Who is Hera?
The goddess of marriage and symbol of femininity is Hera – a member of the 12 Gods ruling on Mount Olympus over people, Gods and the World. Daughter of the titans Kronos and Rhea, sister of Zeus (as she is also the wife of Zeus and queen of Olympus), Poseidon and Hades (the three main gods which divided the rule of the World).
Hera is credited with being the goddess of marriage and family, as many myths describe the sacred union between her and Zeus, and in the city of Plataea a sculpture in her honor is depicted as a bride. In the area around Argos, Hera was also considered a virgin, renewing her virginity annually in a ritual that was not publicized. Other ethnonyms for Hera were: “Virgin of Spring”, “Mother of Summer” and “Destroying Crown (Witch) Autumn”. Here she has a parallel with Hecate and Hebe (goddess of youth and life – daughter of Zeus and Hera, married Heracles).
Hera’s name according to Plato derives from ἐρατή eratē, “beloved” (Zeus married Hera for love), thus connecting with the season ὥρα hōra, and according to the Dutch linguist Robert Beeks has a pre-Greek origin (thus connecting with the admixture thesis between Thracian and Egyptian myths).
Hera and Demeter were the main female deities representing Mother Nature in pre-Greek mythology cults, as evidenced by the first roofed temple-sanctuary at Samos around 800 BC. (the many gifts found show that Hera was held in special esteem).
Hera is famous for her beauty, but also for her cruelty, especially to the many lovers of her husband Zeus, as well as to anyone who dares to cross her path.
Animals associated with Hera (depicted with her) are the lion, the cow and the peacock. Her Roman equivalent is Juno.
Myth of Hera
The great goddess Hera, the wife of Zeus, patronizes marriage and preserves the sanctity and inviolability of marital relations. She sends numerous offspring to the spouses and blesses the mother at the birth of the child.
After the conquered by Zeus Cronus brought back to life the great goddess Hera and her brothers and sisters whom he had devoured, her mother Rhea took her to the ends of the earth at the white-haired Ocean; there Hera was raised by Thetis. Hera lived a long time away from Olympus in silence and peace. The great Zeus the Thunderer saw her, fell in love with her and kidnapped her from Thetis. The gods celebrated the wedding of Zeus and Hera. Iris and the Charites dressed Hera in sumptuous attire, and she shone with her youth and majestic beauty in the midst of a host of gods of Olympus, sitting on a golden throne next to Zeus, the great king of gods and men. All the gods presented gifts to the mistress Hera, and the goddess Earth – Gaia, brought out of her bowels as a gift to Hera a wonderful apple tree, which gave birth to golden apples. Everything in nature glorified Queen Hera and King Zeus.
Hera reigns on high Olympus, she commands, like her husband, lightning and thunder; at just one word, dark rain clouds covered the sky, and with a wave of her hand she raised terrible storms.
Wonderful is the great Hera, the lily; under her wreath wonderful curls descend in waves, power and calm majesty burn in her eyes. The gods worship Hera, her husband, the cloudman Zeus, honors her, and often consults with her. But quarrels between Zeus and Hera are not uncommon. At the meetings of the gods, Hera often objected to Zeus and argued with him. Then the thunderbolt gets angry and threatens his wife with punishment. Hera pauses and holds back her anger. She did not forget how Zeus whipped her, how she chained her in gold chains and left her hanging between heaven and earth, tying two heavy anvils to her feet.
Hera is powerful – there is no goddess equal in power. Majestic, in a long lavish robe woven by Athena herself, she descends from Olympus in a chariot drawn by two immortal horses. The chariot is made of silver, the wheels are of pure gold, and the brass of the spokes shines. Fragrance spills on the ground where Hera passes. All living things bow before her, the great queen of Olympus.