Olympos: Hera, the jealous mother

358px-Hera_Campana_Louvre_Ma2283Studio Tablinum: this month I want to tell the fascinating story of another greek godness of the Pantheon: Hera.

Who exactly was this deity? Why she suffered so much  because of her husband Zeus? Something you may have guessed by the previous article dedicated to the father of gods.

Hera , as well as the bride of the divine father of the gods , she was alsohis sister, daughter of the divine Cronus and Rhea . Unanimously considered the greatest female deity .

Like her brother Zeus she also had the misfortune of having as father Cronus that swallowed his children. Era was saved thanks to the rebellion of his younger brother, who freed  her from the belly of his father. She grew up in harmony with the two gods of second generation of Titans, Oceanus and Tethys,   famous for being the ancestors of the Homeric hero Achilles.

matrimonioLater, she  lived into the garden of the Hesperides, where she married her brother Zeus.  The marriage  was ratified by all the gods and, for the happy event, the goddess Gaea had grow a tree from the beautiful golden apples, which later Heracles and Odysseus in their pilgrimages were able to appreciate.

The love between these two deities was at the center of gossip divine , between betrayals, deceptions and revenge, even brutal.

Being Hera the goddess of marital fidelity, as well as the wedding, you ‘ll understand that something does not right. Probably, since Zeus fallen in love with her even at the time when Cronus ruled over the Titans, he wanted to make her pay for waiting  so long his love, by making betrayals against her everywhere.

The mother of the gods that comes from the ancient texts was described as austere and icy-She was sitting on the divine throne wearing the crown, holding one of His favorite symbols, the pomegranate and enjoyed the company of a “royal” animal: a beautiful peacock. It was was defined by the Homer: the cow-eyed goddess, Because Of her famous sweet gaze.

era disinibitaReally I like to imagine Hera not so “passive”:  we will discover  soon the cause of that.

The relationship between Hera and Zeus begins with a ‘ deception: The Father of gods  saw the beautiful woman walking alone and pensive in Esperides Garden. Immediatly he fell in love with her, and he decided to rape her . He decided to turn into a bird, a cuckoo,he was affixed to the top of a mountain, and  was triggering a violent storm. Under the guise of that animal he took refuge into the arms of the goddess that trying to warm up the poor animal. Suddenly the villain appeared in its real forms, raped Hera.

We can draw a moral, maybe is old as the world, but always present: never trust in men who presented Himself under Certain pretenses, may conceal other.

Era disinibita IIHera, choleric wife, does not fail to take revenge on her faithless husband. At the expense  was the  beautiful girl Io,  seduced by the Father of the gods, by a stratagem: to avoid being caught by his wife, the god turned the young girl into a cow and turned him into a bull. Hera discovered the stratagem and she  instructed a gadfy to  chase the beautiful Io until her arrival in Egypt, where Zeus allowed her to regain his human form.

This betrayal caused the beautiful color of the peacock’s tail: the god Hermes, under orders from Zeus, killed the guardian Argus with a hundred eyes, put by Hera as a guard over the girl  Io,

In order to prevent further betrayal by Zeus. When  Argo  was killed, its eyes were placed on the tail of the peacock consecrated to Hera. Even the name of the strait between Europe and Asia , the Bosphorus , is to be attributed to this mythical story : Even the name of the strait that separates Europe and Asia, that today we call the Bosphorus, is to be attributed to this mythical event: in the attempt to escape the persecution of the the gadfly, the poor girl went through that strait that from that moment took the name of Bos-foros, ” that mena in greek  “passage of the cow”.

It also assigns a similarity between the Egyptian goddess Isis and the girl, because, from the union between Zeus and Io  was born Epaphus, king of Egypt, which has been attributed to the construction of the city of Thebes.

It is thought that the mother Io became a godess of the city: is concealed behind the figure of Isis, the Egyptian goddess indeed wearing two horns of beef on the head in which is placed a sparkling sun.

Hypnos_Sonno_2Between Zeus and his wife, there was a sort of constant competition based on mutual teasing and tricks. One of the most famous is handed down from the pages of the most well-known poem of Greek literature, the Iliad. It is told that that when Zeus from his throne, ruling that none of the gods had to influence the outcome of the Trojan War, remaining neutral, leaving the men to the things of men, Hera and her brother,  Poseidon showed to have different ideas: their will was in fact to take an active part in the battle between the Achaeans and Trojans.

So Hera decided to disobey the orders of Zeus, playing the weapon of seduction.

tre grazieShe borrowed the belt from the goddess Aphrodite, which contained all the love in the world. The goddess began one of his most beautiful clothes and, to complete the cunning, she went to the god Hypnos * which asked the favor of your husband to fall asleep immediately after lying with her, to convince Hypnos, he promised grant the hand of one of the three Graces *, the beautiful Pasitea.

So the loving combat ready, she showed up to Zeus that he could not resist some of her and fell asleep.

Since that time the gods were free to side with one or the other hand, influencing the outcome of the battles between Trojans and Achaeans. We have this mythological episode drowsiness male performance post? Who knows how to give an answer to these mysteries?

One of these deceptions however cost Hera treatment really humiliating revenge for Zeus, hung a cloud and put her ankles two anvils that prevented her movements completely. We can try to imagine the screams and laughter of derision from others, not merciful, Olympians.

IssioneEven Hera was seduced by other suitors. Unlike Zeus was always too austere and modest life and never yielded to their advances. In one episode was sardonic. The unfortunate Ixion, king of Thessaly, fell in love with her, but Hera he was bothered by rough nature of the same. To punish him for such a daring, she created a cloud in his likeness. Ixion not realizing the deception, the father of the cloud of fabulous creatures: centaurs, half man and half horse. After the man mocked for his great folly, Hera ordered Hermes to punish him tying him to a wheel. Since then, the poor Ixion wheel forever without finding peace.

TiresiaAlways indisposed to accept defeat, the mother of the gods, became capricious when it was contradicted. The poor diviner Tiresias Theban * was the victim of these tantrums. Convened in the presence of Zeus and Hera, he was asked to determine who of the two had more pleasure in their bed. Tiresias replied that, because of his personal vicissitudes, the woman was to derive greater benefit. Hera angered because of the unseemly response, the soothsayer touched on the face, making it blind.

Hera took vengeance with the illegitimate children of Zeus:

Eracle nella cullaThe most famous victim of Hera is the demigod hero Heracles, who carries in his name as a joke “conducive to Hera”, we say that only during the apotheosis of the hero, Hera, made ​​peace with him really. Before he made ​​his earthly life difficult, from the cradle, when he sent two snakes. Then she brought upon him the very famous twelve labors, and finally with the madness that led Heracles to kill their children. Not being able to damage Zeus, had to pay a high price for his son. Provvedette the father of the gods on Olympus to reward Heracles making it rise, after his own death.

Semele ZeusOther events shed a light  mysterious and cruel on Hera, as the punishment inflicted on the mother of Dionysus, Semele. With a trick Zeus, Hera did appear in all its majesty in Semele who, unable to bear the sight of the divine father, died instantly incinerated.

Even tried, for the usual jealousy, to prevent the birth of Apollo and Artemis.

He went so far as to advise you to kill Callisto, a beautiful nymph of the woods and hunting companion of Artemis, because of the son of Zeus who was carrying. To protect her from the wrath of Hera, Zeus turned Callisto into a bear.

In this episode we saw how regal and majestic god as Hera suffers the influence of jealousy and sometimes become cruel.

The only excuse for a husband difficult to “control” … The next month will discover the most charming and fascinating deity of the Pantheon: Aphrodite.

 Alessandro Cerioli


* God of sleep, the son of Erebus and brother of Thanatos.

* Goddess of beauty and nature, live in Olympus with the Muses.

* The fortune-teller  of Theban lived ambe two conditions for women and men , Zeus gave him the gift of foresight and long life.

Olympos: Zeus the King of the Heaven


Studio Tablinum: In the coming months I will keep you company with a series of articles on classical Greek Mythology.

Each month will be dedicated to a god of the Pantheon. For timing reasons I’m focused on the twelve main gods, that we could considerer the most important, as the months of the year. Some have tickled me, asking me to write about all three generations, and I will not deny that I was attracted to the idea of starting from the union between Uranus and Gaea and the creation of the first deity, from the overthrow of father Uranus by his son the Titan Cronus, the emasculation of Uranus and the birth of a new divine order: the famous golden age for men. Cronus and his sister-wife Rea generated the third generation, the best knowned among the people and the one that I’m discussing in these articles, the Olympians, until the overthrow of father Cronus by the youngest son Zeus, who freed the Cyclopes, imprisoned at birth by father Uranus in the center of the earth;Zeus receveid from Cyclopes the thunder and lightning, symbols of power and domination.

We don’t need to transform these article in an encyclopedia page but only in a pleasant discussion on classical myth, for further information I suggest you to read the “Dictionnaire de la Mythologie”, by Prof. Pierre Grimal, an unparalleled opera.

I would rather offer the items that put the classic myth amazing: so I’m writing about the emotions they felt the gods, their disputes, the love values and betrayal, all stories will be in a key understandable and sometimes ironic.

Are you ready?

So we begin.

The deity treated this month of January is the figure of the father of the gods, Zeus.

You should know that when Zeus was not on Olympus, to postpone the ongoing and sometimes violent disputes among the other gods, he was on the earth intent on his favorite pastime: adultery. The mother of the gods, Hera, knew all about “weakness” of her husband and sometimes she tryied to put a drag to Zeus intemperance and, most of the time, she getted so terribly angry.

The father of the gods was usually take the form of animals, humans, or even natural elements in order to achieve “the purpose” fixed.


zeus-europaIn the case of the attempted seduction of Europe *, a beautiful girl, she was happily basking in the sun of the East when a white bull, nice and mild, which made her climb on his back and suddenly, he running through the waves of the sea and kidnapped her. As you have guess, it was Zeus in disguise. Zeus brought Europe in the island of Crete and there abused her. From this union was born the future King Minos of Crete.


ledaOther times, Zeus chose a more regal animal, as in the case of Leda, Queen of Sparta. To deceive her, he turned into a white swan. From this bizarre union Leda layed two eggs from which the divine twins Castor and Pollux and the most beautiful woman in the world, Elena where born.


The culmination of Zeus seductive cunning was reached in the case of the daughter of King Acrisius, the beautiful Danae. Danae was imprisoned at the behest of his father, alarmed by a prophecy that he wanted killed at the hands of his nephew, in a secret room, built entirely in bronze, the father of the gods, turned into a golden rain that penetrated into the room and “bath” Danae, from this union we will have the well-knowed hero Perseus, Medusa’s winner.

alcmenaThis is the funniest story: Zeus dressed the role of King Amphitryon and abused of queen Alcmene. Her husband, unaware of all, had left her wife in order to avenge the death of her brothers; during his absensence, the servant of the king, named Sosia, ran back to announce to the queen that the king had obtained justice for her borthers. But when he arrived in front of the queen’s bedrooms, he found, in his own likeness, the messenger of the gods Hermes, guarding outside; We could imagine the astonishment of the servant. The confusion was all for the king when his queen swored to be lain with him for three nights. From this union was born the best-known demigod of classical mythology, Hercules.

ganimedeWe can not leave out the only homosexual seduction of the father of the gods, fall in love with a shepherd, from the perfect features, Zeus transformed himself into an eagle and abducted him, leading him to Olympus, this young man, called Ganymede, became the official cupbearer of the gods.

The most surprising thing about Zeus, despite his supreme godhead, is the proximity to the man with the same vices and the same weaknesses: it was not uncommon for the father of the gods be turned into a poor beggar or a youth and by those conditions observe the human being, his outbursts and its miseries. We have to consider that for the greek period, Zeus was the supreme deity and from him depended not only happiness, but also the very existence of every creature. This fact was very importantwas something important for faithful of men in him. Yet it was not always easy for the father of the gods, the world was totally different before and he had to fight with cunning and courage to get the power.


zeus cronoZeus since childhood had a stormy life and how not to understand it? Can you guess what it’s mean to have as primary experience of your existence to the parent who seeks to “devour” you?

You have to know that the father of Zeus, Cronos, was obsessed with being overthrown by one of his sons, as he did the same against the father Uranus, and in order to avoid his destiny, he devored his Newborn children. to eliminate any possible threat in the bud.

Rhea, the mother who, angered by the behavior of her husband Cronos, decided to grow his last child on the island of Crete, on Mount Ida, nurtured by the goat Amalthea, by bees and Curetes, goblins who took care of him. Fortunately the mother Rhea, the child, after losing so many children in such a hideous way, decided to cheat her husband and made eat a stone to him, covered with a cloth, instead of his son.

When Zeus had full knowledge of their means defy his father Cronus, made him throw up his own brothers and imprisoned him in Tartarus. Cronus, so degenerate father, was later forgiven by Zeus and was transferred in the Isle of the Blessed, intent to welcome the heroes, sons of Zeus.

titanomachiaAt that point, it would seem that everything is decided in favor of the new lord of the sky, but instead it was not so wright: Zeus faced a revolt led by the Titans, the brothers of Cronus, who did not take well the “nephew” in charge of “all things, “then conquered a peak as high as Mount Olympus, Mount Othrys and from there the parts counter. Zeus stood firm in Olympus chief to call and if the gods, gigantic and monstrous, also brothers of Cronus, The Centimani, creatures with a hundred arms and fifty heads and freed from Tartarus the Cyclopes, creatures with one eye, previously imprigionatevi by Kronos, who donated it to Zesu lightning and lightning. Defeated, the Titans were imprisoned in the depths of the earth.

gigantomachiaAfter a short time there was another similar situation that Zeus had to face, the revolt of the Giants. The Giants were the children of Gaea, the wife of Uranus, who decided to side with the children, but with various tricks, Zeus managed to limit her aid to Giants. But, determined to conquer the Olympus, the Giants, began a climb that end with their fall * ruinous.

etnaTired, probably of a similar overcrowding reign, Tartarus with the goddess Gaea, mother of the Titans and Giants, dediced to sent against the father of the gods a terrifying monster, Typhon. The monster with his arms encircled all the globe, Zeus lost his first collision and was taken prisoner by Typhon, but soon managed to escape and start a counterattack, Typhon was hitting with lightning and thunderbolts. Finally, Zeus in order to kill Typhon hurled against him a mountain. The mountain, even today, gives us the spectacle of the wrath of Typhon. That mountain is the volcano Etna, in Italy. We could say that Zeus was not stable on the throne of the gods, but always in danger.

PROMETEOThe Titans, You might at this point tell me: “them … yet? …” Well, let me say that these creatures was very stubborn: almost all of them accepted the power of the father of the gods, but not one of them, Prometheus. The Titan Prometheus, against the will of Zeus, made as a gift the fire to the human people. The “rioter” was imprisoned for this on a large rock in the Caucasus, with the burden of an eagle that was flying all day and pecked the liver and the organ that grew back every night to the delight of the prey. Really, Prometheus had also an accomplice, his brother Epimetheus, less clever than him, and as a punishment for this “revolt” Zeus send a punishment that went against the human beings rather than Epimetheus himself, Pandora, universally known for having opened the infamous jar and have released all the evils of the world, only the hope, less quick to ensue, remained in the jar. From this moment, men is subject to all the ills of the world.


But the father of the gods had to remember to the other gods of the Pantheon who was the most powerful in the Olympus. The other divinities attempted several times, to defeat him and get rid of him.

We could say that the only one deity who really held the head to Zeus and to which, sometimes, the father of the gods had to submit to her whims, was his wife Hera, who will know the next month.

Alessandro Cerioli


* Her name will become the name of european continent.

* I invite the followers to visit the pictures in the “Room of the Giants” by Giulio Romano, Palazzo Tè, in Mantova, Italy.