Queen of Olympus and the Heavens, Goddess of Marriage, Women, and Childbirth
Hera is the wife of Zeus and Queen of the gods. She was feared for her jealous and vengeful nature, while simultaneously celebrated for her zealous protection over marriages and childbirth. Cows, peacocks and cuckoos are considered her sacred animals.
Hera was well known for her temper, and was possessed of a strong vindictive streak. However, she had unwavering loyalty to the Olympian cause, and to Zeus in particular. Whether or not she held any romantic interest in him is open to interpretation. She was said to be able to hold remarkable grudges, and supporting the young, formidable Zeus was certainly a not-so-subtle way to get revenge on their father, Kronos.
During Operation Kronos, Hera was sent to live with Oceanus and Tethys to calm her temper during the war, and learn some restraint. It does not seem the lessons stuck.
It was only after his prior marriages to Metis and Themis that Zeus set his sights on his beautiful sister Hera. Initially she refused his advances. Eventually, Zeus managed to seduce her by transforming himself into a cuckoo and coming to her window on a rainy night. When she saw the shivering bird, she took pity on it and took it into her bosom. When Zeus revealed himself, Hera finally agreed to marry him.
Hera was incredibly loyal. Despite her husband’s serial infidelity, she did not waver as the goddess of marriage; she never betrayed Zeus, and there are no records of her having affairs. However, they did not have a sunshine and rainbows relationship. They constantly competed over power and influence over the Heavens and Earth, including the rule of Mount Olympus. Once, Hera even staged a coup with Poseidon and Athena to overthrow Zeus, which left the queen suspended from the sky by golden chains with iron anvils weighing down her ankles as punishment for her defiance. Zeus ordered the other Greek gods to pledge their allegiance to him, or have Hera continue to suffer.
“What time Zeus first heard the rising tide of secret girdings, and felt the anger of the gods kindle against his new soveignty, and that the calm of peace in heaven could not last, first he hung up Hera from the wheeling sky and showed to her chaos in its horror and the doom of the abyss. And presently when Hephaistos would have undone his trembling mother’s fetters, down from the sheer height of heaven he cast him.”Valerius Flaccus
To grant herself release, Hera swore to never rebel again against her husband. She directed her anger toward Zeus’s lovers and their offspring instead, becoming the jealous and vindictive wife of myth.
Every time Hera discovered another one of Zeus’s affairs, she would fly into a blind rage and enact revenge on the unsuspecting women. This included turning Callisto into a bear, banishing Semele to the underworld, and prolonging Leto’s labor to an agonising nine months. Sometimes she would unleash her wrath on the offspring that Zeus had fathered with other women too.
Her relationship with Zeus was tempestuous. Once, Ixion tried to seduce Hera, who reported his actions to Zeus. The god formed a simalcrum of the goddess out of clouds and sent it to the man. When he slept with this false Hera, Zeus sentenced him to spin for all eternity on a fiery wheel.
The children of Hera and Zeus include Ares, the god of war, Hebe goddess of youth, Hephaestus, god of the forge and Eileithyia, goddess of birth. They are also thought to be the parents of Angelos, an underworld goddess banished for betraying her mother; Arge, a nymph; Eleutheria, personification of liberty; Enyo, a war goddess; and Eris, goddess of strife;
Hera was often attended by her daughters Eileithyia and Hebe, as well as the Okeanides, in particular the Nephelai and the Aurai – the nymphs of clouds and cooling breezes. Eurynome is one of the Okeanides specifically called Hera’s handmaiden, and the Kharites are frequently depicted in Hera’s retinue as well. Tykhe, goddess of fortune, is sometimes represented as one of Hera’s handmaidens. Like Zeus, she was attended by the winged messenger Iris. Hera had a soft spot for Iris, and rarely got angry at her as she did frequently with others.
As queen of the heavens and Zeus’s wife, few of the gods would have refused to do Hera’s bidding.
“Argus lay dead; so many eyes, so bright quenched, and all hundred shrouded in one night. Hera retrieved those eyes to set in place among the feathers of her bird [the peacock] and filled his tail with starry jewels.”Ovid
Upon the death of her favoured servant, the hundred-eyed giant Argus, Hera immortalised him in the tail feathers of her favoured bird, the peacock.
She supported the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece, aiding them on many occasions. Jason had earlier won her favour when he carried the goddess, disguised as an old woman, across a swollen river.
She also lent her considerable might to the Achaeans, the broad coalition of Greeks that included the aggrieved King Menelaus, in their fight against the Trojans. She inspired Achilles, was the patron of other heroes, and instructed Argus to slay the fearsome Echidna, whom Zeus had sent free after her assault on Olympus, but continued to prey on innocents.
Zeus transformed his lover, Io – a priestess of Hera – into a cow to protect her from his wife. Hera requested the heifer as a gift and set the giant Argos Panoptes to guard it and thus prevent Zeus from visiting. When the giant was slain by Hermes, Hera sent a gadfly to torture Io, driving her to wander all the way to Egypt. Eventually she was transformed back into a human, and gave birth to a son and daughter.
After the goddess learnt that Aiakos King of Aigina was an illegitimate son of Zeus, she poisoned the island’s waters, killing the country’s entire population.
Lamia was a lovely queen of Libya, whom Zeus loved and slept with. Hera in jealousy robbed Lamia of her children, either by kidnapping and hiding them away, killing them, or causing Lamia herself to kill her own offspring. Lamia became disfigured from the torment, transforming into a terrifying being who hunted and killed the children of others. It is the basis of the drakaina.
Hera turned the queen Gerana into a crane as punishment for claiming to be more beautiful than she.
Hera discovered the affair of Zeus and Semele and tricked the girl into asking Zeus to appear before her in his full glory. She did and was consumed by his fiery lightning. Hera later hunted and persecuted Semele’s son, Dionysus, who had been saved by Zeus.
When Hera discovered the gentle Titaness Leto was pregnant with Zeus’ child, she sent her agents to drive the goddess from land to land, denying her a place to give birth. Eventually, she gave birth to Apollo and Artemis. Later, the Titan Tityos attempted to rape Leto at the behest of Hera. He was slain by Artemis and Apollo.
Zeus once declared that the next child born of his blood would rule in Mykenai. The god intended it to be Heracles, but Hera delayed his birth (almost killing his mother in the process) and sped up the delivery of his cousin Eurystheus by enlisting the help of the Moirai. When Heracles was born, she sent serpents to his cradle to kill him. She later drove Heracles mad, compelling him to murder his own children. The hero was then forced to complete twelve labours for Eurystheus, and in the process Hera opposed him at every turn. Some myths state that in the end, Heracles befriended Hera by saving her from Porphyrion, a giant who tried to rape her during the Gigantomachy, and that she even gave her daughter Hebe as his bride.
The Apple of Discord and the Trojan War
Hera was one of three goddesses – along with Athena and Aphrodite – who fought over the Golden Apple of Discord. Originally a wedding gift, the Golden Apple was thrown by the goddess of chaos, Eris, which created a dispute about who would be considered the most beautiful goddess.
With the goddesses all vying for the title, each bribed Paris. Hera promised the young prince power and wealth, Athena offered skill and wisdom, but he ultimately opted for Aphrodite’s vow of giving him the most beautiful woman in the world as a wife.
The decision to not select Hera as the most beautiful goddess led to the queen’s support of the Greeks during the Trojan War, which was the direct consequence of Paris wooing the beautiful (and very much already married) Helen, Queen of Sparta.
Hera’s hatred of the Trojans led her to interfere greatly in the war, persuading Athena to her cause. She tried to harm her own son, Ares, for aiding the Trojans. Later, she tried to persuade Poseidon to disobey Zeus‘s decree that the gods may not interfere, and implored him to help the Greek army. He refused, saying he didn’t want to go against Zeus. Determined to intervene anyway, Hera and Athena went themselves to the battlefield. However, seeing the two flee, Zeus sent Iris to intercept them and make them return to Mount Olympus or face grave consequences.
After prolonged fighting, Hera witnessed Poseidon aiding the Greeks, after he took some offence from the Trojans and their seawall. Pleased, she continued with her own machinations.
In an effort to deceive Zeus and continue with her vengeance, Hera enlisted Aphrodite to help beautify herself, before going to seduce her husband. She intended to trick him into a deep sleep with the aid of Hypnos. Instead they made love hidden within a golden cloud on the summit of Mount Ida. The distraction served to allow the Greeks time to regain the upper hand in the war.
Hera was fond of the messenger, Iris. She maintained good relationships with her two daughters, and with her sisters Demeter and Hestia. She was also generally fond of her stepchildren Persephone, Hermes, and Athena. Her relationship with her son Ares could be tumultuous, and similarly with Poseidon, who at times might be considered ally or enemy. The two were much alike, both often falling prey to their short-tempers.
Of Hades she was more ambivalent, thinking little of him once he was banished to his underworld kingdom. She always welcomed Persephone upon her return home. Given Hera’s own commitment to marriage vows, she was likely jealous of the way Hades was faithful, and may have stoked Zeus’s anger and perpetuated the rumour that he abducted the Spring goddess unwillingly.
She abhorred her father, Kronos. Zeus’s illegitimate children Artemis, Apollo, Dionysus and Heracles were also persecuted relentlessly. She had many other known conflicts, such as with her daughter-in-law Aphrodite, her grandson Eros, Anteros and Himeros, her step-grandson Aeneas, Zeus’ cupbearer Ganymede, Europa, Semele, and Alcmene. She considered all of Zeus’ lovers her enemies, and lastly, she hated the entire Trojan people.
1st Age: She lived as Sofia Konstantinovna Vasilieva, the daughter of a prominent mafia family in Russia