Pandora’s stories: Hera

Hera and Iris (rainbow and messenger)

Hera and Iris (rainbow and messenger)

Hera, wife of Zeus, was mother of Ares, Hebe (youth), Eris (discord) and Eileithyia (childbirth). She presided over marriage, though her own marriage was troubled and she frequently came into conflict with Zeus’s children by other mothers.

One of her most famous conflicts was with Heracles, son of Zeus and Alcmene. For example, Hera sent two serpents to kill the baby Heracles as he slept in his cot, but he strangled one in each hand and was found playing with them like toys. Later, Hera sent Heracles to work for King Eurystheus at Mycenae to atone for killing his own children in a fit of madness (which she had sent!): each of the twelve labours he was set was intended to be more difficult than the one before. Ultimately Heracles completed the labours, and according to some stories he was even made a god after his death.


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