it stands a statue of Athena,
because I knew the story about Erichthonius. But when I saw that the statue
of Athena had blue eyes I found out that the legend about them is Libyan. For
the Libyans have a saying that the Goddess is the daughter of Poseidon and
Lake Tritonis, and for this reason has blue eyes like Poseidon. Hard by is a sanctuary of the Heavenly Aphrodite; the first men to establish her cult were
the Assyrians, after the Assyrians the Paphians of Cyprus and the Phoenicians
who live at Ascalon in Palestine; the Phoenicians taught her worship to the
people of Cythera. Among the Athenians the cult was established by Aegeus, who
thought that he was childless (he had, in fact, no children at the time) and
that his sisters had suffered their misfortune because of the wrath of
Heavenly Aphrodite. The statue still extant is of Parian marble and is the
work of Pheidias. One of the Athenian parishes is that of the Athmoneis, who
say that Porphyrion, an earlier king than Actaeus, founded their sanctuary of
the Heavenly One. But the traditions current among the Parishes often
differ altogether from those of the city.” Other contemporary literature makes
statements which are consistent with these statements. But more importantly
this passage makes statements about physical objects. Sometimes these
objects can be identified through archeological techniques. This also provides
An interesting example is the omphalus stone of delphi which is described by Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 10, XVI.  “What is called the Omphalus (Navel ) by the Delphians is made of white marble, and is said by the Delphians to be the center of all the earth. Pindar in one of his odes supports their view.” This stone was illustrated in ancient times yet it is currently on view at the museum of Delphi and discussed a Earth’s Navel
Hera’s Marriage to Zeus
Question: What did Hera do before she was married?
Answer: Goddesses are born to their position, so she was the goddess of
marriage without being married. In Crete during Minoan times she may have even
been the queen of heaven without Zeus. Zeus reduced her from a ruling queen to
a blushing princess. In Phoenicia before Crete she was most likely the
goddess of love and sex the same as Aphrodite.
Question: what does she do
Answer: Hera was very jealous and vindictive and caused much suffering
as a result. If Zeus was sexually attracted to a mortal woman then Hera
punished the woman even though is was usually Zeus who was at fault. She
did good when she protected marriages. In general though she rules her realms. She does this by listening to prayers and petitions and answering thim is suitable. She also enforces her laws of her realms.
Question: who did Hera marry
Answer: Zeus and Hera were husband and wife.
Question: was hera married to anyone else besides Zeus?
Answer: No. There is no record of any other marriage by Hera.
Question: Why did Hera marry Zeus?
Answer: My guess is that he raped her and she wanted to make sure he took
care of the child. She also probably felt that as king of the gods that she
would obtain some status through this marriage.
Question: did hera ever love zues?
Answer: She thought she did, but I doubt it.
Question: did hera have any affaires?
Answer: The goddess of marriage probably would not have affairs.
Question: relationships with zeus
Question: how are hera,zeus,and theseus related?
Answer: Theseus did not seem to be involved with either of these deities directly. There is a suspicion that his visit to Crete involved some cultural exchange. It is possible that he carried cult information on Zeus and Hera to Athens when he returned there. His visit to Crete may have reinforced the cult of Hera and Zeus there as well.
Question: When did Hera marry Zeus?
Answer: As soon as she knew she was pregnant by Zeus.
Question: was she sexy
Answer: Since the relation bewteen Zeus and Hera was based on lust, she
must have seemed very sexy to Zeus.
Question: why was hera jealous
Answer: She was very proper and concerned about her social status.
Question: How old was Hera when she was raped by Zeus?
Answer: She was old enough to become pregnant, but not too old to be a
Question: is she gay
Answer: No. Hera, the goddess of marriage, is not gay.
Question: How many times did Hera have sex
Answer: As the goddess of marriage she must have sex almost once a day to
maintain the perfect marriage. Since she is an immortal goddess she must still
be doing it. But now she may not have as many petitioners to consider.
The end of her worship may not have meant the end of her work. After Christianity
took over many of the goddesses were transformed into angels. She may be
doing her work now as an angel. Even today there are sculptures of what are
termed angels which are really goddesses. You can tell by their sexiness and
their iconography. Angels are sexless. But harps, doves, geese, and ivy are
icons of the ancient Greek religion.
Question: why was she hang by zeus
Answer: Zeus wanted Hera to behave so he hung her up so he could whip her.
He wanted to punish her for tormenting Herakles and prevent further torment.
All he did was to prove that he and Hera were codependent. This is part
of a cycle of violence and deceit which is no foundation for a good marriage.
The relation between Zeus and Hera is a dysfunctional marriage which serves
to illustrate who will benefit from marriage counseling and how. Perhaps
her main contribution to marriage is what not to do.
The Nudity of Hera
Under their clothes everyone is nude. They are born nude and their
nudity must be dealt with by their mother. Often the mother is nude when
she gives birth, and must use her nudity to become pregnant. Nudity is a
part of the marriage realm and has both good and bad aspects. Nude beauty
is an aspect of sex, but it is also a symbol of purity. The beauty of a
naked prostitute is a symbol of evil temptation while the beauty of a naked
newborn babe is a symbol of innocence. Beauty is also associated with the
love that a mother provides. Because a mother must bare her breasts to nurse
her baby, this love is also associated with nudity
Hera was swallowed by her father.
Cronus had learned that one of his children was destined to dethrone
him. He did not know which one so he swallowed all his children. He tried
in this way to alter fate. But this act of swallowing enraged Rhea so she
hid one of her children from Cronus. This turned out to be the very one that
would dethrone Cronus. Also Hera was swallowed when she was a naked, newborn
baby. We have no stories about what happened during her time in Cronus
but she probably grew and remained naked. When she was disgorged she was
a beautiful, naked, full-grown young woman. Perhaps the sight of Hera at that
time is what attracted Zeus to Hera. He did not seem to be able to
contain himself and he deceived her so he could rape her.
The swallowing of Hera by her father has a sexual connotation. This is not
being a good father. A good father will demonstrate how a man will relate
to a woman in terms of respect and care. He will leave her sex organs alone.
More than likely the myth can be interpreted in this way. What Cronus does
in swallowing his daughter is to restrict her to his realm. He protects her
and provides for her there until she is born again in marriage. The
regurgitation is actually a second birth. The ancient Greeks took this to
be the death of the maiden and birth of the married woman. Her nakedness
may refer to her state on her marriage night.
The rape of Hera by Zeus is easily misunderstood. This may refer to an
early time when men had to seize women they wanted to marry to get them away
from their families. The custom of carrying a bride over a threshhood seems to
hearken back to this time. This was not as bad as it seems because usually
a man needed the help of a willing woman to accomplish this. Unfortunately
on occasion an unwilling woman was obtained. This story may also refer to
the domination of the Hera Cult by the Zeus Cult. The suggestion is that
this domination was an act of force.
As a goddess Hera was perfectly beautiful naked, but this was not enough
to keep Zeus focused on her. There are no stories indicating that she
withheld herself in this way. And so the stories of her jealousy of women
Zeus was interested in seem easy to understand. But they may reflect more
what an ancient Greek woman had to do to preserve her marriage than anything
Hera really had to do.
Hera is a very beautiful woman. She looks like any other beautiful woman naked. But she is also very vengeful. Acteon saw Artemis naked and she arranged his death. If you deserve to see the naked beauty of Hera, then she will arrange it for you, but if you do not deserve it she may vengefully take your life if you see her that way. The Ancient Greeks were not inclined to portray a nude Hera. A person is judged by the quality of their clothes so they would be inclined to portray her dressed in fine clothes because they respected her. But they had the concept of the heroic nude so they often portrayed heroes nude. Later artists had difficulty with painting nude men and clothed women. In fact during the Medieval Period it came to be considered immoral. A painter was allowed to pait the Greek gods and goddesses nude, but only if everyone in the picture was all nude. Other humans had to be clothed. This was the rule from about 1300 to 1850. Lately that rule has broken down. A nude Hera is a common image in pictures relating to the Judgment of Paris.
One can wonder if the behavior of Hera was representative of the women
of Ancient Greece. The ancient Greek men were very concerned to have the men
seem to own the women so they could be sure they also possesed their proper
offspring. But does this mean that the women were slaves of the men? There
is one story which deals with Hera in a particularly humiliating way.
“Once when Zeus was being particularly overbearing to the other gods, Hera convinced them to join in a revolt. Her part in the revolt was to drug Zeus, and
in this she was successful. The gods then bound the sleeping Zeus to a couch taking care to tie many knots. This done they began to quarrel over the next step. Briareus overheard the arguements. Still full of gratitude to Zeus, Briareus slipped in and was able to quickly untie the many knots. Zeus sprang from the
couch and grabbed up his thunderbolt. The gods fell to their knees begging and pleading for mercy. He seized Hera and hung her from the sky with gold chains. She wept in pain all night but, none of the others dared to interfere. Her weeping kept Zeus up and the next morning he agreed to release her if she would swear never to rebel again.” Referernce
While the Iliad (Book I) Achilles states to Thetis:
“Ofttimes in my father’s house have I heard you glory in that you alone of
the immortals saved the son of Kronos from ruin, when the others, with Hera, Poseidon, and Pallas Athena would have put him in bonds. It was you, goddess, who delivered him by calling to Olympus the hundred-handed one whom gods call Briareus, but men Aigaion, for he has more force [biê] even than his father; when therefore he took his seat all-glorious beside the son of Kronos, the other gods were afraid, and did not bind him.”
Later in the Iliad (Book XV) Zeus states to Hera: “I see, Hera,” said he, “you mischief-making trickster, that your cunning has stayed Hektor from fighting and has caused the rout of his host. I am in half a mind to thrash you, in which case you will be the first to reap the fruits of your scurvy knavery. Do you not remember how once upon a time I had you hanged? I fastened two anvils on to your feet, and bound your hands in a chain of gold which none might break, and you hung in mid-air among the clouds. All the gods in Olympus were in a fury, but they could not reach you to set you free; when I caught any one of them I gripped him and hurled him from the heavenly threshold till he came fainting down to earth; yet even this did not relieve my mind from the incessant anxiety which I felt about noble Herakles whom you and Boreas had spitefully conveyed beyond the seas [pontos] to Cos, after suborning the tempests; but I rescued him, and notwithstanding all his mighty labors I brought him back again to Argos. I would remind you of this that you may learn to leave off being so deceitful, and discover how much you are likely to gain by the embraces out of which you have come here to trick me.”
I do not find an ancient reference to Hera drugging Zeus. I do find a
reference to Zeus being bound but he does not punish Hera for this. Rather
he punishes her by hanging her for annoying Herakles. This whole business
raises questions about marriage and the role of a man in it. Is he allowed
to string her up and thrash her any time he wants? Many sites on the web
suggest the sexy thing to do is strip her, hang her up naked, and then
whip her. This would be beneficial for her because it gives her sexual
pleasure they say. They even suggest that it is sexy because her nipples vibrate
each time she is thrashed. But Hera does not thank Zeus for her whipping.
In fact she “trembled as he spoke” and Themis later asks of Hera “has your
husband the son of Kronos been frightening you?”
Zeus does not seem to be whipping Hera for her sexual pleasure while he
might be doing it for his own. In the meantime he is causing her a lot of pain. He also seems to be trying to control her, but his method seems ineffective. It is so ineffective that it seems unlikely that a normal husband would want to follow his example. Zeus is lucky because Hera is a goddess and she always heals to perfect beauty. A mortal woman would probably be badly damaged, both physically and psychologically.
Since this is not good behavior for a husband to inflict on a wife, one has
to wonder how Zeus gets to do it. Is it possible that it is the relic of
a defeat of one group by another? Such acts are common in the context of a
The Worship of Hera
Question: when hera die
Answer: Hera is an immortal goddess and will never die. Her worship
stopped for the most part about 125 AD.
Question: how and why did the Greeks worship/feared Hera
Answer: First the Greeks had the idea that evil came from unhappy deities,
whether male or female. Second, they knew Hera was quite troublesome to Zeus
and thus quite likely to be troublesome to humans.
Question: around what time period, did she live
Answer: Hera is an immortal goddess and will never die. She was worshipped
from about 25,000 BCE to about 125 AD
Question: When was Hera a Godess?
Answer: An immortal goddess lives forever. She was worshipped as a goddess
from about 25,000 BCE to about 125 AD.
Question: What culture and religeos things was she into
Answer: Ways of worshipping Hera:
The most important way is to be a good family member.
- Say a prayer or pour a libation.
- Build a temple for her.
- Carve a statue of her especially one that shows Zeus being attentive.
- Have a wedding ceremony between her and Zeus and then have a wedding party.
- Have a beauty contest.
- Present Hera with a new Peplos.
- Have foot races for maidens to run.
- Sacrifice a cow to Hera and a bull to Zeus. While the meat is being cooked
have singing and dancing.
- Bathe the statue of Hera so she can be a virgin again.
- Make an effigy if one of Hera’s rivals for Zeus’s affection, and burn
it on a bonfire.
Question: was Hera ever nice?
Answer: A goddess acts according to her divine plan. Whether it is nice or mean depends upon human interpretation. And many humans have interpreted some of her acts as nice.
The Temples of Hera
- Temple of Hera, Paestum, Italy – Approximately fifty-five miles (ninety kilometers) south of Naples, Italy
- The Heraeum, or Temple of Hera at Olympia, is thought to be the oldest known example of Doric architecture.”The altar of Olympic Zeus is about equally distant from the Pelopion [at Olympia] and the sanctuary of Hera, but it is in front of both … It has been made from the ash of the thighs of the victims sacrificed to Zeus … .” – Pausanias, Guide to Greece 5.13.8. Woman-only Games were celebrated in her honor.
- Temple of Hera, Samos, Greece,-575 to -550 BCE Rhoikos of Samos Architect, at her reputed birth-place.
- The Temple of Hera at Argos, her primary cult centers being the Heraion near Mykenai in Argos.
- “Here [on the Akrokorinthos of Korinthos], too, is the temple of Hera Bounaia set up by Bounos the son of Hermes.
- “[The sanctuary] of Hera [near Sikyon was made] by Adrastos.
- tII) PHLIOUS Town in Sikyonia”On the left as you go out [of the santuary of Hebe at Phlious in Sikyonia] is a temple of Hera with an image of Parian marble.” – Pausanias, Guide to Greece 2.13.4
- The temple of Hera Antheia (Flowery ) is on the right of the sanctuary of Leto [in the city of Argos],
- As you go up the citadel [of Larissa in the city of Argos] you come to the sanctuary of Hera Akraia (of the Height) … Adjoining it is the race-course, in which they hold the games in honor of Nemean Zeus and the festival of Hera.” – Pausanias, Guide to Greece 2.24.1
- There is also a sanctuary of Aphrodite [at Epidauros in Argolis], while the one at the harbor, on a height that juts out into the sea, they say is Hera’s.” – Pausanias, Guide to Greece 2.29.1
- Above Lessa [near Epidauros in Argolis] is Mount Arakhnaios (of the spiders), which long ago, in the time of Inakhos, was named Sapyselaton. On it are altars to Zeus and Hera. When rain is needed they sacrifice to them here.” – Pausanias, Guide to Greece 2.25.10
- “A mountain [near Halike in Argolis], called in old days Thornax; but they say that the name was changed because, according to legend, it was here that the transformation of Zeus into a cuckoo took place. Even to the present day there are sanctuaries on the tops of the mountains: on Mount Kokkux (Cuckoo) one of Zeus, on Pron one of Hera.” – Pausanias, Guide to Greece 2.36.1
- “On the hill [in the city of Sparta] a temple of Hera Argia (Of Argos), set up, they say, by Eurydike, the daughter of Lakedaemon and the wife of Acrisios the son of Abas. An oracular utterance caused to be built a sanctuary of Hera Hyperkheiria (she whose hand is above ) at a time when the Eurotas was flooding a great part of the land. An old wooden image they call that of Aphrodite Hera. A mother is wont to sacrifice to the goddess when a daughter is married.” – Pausanias, Guide to Greece 3.13.8
- “[At Krotona in Elis is] the temple of Hera Lakinia.” – Pausanias, Guide to Greece 6.13.1, near Capo Colonna in Italy
- “Near the theater [at Mantineia, Arkadia] I saw a temple of Hera. Praxiteles made the images Hera is sitting, while Athena and Hera’s daughter Hebe are standing by her side. Near the altar of Hera is the grave of Arkas, the son of Kallisto.” – Pausanias, Guide to Greece 8.9.2 .
Pictures of Hera
- 1. Head of Hera Dewing 1874
- 2. Head of Hera Dewing 1924
- 3. Head of Hera Dewing 2111
- 4. Hera Philadelphia MS5462
- 5. Hera seated RISD 25.078
- 6. Hera with staff RISD 35.707
- 7. Hera Berlin F 2531
- 8. Hera Berlin F 2536
- 9. Hera and attendant Toledo 1982.88
- 10. Zeus and Hera Louvre CA 616
- 11. Hera and Hermes Louvre CA 616
- 12. Lunging Hera
- 13. Athena and Hera Berlin F 2291
- 14. Aphrodite, Athena and Hera Würzburg L 186
Stories about Hera
- She was born in Samos under a willow.(Pausanias, Description of Greece 7.4.4)
- She was nurtured by the Seasons and by Temenus.
- She was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea and she was swallowed by her father as an infant. Zeus restored her to life with his defeat of Cronus.
- She married Zeus.
- She was the mother of Ares, Hebe, Hephaestus, and Ilithyia.
- She had a quarrel with Zeus who hung her from Olympus.
- She was attacked by Porphyrion.
- She played with Zeus in the form of a cuckoo.
- She retired in dudgeon to Euoboea.
- She was wooed by Ephialtes.
- She was angry with Athamas.
- She was treated contumely by Pelias.
- She helped the Argonauts through the Clashing Rocks.
- She persecuted Io in the form of a cow.
- She suckles, thwarts, and drives Heracles mad.
- She stirred up the Amazons against Heracles.
- She sent the Sphinx to Thebes.
- She turned Callisto into a bear.
- She was one of the goddesses in the judgment of Paris.
Resources for Hera
- Orgel, Doris; Heyer, Marilee, “We Goddesses: Athena, Aphrodite, Hera”,
DK Publishing, Oct. 1999,
ISBN: 0789425866 / Hardcover / 10/1/1999, this handsomely designed book
draws from Greek myths to create first-person accounts from three goddesses:
Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera. Orgel weaves stories about each goddess into a
smoothly written, episodic narrative.
- Naomi Mitchison, “The Corn King and the Spring Queen” (The Hera), Soho
Press, Inc.; ISBN: 0939149990; Reissue edition (January 1994), Mythical and
historical at once, the story follows Erif Der in her journeys through the
world of her time as she searches for atonement, reconciliation and cleansing.
Lyrical descriptive writing, lucid treatments of politics and war and intensely
intimate observation of the needs and deeds of human beings fill this book,
which manages to be earthy and transcendent at once.
An index to ancient information on Hera is located at Click Here