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Colors of Ancient Europe – Hera

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Hera was the Olympian queen of the gods, and the goddess of marriage (Roman Juno), the sky and the stars of heaven. She was usually depicted as a beautiful woman wearing a crown and holding a royal, lotus-tipped sceptre, and sometimes accompanied by a lion, cuckoo or hawk.


Some of the more famous myths featuring the goddess include:--

Her marriage to Zeus who seduced her in the guise of a cuckoo bird.
The birth of Hephaistos (Hephaestus) who she produced alone without a father and cast from heaven because he was born crippled.

Her persecution of the consorts of Zeus including Leto, Semele and Alkmene (Alcmena).

Her persecution of Herakles (Heracles) and Dionysos, the favourite bastard sons of Zeus.

The punishment of Ixion, who was chained to a fiery wheel for attempting to violate the goddess.

The assisting of the Argonauts in their quest for the golden fleece, their leader Iason (Jason) being one of her favourites.

The judgement of Paris, in which she competed against Aphrodite and Athene for the prize of the golden apple.

The Trojan War in which she assisted the Greeks.


HERA (Hêra or Hêrê), probably identical with kera, mistress, just as her husband, Zeus, was called erros in the Aeolian dialect (Hesych. s. v.). The derivation of the name has been attempted in a variety of ways, from Greek as well as oriental roots, though there is no reason for having recourse to the latter, as Hera is a purely Greek divinity.

Hera was, according to some accounts, the eldest daughter of Cronos and Rhea, and a sister of Zeus. (Hom. Il. xvi. 432; comp. iv. 58; Ov. Fast. vi. 29.) Apollodorus (i. 1, § 5), however, calls Hestia the eldest daughter of Cronos; and Lactantius (i. 14) calls her a twin-sister of Zeus. According to the Homeric poems (Il. xiv. 201, &c.), she was brought up by Oceanus and Thetys, as Zeus had usurped the throne of Cronos; and afterwards she became the wife of Zeus, without the knowledge of her parents. This simple account is variously modified in other traditions.

Being a daughter of Cronos, she, like his other children, was swallowed by her father, but afterwards released (Apollod. l. c.), and, according to an Arcadian tradition, she was brought up by Temenus, the son of Pelasgus. (Paus. viii. 22. § 2; August. de Civ. Dei, vi. 10.) The Argives, on the other hand, related that she had been brought up by Euboea, Prosymna, and Acraea, the three daughters of the river Asterion (Paus. ii. 7. § 1, &c.; Plut. Sympos. iii. 9); and according to Olen, the Horae were her nurses. (Paus. ii. 13. § 3.) Several parts of Greece also claimed the honour of being her birthplace; among them are two, Argos and Samos, which were the principal seats of her worship. (Strab. p. 413; Paus. vii. 4. § 7; Apollon. Rhod. i. 187.)

Her marriage with Zeus also offered ample scope for poetical invention (Theocrit. xvii. 131, &c.), and several places in Greece claimed the honour of having been the scene of the marriage, such as Euboea (Steph. Byz. s. v. Karustos), Samos (Lactant. de Fals. Relig. i. 17), Cnossus in Crete (Diod. v. 72), and Mount Thornax, in the south of Argolis. (Schol. ad Theocrit. xv. 64; Paus. ii. 17. § 4, 36. § 2.) This marriage acts a prominent part in the worship of Hera under the name of hieros gamos; on that occasion all the gods honoured the bride with presents, and Ge presented to her a tree with golden apples, which was watched by the Hesperides in the garden of Hera, at the foot of the Hyperborean Atlas. (Apollod. ii. 5. § 11; Serv. ad Aen. iv. 484.)

The Homeric poems know nothing of all this, and we only hear, that after the marriage with Zeus, she was treated by the Olympian gods with the same reverence as her husband. (Il. xv. 85, &c.; comp. i. 532, &c., iv. 60, &c.) Zeus himself, according to Homer, listened to her counsels, and communicated his secrets to her rather than to other gods (xvi. 458, i. 547). Hera also thinks herself justified in censuring Zeus when he consults others without her knowing it (i. 540, &c.); but she is, notwithstanding, far inferior to him in power; she must obey him unconditionally, and, like the other gods, she is chastised by him when she has offended him (iv. 56, viii. 427, 463). Hera therefore is not, like Zeus, the queen of gods and men, but simply the wife of the supreme god. The idea of her being the queen of heaven, with regal wealth and power, is of a much later date. (Hygin. Fab. 92; Ov. Fast. vi. 27, Heroid. xvi. 81; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 81.) There is only one point in which the Homeric poems represent Hera as possessed of similar power with Zeus, viz. she is able to confer the power of prophecy (xix. 407). But this idea is not further developed in later times. (Comp. Strab. p. 380; Apollon. Rhod. iii. 931.)

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