In Greek mythology, Hera is the Queen of the Gods. She is one of the 12 major deities of the Greek pantheon. They were known as the Twelve Olympians because it was believed they lived at the top of the highest mountain in Greece, Mount Olympus. Hera is the daughter of the youngest of the Titans, Cronus, and his sister and wife Rhea. In turn, Hera’s husband Zeus is also her brother.
Goddess of Women
From the statues that survive, Hera is often portrayed as an older, majestic, matronly and solemn woman. In the ancient Greek religion, she was revered as the goddess of women, marriage, family and childbirth. Hera was seen as both a patron and a protector of women. In particular, she was thought to preside over weddings and to bless marriages with children. Hera’s own marriage to Zeus produced a total of 8 children.
Temples and Shrines
Hera is thought to be the first Greek deity to have a roofed sanctuary temple dedicated to her. The site is in Samos and is thought to date as far back as 800 BCE. The early temple was later replaced by one of the largest of all the temples in Greece, the “Heraion”. The ruins, including the only column still standing, are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hera’s importance to the early Greeks can be seen from the number of temples, shrines and sanctuaries in her honour that were scattered throughout the country and the nearby sacred island of Delos. However, votive offerings found in excavations at Samos, show that Hera had a much wider appeal. Figures of both gods and supplicants have been identified as coming from Armenia, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt and Iran.