Greek Goddess Hera and the Argonauts

Hera, the queen of the gods in Greek mythology, is often depicted as a protector of heroes and a supporter of heroic endeavors. She played a significant role in the voyage of the Argo, the ship used by Jason and the Argonauts during their quest for the Golden Fleece.

Greek goddess Hera is believed to have imbued in the Argo some magical spells, including a beam that could talk.

Hera’s Protection of the Argo

As the wife of Zeus, Hera was one of the most powerful Olympian gods. She took a special interest in the voyage of the Argo, offering her protection and guidance to the Argonauts at various stages of their journey.

Support to Jason

Jason, the leader of the Argonauts, was a special favorite of Hera’s. She guided him through many of the challenges he encountered on his quest.

For example, when Jason needed to yoke fire-breathing bulls to plow a field, Hera, with the help of the deities Aphrodite and Eros (Cupid), influenced the witch Medea to fall in love with Jason and help him.

Jason with the Golden Fleece by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen

Hera and the Talking Beam

According to some versions of the myth, Hera had a direct influence on the construction of the Argo. A beam from the sacred forest of Dodona, which could speak the language of the gods, was placed in the ship. This beam was said to have been instilled with prophetic powers by Hera herself, and it advised the Argonauts during their journey.

As the story goes, the ship Argo, which was constructed to carry Jason and the Argonauts on their quest, had a unique feature. Image: The Argo (c. 1500–1530), painting by Italian painter Lorenzo Costa

End of the Voyage

After the successful retrieval of the Golden Fleece, Hera continued to watch over Jason and Medea, helping them navigate the challenges they faced on their return journey.

Thus, Hera’s role in the story of the Argo is that of a divine protector and guide. She serves as an example of the often capricious and personal involvement of the gods in Greek mythology, where they can favor certain humans, intervene directly in human affairs, and even alter the course of events according to their whims.

READ MORE: Greek Deities that Facilitated or Hindered the Journey of the Argonauts

Questions and Answers

Greek Goddess Hera

The Campana Hera, a Roman copy of a Hellenistic original, from the Louvre

Why did Hera hate King Pelias?

Hera, the queen of the gods in Greek mythology, had particular reasons for holding a grudge against Pelias. Pelias was guilty of a grave sacrilege: he had killed Sidero, his own step-grandmother, within one of Hera’s temples. This act not only showed disrespect to his family but also desecrated Hera’s sacred space. Such an offense was not taken lightly in the ancient Greek religious context.

The Queen of the Olympians, known for her cunning and indirect methods of dealing with those she disliked, found a way to seek vengeance on Pelias without overtly acting against him.

The above explains why she supported and guided Jason, the rightful heir to the throne of Iolcus that Pelias had usurped, in his quest for the Golden Fleece. While the journey was arduous, Hera’s backing was invaluable to Jason.

When Jason returned from his successful quest with Medea, Hera saw an opportunity. Using her influence over Medea, Hera manipulated events so that Medea would deceive Pelias’s daughters into killing their own father. Medea tricked them into believing that by cutting up their aged father and boiling him, they could rejuvenate him. This brutal plan resulted in Pelias’s death, and Hera’s indirect vengeance was complete.

Hera’s involvement in this saga underscores her role as a protector of the sanctity of her temples, as well as the lengths she would go to punish those who wronged her or her proteges.

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