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Definition: Hera from Philip's Encyclopedia

In Greek mythology, queen of the Olympian gods, sister and wife of Zeus. She appears as a jealous scold who persecuted her rivals but helped heroes such as Jason and Achilles.


Summary Article: Hera
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In Greek mythology, the goddess of women and marriage (Roman Juno); sister and consort of Zeus; and mother of Hephaestus, god of fire and metalcraft, the war god Ares, and Hebe, the original cupbearer to the gods. The peacock was sacred to her; the eyes in its tail were transplanted from her servant, the 100-eyed Argus, who had watched over Zeus' lover Io.

Myth Hera was a daughter of the Titans Kronos and Rhea; she was swallowed at birth by her father with her brothers Poseidon and Pluto, and sisters Hestia and Demeter, but rescued by Zeus who had been hidden from the same fate.

Transformed as a cuckoo, Zeus wooed the reluctant Hera, and as a wedding present Gaia, mother of the Earth, gave her the golden apples of immortality which were later tended by the Hesperides.

Described by Homer as jealous and quarrelsome, her anger often brought disaster on gods and mortals. She persecuted Zeus' lovers and their children, including the hero Heracles, attacked by snakes as a baby and harried throughout his life; and Semele, whom she killed through her trickery. Hera also afflicted Semele's son, the wine god Dionysus, with madness. After Paris chose Aphrodite as the fairest goddess, Hera supported the Greeks during the Trojan wars.

Worship Hera was the chief pre-Greek deity of Argos, in southern Greece, and may originally have been celebrated as a personification of the fruitful earth. The Greeks probably acknowledged her as a powerful deity, possibly considering her marriage to their own supreme god Zeus, an honour.

It has been suggested that Hera's vengeful character may have reflected an early conflict between her ancient worship and that of the newcomer, Zeus. Her chief centre was at Argos, site of the Heraeum, her temple sanctuary, but her cult was followed in Samos and elsewhere throughout the Greek world.

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