Hera, goddess of marriage and childbirth

heraHera was the Olympian goddess of marriage and childbirth and was also known as the Queen of the gods. She was also the protector of marriage and made herself a symbol for married women, because of taking special care and attention to them. Hera was one of the fairest goddesses on Mount Olympus, but on the other hand, she was known to be jealous and vengeful towards people or gods who hurted or crossed her. However, because she couldn't hurt Zeus who cheated on her numerous times, she pursued and tortured his mistresses and his illegitimate children. Hera herself, on the other hand, was faithful to Zeus in the means of sexuality, but didn't obey her husband which was also important for marriage in Ancient Greek's culture.

Appearance in the works of art

Most of the time, she is depicted wearing diadem, a jewelled ornament in the shape of a half-crown, worn over her forehead and holding pomegranate, a symbol for fertile blood and death, in her hand. She was also known to have peacock and cow for sacred animals and prefered lilies from all the flowers.

The "Sacred" marriage

Hera was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. The last born female goddess had two sisters and three brothers. Hera married her brother Zeus in order to cover her shame of being taken forcefully.Juno and Jupiter It all started, when Zeus fell in love with her and courted her unsuccessfully. He then exploited her empathy towards other beings. He transformed himself in a cuckoo, had flown outside her window and pretended to be frozen by cold. At the sight of the bird, Hera felt sorrow and pity. She took it inside and held it to her breast to warm it. Zeus then transformed himself back in original state and took advantage of her. Hera was so ashamed of being "exploited" that she had agreed to marriage which took place at the Garden of Hesperides. The sacred wedding was celebrated with honours and sacrifices. Everyone welcomed their new Queen, singing hymns and giving presents to her. Even Gaea was so happy that she made a tree blossom with golden apples in Hera's honour. After the wedding, Zeus and Hera went on a honeymoon which lasted for three hundred years. From their union came Ares, Hebe, Eileithyia and variously Eris and Hephaestus.

Plotting against Zeus

Even though they had their happy moments, Hera never forgot about what had Zeus done to her. Therefore, she chose her timing well when Zeus was harsh on fellow Olympians. And when they were getting fed up with him, Hera talked them into revolt. The plan itself, however, was not bright at all. Hera took the opportunity and drugged his drink. When Zeus fell asleep, she called the other gods to come and tie him to a chair. They tied Zeus tightly, making a hundred knots and took his thunderbolt. Then their successful plan was over and they started arguing what to do next and who would become the leader. Briareus, one of the three Hekatoncheires, who Zeus had freed from Tartarus, overheard the conversation and realised that Zeus was tied. He immediately sneaked in and started untying each knot at the same time with his hundred hands. Trembling made Zeus to woke up, he jumped from the chair and grabbed his thunderbolt. Shocked, the gods felt to their knees and started begging Zeus to show mercy. Zeus then grabbed Hera and tied her wrists with golden shackles, heavy anvils to her feet and hung her from heavens. She cried all night in such pain that she could be heard from the sky. No one from the immortals dared to help her in fear of Zeus. The next day, Zeus showed mercy and agreed to let her go in one condition though. Hera was to swear never again to plot and rebel against him. She promised never to do that again and kept her word, but her wrath towards Zeus' mistresses and illegitimate children had just begun.

Wraths and Vengeances of Hera

In her marriage, she was rightfully jealous and angered with her husband's infidelities. And because she was unable to punish him, she instead threw her wrath at Zeus' lovers. There are dozen of myths about Hera's persecution.Hera, Zeus and Io She threw her wrath at semi-god Heracles, where she had turned his life upside down. Hera was pursuing Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis, in order to prevent her from giving birth. She had sent couple of her minions to kill her. She was also responsible for destroying mortal princess Semele who was pregnant with Dionysus. Later Hermes helped Zeus to stitch Dionysus into his thigh. After his birth, Hera chased the god of pleasure constantly, forcing him to wander from place to place. She also found out about an affair of her servant Io and Zeus. When approached the couple, Zeus turned Io into cow to hide her. But, Hera was suspicious and demanded that Zeus give the cow to her as a gift. Then she put her away, under guard by one-hundred eyed Argos. She also stressed her wrath at Aiakos, the king of Aigina, and his whole country by poisoning country's water source.

Trojan war

Hera supported the Greeks during Trojan war, because she was angry at Paris for not picking her as "the fairest" of goddesses. According to Iliad, she even went to support the Greeks on the battlefield in her chariot alongside Athena. Hera motivated the Greeks by shouting so loud, as it were fitfy men shouting with all they have got. She even seduced Zeus and made love to him into exhaustion, in order to make him fall asleep. When asleep, the gods intervened the battlefield to support the Greeks, even though Zeus gave direct orders not to engage.

Other myths

Hera was also heavily involved in the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece, where she helped Jason, but only so far, until her plot against Pelias was successful. Then she abandoned him. In another myth, Hera was furious at Zeus for having birth to Athena on his own. Therefore she, without the help of Zeus, gave birth to Hephaestus. But unlike Athena who was beautiful and wise, Hephaestus turned out to be lame and deformed. He was not appreciated and was casted from Olympus. However, he later forced the gods to invite him back to Olympus when he had sent his mother a gift. It was a magical golden chair with invisible feathers. Surprised by the gift, Hera sat on the chair and triggered the trap. She was bound by the chair and no one, except Hephaestus, was able to release her. The gods were later, with the help of Dionysus, able to convince Hephaestus to let her go in exchange for him to return home and marry Aphrodite.