Jack of Many Trades

Words for Hera

Originally posted: 2012-04-09

I am Hera, called Bopis. I was and remain a Queen and a Goddess. I am the patron of marriage and birth, and even in my own realm I am disrespected. I am beautiful — beautiful enough to compete with Aphrodite, and that is no mean compliment. I am powerful. I had my own festivities celebrated at Argos. I am the firstborn daughter of Cronos and, yes, I am the wife of Zeus.

That’s the only one people ever ask about these days.

Before the thunder came, I was a virgin goddess of the skies and stars, widely worshiped in Greece. My temples were some of the oldest and largest, and my statues once sat alone, regal and veiled. Zeus’s image came later, after I let myself be seduced by the cuckoo. Remember that Zeus was often referred to as my consort.

You may remember also that the word cuckold comes fromcuckoo.

He took my sky from me, my brother did, and my virginity. I gave it willingly, but I expected honestly and commitment in return. I am no Mary, no Queen of Heaven who was pleasantly chaste and happy to exist as a body surrounding a womb or a vehicle for a male god’s pleasure. I am not someone to be trifled with. I won’t let Zeus take any more from me.

Say what you will about my treatment of Hercules, I gave him my own daughter Hebe in marriage when he came to Olympus finally. And you express such sympathy for Io, for Danae, for Europa and for Leda, but you never seem to consider the context of this anger.

Perhaps it is unfair of me to expect humans and lesser goddesses to control themselves before a god such as Zeus. Perhaps they really are the simple things he seems to consider them, toys he can play with and then leave behind. But in my day, and in the days of Greece’s glory, a woman seduced outside of marriage — outside of my realm and without my blessing — was no better treated by her own family than she was by me. I doubt any of you would look any more kindly upon your husband’s mistresses.

Let me ask you. If you were a powerful single goddess, one with the power to bring forth life — and children — from the earth without the help of a man, and you married a man who constantly ran off with the first cute human, or swan, or cow that passed by, would you be a smiling Stepford Wife about it? I am the goddess who refused to be quieted. I am the wife who keeps the house no matter what, because it needs to be kept. I will not take my husband’s shit, and I most certainly will not take yours.

Show me respect and a kind word, however, and I will be a pleased and pleasant Lady to keep your company. I am no more the bitch than any woman who has to be strong to maintain her place. Come sit by my hearth, and listen to my counsel, and I will teach you many things.