A Month of Devotional Thought — Hera, Day 9

Today’s topic is one that I deal with frequently regarding Hera. It is common mistakes about this deity. The largest mistake is one that actually started with Homer and his epics The Iliad and The Odyssey. It is the monotyping of Hera as the vindictive Goddess who was the jealous shrew taking revenge on the objects of her husband’s infidelities. Further, in this vein, she would also take her ire out on the children of mortal mothers such as Heracles.

This ideation of her completely ignores her roles as guardian of marriage and childbirth. Hera could be a gentle goddess as well as a wrathful one. This is actually shown in how Zeus won her hand in marriage to begin with. He transformed himself into the form of a cuckoo who had been caught in the rain. She held the bird to her bosom to warm it, and Zeus transformed back, thus winning her heart.

She was also the patron of women in the mortal world as she was one of the goddesses that assisted in childbirth. She was a matron goddess to most of the city-states of the Peloponnesian area of Greece, including Mycenae and Sparta. She was called upon by them during floods and times of war to protect the cities in that area. These facts show her protective side.

In the modern world, I see her as the guardian of faithful and honest marriages. Yes, this includes (for me) same-sex and HONEST polyamorous marriages. The key here in why I say this is that although Hera was wrathful to Zeus’ paramours, I feel it is more that Zeus went behind her back to engage in these relationships than simply the fact of the relationships themselves. If it was solely the relationship, Hera would not have good relations with some of the major Olympian deities, such as Apollon, Artemis, and Hermes due to them being the product of Zeus’ adulteries.

If you look at the myths surrounding Hera in totality, they paint a very different picture of her than what is seen in both some of the ancient sources and some more modern ones — such as the show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys where she actively torments Hercules and the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series where she takes her anger out on Annabeth Chase for refusing her help in one of the books (due to Annabeth having the misconception about her of being solely a vengeful goddess). As a devotee of Hera, although I enjoy the books in Riordan’s series, I wish that he had gone beyond the stereotype.

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