Hera is the wife of Zeus, and the Greek Goddess of women, marriage, family and childbirth. Here we look at Hera in more detail and her role in Greek Mythology.
The Greek Goddess Hera
Hera was the Goddess of women, marriage, family and childbirth and was one of the Olympian Gods and Goddesses. She was the oldest daughter of Cronus (Kronos) and Rhea, but raised by the Titans Ocean and Tethys. Hera has a strange role in Greek Mythology. She is often portrayed as vengeful and jealous. It's perhaps not surprising given her husband's habit of having affair with numerous other deities and mortals! It is with some irony them that one of Hera's roles is the Goddess of marriage! Despite the affairs of Zeus, Hera remained faithful and was one of the few Gods or Goddesses in Greek mythology who was monogamous.
Hera - credits: Magryt Artur/depositphotos
Hera and the Peacock
Hera is often depicted in a chariot drawn by peacocks. It is thought that the peacock was not known in Greece until the conquests of Alexander the Great, so it is likely that this was a more recent Hellenistic addition to her attributes. According to Greek Mythology, the beautiful symbols on the peacock’s feathers are actually the eyes of Argus, a watchman with 100 eyes recruited by Hera to watch over the Heifer. He was killed on duty by Hermes, so Hera placed his eyes on the peacock as a tribute for his work.
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Hera in Greek Mythology
As the Queen of the Gods and Goddesses of Greek Mythology, Hera appears in many myths and legends. Perhaps her most well known appearances are to do with the Labours of Hercules. She was known to have hated the half man, half God hero because of the fact that Zeus had an affair with his mother. When they named him Herakles (Hercules) which means Glory to Hera, it probably only rubbed salt into the wounds! Hera tormented Hercules throughout his life, causing a fit of rage to come over him and kill his wife and children, and this was after sending down two serpents to kill the young Hercules as a child! Hercules story ends when he dies and then resides on Mount Olympus in the afterlife. We never get to know if they put the past behind them and become friends!
Powers and skills of Hera
Hera was born with powers of immortality and eternal youth as is common among the Greek gods. She however, had a number of other powers apart from these two.
- Was able to curse those who would offend her as well as their marriages.
- She had the power of mind control and could even drive people insane.
- She could alter the weather.
- Hera could shape shift.
- She could turn people on earth (mortals) into animals or even monsters.
- Hera also had the power to summon animals. For example, she summoned two serpents and sent them to kill Hercules when he was an infant. Hercules, however, managed to kill them with his bare hands.
The children of Hera
- Ares popularly known as the god of war. He is known as a god with an insatiable hunger for war.
- Eris the goddess of discord. He is known as the one who came with the golden apple written for the fairest one’ to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, though not invited. The apple was claimed by Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. One goddess had to be chosen as the owner. Trojan Prince Paris was left with the final decision and he chose Aphrodite over Hera and Athena. This ultimately led to the Trojan War sparked by Hera and Athena.
- Hephaestus. Hephaestus was a god made by Hera with herself. She wanted to show Zeus just how it felt to be cheated on. However, he was so ugly. She couldn’t bear the sight of the baby and threw him off Olympus.
- Eileithyia the goddess of birth.
Role Hera plays in the Percy Jackson books
Hera featured in The Titan’s Curse which is part of the Percy Jackson series and helped Percy along with some of his friends in the battle of the labyrinth quest. She voted for Percy and Thalia Grace to live in the series. Hera also featured in a Percy Jackson spinoff called The lost Hero’. She tried to bring together the Greek and Roman demigods by switching Percy and Jason.
Temples dedicated to Hera in Greece
Of the ancient temples that remain in Greece dedicated to Hera, the most well known is the Temple of Hera at Olympia. This temple is one of the oldest in Greece, thought to date back before 600 BC. You can visit the Temple of Hera and the rest of Olympia as part of a Greek Mythology Tour. Take a look at our Olympia tour options here, or contact our team through the onscreen chat box for more details.
Temple of Hera in Olympia - credits: catstail/depositphotos