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Greek myths/Hera

(19 Posts)
mumwithdice Wed 27-Jul-11 17:56:11

I am hoping you all could help me with something.

In the version of the myths I know, Zeus threw Hephaestus off Mount Olympus for daring to side with Hera during an argument.

But, I have just been reading The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan and in it, he claims that Hera threw Hephaestus off Mount Olympus for being too ugly. Wikipedia backs this up, but I can't help believing that there is a bit of sexism going on there.

Does anyone know which is right or if these are just alternate versions? I know which one seems more likely to me. Hera is the goddess of marriage and childbirth, I believe. I'm not sure she'd throw a child she'd just given birth to off Mount Olympus.

The reason I've posted here is that I also think Hera gets a raw deal and it is pissing me off. But then, perhaps it is because she has the audacity to be a strong, opinionated goddess who doesn't like to put up with any guff.

So, a) what are your thoughts?
b) does anyone know of any resources to find out more about her?

Empusa Wed 27-Jul-11 18:02:37

If I can dig out my old book on Greek Mythology I'll let you know which version I've got.

Though as far as I'm aware the myths did change over time. So both have probably been "correct" at different times.

Hera, at least in the myths I know about, has always struck me as the one with the power, rather than Zeus. It's one of the reasons I find Greek mythology so fascinating, the goddesses are rarely the downtrodden type. In comparison to some other mythologies they were respresented much more fairly. Though obviously, in a society which was very much a patriachy, there were still some constraints.

AnansiGirl Wed 27-Jul-11 18:07:11

She does put up with an adulterous brother/husband far longer than any MN would though.

Empusa Wed 27-Jul-11 18:09:16

Oh I don't know, have you read the Relationships section?

AnansiGirl Wed 27-Jul-11 18:17:10

Ok, quick dash through my books say that both versions are quoted, Hera threw him down in disappointment, Zeus in a rage because he got in the way of an argument between spouses.
Hera was vile to many of the children that were the result of Zeus' infidelity, jealous and vengeful. Who sends poisonous snakes to kill a baby?

Gastonladybird Wed 27-Jul-11 18:17:51

The Robert graves myth books are good on different myths and their origins

AnansiGirl Wed 27-Jul-11 18:27:14

Rupert Graves has both versions.
First time he's dropped off Olympus, it's by Hera for being weakly.
Thetis saves him and looks after him until he's 9. He becomes a talented smith, makes lovely jewellery. Hera spots Thetis wearing a brooch she desires and the secret is out. He's taken back because he has a skill his mother wants
Then later, as an adult he reproaches Zeus for punishing Hera for rebellion by hanging her up in the sky by her wrists, Zeus throws him down, takes a day to fall and on landing he breaks both legs and becomes crippled.
Pardoned, returned and back to being smith of the gods again.

AnansiGirl Wed 27-Jul-11 18:28:28

Hera is not a nice goddess. What about Athena instead?

alexpolismum Wed 27-Jul-11 19:20:11

I don't know that Athena is all that nice either! Doesn't she turn Arachne into a spider out of jealousy, because Arachne is so good at weaving?

Empusa Wed 27-Jul-11 19:58:50

I don't think any of them are exactly "nice" grin

Seems part of the rules for being a god/goddess was possession of a nasty streak.

mumwithdice Wed 27-Jul-11 20:09:56

Yes, I believe there are alternate versions. Have done a bit more research and discussed with DH and FIL. We suspect it might be a regional thing.

Hephaestus was Hera's son so while she might be vile to Zeus' children by other women, I doubt she would be that nasty to her own son. So given that there are alternate versions, I pick mine.

From what I know, Athena turned Arachne into a spider not because Arachne was better, but because she wove a tapestry making fun of Zeus' philandering.

Also, I would like to point out that the majority of these myths are reported from a male pov so we may not be getting the full story as to how these gods/goddesses were perceived.

LittleWhiteWolf Wed 27-Jul-11 20:31:45

From what I know of her, Artemis was always pretty fair. She was the goddess of the hunt, but also of childbirth and virginity. She also punished a whole bunch of men for thinking about raping her or her attendants. If we're looking for a "good" goddess, I'd go for her.

ComradeJing Thu 28-Jul-11 07:45:14

The version I had of Athena was that she punished Arachne for hubris. She said she was better at weaving than Athena. Iirc Athena challenged her, won wand then punished her.

Agree that Artemis is a good one but I've a soft spot for Athena as she is also the goddess of wisdom & war.

LRDTheFeministDragon Thu 28-Jul-11 12:56:04

I think I remember being told the version where Zeus throws the baby off the mountain for being ugly is probably older.

It's a version of the many stories that are really about the custom of exposure. In ancient cultures across the world, babies who couldn't be supported by their families or were otherwise undesirable (girls, the weak, the disabled), were left out in the wilderness to die. As far as I know it's usually fathers who get to make the decision which babies to accept and which to leave. So there are lots of stories of babies who were rejected but survive and come back as adults - Romulus and Remus is like this, Dionysus is a sort of variation with a premature baby. It's heartbreaking to think these stories must have comforted women who were desperate to believe against the odds that their babies didn't just die. So I think they are very important myths for feminists.

LRDTheFeministDragon Thu 28-Jul-11 12:58:01

Btw, I read Greek and I've not come across the version that Hephastus sided with Hera but there are lots of epithets that refer to the other version - I don't know if it's just my reading is very selective (it was a while back!) or if the other version is less common?

mumwithdice Thu 28-Jul-11 14:08:22

I admit the version I know doesn't come from a scholarly source; it comes from D'Aulaire's Greek Myths, a beautifully illustrated retelling of them. However, I found several versions
here, one of which is the one I know.

I imagine that the other may be less common as it may be far more convenient to portray Hera as having no redeeming features whatsoever (which then makes you wonder why Zeus wanted her for his queen anyway).

azazello Thu 28-Jul-11 14:19:58

I think it is tricky as there will be regional variations to the myths and our current versions of them will have been handed down through various other authors. E.g. there isn't a classical 'collection of greek myths' as such so the Robert Graves books takes the versions there are and usually reports all of them, or in some cases the set he prefers.

A lot of the stories will have come to us via Ovid's metamorphoses which is a brilliant read, lots of lovely stories but in a very specific cultural and political context. Its a bit hazy now but you could also try the Golden Ass - Apuleius and the Apolloneus of Rhodes Voyage of the Argo.

On a tangent, I recently bought a copy of the Andrew Lang collections of fairy stories and it hadn't occurred to me before that there are about 40 different versions of Hansel and Gretel - not one 'right' version. In most of them H and G seem to be eaten...

mumwithdice Thu 28-Jul-11 14:46:22

To go along with your tangent, DH pointed out that many Russian and French fairytales have similar plots, but the Russian ones end with "so he died, miserable and alone. Now my throat is dry"

LRDTheFeministDragon Thu 28-Jul-11 15:33:58

grin mumwithdice, I love that ... that is just, so, ... Russian.

I think what Ovid's doing is a bit like the 'Princess Smartypants' modern fairytales (my teacher made that comparison and I always loved it!).

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