Hera (in ancient Greek Ἥρα Hēra, or equivalently: Ἥρη Hērē in Ionic and Homeric Greek) is the wife and sister of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of classical Greek mythology. Her equivalent in Roman mythology was Juno. The cow and later the peacock were sacrificed to her. Her mother was Rhea and her father Cronus.
Hera was known for her violent and vengeful nature, mainly against Zeus” mistresses and offspring, but also against mortals she came across, such as Pelias. Paris, who offended her by choosing Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess, thus earned her eternal hatred.
Hera is depicted solemn, often on the throne and crowned with the polos (a tall cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great goddesses), and may carry in her hand a pomegranate, symbol of fertile blood and death, or a narcotic poppy capsule. Researcher Walter Burkert wrote in Greek Religion, “However, there are records of an earlier representation without icons, such as a column at Argos and a tablet at Samos.”
Burkert states, “The name of Hera, the goddess of marriage, admits of a variety of mutually exclusive etymologies; one possibility is to relate it to hora , ”season,” and interpret it as ready for marriage.” In a note, he records the arguments of other researchers “on the meaning ”Lady” as feminine of Heros, ”Lord.”” John Chadwick, decipherer of Linear B, notes that “her name may be related to hērōs , ”hero”, but this is not helpful, as it is also etymologically obscure.” he proposes the meaning ”calf”, which is consonant with her frequent epithet βοῶπις boôpis, ”cow-eyed”. E-ra appears on Mycenaean tablets in linear B.
Hera may have been the first deity to whom the Greeks dedicated a sanctuary with an enclosed roofed temple, at Samos around 801 B.C. It was later replaced by the Heraeum, one of the largest Greek temples in history (the Greek altars of classical times were in front of the temples, in the open air). Many successive temples were built on that site, so the evidence is somewhat unclear and the archaeological dating uncertain. We know that the temple created by the sculptor and architect Reco was destroyed between 570 and 560 B.C., being replaced by the temple of Polycrates between 540 and 530 B.C. In one of these temples there was a forest of 155 columns. There is also no evidence of slabs in this temple, suggesting that it was never completed or that it was open to the air.
Older sanctuaries, whose dedication is less certain, were of the Mycenaean type called “sanctuary houses”.
Excavations at Samos have uncovered votive offerings, many dating from the late 8th and 7th centuries BC, and revealed that Hera was not simply a local Greek goddess of the Aegean: the museum at Samos contains god figures, rogates and other votive offerings from Armenia, Babylon, Iran, Assyria and Egypt, testimony to the reputation this sanctuary of Hera enjoyed and the large influx of pilgrims. Hera also possessed the oldest temple at Olympia and two of the great 6th and 5th century BC temples at Paestum.
Although the largest and oldest independent temple dedicated to Hera was the Heraeum of Samos, on the Greek mainland she was especially worshipped, as ”Hera Argiva” (Hera Argeia), in her sanctuary located between the ancient Mycenaean city-states of Argos and Mycenae, where festivals, the Hereas, were held in her honor. “Three are the cities I love most,” declared the ox-eyed celestial goddess: “Argos, Sparta and Mycenae, the one with the wide streets. There were also temples dedicated to Hera in Olympia, Corinth, Tirynthus, Peracora and the sacred island of Delos. In Magna Graecia, two Doric temples to Hera were built at Paestum, around 500 and 450 B.C. One of them, long called “Temple of Poseidon”, was identified in the 1950s as a second temple of Hera.
In Boeotia the festival of the major Daedalas, consecrated to Hera, was celebrated in cycles of sixty years.
The importance of Hera in the most archaic period is attested by the large number of buildings erected in her honor. The temples of Hera in the two main centers of her cult, the Heraeum of Samos and the Heraeum of Argos in the Argolid, were the first monumental temples built by the Greeks in the 8th century BC.
In the Temple of Hera at Olympia, the traditional cult image of Hera was older than the accompanying warrior image of Zeus. Homer described her conflicted relationship with Zeus in the Iliad, in which Hera declares to Zeus: “I too am a deity, our lineage is the same, and the artful Cronus engendered me the most venerable, by my ancestry and by bearing the name of wife to thee, of thee who reignest over all immortals.” Although Zeus is often called Zeus Hereus, ”Zeus of Hera”, Homer”s treatment of him is disrespectful, and in later anecdotal versions of the myths (see below) Hera appeared to devote most of her time to plotting revenge against the nymphs and
There has been considerable research, since that of Johann Jakob Bachofen in the mid-nineteenth century, into the possibility that Hera, whose early importance in Greek religion is firmly established, was originally the goddess of a matriarchal people, presumably pre-Hellenic inhabitants of Greece. From this point of view, her function as goddess of marriage established the patriarchal bond of her own subordination: her resistance to the conquests of Zeus is presented as “jealousy” and forms the main theme of the literary anecdotes that cut out her ancient cult.
To the detriment of this theory, however, is the statistical fact that strict matriarchies (i.e., a society in which women are the only gender with power) do not appear in historical or modern cultures.
For his part, Burkert pointed out that both Hera and Demeter had many attributes characteristic of the ancient Great Goddess.
Hera was best known as the matron goddess, Hera Teleia, but she also presided over marriages. In myth and cult, fragmentary references and archaic customs of the sacred marriage of Hera and Zeus are preserved, and at Platea there was a sculpture by Callimachus of Hera seated as a bride, as well as the standing matron Hera.
Hera was also worshipped as a virgin: there was a tradition at Stymphalus (Arcadia) according to which there was a triple altar to Hera the Virgin, the Matron, and the Separated (Χήρη Chḗrē, ”widowed” or ”divorced”). In the Argolid, the temple of Hera at Hermione, near Argos, was dedicated to Hera the Virgin; near Nauplia, Hera renewed her virginity annually, in rites that could not be spoken of (arrheton).
In Hellenistic imagery, Hera”s chariot was pulled by peacocks, birds unknown to the Greeks before the conquests of Alexander the Great, whose tutor, Aristotle, alludes to them as “Persian birds.” The peacock motif resurfaced in Renaissance iconography that unified Hera and Juno, and on which European painters focused. The peacock motif resurfaced in the Renaissance iconography that unified Hera and Juno, and on which European painters focused. The bird that had been associated with Hera in the most ancient times, where most Aegean goddesses were related to “their” bird, was the cuckoo, which appears in mythological fragments about the first courtship of a virginal Hera by Zeus.
Her archaic association was mainly with cattle, as a Cow Goddess who was especially venerated in “cattle-rich” Euboea. In Cyprus, very ancient archaeological sites have been found containing bull skulls that were adapted for use as masks (see “sacred bull”). Her familiar Homeric epithet βοῶπις boôpis is often translated as ”cow-eyed”. In this respect, Hera bears some resemblance to the ancient Egyptian deity Hathor, a maternal goddess related to cattle also represented in her origins as a cow goddess.
The pomegranate, an ancient emblem of the Great Goddess, remained a symbol of Hera: many of the votive pomegranates and poppy capsules recovered at Samos are made of ivory, which survives burial better than wood, of which the more common ones must have been made. Like all goddesses, Hera can be depicted wearing a diadem and veil.
Hera boasted various epithets in mythological tradition, including:
Hera was the daughter of Rhea and Kronos, and was swallowed at birth by Kronos because of a prophecy that one of his sons would take the throne from him. Zeus was saved by a plan hatched by Rhea, who wrapped a stone in swaddling clothes and gave it to Kronos instead. Meanwhile, Zeus was taken to a cave in Crete. Later Metis gave Cronus a concoction that made him regurgitate the other five Olympians: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades and Poseidon, as well as the stone.
Children and love affairs
Hera presides over the proper preparations for the marriage and is the archetype of the union in the marriage bed, but she does not stand out as a mother. To unite with Hera, Zeus was said to have taken the form of a cuckoo. The legitimate descendants of this union are Ares (god of war), Hebe (goddess of youth), Ilithia (goddess of parturition), Hephaestus (blacksmith god) and possibly Ennius, a goddess of war responsible for the destruction of the cities and assistant of Ares. The latter is confused by some authors, including Homer, with Eris (goddess of discord), who was actually the daughter of Nix (goddess of the night). Angelos can also be considered the daughter of Zeus and Hera.
Some authors consider Hephaestus to be the son only of Hera, but not of Zeus. According to this myth, Hera was jealous that Zeus gave birth to Athena without recourse to her, so she fathered Hephaestus without him. Hera was then displeased with Hephaestus” lameness and thus imperfection, so she expelled him from Olympus. Alternatively, in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo Pythias Hera had Typhon in revenge for the birth of Athena, striking her hand against the ground so that Gaea would grant her wish. Hera gave the creature to the dragon Python to raise.
Hephaestus took revenge on Hera for rejecting him by making a magical throne for her that, when she sat down, would not let her rise from it. The other gods begged Hephaestus to return to Olympus to free her but he repeatedly refused. Dionysus got him drunk and carried him back to Olympus on the back of a mule. Hephaestus released Hera after receiving Aphrodite as his wife.
Hera as an enemy of Heracles
Hera was the stepmother and enemy of Herakles, whose name means ”glory of Hera” in her honor. Herakles is the hero who, even more than Perseus, Cadmus or Theseus, introduced the Olympic habits in Greece. When Alcmene was pregnant with Herakles, Hera asked her daughter Ilithia to prevent him from being born by crossing her legs. Her plans were thwarted by Galantis, Alcmene”s servant, who tricked Ilithia that she had already brought the child into the world. Ilithia transformed her into a weasel.
When Heracles was still an infant, Hera sent two snakes to kill him while he slept in his cradle. Herakles strangled a snake with each hand and his nursemaid found him amusing himself with their limp bodies as if they were toys. This anecdote stems from a depiction of the hero grasping a snake in each hand, just as the familiar Minoan goddesses had once done. “The image of a divine child between two serpents may have been very familiar to the Thebans, who worshipped the Cabyrians, although it was not depicted as a hero”s first exploit.” He later turned the Amazons against him when he was on one of his tasks.
One account of the origin of the Milky Way tells that Zeus had tricked Hera into suckling the infant Heracles. Upon discovering who the infant was, she removed him from her breast, and a stream of his milk formed the spot that crosses the sky. Unlike the Greeks, the Etruscans represented an adult, bearded Herakles at Hera”s breast, which may allude to his adoption by her when Herakles became immortal. Herakles had earlier wounded him severely in the chest.
Hera commissioned Herakles to work for King Eurystheus of Mycenae. He tried to make almost all of Heracles” twelve labors more difficult than they already were.
When Herakles fought the Hydra of Lerna, he sent a crab to sting her feet in the hope of distracting him. When Herakles stole Geryon”s cattle, he wounded Hera in the right breast with a three-headed arrow: the wound was incurable and left Hera in constant pain, as Dione tells Aphrodite in the Iliad. Next, Hera sent a gadfly to sting the cattle, irritate them and scatter them. Hera then caused a flood that raised the level of a river so high that Heracles could not ford it with the cattle. Heracles piled stones in the river to make the water shallower. When he managed to reach the court of Eurystheus, the cattle were sacrificed to Hera.
Eurystheus also wanted to sacrifice the Cretan Bull to Hera, who refused the sacrifice because it reflected his glory. The bull was released and wandered to Marathon, becoming known as the Bull of Marathon.
When Herakles was sailing back from Troy, Hera sent a storm against him. In retaliation, Zeus hung Hera on Olympus with golden chains and anvils tied to her feet.
Some myths hold that in the end Hera befriended Heracles for saving her from Porphyrion, a giant who tried to rape her during the Gigantomachy, and that she even gave him her daughter Hebe as a betrothed. Whatever myth was fabricated to explain an archaic depiction of Herakles as ”Hera”s man”, it was considered adequate for the builders of the Hereum at Paestum, who depicted Herakles” exploits in bas-reliefs.
According to Ovid”s Metamorphoses, for a long time a nymph named Echo had the job of distracting Hera from Zeus” adventures by talking incessantly to him. When Hera discovered the deception, she condemned Echo to utter only the words of others (hence our modern word “echo”).
When Hera discovered that Leto was pregnant and that her husband, Zeus, was the father, she forbade Leto to give birth on ”dry land”, that is, the mainland or any island in the sea. Leto found the floating island of Delos, which was neither the mainland nor a real island, and there she was able to give birth. As a gesture of gratitude, Delos was supported with four pillars. Later the island was dedicated to Apollo. Alternatively, Hera had retained Ilithia, the goddess of childbirth, on Olympus to prevent Leto from giving birth. The other goddesses sent Iris to fetch her. It was when Ilithia arrived at Delos that Leto went into labor. Some versions say that Artemis helped her mother to give birth to Apollo for nine days. Another variant states that Artemis was born a day before Apollo, on the island of Ortigia, and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo.
In another version, it was claimed that Hera had sent Python in pursuit of Leto. The wind Aquilon carried Leto to Poseidon, who saved her and covered the island of Ortigia with his waves while Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis. Later the island of Ortigia was called Delos and Apollo killed the serpent Python to avenge the sufferings of his mother.
When Hera learned that Semele, daughter of King Cadmus of Thebes, was pregnant by Zeus, she disguised herself as his nursemaid and persuaded her to ask Zeus to show himself in his true form. When he was forced to do so, his thunder and lightning killed her. Zeus took the child and completed its gestation by sewing it to his own thigh. Another version is that Hera convinced Semele to force Zeus to show himself in his true form. Unfortunately, he had to do what the princess wanted, having sworn by Styx. In another version, that of Orphism, Dionysus was originally the son of Zeus with Demeter or Persephone. Hera sent her Titans to tear the child to pieces, whence he was called Zagreo (”quartered”). Zeus, or according to the source Athena, Rhea or Demeter, rescued the heart of Dionysus.Seyffert (1894) Zeus used the heart to recreate Dionysus and implant him in the womb of Semele, hence he is known as “the twice-born”. Some versions insinuate that Zeus fed the heart to Semele to impregnate her.
See also the birth of Dionysus for other variants of this myth.
Hera was about to surprise Zeus with his mistress, the Argive princess Io, which he managed to avoid by turning her into a beautiful white calf. However Hera suspected the deception and asked Zeus to give her the calf as a gift, which he could not refuse.
When Hera received Io, she left her in charge of Argos Panoptes to keep her away from Zeus. The latter then ordered Hermes to kill Argus, who disguised as a shepherd managed to make all the hundred eyes of Argus fall asleep with boring stories, and then killed him with a stone, thus rescuing Io. In Ovid”s interpolation, when Hera learned of Argus” death, she took his eyes and put them in the peacock”s plumage, which explains the patterns on his tail. to sting her, forcing her to wander aimlessly through the world in the shape of a cow. Io finally reached the ends of the world, which the Romans believed to be Egypt, where she became a priestess of the Egyptian goddess Isis.
Lamia was a queen of Libya whom Zeus loved. Hera transformed her into a monster and killed her children. Or, alternatively, she killed her children and it was the pain that turned her into said monster. Lamia was cursed with the inability to close her eyes, so that she would always be haunted by the image of her dead children. Zeus granted her the gift of being able to take out her eyes to rest, and then put them back in. Lamia was envious of other mothers and devoured their children.
Other myths in which Hera appears
Hera, along with other Olympian gods, participated in a rebellion against Zeus in which they succeeded in binding him, but Thetis and Briareus came to Zeus” aid and the rebel gods no longer dared to go through with the insurrection. As punishment, Zeus hung Hera from the sky with her arms chained to golden rings and an anvil tied to each foot.
Gérana was a queen of the Pygmies who was worshipped as a goddess by her people, and came to boast of being more beautiful than Hera, Athena, Aphrodite and Artemis. As punishment, Hera transformed her into a crane and decreed that the descendants of this bird would be eternally at war with the Pygmy people.
Cydipe, a priestess of Hera, was on her way to a festival in honor of the goddess. The oxen pulling her chariot were lagging behind and Cydipe”s sons, Cleobis and Bithon, pulled the chariot the whole way (45 stadia: 8 km). Cydipe was impressed with the devotion to her and her goddess and asked Hera to grant the boys the best gift a god could give a person. Hera ordered the brothers to die in their sleep.
This honor accorded to the young was later used by Solon as a test when he tried to convince Croesus that it is impossible to judge a person”s happiness until he has died after a joyful life.
Tiresias was a priest of Zeus who, as a young man, found two snakes mating and struck them with a stick. He was then transformed into a woman. As a woman, Tiresias became a priestess of Hera, married and bore children, including Manto. After seven years as a woman, Tiresias again found two snakes mating, struck them with his stick and became a man again. Zeus and Hera asked him to decide the question of with which sex, male or female, he experienced more pleasure in sexual intercourse. Zeus claimed it was as a woman, and Hera said as a man. When Tiresias agreed with Zeus, claiming that the woman receives nine-tenths of the pleasure, Hera blinded him. Since Zeus could not undo this curse, he granted Tiresias the gift of prophecy. An alternative, lesser-known version of the story tells that Tiresias was blinded by Athena after finding her bathing naked. His mother, Cariclo, begged the goddess to undo her curse, but Athena could not do so and in return granted him the gift of prophecy.
Pelias had killed Sidero, who mistreated Tiro, his mother, in a temple consecrated to Hera, and the goddess hated him for it. Hera helped Jason on his journey in search of the golden fleece he needed to wrest the throne of Yolkos from Pelias.
In Thrace, King Hemo was guilty of hibris by behaving like the gods themselves. Hera and Zeus transformed them into mountains: the king, in the Balkans; and the queen, in the Rhodope Mountains.
Zeus organized a banquet to celebrate the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, but left out of the guest list Eris, the goddess of discord, who after attending in spite of everything dropped a golden apple with the inscription καλλίστῃ, ”for the most beautiful”. Three goddesses claimed the apple for themselves: Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. Zeus decided that Paris of Troy should decide who should be the rightful owner of the apple. Each of the goddesses offered Paris a gift: Hera would grant him the rule of all Asia and be the richest man, Athena the victory of all his fights and Aphrodite promised him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world: Helen. Paris chose Aphrodite, and then Helen abandoned her husband: Menelaus. Thus the Trojan War would ensue.
In the war, Hera strongly supported the Achaeans against the Trojans. In the Iliad it is related how Hera saw her own son Ares fighting on the Trojan side and asked Zeus for permission to fight him and keep him away from the battlefield. In another passage, she seduced Zeus to distract him so that the Achaeans would take the initiative in the war. In another, he tries to favor Achilles in a combat in which he confronts the Trojan Aeneas. On the other hand, in a confrontation that broke out between the gods themselves, he disarmed Artemis and struck her repeatedly with his bow.
- a b Ruck y Staples (1994).
- a b Burkert (1985) iii.2.2 (p. 131).
- Como Mãe Direita: Uma investigação do caráter religioso e jurídico do matriarcado no mundo antigo, Bachofen foi seminal nos escritos de Jane Ellen Harrison e outros estudantes da mitologia grega.
- Pausânias explica a escultura de Hera sentada como uma noiva em Calímaco mediante o mito de Daedala.
- ^ a b (EN) Esiodo, “Teogonia”, 453 (I figli di Crono).
- ^ (Samorini 2016) e (Burkert 1985 p. 131).
- ^ Walter Burkert, Greek Mythology (1985), III.2.2 (p.131)
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