God of the Week: Hera

11/07/2011: Hera

Hera, ancient Greek goddess was wife (and sister) to Zeus.

The Origin and the Name of Hera. — The original significance of the person and of the name of Hera is lost in the obscurity of a remote past, but inasmuch as at all periods she manifested surprisingly few traces of Oriental influences, we are probably not to look to the East for her introduction into Greece. She was certainly very early a pan-Hellenic divinity, though none can say whether she came to the land with the invaders from the north or was a native goddess already established. Her acknowledged antiquity in Argos has led some to suspect that she was there a Pelasgic earth goddess whom the invaders adopted as their own under the new name of Hera; yet this explanation is puzzling in the light of the paucity of Hera’s earth-functions, for in the historical period she was certainly not of the earth, earthy. Moreover, why was she so implacable a foe of Dionysos? Why did she dispense no oracles? Why, too, had her children, Ares and Hephaistos, no chthonic functions? The hypothesis that she was originally a moon-goddess may be summarily dismissed on the ground that it deals with an admittedly late conception. The name Hera seems to have had some [connection] with that of Herakles and perhaps with [“hero”], but the statement that it signifies “the strong one” is based without warrant on assumed relations of Hera with a goddess of Phoinikia.

-Mythology of All Races, Volume 1, Greek and Roman

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