Hera in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
（*(/Hra or Ἥρη), probably identical with kera, mistress,
just as her husband, Zeus, was called ἔρρος in the Aeolian
dialect (Hesych. s. v.). The derivation of the name has been
attempted in a variety of ways, from Greek as well as
oriental roots, though there is no reason for having
recourse to the latter, as Hera is a purely Greek divinity,
and one of the few who, according to Herodotus (2.50), were
not introduced into Greece from Egypt. Hera was, according
to some accounts, the eldest daughter of Cronos and Rhea,
and a sister of Zeus. (Hom. Il. 16.432; comp. 4.58; Ov.
Fast. 6.29.) Apollodorus (1.1.5), however, calls Hestia the
eldest daughter of Cronos; and Lactantius (1.14) calls her a
twin-sister of Zeus. According to the Homeric poems (Il.
14.201, &c.), she was brought up by Oceanus and Thetys, as
Zeus had usurped the throne of Cronos; and afterwards she
became the wife of Zeus, without the knowledge of her
parents. This simple account is variously modified in other
traditions. Being a daughter of Cronos, she, like his other
children, was swallowed by her father, but afterwards
released (Apollod. l.c.), and, according to an Arcadian
tradition, she was brought up by Temenus, the son of
Pelasgus. (Paus. 8.22.2; August. de Civ. Dei, 6.10.) The
Argives, on the other hand, related that she had been
brought up by Euboea, Prosymna, and Acraea, the three
daughters of the river Asterion (Paus. 2.7.1, &c.; Plut.
Sympos. 3.9); and according to Olen, the Horae were her
nurses. (Paus. 2.13.3.) Several parts of Greece also claimed
the honour of being her birthplace; among them are two,
Argos and Samos, which were the principal seats of her
worship. (Strab. p. 413; Paus. 7.4.7; Apollon. 1.187.) Her
marriage with Zeus also offered ample scope for poetical
invention (Theocrit. 17.131, &c.), and several places in
Greece claimed the honour of having been the scene of the
marriage, such as Euboea (Steph. Byz. s. v. Κάρυστος), Samos
(Lactant. de Fals. Relig. 1.17), Cnossus in Crete (Diod.
5.72), and Mount Thornax, in the south of Argolis. (Schol.
ad Theocrit. 15.64; Paus. 2.17.4, 36.2.) This marriage acts
a prominent part in the worship of Hera under the name of
ἱερὸς γάμος; on that occasion all the gods honoured the
bride with presents, and Ge presented to her a tree with
golden apples, which was watched by the Hesperides in the
garden of Hera, at the foot of the Hyperborean Atlas.
(Apollod. 2.5.11; Serv. ad Aen. 4.484.) The Homeric poems
know nothing of all this, and we only hear, that after the
marriage with Zeus, she was treated by the Olympian gods
with the same reverence as her husband. (Il. 15.85, &c.;
comp. 1.532, &c., 4.60, &c.) Zeus himself, according to
Homer, listened to her counsels, and communicated his
secrets to her rather than to other gods (16.458, 1.547).
Hera also thinks herself justified in censuring Zeus when he
consults others without her knowing it (1.540, &c.); but she
is, notwithstanding, far inferior to him in power; she must
obey him unconditionally, and, like the other gods, she is
chastised by him when she has offended him (4.56, 8.427,
463). Hera therefore is not, like Zeus, the queen of gods
and men, but simply the wife of the supreme god. The idea of
her being the queen of heaven, with regal wealth and power,
is of a much later date. (Hyg. Fab. 92; Ov. Fast. 6.27,
Heroid. 16.81; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 81.) There is only one
point in which the Homeric poems represent Hera as possessed
of similar power with Zeus, viz. she is able to confer the
power of prophecy (19.407). But this idea is not further
developed in later times. (Comp. Strab. p. 380; Apollon.
3.931.) Her character, as described by Homer, is not of a
very amiable kind, and its main features are jealousy,
obstinacy, and a quarrelling disposition, which sometimes
makes her own husband tremble (1.522, 536, 561, 5.892.)
Hence there arise frequent disputes between Hera and Zeus;
and on one occasion Hera, in conjunction with Poseidon and
Athena, contemplated putting Zeus into chains (8.408,
1.399). Zeus, in such cases, not only threatens, but beats
her; and once he even hung her up in the clouds, her hands
chained, and with two anvils suspended from her feet (8.400,
&c., 477, 15.17, &c.; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1003). Hence she
is frightened by his threats, and gives way when he is
angry; and when she is unable to gain her ends in any other
way, she has recourse to cunning and intrigues (19.97). Thus
she borrowed from Aphrodite the girdle, the giver of charm
and fascination, to excite the love of Zeus (14.215, &c.).
By Zeus she was the mother of Ares, Hebe, and Hephaestus
(5.896, Od. 11.604, Il. 1.585; Hes. Th. 921, &c.; Apollod.
1.3.1.) Respecting the different traditions about the
descent of these three divinities see the separate articles.
Properly speaking, Hera was the only really married goddess
among the Olympians, for the marriage of Aphrodite with Ares
can scarcely be taken into consideration; and hence she is
the goddess of marriage and of the birth of children.
Several epithets and surnames, such as Εἰγείθυια, Γαμηλία,
Ζυλία, Τελεία, &c., contain allusions to this character of
the goddess, and the Eileithyiae are described as her
daughters. (Hom. Il. 11.271, 19.118.) Her attire is
described in the Iliad (14.170, &c.); she rode in a chariot
drawn by two horses, in the harnessing and unharnessing of
which she was assisted by Hebe and the Horase (4.27, 5.720,
&c., 8.382, 433). Her favourite places on earth were Argos,
Sparta, and Mycenae (4.51). Owing to the judgment of Paris,
she was hostile towards the Trojans, and in the Trojan war
she accordingly sided with the Greeks (2.15, 4.21, &c.,
24.519, &c.). Hence she prevailed on Helius to sink down
into the waves of Oceanus on the day on which Patroclus fell
(18.239). In the Iliad she appears as an enemy of Heracles,
but is wounded by his arrows (5.392, 18.118), and in the
Odyssey she is described as the supporter of Jason. It is
impossible here to enumerate all the events of mythical
story in which Hera acts a more or less prominent part; and
the reader must refer to the particular deities or heroes
with whose story she is connected.
Hera had sanctuaries, and was worshipped in many parts of
Greece, often in common with Zeus. Her worship there may be
traced to the very earliest times: thus we find Hera,
surnamed Pelasgis, worshipped at Iolcos. But the principal
place of her worship was Argos, hence called the δώ̀μα Ἡρας.
(Pind. Nem. x. imt.; comp. Aeschyl. Suppl. 297.) According
to tradition, Hera had disputed the possession of Argos with
Poseidon, but the river-gods of the country adjudicated it
to her. (Paus. 2.15.5.) Her most celebrated sanctuary was
situated between Argos and Mycenae, at the foot of Mount
Euboea. The vestibule of the temple contained ancient
statues of the Charites, the bed of Hera, and a shield which
Menelaus had taken at Troy from Euphorbus. The sitting
colossal statue of Hera in this temple, made of gold and
ivory, was the work of Polycletus. She wore a crown on her
head, adorned with the Charites and Horae; in the one hand
she held a pomegranate, and in the other a sceptre headed
with a cuckoo. (Paus. 2.17, 22; Strab. p. 373; Stat. Theb.
1.383.) Respecting the great quinqnennial festival
celebrated to her at Argos, see Dict. of Ant. s. v. Ἤραια.
Her worship was very ancient also at Corinth (Paus. 2.24, 1,
&c.; Apollod. 1.9.28), Sparta (3.13.6, 15.7), in Samos (Hdt.
3.60; Paus. 7.4.4; Strab. p. 637), at Sicyon (Paus. 2.11.2),
Olympia (5.15.7, &c.), Epidaurus (Thuc. 5.75; Paus. 2.29.1),
Heraea in Arcadia (Paus. 8.26.2), and many other places.
Respecting the real significance of Hera, the ancients
themselves offer several interpretations: some regarded her
as the personification of the atmosphere (Serv. ad Aen.
1.51), others as the queen of heaven or the goddess of the
stars (Eur. Hel. 1097), or as the goddess of the moon (Plut.
Quaest. Rom. 74), and she is even confounded with Ceres,
Diana, and Proserpina. (Serv. ad Virg. Georg. 1.5).
According to modern views, Hera is the great goddess of
nature, who was every where worshipped from the earliest
times. The Romans identified their goddess Juno with the
Greek Hera [JUNO]. We still possess several representations
of Hera. The noblest image, and which was afterwards looked
upon as the ideal of the goddess, was the statue by
Polycletus. She was usually represented as a majestic woman
at a mature age, with a beautiful forehead, large and widely
opened eyes, and with a grave expression commanding
reverence. Her hair was adorned with a crown or a diadem. A
veil frequently hangs down the back of her head, to
characterise her as the bride of Zeus, and, in fact, the
diadem, veil, sceptre, and peacock are her ordinary
attributes. A number of statues and heads of Hera still
exist. (Hirt, Mythol. Bilderb. i. p. 22; comp. Muller,
Dorians, 2.10.1.) - A Dictionary of Greek and Roman
biography and mythology, William Smith, Ed.