She is known for being the Goddess of Marriage & Birth. Despite being the Goddess of Marriage, she was known to be jealous and vengeful towards the many lovers and offspring of her husband Zeus.
She was also known to turn her anger towards mortals who crossed her as well – for example, Paris, who chose Aphrodite over Hera as the most beautiful goddess at the marriage of the sea-nymph Thetis to a mortal called Peleus.
In images and statues, Hera is portrayed as being majestic and solemn, crowned with the polos – a high cylindrical crown worn by many of the Great Goddesses.
Even before her marriage with Zeus, she ruled over the heavens and the Earth. This is one reason why she is referred to as ‘The Queen of Heaven’ – ruling over Mount Olympus where all the gods and goddesses live.
Even the great Zeus feared his wife Hera. Her never-ending hatred of Heracles, the illegitimate son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene stemmed from his continuous adultery and, amongst other things, Hera raised a storm at sea in order to drive Heracles out of his course to kill him.
Zeus became so angry that he hung her in the clouds by a golden chain, and attached heavy anvils to her feet. Her son Hephaestus tried to release his mother from her humiliating position, for which Zeus threw him out of heaven, and his leg was broken by the fall.
Powers of Hera
Hera could control human bonds and relationships as well as fertility, birth and reproduction. She could make others pregnant or get pregnant herself – Hephaestus was born without help from Zeus.
Hera’s abilities also included manipulating curses, for example- transforming humans into beasts or making them insane. One nymph she cursed was Echo, who could only ever repeat the words of others.
Facts about Hera, Queen of the Olympian Gods
- Hera was Queen of the Olympian gods.
- She was the wife and sister of Zeus.
- Hera was a jealous wife, and she fought with Zeus frequently over his extramarital affairs and illegitimate children. For this reason, Hera was known for punishing offending husbands.
- She was the protector of women, presiding over marriages and births.
- She had three children with Zeus – Hebe, Ares, and Hephaestus.
- While Hera was worshipped in all parts of Greece, temples were erected in her honor at Argos and Salmos.
- The peacock was sacred to her.
- Hera had few, if any, redeeming qualities. She never forgot an injury.
- The Titans Ocean and Tethys brought her up.
- Hera is often described as “cow-faced,” although she was also called the chief among the immortals in beauty.
- Though she may have been physically attractive, her vindictive personality makes her less so.
- The Trojan War would have ended in peace, but Hera had a vested interest in its outcome and influenced Zeus to either switch sides or remain neutral.
- Hera had no concept of justice when angry or jealous; she could not forgive the women with whom Zeus had sexual relations—even if they were innocent of wrongdoing.
- Ilithyia, a daughter of Hera’s, assisted women in childbirth.
- In the story of the Quest of the Golden Fleece, Hera was a gracious protector of the heroes.
- Paris awarded Aphrodite the Golden Apple over Athena and Hera.
- Hera punished one of Zeus’s love interests, Io, by putting her in the charge of Argus. Argus had a hundred eyes and kept vigilant watch over her so that Zeus could not come to her aid.
- Hera turned Callisto into a bear because Zeus fell in love with her.
- Hera arranged the death of Semele, another of Zeus’s mortal conquests, although she did not directly cause it.
- Hera never forgave Hercules for being Zeus’s son, but when Hercules died and was taken to heaven, he and Hera reconciled. While in heaven, Hercules married Hera’s daughter Hebe.
- In some stories, it was at Hera’s orders that Dionysus was torn to pieces. He was brought back to life, and it is this resurrection that was celebrated in theatres.
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