Zeus and Hera

“From the moment she emerged out of their father’s stomach, covered in blood and slime, Zeus had lusted after his older sister.”

Zeus and Hera: the Ross and Rachel of the Pantheon.  From the moment she emerged out of their father’s stomach, covered in blood and slime, Zeus had lusted after his older sister.  But Hera wasn’t an easy catch; she had morals (of a fashion), and so Zeus had been ‘forced’ to consider other, easier, options. 

Time and time again Zeus pursued his sister.  Time and time again, she refused him.  But he wasn’t to be deterred.  By hook or by crook, he would have his way.

After testing the whole marriage thing out with a few others (check out ‘We need to talk about Zeus’ Parts 1 and 2), Zeus decided that he was ready.  He was a man.  A powerful man with powerful friends.  A man who knew how to take care of business.  A man who could destroy worlds as easily as he could create them.  A man who had the world at his feet – literally.  A man who was going places.  What woman in her right mind could deny such a man?

With the same blindness that afflicts a lot of powerful men, Zeus thought that he had become irresistible, and so – taking Hera’s previous protestations as playful flirtation – he proposed. 

Hera’s response was loud and clear: ‘no’.

It was a kick in the goolies, but Hera did agree to meet up for a coffee instead.  That was alright; Zeus could take things slowly.  See how things went.  Maybe wait until their third date before proposing again.

And then along came Leto.  Zeus couldn’t help himself and Hera was not impressed.  In fact, she was incensed.  She made poor Leto’s life a misery (see Part 2) and threw a pail of cold water over any flame that was developing between her and Zeus.

For Zeus, that made the challenge all the more alluring.  If he could just show her what she was missing out on.  If he could just find a way to get to her.  And then a plan formulated in his mind.  A cunning plan. 

Hera was known for being fearless and angry.  She was also known for her love of animals; a bit like an angry Snow White.  Deciding to exploit this, Zeus transformed into a cuckoo and tapped at Hera’s window looking cute and distressed.  On seeing this, Hera opened her window and held the little bird gently in her hand.  The poor thing was cold, and it had a tear in its eye.  Never before had there been such a sad looking bird.  She gently nestled the cuckoo against her bosom to warm it up.  It let out a strange sound and its eyes got bigger.  Hera even thought she saw the cuckoo smile, which was an unusual thing for a bird to do.  Poor thing.  Hera nestled the bird further into her chest, ‘There, there,’ she said softly.

How strange.  It was getting bigger.  And bigger.  And…ZEUS!  Of course it was him.  How foolish she had been.  She should have known when the bird started drooling all over her chest.

Zeus mistook Hera’s affection towards the bird as consent for him to ravish her.  Moments after completing the deed, Zeus proposed again.  Feeling ashamed and embarrassed, Hera agreed to the proposal through gritted teeth, but she would never forget or forgive Zeus’ cruel actions.  She swore to herself that she would have her vengeance.

The wedding was a grand affair and anyone who was anyone was there.  It took place at the Garden of Hesperides and the couple were presented with numerous lavish gifts, including an apple tree from Grandma Gaia (which plays a significant role in a number of the other myths).  Zeus then whisked Hera off on a honeymoon lasting 300 years on the Greek island of Samos.  I’ve been to a few Greek islands; I would suggest that 300 years is excessive (probably by around 299 years and 51 weeks).

Their marriage bore fruit in the form of Ares (the god of war) and Hephaestus (the god of…well…many things – blacksmiths, metalworking, carpenters) who would eventually join their parents on Mount Olympus.  The couple also had a number of less favoured children including Angelos, Eileithyia and Hebe who could never quite live up to their siblings fierce reputations and so were never rewarded with a spot at the high table.  The marriage was far from a happy one though; whilst Hera remained faithful (of course – what rage there would have been had she have strayed), Zeus took every opportunity he could to sow his wild oats, resulting in a very angry and vengeful wife.  We will hear all about Zeus’ dalliances and Hera’s revenge in the next update.

To be continued…

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