Hera or Juno: Queen of the Gods

Hera was queen of the gods of Mount Olympus. She was married to Zues, who exhibited infidelity on every possible occasion. This gave her a tendency to be suspicious and spiteful. She played a role in many of the birth myths of Zues's illegitimate children. They had to be hidden from her wrath since it seems their destruction was the only way she could get back at him.

Children Eating Ice Cream

Temple of Hera in Agrigento, Sicily

The goddess of childbirth and marriage, Hera was worshipped fairly extensively in ancient times and may have been worshipped even before Zeus. She was considered a patroness of Argos, where there was a temple and a festival in her honor. Because of his coming from Argos, Jason and the Argonauts were greatly helped by her in gaining the golden fleece.

She had three children, Hebe, Ares, and Hephaestus. Some myths say that she had this child without the help of any man, but bore it by praying to Mother Earth, Gaia.

In her relations with her son, Hephaestus, Hera was not always a doting mother. Not happy with him when he was born, she threw him from the mountain of Olympus. When he landed on a far-away isle, he was crippled. When he grew to adulthood, he made a throne with chains that bound her. She did not get free until Hermes persuaded Hephaestus to release her.

Hera and the Trojan War

Along with Aphrodite and Athena she was one of the main mythical causes for the Trojan War. Hera and the other two goddesses were in a contest to determine who was the fairest. After much hand-wringing Paris, a Trojan prince, was chosen as a judge to determine among the three. He was offered fame and empire by Hera to throw his vote her way. But Paris chose Aphrodite who had offered him the love of the most beautiful of mortals, which turned out to be Helen, the wife of the King of Sparta, Menelaus. Paris ran off with Helen, and Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon (with the support of Hera and Athena) raised a great army to go to Troy to get Helen back.

When the Greeks had been beaten back from the walls of Troy to near their own ships, they were harangued by Hera to be brave and fight back like heroes. But this was not enough and Zeus had promised Thetis, the mother of Achilles, to punish the Greeks for taking away his prize and giving it to Agamemnon. To get Zeus out of the way and prevent the destruction of the Greeks, she seduced her husband by borrowing the belt of Aphrodite, which makes the wearer irresistible to men.

Hera was associated with the cow, the peacock, and the lion, all representing different aspects of her personality, the cow was the matronly side of her. The peacock the proud and showy side of her, and the lion the fierce and imperious side. She is not often portrayed as a mother, but as a solemn and majestic woman.

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