Word of the Day – Wednesday, June 27th



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Queen of the Olympian gods; the wife and sister of Zeus.
Common clues: Wife of Zeus; Daughter of Cronus; Juno, to the Greeks; Mother of Ares; Greek queen of heaven; Mrs. Zeus; Bickerer in the “Iliad”
Crossword puzzle frequency: 3 times a year
Frequency in English language: 44331 / 86800
Goddess Hera

In the Olympian pantheon of classical Greek Mythology, Hêra was the wife and sister of Zeus. She also presided as goddess of marriage.

Hera is portrayed as being majestic and solemn, often enthroned and crowned with the polos, the high cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great Goddesses. In her hand she may bear the pomegranate, emblem of fertile blood and death and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy (Ruck and Staples 1994). "Nevertheless, there are memories of an earlier, aniconic representation, as a pillar in Argos and as a plank in Samos" (Burkert 1985 p.131).

Hera; marble statue 5th century B.C.

Hera's importance in the early archaic period is attested by the large building projects undertaken in her honor. The temples of Hera at Samos and in the Argolid were the very earliest monumental Greek temples constructed, in the 8th century BC.

For a time, a nymph named Echo had the job of distracting Hera from Zeus' affairs by incessantly talking. When Hera discovered the deception, she cursed Echo to only speak the words of others (hence our modern word "echo").

When Hera discovered that Leto was pregnant and that Hera's husband, Zeus, was the father, she banned Leto from giving birth on "terra-firma", or the mainland, or any island at sea. She found the floating island of Delos, which was neither mainland nor a real island and gave birth there. The island was surrounded by swans. As a gesture of gratitude, Delos was secured with four pillars. The island later became sacred to Apollo. Alternatively, Hera kidnapped Ilithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into labor. The other gods forced Hera to let her go. Either way, Artemis was born first and then assisted with the birth of Apollo. Another version states that Artemis was born one day before Apollo, on the island of Ortygia and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hera".