Ancient history


In Greek mythology, Hera or Héré (in ancient Greek (Attica) Ἧρα / Hêra or in Ionian Ἧρη / Hêrê[1]), daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea, is the wife and sister of Zeus. She is the protector par excellence of women and the goddess of legitimate marriage, guardian of the couple's fertility and of women in childbirth.

She corresponds to Juno in Roman mythology.

She is in Crete, on Mount Thornax (since called the “Mount of Cuckoos”), when her brother, Zeus, seduces her by transforming himself into a wet cuckoo. Touched, Hera collects the bird on her bosom to warm it; but he rapes her and the goddess, to hide her shame, prefers to marry her brother. For their nuptials, Gaia offers a tree covered in golden apples. Their wedding night lasted three centuries and Hera regularly renewed her virginity by bathing in the Canathos spring.

She is the mother, by Zeus, of Ares, Hebe and Ilithyia, but also of Hephaestus, whom she conceives alone to challenge her husband and show him that she did not need him to give birth. .
Hera and Prometheus, interior cup from Douris, early 5th century BC. J.-C., Cabinet of medals of the National Library of France
Hera and Prometheus, interior of cup from Douris, beginning of the 5th century BC. J.-C., Cabinet of medals of the National Library of France

Very beautiful and very graceful, she is no less irritable and capricious. Jealous, she often persecutes the mistresses of Zeus and their offspring. Among her victims Heracles, to whom she sends two snakes, and the nymph Io, transformed into a cow by Zeus to protect her but despite everything driven mad by the bites of a horsefly sent by Hera. She also takes revenge by thwarting her husband's plans, provoking incessant quarrels. However, she sometimes arouses the jealousy of Zeus, especially with Ixion, who unites with a cloud believing that it was Hera, or the giant Porphyrion (who is struck down in retaliation by Zeus) and Hermes. According to a minority tradition[2], she is attacked by the giant Eurymedon and conceives Prometheus, from which doubtless Douris' cup medallion representing Hera seated opposite the latter (see opposite).

One day, exasperated by Zeus' pranks, Hera decides to ask her sons for help to punish the fickle god. They plan to bind Zeus in his sleep with leather straps to prevent him from seducing the mortals of Earth. But the nereid Thetis sends the Hecatonchire Briareus to dissuade them. Zeus punishes Hera by suspending her in the sky by a golden chain, an anvil at each ankle. He releases her only against the promise of her submission[3].

Offended by the judgment of Paris, who prefers Aphrodite to her, she proves to be the fiercest enemy of the Trojans during the Trojan War and contributes to the sack of the city. Displeased with Tiresias' judgment, she strikes him blind.

She is especially venerated in Argos, cited by Homer as a city dear to the goddess, like Mycenae and Sparta. It also has a temple in Olympia, Corinth, Samos and Cape Lakinion, not far from Crotone.

Hera is the goddess of marriage and wives, protector of the couple, fertility and women in childbirth - a domain she shares with her daughter Ilithye. Queen of Heaven as the wife of Zeus, she is also associated with celestial phenomena and light. Under her epiclesis of ὁπλοσμία / hoplosmía, at Cape Lakinion and Elis, she assumes a warlike function. The city of Stymphalus consecrates three temples to Hera under different epicleses:Παρθενία / Parthenía (“virgin”), Τελεία / Teleía (“wife of Zeus”) and Χήρα / Khếra (“separated from Zeus”).

* His attributes:the royal diadem and the pomegranate;
* His favorite animals:the peacock;
* Homeric epithets:
o θεὰ λευκώλενος / theá leukốlenos, "white-armed goddess",
o βοῶπις / boỗpis, "cow-eyed, big-eyed",
o χρυσόθρονος / khrusóthronos, "at the golden throne";
* Sanctuaries:especially in austere cities, Argos, Mycenae, Sparta;
* Games organized in his honor :Heraia.

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