Hera, Greek Goddess

of Marriage and Womanhood

Hera, Greek goddess of marriage, womanhood, and childbirth, was also known as queen of the gods. Her name literally means "lady", which could well be interpreted as "The Lady", since she was considered the alpha female of all of the Greek goddesses. She was said to be one of the most beautiful - a trait that seems to have been of extremely high importance to the goddesses, but was also one of the most jealous and spiteful of anyone in Greek mythology.

Not that she didn't have good reason to be. Despite being the goddess of marriage, few women in history have had to deal with a less faithful husband than Hera. Greek goddess or not, despite her best efforts she could not keep her husband Zeus from constantly cheating on her with both human women and other goddesses. Hera's response in nearly every situation was to seek revenge on both Zeus's lovers and the children that they bore. At one point she was even said to have given birth to the fire god Hephaestus all by herself as revenge for Zeus birthing Athena on his own.

Despite their tumultuous relationship, Zeus and Hera were most certainly the "power couple" of the Olympians. Zeus famously courted Hera by disguising himself as a cuckoo bird (a symbol connected to Hera throughout Greek mythology) and taking shelter inside her clothes during a rainstorm. After she grew close to the bird Zeus returned to his human form and promised to marry the beautiful goddess, who was far from an easy catch.  

Together they gave birth to the god of war, Ares, Eilithyia, goddess of the birth-bed, Eris, goddess of discord, and Hebe, the goddess of youth. It is interesting how all of her children represented elements of Hera. Greek goddesses of birth, discord, and youth as well as the mighty god of war seem fitting for Hera, the Greek goddess of birth, and the coming of age for women - who was also often in conflict with her husband and his lovers.

While the majority of myths about Hera have the Greek goddess seeking revenge on those who have wronged her (or her marriage), she was most often considered a goddess of extreme importance as it was thought that her favor would help couples conceive of strong and powerful children. Hera was worshiped highly throughout ancient civilizations, particularly in Crete and at Samos, where the Argonauts built her a great temple.

Return from Hera, Greek Goddess of Marriage to the List of Greek Gods and Goddesses.

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