|The Daughter of Kronos and Rheia|
|Hera and Zeus|
|Hera and Io|
|Hera and Ixion|
|Hera and Hephaistos|
|Hera and Typhaon|
|Hera and Apollon|
|Hera and Herakles|
|Hera and The Golden Fleece|
|Hera and the Trojan War|
|The Judgment of Paris|
|Hera Takes Sides|
|Hera and Hypnos|
|The Final Battles|
|Where Is She Now|
|Images of Hera|
Hera's elevation to Queen of the Immortals was by no means assured. Her parents are Titans, which means that Hera is the granddaughter of one of the primal Immortals, Gaia (Earth), but her noble heritage did not exempt Hera from hardships and dangers.
Hera is a daughter of the Titans, Kronos (Cronos) and Rheia (Rhea). The Titans were an indulgent and arrogant race … their exploits became legendary because of their complete disregard for discretion and restraint. Hera's father Kronos was given a prophecy by Gaia and Ouranos (the Heavens) that one of his children would usurp his powers and take his Throne of Eternity. In a vain attempt to prevent the prophecy from coming true, Kronos swallowed each of his children as they were born … Hera was thus swallowed with four other children. Kronos's wife Rheia was determined to save her sixth child from Kronos's obsessive fear … she substituted a stone in the child's place. In his haste to swallow his newest child, Kronos did not notice the deception. Rheia named her sixth child Zeus and secreted him away so that he could mature and eventually confront his father.
The prophecy of Gaia and Ouranos came true when Zeus attacked Kronos … Hera and the other four gods and goddesses inside Kronos's body were vomited up in the violent struggle. Hera was thus 'born' along with her four siblings, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter and Histia (Hestia). As their savior, Zeus was regarded as the father and leader of the newly born gods and goddesses.
Zeus, Hera and their brothers and sisters not only took away the Titans' authority, they removed Kronos from his throne on Mount Olympos (Olympus). The Titans would not surrender their indulgences without a fight so a war began which has come to be known as the War of the Titans. After a long and bitter struggle, the Titans were defeated and forced onto Tartaros (Tartarus), a.k.a. The Pit. The age of the new Olympians dawned and Hera was considered to be the Queen of the Immortals.
Creation was divided amongst the children of Kronos and Rheia:
Zeus became the master of the sky;
Poseidon became lord of the Sea;
Hades became lord of the Dead;
Histia (Hestia) became the goddess of the Hearth;
Demeter became the goddess of the Harvest; and
Hera became the queen of the Immortals.
Hera's dominion is not as clearly defined as that of her brothers and sisters but she clearly commands the respect of mortals and Immortals alike. Her authority is only exceeded by that of Zeus.
Hera is without doubt the most beautiful goddess … she's even more beautiful than the goddess of Love, Aphrodite. Each year Hera bathes in a spring called Kanathos (Canathus) near Corinth where the waters of the spring restore her youth and virginity.
Relationships with Hera have always been complicated. She demands respect but that is sometimes misperceived as arrogance or excessive pride … the Immortals had conflicting feelings towards Hera that vacillated between fear and reverence. Some of the gods and goddesses who once feared Hera eventually came to love her as a mother and sister.
As with the Titans, it was common for the new Olympians to marry their brothers and sisters. Marriages of this type were not considered to be incestuous … they were a practical way of preserving the purity of the immortal bloodlines. Hera was not Zeus's first wife, but she was his last. After Hera married Zeus, they had three children … Ares (god of War), Hebe (goddess of Youth) and Eileithyia (goddess of Childbirth).
Zeus was not a faithful husband and in most cases, did not try to hide his romantic affairs from Hera. When Hera was trying to distract Zeus from the battlefield of Troy, she cloaked herself in irresistible sensuality and seduced Zeus on Mount Ida. Zeus was overwhelmed with Hera's beauty and freely recounted his many affairs and indiscretions as his way of telling her that she was the most beautiful of all his lovers.
There was an interesting interaction between Hera and Zeus that demonstrated the playfulness that was woven through their often-confrontational relationship. Zeus and Hera had been arguing for one reason or another and Hera had retreated to the island of Euboea. Zeus was in the city of Plataea visiting King Kithaeron (Cithaeron) who was noted for his cleverness. At Kithaeron's prompting, Zeus made a wooden statue and wrapped it up to conceal the identity of the image. Again following Kithaeron's crafty suggestions, Zeus let it be know that the statue was of Plataea, the daughter of Asopos (Asopus), and that he intended to marry her. Plataea was the eponymous patron of the city, Plataea.
The news of Zeus's impending marriage spread fast and Hera soon arrived on the scene to denounce Zeus for his latest infidelity. When she confronted Zeus, he unveiled the statue and the image was of Hera and not Plataea. Hera was disarmed by Zeus's playfulness … their differences were reconciled and the couple reunited. To commemorate the occasion, a festival called the Daedala was established in Plataea … the word daedala simply means "wooden image."
For her part, Hera was not always concerned with Zeus's best interests. Her relentless punishment of the maiden Io was unforgiving and without merit because Io had resisted Zeus's amorous advances so there was no reason for Hera to inflict such ill treatment on Io. Hera's vengeful reaction towards Zeus's son Herakles (Heracles) was nothing less than murderous. Hera also heartlessly tried to punish the wayward Zeus by giving birth to her sons Hephaistos (Hephaestus) and Typhaon without consort, i.e. without a biological father.
When Zeus began his amorous pursuit of the young maiden Io, Hera became truly infuriated. Her relentless torment of Io is a very sad story.
Io was the beautiful daughter of Inachus of Argos. She began having strange dreams with voices and visions telling her to leave her bed and go into a field where Zeus could 'see' her. She told her father of the dreams and he sought advice of several oracles. For the oracle of Loxias, the meaning was crystal clear. They advised Inachus to disown his daughter, cast her into the streets and drive her from his country. If this was not done, the oracle warned, Zeus would eradicate Inachus and his people without mercy. With heavy heart, Inachus obeyed the oracles and forced his young daughter Io from his house.
Hera had not missed the drama unfolding in Argos. She was angered by Zeus's infidelity so she punished Zeus by punishing Io. As Io fled in tears from her father's house, she began to change. Horns popped out on her head and, as she ran, she completely transformed into a black and white heifer. A gadfly began to sting and pester her, forcing her to run farther and farther from her home and happiness.
Hera wanted to be sure that her husband Zeus could not be alone with his new infatuation so she set the herdsman Argos (Argus) to follow the Heifer-Maiden. Argos was called Argos Panoptes, meaning 'all seeing' because he had one hundred eyes placed all over his body. Io was terrified of Argos and she fled from him as much as she did from the sting of the ever-present gadfly.
Zeus was inflamed. With Argos on guard he couldn't secretly meet with the lovely Io. He instructed his son Hermes to kill Argos. To this day, Hermes is often called Argeiphontes, Slayer of Argos. He lulled the herdsman to sleep with sweet music and then beheaded the sleeping watchman before he could defend himself. Io was now free of the all-seeing Argos.
The punishment was not over yet. The gadfly was still goading the Heifer-Maiden to the ends of the earth. Hera's punishment did not end until Io reached Egypt … the curse was lifted and Io's descendants became the founders of the Egyptian civilization.
King Ixion of Thessaly was guilty of a despicable crime that initiated a series of events that eventually resulted in the creation of the Centaurs. Ixion arranged to have his father-in-law fall into a pit of burning coals so that he would not have to pay the dowry for his wife, Dia. Zeus was magnanimous and forgave Ixion for his crime but the arrogant king was not humbled or repentant.
Without regard for the consequences, Ixion tried to seduce Hera. Zeus created a counterfeit Hera in the form of a cloud and allowed Ixion to mate with the cloud-woman, who was named Nephele. She had a son named Kentauros who became the progenitor of the Centaurs when he mated with the Magnesian mares.
For his contemptuous behavior towards Hera, Zeus condemned Ixion to spend eternity on a revolving wheel in the Underworld.
Hephaistos is the lame son of Hera. He was born without a biological father. With no regard to Hera's reaction, Zeus mated with Metis, a daughter of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys … the glorious goddess Athene (Athena) was the result of that union. Hera was infuriated with Zeus and to show her distaste, she conceived Hephaistos without consort. Hephaistos is the master of crafts and exceeds all the sons of Heaven with his mechanical skills and inventiveness.
Early in his life, Hephaistos was thrown from Mount Olympos by either Zeus or Hera … there are two versions of how that happened.
In The Iliad (book 1, line 590), Hephaistos reveals how he became lame. At the climax of an domestic dispute, Hephaistos stood with his mother in defiance of Zeus. The Olympian Zeus, in his rage, caught Hephaistos by the foot and hurled him from the magic threshold of Mount Olympos (Olympus) to the earth far below. Three days later Hephaistos landed on the island of Lemnos, broken and nearly lifeless. The Nereid, Thetis, and Eurynome, mother of the Graces, found the shattered god and nursed him back to health. They were responsible for saving his life and he never forgot their kindness. Hera was violently shamed at the sight of her lame son and would have done him further harm had not Thetis and Eurynome hidden him. He worked secretly with the two goddesses for nine years in a cave perfecting his craft before emerging to claim his rightful place among the Olympians.
Hera tells a different story of how Hephaistos was ejected from Mount Olympos. In the Homeric Hymn to Apollon (lines 311+), she says that she, not Zeus, cast Hephaistos from Mount Olympos into the sea. Hera also curses Thetis for caring for Hephaistos and says that surely there must have been other services that Thetis could have performed for the Immortals without encouraging her lame son.
After Hephaistos returned to Mount Olympos, his relationship with his mother was tumultuous. At one point his anger prompted him to devise a golden chair fitted with invisible fetters that he presented to Hera as a gift. As soon as she was seated in the chair, Hera was unable to free herself. It's not clear whether it was Hera or one of the other Immortals who persuaded Dionysos, god of Wine, to go to Hephaistos and encourage him to release his mother. Dionysos did what he does best, he made Hephaistos drunk and then unceremoniously returned the drunken god to Mount Olympos on the back of a donkey. Hephaistos freed Hera from the golden chair but the antagonistic mother/son relationship continued until the beginning of the Trojan War.
Typhaon was the son of Hera but unlike Hephaistos, Typhaon's had no attributes that would allow him to become one of the Olympians … he was violent and cruel in the extreme.
After Zeus fathered Athene with Metis, Hera was infuriated. She vented her rage to the assembled Immortals and swore that she would devise an evil thing to punish Zeus but she would not disgrace her marriage bed as Zeus had done when he fathered Athene without her.
Hera left the presence of the Immortals and called upon the ancient deities to aid her. She prayed as she struck the ground with her hand and called on the Titan gods who had been forced into Tartaros beneath the earth. She continued to lash the earth with her hand until Gaia (Earth) heard her prayer and had mercy on the distraught goddess. Without consort, Hera became pregnant.
To prove that the child was not the son of Zeus, Hera stayed away from her husband for a full year. When the time came, Typhaon was born and in appearance he was not like a mortal or one of the Immortals. He was cruel and destined to become a plague to all who encountered him.
Hera gave Typhaon to "the dragoness" Pytho who, with Typhaon, dealt death to all who came to her precincts near Delphi. Apollon finally killed Pytho but Typhaon survived to be a terror to the tribes of men on the earth.
Typhaon joined in love with the Nymph-serpent, Echidna and fathered the two-headed dog Orthos, the hound of Hades, Kerberos (Cerberus) and the Hydra.
The goddess Leto was another of Zeus's lovers and Hera was once again filled with rage. After Leto became pregnant, there was not much Hera could do other than to make the birth of Leto's children as difficult as possible.
Leto had a great deal of difficulty finding a place to give birth. The goddesses and Nymphs of the various lands and islands were afraid of what Hera might do to them if they assisted Leto. Finally the goddess Delos agreed to help Leto but not until Leto had sworn a binding oath on the River Styx that her child would not abandon her (Delos's) island after he was born.
When the time came for Leto's son to be born, numerous goddesses were in attendance but the goddess Eileithyia was not there. As the daughter of Zeus and Hera, Eileithyia was given dominion over childbirth and it was crucial that she be present when Leto's gave birth.
Hera had arranged for Eileithyia to be distracted so that she would not notice Leto's labor pains. Leto was in labor for nine days and nights before the goddesses in attendance sent Iris to Mount Olympos to fetch Eileithyia. Iris drew Eileithyia aside so that Hera would not interfere and told her Leto's plight. Eileithyia immediately went to Leto … Apollon was born without further delay. Hera did not prevent the birth of Apollon but she managed to make Leto suffer needlessly as punishment for her role in Zeus's infidelity.
It's odd that the name Herakles actually means Hera's Glory when in actuality, her treatment of Herakles was the opposite of glorious.
In one of his many acts of infidelity, Zeus had relations with a mortal woman named Alkmene (Alcmene). Zeus hoped that their child would be a king and an incomparable leader of men. When Hera learned of the impending birth of Herakles, she began to plot and scheme against the unborn child. She went to Zeus and made him take a solemn oath that the next son born in the bloodline of Perseus would become the king of Argos. Since Hera is often called Hera of Argos, Zeus did not perceive the trickery hidden beneath Hera's demand for an oath. Zeus agreed because he assumed that the next son born in the bloodline of Perseus would be Herakles. Hera asked her daughter Eileithyia to delay the birth of Herakles so that another child in the bloodline of Perseus could be born first and claim the title of king of Argos. Thus Eurystheus was born before Herakles and became Herakles's earthly master.
Hera was not content to humble Herakles and humiliate Zeus … she wanted murder. She placed two vile serpents in Herakles's crib with the intention of killing him before he was able to defend himself. The infant Herakles grabbed a snake in each hand and strangled them before they could harm him.
Hera and Zeus (upper left) watch as Herakles fights the snakes Hera put in his crib.
Perhaps the most troubling and destructive thing that Hera did was instigating the murder of Herakles's children. While Herakles was still a teenager, he settled a dispute for King Kreon (Creon) of Thebes. As a reward for his services, Herakles was allowed to marry Megara, the king's daughter. After he and Megara had produced several children, Hera cast a spell of confusion and madness on Herakles … in a state of utter bewilderment Herakles killed his children. Some accounts say that Herakles also killed Megara but different authors and examples of ancient artwork dispute that accusation.
The precise role that Hera played in the domination of Herakles by Eurystheus is not clearly defined but the series of tasks known as The Labors of Herakles were the direct result of Eurystheus being born before Herakles. Eurystheus assigned Herakles twelve impossible Labors that were intended to kill or at least humiliate Herakles. Hera could not resist the urge to continually complicate the life and Labors of Herakles.
The Twelve Labors assigned to Herakles by Eurystheus were partly orchestrated by Hera. Two of the monsters Herakles fought and killed were 'pets' of Hera.
The multi-headed Hydra was nourished by Hera and given free reign to wreck havoc on the people of Lerna until Herakles killed it. Likewise, the Nemean lion was brought up by Hera and induced to haunt the hills of Nemea on the Peloponnesian Peninsula. The people of Nemea suffered the brutality of the lion until Herakles killed it as his First Labor. Hera was honored in Nemea and Lerna but her hatred of Herakles made her ignore the welfare of her worshippers and put their homes and families in jeopardy.
After Herakles finished his Labors and his mortal life came to an end, Hera put away her anger and resentment. She accepted Herakles as her son and initiated a symbolic ceremony to demonstrate her recognition of the fact that he was now immortal and beloved by Zeus. Hera put on a long, billowing dress and concealed Herakles in the folds of the dress. The Immortals gathered to watch as Herakles emerged from between Hera's legs as if he was being born. Hera also agreed to allow Herakles to marry her daughter, Hebe. Despite her initial hatred of Herakles, Hera finally and sincerely welcomed him into her family.
King Pelias of Iolkos (Iolcos) usurped the inheritance of Jason and the stage was set for punishment and glory in the Quest for the Golden Fleece.
As a child, Jason was removed from Iolkos and put in the care of the Centaur Cheiron (Chiron) for his protection and education. The goddess Hera on one of her frequent excursions into the world of mortal humans, disguised herself as an old woman and waited on the banks of the river Anauros for a kind stranger to help her cross the surging waters. Jason, now a young man, assisted Hera across the river and by this simple demonstration of his chivalrous character, earned the eternal love and protection of the queen of the Immortals.
King Pelias, on the other hand, earned Hera's wrath by neglecting her at his sacrifices. Hera's love of Jason and her hatred of Pelias combined to set the stage for the quest for the Golden Fleece, Jason's love affair with Princess Medeia (Medea) and the cruel death of King Pelias.
When Jason came to Iolkos in the bloom of his manhood, Pelias knew that he was doomed unless he could contrive Jason's death. Pelias had been given an oracle that said that a youth wearing one sandal would come to Iolkos and take his throne. Jason had lost one of his sandals in the Anauros River when he assisted Hera and entered Iolkos just as the oracle had predicted. Pelias was foolish and arrogant enough to think that he could thwart the will of the Immortals and avoid his prescribed fate by sending Jason on a seemingly hopeless quest. He commanded Jason the retrieve the Golden Fleece from King Aietes (Aeetes) in the far-off land of Kolchis (Colchis). Pelias knew that King Aietes would never surrender the Golden Fleece willingly and that if he was lucky enough to survive the dangerous sea voyage to Kolchis, Jason would probably be killed by King Aietes.
Jason and most of the Argonauts survived the arduous voyage to Kolchis but Hera was not content to allow things to proceed without her intervention. Athene and Hera were both intent on helping Jason but when Hera suggested that they enlist the help of Aphrodite, Athene said that she would accompany Hera but when they came face to face with the goddess of Love, Hera had to do all the talking because she (Athene) was unfamiliar with the ways of love. Hera swallowed her pride when Aphrodite greeted her with a mocking tone and proceeded to make a heartfelt plea for Aphrodite's help. Aphrodite became speechless and filled with awe at Hera's sincerity. Hera suggested that Aphrodite go to Eros, the primal god of Love, and ask him to wound King Aietes's daughter Princess Medeia with one of his golden arrows of love. Hera reasoned that if Medeia swooned for Jason, the Quest for the Golden Fleece would be more likely to be successful. Aphrodite admitted that she and Eros are not on the best of terms and said that it might be best if Hera and Athene spoke with him instead. Hera took Aphrodite's hand and told her to be gentle with Eros so that he would to obey her. Eros agreed to help.
When the Argonauts arrived at Kolchis, Hera and Athene observed the sailors as they hid in the reeds pondering how they should proceed into the city of King Aietes. Hera wrapped Jason in a mist when he started towards the city and concealed him until he arrived at the king's palace. Normally, Princess Medeia would have been in the Temple of Hekate (Hecate) where she was a priestess but Hera induced her to be in attendance when Jason approached the king. It was then that Eros shot Medeia with the golden arrow of irresistible love for Jason. Medeia was bewildered by her feelings for the handsome stranger and retreated to her residence in a state of confusion. As a sorceress skilled in the use of drugs and potions, Medeia seriously considered using one of her concoctions to kill herself until Hera invisibly prompted the troubled girl to put away her drugs and surrender to her feelings of love for Jason.
Hera arranged for Jason and Medeia to meet without the king's knowledge but the Argonauts who were with Jason were hesitant to leave him alone with the potentially dangerous sorceress. Hera used the voice of a crow to scold the Argonauts in order to make them leave the two lovers alone. When Jason professed his love, Medeia shuddered at the implications of such a forbidden romance. Just as Hera planned, Medeia promised to help Jason steal the Golden Fleece. To insure Medeia's loyalty, Hera inflicted the poor girl with grievous fear that her father would find out that she had betrayed him. When Medeia again thought of suicide, Hera calmed her fears and made her a "willing" participant in the theft of the Golden Fleece.
As Jason, Medeia and the Argonauts sailed away from Kolchis with King Aietes's navy in hot pursuit, Hera sent a favorable wind to speed the Argo to safety. Hera continued to protect Jason as he tried to make his way back to Iolkos and did not forsake him even when he and Medeia cold-bloodedly murdered Medeia's half-brother Apsyrtos (Apsyrtus). After the murder of Apsyrtos, Hera kept his men from catching Jason by bringing down terrible lightning from the sky thus thwarting their pursuit of the Argo. When the Argonauts became hopelessly lost in the maze of rivers in Europe, Hera warned them that they were going the wrong way by descending from the heavens and shouting so loud that the firmament shook. Her prompting and guidance finally led them to the Mediterranean Sea.
The last part of the Argo's journey was perhaps the most dangerous … it was necessary to sail past the double threat of Skylla (Scylla) and Charybdis. Skylla would swoop down from her cliff-face home and snatch sailors from passing ships with her six greedy heads. Charybdis was a whirlpool that would alternately suck-down and spew-out vast amounts of seawater thus destroying any ship that ventured too close to her maw. Hera sent the goddess Iris to watch over the Argo and then enlisted the help of Hephaistos and the Nereids to protect the Argonauts from Skylla and Charybdis.
The Quest for the Golden Fleece was a dangerous and deadly adventure … many were killed and many lives were ruined. Without the direct intervention of Hera, the sorrow and hardship would have been far worse.
The Trojan War was caused by the kidnapping of Helen of Argos … at least that's what we mortals have been led to believe. The Trojan War was started by the Immortals in order to kill off the generation of heroes, i.e. the semi-divine beings who were becoming a burden to humanity and an embarrassment to the Immortals. Whether it was behind the scenes or on the battlefield, Hera's manipulative hand was ever present … she was bound and determined to see the walls of Troy topple and she would stop at nothing to achieve that goal.
The Trojans were directly descended from Zeus and it seemed appropriate that a Trojan prince should be appointed as a judge to determine which goddess was the most beautiful … Prince Paris (Alexandros) of Troy was given that dubious honor.
(left to right) Hermes, Paris, Athene, Hera and Aphrodite
At the wedding of Peleus (a mortal) and Thetis (a Neread), the goddess Eris (Discord) threw down a golden apple with the inscription, "For the most beautiful one." Aphrodite, Athene and Hera all assumed that the golden apple was intended for them and a conflict soon arose. This was clearly the intention of Eris … she was at the wedding to cause discord and strife. Zeus commanded Hermes to escort Hera, Athene and Aphrodite to Mount Ida to allow Paris to be the judge as to which goddess was the most beautiful … this dramatic event has come to be known as The Judgment of Paris.
There has never been any question as to which goddess is the most beautiful because of course it's Hera. Paris's choice should have been simple but he was offered a bribe that he could not refuse … Helen of Argos. Helen was the daughter of Zeus and a mortal woman named Leda … Helen was without doubt, the most beautiful woman on earth … her beauty was so profound that a thousand years after her death, poets still evoked her name whenever they wanted to describe a woman of incomparable beauty and grace. Aphrodite promised Paris that Helen would be his wife if he would award her with the golden apple … he could not refuse.
Athene and Hera were smoldering mad … of all the goddesses to offend they are the worst. Athene is called The Spoiler for a very good reason and Hera will never tolerate being insulted without exacting her own brand of vengeance.
In a moment of weakness, Paris doomed his family and his city to ruin.
During the Trojan War, Hera was clearly on the side of the Greeks and aggressively against the Trojans.
In the tenth year of the Trojan War, Hera tried to defy Zeus and influence the fighting between the Trojans and Achaeans (Achaians). She was clearly on the side of the Achaeans and wanted to help them when the Trojans seemed to be gaining the upper hand in the fighting. Zeus forbade the Immortals from entering the battle and retired to Mount Ida to watch the carnage. Hera devised a plan to distract Zeus and allow her brother Poseidon to openly fight on the side of the Achaeans. First, Hera went to Aphrodite and asked the goddess for a special charm that would make Zeus receptive to love. In the past, Hera had mocked Aphrodite and even called her a dog-fly because she took the side of the Trojans but now she was polite and respectful to the goddess of Love. Aphrodite agreed to help and gave Hera a love charm that could be hidden under her clothing. Next, Hera flew to the island of Lemnos to enlist the help of Hypnos (god of Sleep). She persuaded Hypnos to cast a spell on Zeus so that his attention would be averted from Troy. Hypnos was understandably hesitant because he had defied Zeus on a previous occasion and barely escaped a harsh punishment but Hera promised Hypnos that she would arrange his marriage to Pasithea, one of the Graces, and that she would also give him throne that had been made by her son, Hephaistos. Hypnos reluctantly agreed but made Hera swear an oath on the river Styx so that her promise would be inviolate.
Hera went to Zeus on Mount Ida and told him that she was on her way to the depths of the sea to visit Tethys, the wife of Okeanos (Ocean). Zeus was effected by the love charm that Hera had concealed in her clothing and asked her to stay with him so that they could renew their love. Hera's plan was working perfectly. When Zeus was dulled in the afterglow of love, Hypnos wove his spell and Zeus drifted off to sleep. Hypnos then took the form of a bird and following Hera's instructions, swooped down to the battlefield to tell Poseidon that he could enter the fray without Zeus knowing. When Zeus awoke, he realized that he had been tricked and threatened Hera with violence but her feigned pleas of innocence calmed his anger. He dismissed Hera and told her to return to Mount Olympos and send Iris and Apollon to him. Hera returned to Mount Olympos so visibly shaken that the other Olympians could tell that she had narrowly escaped the wrath of Zeus.
The final battles fought at Troy were epic. Mortal men and heroes died in the dust as the Immortals watched the gory spectacle from Mount Olympos. Zeus had banned all Immortals from the battlefield but that injunction would soon end and the war would finally come to its predestined conclusion. Zeus called the Immortals and together and told them to do as they wished … they could join the war or not … he was giving them a free hand. Hera, Hephaistos, Athene, Poseidon and Hermes descend Mount Olympos as a group and took up positions alongside the Achaeans . . the city of Troy and the Trojan people were doomed.
Hera was fighting on several fronts at the same time. She had to balance her aggression towards the Trojans against the necessity of obeying the will of Zeus. She had already defied Zeus by encouraging Hypnos to lull him to sleep and she was afraid of what he might do if she disobeyed him again. Two of the demigod heroes were of particular interest to Zeus … he wanted Aphrodite's son Aineias (Aeneas) to survive the war and he also wanted to make sure that Thetis's son Achilles was killed by Prince Alexandros (Paris) … to guarantee that Achilles would die in the prescribed way, Zeus gave Apollon the task of assisting Alexandros.
Hera and Athene had sworn oaths that they would never help a Trojan in any way. This posed a problem when Achilles was preparing to fight with Aineias. Zeus had made it clear that he wanted Aineias to survive the war so Poseidon stepped in to save the hero … the will of Zeus had been served and Hera did not have to violate her oath. As far as the other Trojan soldiers and allies were concerned, Hera had no interest in their survival. Hera went so far as the shroud the battlefield in mist so that they could not escape the murderous attacks of Achilles.
Hera wanted to encourage Achilles so she took control of one of his chariot horses and gave it a human voice. She told Achilles that his companion Patroklos (Patroclus) had been killed by Apollon and that he too would soon die at the hands of a mortal and an Immortal. Achilles was not surprised at what Hera said … he knew full well that he was destined to die at Troy and didn't care to know the details of his death.
Achilles was carving a bloody path through the Trojan defenses when he encountered the river god, Xanthos. Achilles was killing Trojans and throwing them into Xanthos's waters faster than the current could carry them away … the river was clogged with bodies. Xanthos rose from the depths and threatened Achilles but the hero paid no attention to the threats.
Xanthos knew that Achilles had to be stopped so he struck out at the murderous demigod with gigantic waves. Hera sent Hephaistos to reason with Xanthos but the river god was beyond rationality. When he rose from his banks to drown Achilles, Hera instructed Hephaistos to set the battlefield ablaze … the waters of Xanthos boiled and the trees along the riverbank were incinerated. After several more desperate attempts to kill Achilles and at the same time ward off Hephaistos's fiery attack, Xanthos realized his situation was hopeless. Xanthos cried out to Hera to make Hephaistos stop … Hera heard the river god's plea and ordered Hephaistos to withdraw. Xanthos retreated into the depths of his river and left the fighting to the more powerful Immortals.
When the Immortals began to enter the fighting, they primarily faced off against one another. Athene fought Ares and beat him to the ground … Artemis unwisely took a position opposite Hera. First, Hera berated Artemis with insults … she said that the young goddess was bold and shameless to stand before her in battle … she said that Artemis might be a worthy foe for women and wild beasts but she was no match for the formidable queen of the Immortals. When Artemis did not retreat, Hera grabbed both of Artemis's wrists with her left hand and knocked the bow and quiver from her shoulders with her right hand. Hera smiled as she slapped the humiliated goddess about the ears and turned her this way and that. When Hera released her grip, Artemis fled the battlefield in tears, leaving her bow and arrows where they lay.
The walls of Troy toppled and Hera was appeased … she had made a deal with Zeus that if he allowed her to destroy Troy, he would have the right to do the same to any city she held dear … whether he held her to that promise is not known.
After the Trojan War ended circa 1240 BCE, the interactions between mortals and the Immortals became minimal. The worship of Hera and the other Immortals was in no way dampened by the lapse of time or the apparent absence of the Immortals on earth but Hera and the other Immortals began to limit their personal appearances to a few priests, priestesses and sometimes, ordinary people.
It has been correctly observed that if a divinity is too involved in human affairs, the followers become over-dependent and unmotivated … however, if a divinity becomes uninvolved in earthly affairs, people quit believing in them. It would seem that the most beneficial role a divinity could assume would be one where their influence is so subtle that people aren't sure where the divine begins and the mundane ends.
Have no fear if you are righteous … tremble if you're not … Hera is nearer than you think.