To devoted followers, she was a faithful wife and nurturing mother. To the rest, she was an evil goddess and a vengeful wife. No matter how you see her, Hera was the queen and chief goddess of Mount Olympus. Hera is the goddess of marriage and childbirth, which is ironic considering her husband Zeus repeatedly cheated on her and she killed many of his bastards.
Though known for such horrible things, Hera remained loyal to her husband. She had worshippers all over Greece, but Hera’s main temples were built in Argos, Sparta, and Mycenae. Roman mythology worshipped her as Juno and as Uni in Etruscan mythology. Let’s get started with these 70 facts about Hera, the Queen Goddess of Olympus!
Hera means “queen”
She is a chief goddess in Olympus, sitting on the throne next to her husband Zeus. This is fitting because the name Hera means “queen.” Other interpretations include “someone who is mature for marriage” as she is the goddess of marriage, “protectress” because she protects women from their unfaithful husbands, and “beloved” as she is the god of thunder’s wife.
She also had unpleasant nicknames
Called a vengeful wife and a hater of demigods, Hera had worse nicknames. Illiad author Homer called the goddess “ox-eyed” and cow-faced,” an ode to the cow, Hera’s sacred animal. On the other hand, the Spartans called her “goat-eater” because they always offered her goats. Though the nicknames sound like insults, they’re paying compliments to the goddess.
The goddess had several epithets under her name
To be Queen of Olympus is one thing, but to have several epithets is another. Hera earned a lot of epithets under her name for centuries. Some of her Greek epithets are Alexandros (defender of men), Hyperkheiria (Whose Hand is Above), and Teleia (the Accomplisher). Meanwhile, some of her English epithets include Bride of the Thunderer, Glorious Goddess, Golden-Throned, and Mistress of Animals.
Hera and her siblings were once devoured by their father
After overthrowing and succeeding his father Uranus, his mother Gaia warned Cronus that one of his sons will soon overthrow him. To make sure that the prophecy won’t come to fruition, he swallowed each of his children as soon as they were born.
To prevent this from happening again, his wife Rhea secretly gave birth to Zeus. She fooled the Titan by wrapping a big stone in swaddling clothes before handing it to him. The god of thunder killed Cronus and freed his siblings from their father. Hera, Hades, Hestia, Demeter, and Poseidon came out of their father’s stomach as fully-dressed adults.
Two Titans brought her up
A Titan couple once stood as Hera’s foster parents. The goddess of the waters Tethys nursed and guided the goddess, while Hera looked up to the primordial god Oceanus for being a faithful husband. The goddess loved them dearly and they became her “models of matrimonial fidelity.”
Zeus tricked her into marriage
Seemingly unbelievable, Zeus tricked the goddess of marriage into one. The thunderer fell head over heels with the goddess, but she refused all of his proposals. Zeus had enough of it, and so transformed himself into a cuckoo bird. Hera noticed the freezing, so she cradled it in her bosom out of pity.
As soon as the goddess arrived home, Zeus revealed himself and made love to her. Some say the goddess fell in love immediately afterward, while some agreed that she married him “to cover her shame.”
A nymph turned into a tortoise after failing to attend Zeus and Hera’s wedding
All the gods, goddesses, nymphs, and creatures of the world attended the wedding of Zeus and Hera but one. There are two versions to the story. First, when the mountain nymph Chelone deliberately missed the wedding because she spent the day sleeping. Second, when the nymph refused to attend the wedding at all. Both stories ended with Zeus turning Chelone into a tortoise.
She remained loyal to her husband
It’s a little concerning that the goddess of marriage’s loving relationship with her husband was short-lived. Even though Zeus repeatedly cheated on Hera, she remained faithful to him. Though sometimes, the goddess uses her beauty to seduce her husband and steer the fate of mankind.
Some believed that Hera had affairs, too
After the blissful 300 years of honeymoon, the marriage of the chief Olympian gods was on the rocks. There were several opportunities for Hera to cheat but she never did. She remained a faithful wife despite ruining the lives of the women and children Zeus had outside their marriage.
Hera conceived her children in interesting ways
The godly couple had nine children, but Hera conceived some of them without Zeus. She conceived the god of war, Ares, via a special flower from Olenus, while she bore the goddess of youth, Hebe, after eating a lot of lettuce, and lastly, Hephaestus, out of pure jealousy after Zeus bore Athena from his head.
The godly couple hated their eldest son
It was no secret that the Olympian gods hated Ares. Some believed that the unstable relationship of his parents, Zeus and Hera, produced the god of war’s violent and bloodthirsty nature. In The Illiad, his father even declared his hatred for his eldest son, “To me, you are the most hateful of all the gods who hold Olympus. Forever quarreling is dear to your heart, wars, and battles.”
Hephaestus created an inescapable throne for her
The only deformed god out of the 12 Olympians, Hera conceived and gave birth to Hephaestus herself after Athena came out of Zeus’ head. Disappointed that her child is nowhere near as beautiful as the goddess of wisdom, she threw him off Mount Olympus. Nymphs raised him, instead, and he learned craftsmanship.
Hephaestus gave his mother a golden throne he made himself. The vain goddess happily sat down and then became bound to it. The god of wine Dionysus offered to help by intoxicating her son and bringing him to her. Hera broke free from her throne and granted him a place among the gods. He became the god of blacksmiths and metallurgy.
She also had a daughter named Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth and midwifery
It’s only natural for the goddess of childbirth to be assisted by the goddess of midwifery. Eileithyia is said to be Hera’s favorite child. Though she’s not as popular as her brothers Ares and Hephaestus, there were temples built in her honor.
Some of her children are not as popular
Though their marriage struggled for centuries, Zeus and Hera had nine children together. Most were not popular deities but still served under their parents in Olympus.
The goddess of war Enyo, the goddess of chaos Eris, the goddess of youth Hebe, the earth deity Angelos, the nymph-goddess Arge, and the personification of liberty Eleutheria are the goddess’ children with Zeus. Meanwhile, Hera was credited as the mother of the serpentine god of storms Typhon, even though he was made by Gaia and Tartarus under her order.
Her two sons both loved the goddess of beauty
Brothers sharing a lover is a popular soap opera trope, but even the gods themselves were tangled in the twisted love triangle. Although disgusted with the deformed Hephaestus, Aphrodite married him to fulfill Hera’s promise. Though the god of metallurgy always gifted her with jewels, the goddess of beauty still felt lonely.
Aphrodite grew fascinated with Ares after he returned from war. She committed adultery with the god of war and made love to him on her marriage bed. Hephaestus made a fine net to catch the adulterers when Helios alerted him. He then called on all the gods to humiliate them after catching them in the act.
Her sacred animal is the peacock
Hera was a sentimental goddess who likes rewarding people who are loyal to her. It began when Zeus fell in love with Io. The thunderer hid in the clouds as he made love to the nymph. The goddess found out and demanded from her husband to bring Io. She transformed the nymph into a cow and asked the many-eyed giant Argos to guard it.
Zeus commanded the messenger god Hermes to kill the giant and set the cow free. Being one step ahead of the thunderer, Hera removed the giant’s many-eyes and transferred it to the tail of a peacock.
Three other animals also represented the goddess
Hera had three other animals under her name. No wonder they called her the Mistress of Animals. The lion is sacred to her because it drew her mother’s chariot. Meanwhile, the cuckoo signifies the time Zeus transformed himself and seduced the goddess. The cow can mean two things: Homer’s “cow-eyed” nickname for Hera or the time the thunderer turned himself into a cow to outrun his wife.
Hera and Persephone share the pomegranate as a symbolic fruit
The pomegranate is a fruit unique due to its bright red color, but two queens share these fruits as a symbol. Persephone took Hades’ offer of pomegranate, even though it means she would be Queen of the Underworld. To Hera, on the other hand, pomegranate is a symbol of fertility, as she is also the goddess of childbirth.
Some of her symbols denote royalty and power
Hera doesn’t hide the fact that she’s the Queen of Olympus. Also evident in ancient art, they always depicted her with a diadem and scepter, a symbol of power. In some sculptures, she’s sitting on a throne to signify royalty.
Hera rewarded Jason for helping her cross the river
The goddess had a reputation of hating demigods and heroes, mostly because her husband Zeus kept having offspring outside their marriage. But there’s one she particularly liked.
Years before the quest for the Golden Fleece, Jason had already shown the makings of a hero. He once saw a feeble, old lady trying to cross the river. Jason didn’t hesitate to help her, he even lost a sandal in the process. The youth hadn’t realized that it was Hera in disguise. So impressed with his selfless act, the goddess decided to protect the hero at whatever cost.
She helped the Argonauts in obtaining the Golden Fleece
The goddess never forgets a good deed. To earn his rightful place at the throne of Iolcus, Jason and his band of heroes went on a quest to find the Golden Fleece. A seemingly impossible task, they met several obstacles along the way. Hera still remembered Jason’s selfless act and helped the Argonauts throughout their journey.
Hera almost killed Apollo and Artemis’ mother
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” so the phrase goes. Hera made sure that her husband’s latest lover would suffer. When Leto became pregnant, the goddess of marriage delayed the Titan’s labor by cursing her to never give birth on solid ground on Earth.
Some say Delos was created by Zeus, while some argue that it was Apollo (who whispered while still in his mother’s womb) to go to Delos. But Leto’s sufferings didn’t end there. Hera also refused to send her daughter, the goddess of childbirth Eileithyia, to aid the Titan.
She also has a habit of turning people into animals and monsters
It’s no news to Hera that beautiful women make her husband weak. And as a retaliation, Hera transforms these poor women into hideous creatures. The goddess had turned the nymph Io into a cow, the nymph Callisto into a bear, and the Queen Lamia of Libya into a child-eating monster.
She cursed the mountain nymph Echo
Either Zeus never learned the art of distraction or Hera was just really good at finding him. The goddess was close by when the thunderer went looking for nymphs to seduce. The mountain nymph Echo offered to distract the goddess through conversations that will annoy her. When Hera realized Echo has been helping her husband cheat, she cursed the mountain nymph to only repeat whatever the other person says to her.
The godly couple blinded a man for his opinions on sex
Tiresias is one of the lesser-known figures of the LGBT community. There are a few versions of the story, but the most popular ones include Zeus and Hera. The young Tiresias saw two snakes copulating, and instead of ignoring it, he hit them with a stick. This angered Hera and punished him by making him a woman. After seven years, he returned and saw the same snakes coupling. He learned his lesson, and thus he changed back to a man.
Several years later, Tiresias heard the godly couple arguing on who feels more pleasure during sex. Hera declared it was the man, while Zeus disagreed saying it was the woman. Tiresias spoke out of turn and answered, “Of ten parts a man enjoys one only.” The goddess blinded him for the disrespect and Zeus took pity on him by making him a seer.
Paris insulted Hera when he chose Aphrodite over her
The Queen of Olympus had a beauty that can rival any of the goddesses. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite all wanted the golden apple Eris threw into the wedding party. Written on the apple was “to the fairest,” and the three goddesses claimed it as theirs. Zeus refused to judge and passed the responsibility to the Trojan prince Paris.
Each of the goddesses bribed the young man: Hera offered to make him King, Athena put forth giving him skills in war, and Aphrodite promised to give him the most beautiful woman in the world. The prince was swayed with the offers but awarded the apple to the goddess of beauty in the end. Hera had never felt more insulted and humiliated. This loss prompted her to side with the Greeks.
Hera defeated Artemis during the Indian War of Dionysus
Dionysiaca is the 48-book epic that tells the story of the god of wine Dionysus’ expedition to India. One of the books described the battle between Hera and Artemis. The moon goddess championed Dionysus by firing arrows after arrows. Hera retaliated by catching one of the arrows, froze it along with hail, then shot it back to Artemis.
The epic described the defeat, “But the consort of Zeus did not stop the fight there but struck Artemis flat on the skin of the breast, and Artemis smitten by the weapon of ice emptied her quiver upon the ground.”
Her husband hung her upside down for attempting to drown Heracles
Zeus’s adulterous ways always angered Hera, but none more than the offspring he had with Alcmene. Hera was set on killing the baby Heracles even before he was born. Aside from sending snakes to Heracles’ cot (which the strong baby had immediately killed, by the way), Hera tried to drown him! As soon as the thunderer found out, he hung his wife in the sky for years as punishment.
Drops of the goddess’ breast milk formed the Milky Way
There are two versions of the story in Greek mythology. First, when Zeus brought Heracles to Olympus and laid it next to his sleeping wife, the baby naturally suckled on her nipple, which woke Hera up, then she pushed the baby away, and the spilled milk became the Milky Way.
Next is the commonly told story, wherein Zeus required Hera to nurse baby Heracles, and some drops of milk he didn’t drink became the Milky Way.
The hero Heracles was named in her honor
He is the strongest and most important demigod in all of Greek mythology. There are several reasons why Heracles was named after the goddess, after all his name means “Glory of Hera.”
Some say it was because Hera nursed him as a baby, others agree that it was to appease the goddess despite her husband’s adulterous ways, while some say it was a mockery to the goddess. Whichever the reason was, Hera still hated the child.
She was also partly responsible for the hero’s Twelve Labors
Hera attempted to kill Zeus’ demigod son several times. Heracles became mad and extremely anxious, it drove him mad, and it made him kill his wife and children in the process. He went to the Oracle of Delphi and prayed to Apollo. The sun god told him to serve King Eurystheus for 10 years. His servitude included performing the Twelve Labors.
Hera let the hero marry his half-sister Hebe
Aside from being a cupbearer to the gods, Hebe was also the goddess of forgiveness. Heracles was granted immortality after his death and his half-sister Hebe’s hand in marriage. Some say it displeased Hera at first since she lost an assistant. But the goddess and the hero eventually reconciled. Hebe was replaced by the beautiful mortal Ganymede as cupbearer.
The goddess seduced Zeus to aid the Greeks in the Trojan War
The thunderer still found his wife beautiful despite his many affairs. Hera sided with the Greeks after the Trojan prince Paris insulted her with his chosen winner. Zeus wouldn’t let her or any of the gods interfere with the war, and his wife had to take drastic measures to steer its fate. A story even mentioned that Hera made herself alluring to seduce Zeus and influence his decision.
The King of Lapiths lusted over Hera
There’s no denying the goddess of marriage’s beauty. Scholars believe she’s more beautiful than Aphrodite! There was King Ixion of Lapiths who extremely lusted over Hera. So Zeus “fashioned a cloud to look like Hera and laid it by Ixion’s side.” The king bragged about sleeping with the goddess and Zeus “punished him by tying him to a wheel, on which he was turned by winds up in the air.”
Zeus tricked a king to hide his bastard child from Hera
The thunderer found the Boeotian king Athamas to be a suitable husband for Nephele (Hera’s clone), even though he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. To hide the bastard the thunderer bore with Athamas’ sister, he tricked him into adopting and raising the bastard. When Hera found out, she snatched Nephele and punished the king by making him mad.
Pelias was punished for defiling her temple
He was the son of Tyro the Thessalian princess and Poseidon the god of the seas. But the princess didn’t want the twin sons she bore, so she left Pelias and Neleus in the mountains. When the boys grew, they learned that Sidero (their real mother’s stepmother) had been mistreating the princess. The goddess was displeased when Pelias killed Sidero, a loyal follower, in her temple.
Pelias sent Jason to retrieve the Golden Fleece. In retaliation, Hera helped the hero in his quest, until the king was killed by his own daughters.
Zeus and Hera punished a couple for their hubris
Even though the godly couple always fought, Zeus and Hera wouldn’t take arrogance lightly. Thracian royal couple King Haemus and Queen Rhodope were both vain and haughty. Zeus and Hera overheard the royal couple comparing themselves to the godly couple. As punishment, they turned them into mountains called Haemus Mons and the Rhodope Mountains.
The goddess renewed her virginity annually at the Kanathos spring
Hera liked making herself beautiful and desirable, even when her husband kept cheating on her. The goddess would renew her virginity annually by bathing at the Kanathos spring, located in the seaport town of Nauplia. To continue this tradition, the people of Samos would wash a wooden image of Hera in the sea.
Hera turned a queen into a child-eating monster
This is probably the worst punishment the goddess has ever given to any of her husband’s lovers. Zeus successfully seduced the beautiful Queen Lamia of Libya. Every time Lamia gives birth, Hera kills the child or makes her believe that she did. This drove the queen to madness and she slowly became a half-serpent monster, stealing babies from their mothers and eating them.
Homer listed three cities as Hera’s favorites
The Ancient Greek poet Homer mentioned in The Illiad that Hera’s favorite cities are Argos, Sparta, and Mycenae. Though there is no actual proof, these cities praise Hera and celebrate the goddess through an annual celebration.
An all-female athletic competition was created in her honor
It’s a sports event that began in Olympia, but it’s not the Olympic Games. The Heraia is a footrace competition held in honor of the goddess Hera. Like the Olympics, it’s an event that happens every four years but the competitors are all women. Interestingly, only virgins are qualified to race around the stadium. Winners will receive an olive branch wreath and a portion of the cow’s meat sacrificed to the goddess.
The Temple of Hera is a World Heritage Monument
Out of the four major temples for Hera, the Heraion of Samos Island is the only one that became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to In Samos Travel Guide, “the goddess Hera was born and raised” in this location. This temple became the main sanctuary for the cult of Hera.
The Stymphalians built three separate temples in her honor.
The people of Stymphalia in Arcadia worship Hera as a virgin goddess. They even built three separate temples that celebrated the goddess’ growth: Hera the Girl, Hera the Full-Grown Woman, and Hera the Widow. According to World History Edu, they shared these temples with some people from Argos.
Daedala is an Ancient Greek festival in honor of the goddess
This ancient festival celebrates the reconciliation of Zeus and Hera. It’s believed that the thunderer won back the goddess’ love after he made her jealous with a wooden image of her. The Daedala ritual was celebrated on Mount Cithaeron in Boeria. It begins with the procession of the wooden image dressed as a bride. Afterward, it’s burnt with the sacrificed animals and the sacrificial wooden altar.
The Ancient Romans worshipped her as Juno
There’s a stark difference between Greek mythology’s Hera and Roman mythology’s Juno. They’re both queen of the goddesses and married to the thunderer, but Juno is “a more graceful goddess,” compared to Hera’s jealous and vengeful nature. Percy Jackson and the Olympians author Rick Riordan described the Roman goddess as “heroic” and “warrior-like.”
Matronalia was an annual festival held in honor of Juno
Mother’s Day was already an event even before the 20th century. Ancient Romans celebrate Matronalia (or Matronales Feriae) every the first of March in honor of Juno, the goddess of childbirth and motherhood.
The tradition symbolized the importance of women, motherhood, and the marriages between the Romans and Sabine women. Married women made offerings to Juno at the temple, husbands gave gifts to their wives, and female slaves were treated to a feast.
Her Etruscan mythology equivalent is Uni
She is the supreme goddess of the Etruscan religion and the patron goddess of Perugia. Uni is the goddess of love, marriage, fertility, family, and women. She’s the wife of the chief god Tinia, the Etruscan equivalent of Zeus. The goddess wore a goatskin cloak and sandals while holding a spear. She’s also part of the Etruscan triad with her husband and daughter Menrva.
Without Hera, the Ancient Egyptians wouldn’t have the goddess Isis
It’s been suggested throughout history that Zeus’ mortal lover Io, became a godly figure in Egyptian mythology. When the thunderer fell in love with Princess Io of Argos, some believed it happened shortly after his marriage with Hera.
The widely-known version is that the goddess turned Io into a white cow and assigned the many-eyed giant Argos to keep watch. Zeus commanded Hermes to kill the giant and set the cow free. It was believed that the cow crossed the oceans and landed in a desert country.
Ancient Egyptian transcripts interchanged the names of Io and Isis. This led to the confusion that the Egyptian goddess of healing, Isis, originated from Princess Io of Argos.
A NASA space probe was named after her Roman equivalent
It’s incredibly witty of NASA to send a spacecraft to Jupiter named after the goddess. The Juno space probe’s “goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter,” and to “provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars.”
Blackpink’s Jennie is the new face of HERA
Scholars agree that though Aphrodite is the goddess of beauty, it’s Hera, the goddess of marriage, who reigns supreme in being the most beautiful goddess. HERA is a Seoul-based luxury beauty brand that launched its “excellent quality products” in 1995. Just recently, Blackpink member Jennie Kim was named its newest brand ambassador. The 25-year-old idol has promoted several lipstick lines for HERA, including the Rouge Holic collection and Sensual Powder Matte.