Hera’s MDT – Day 4: A Few of my Favourite Myths

Χαίρετε πάντες!

Today is the fourth day in this Month of Devotional Thought dedicated to Hera. This fourth day is about sharing a favourite myth of Hera.

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Hermes slaying the eye-covered man Argus Panoptes with his sword. To the right stands the heifer-shaped maiden Io. Athenian Red-figure Amphora, ca. 490 BCE. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg. Taken from theoi.com, 4 March 2017.

My favourite myth… it’s kind of hard to answer as I think all myths are interesting for one reason or another. And frankly, I already told my favourite myth involving Hera in the previous post. It is the myth of Argos, who faithfully guards the cow-shaped Io, but is tricked by Hermes to fall asleep with all his One Hundred Eyes, and promptly slain by Hermes. When Hera discovers his corpse, she honours him by taking his One Hundred Eyes and placing them upon the tail of her favourite bird, the peacock, thus giving the bird its magnificent display.

1024px-pavo_real_comun_pavo_cristatus_tierpark_hellabrunn_munich_alemania_2012-06-17_dd_01

Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), Tierpark Hellabrunn, Munich, Germany. Image by Diego Delso, taken on 17 June 2012. Author credit: Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA. This image was downloaded from WikiMedia Commons, 4 March 2017.

Another favourite myth, or set of myths rather, is Hera’s continued persecution of Herakles. Superficially she may seem like a bitch who is attacking someone who can not help who his father is. But as always there is very deep and significant meaning to every myth. Hera is constantly testing Herakles, testing him to see if he is worthy of the divine blood flowing through his veins. Testing him to see if he is worthy of Godhood. Without her constantly coming after him, Herakles might never have done all his great and mighty deeds. Without her, he might have never ascended to Godhood. Without her, he might have remained an insignificant mortal and eventually forgotten, fading into obscurity. Yet when he finally did prove his worthiness of Godhood and ascended unto Olympos, they made peace with each other. Reconciling their differences, Hera symbolically births him and offers her breast as if to nurture a baby. So Herakles is recognised as a God, receiving Zeus and Hera’s daughter, Hebe, as his wife.

Another favourite myth is her role in the Argonautika, where she is not shown persecuting Zeus’ lovers or their illegitimate offspring, but rather showing her as a Patron of Heroes, guiding Iason on his quest for the Golden Fleece. At one point she even appears in person to make the Argo sail in the right direction when they threaten to go the wrong way.

Divine persecution and testing of mettle,
Peacocks’ tails and many-eyed giants,
A ship full of heroes sailing for quests,
These are a few of my favourite myths.

Ἔρρωσο.

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2 comments on “Hera’s MDT – Day 4: A Few of my Favourite Myths

  1. It’s funny how most, if not all, modern retellings of Hēraklē̂s’ story omit the part in which Hḗra makes peace with him and welcomes him into the fold. And your interpretation of that myth made me look at her in a whole new, positive way, reminding me of the role of the divine queens from Celtic cultures who love to toy with every egotistical man who thinks he can rule a country.

    Liked by 1 person

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