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The Sacred Wedding of Zeus and Hera

Of all the great loves through the ages, none compares to the unique love that Zeus and Hera shared. Zeus, having already had a great number of lovers, fell head over heels in love with Hera upon catching a glimpse of her. Upon realizing that Hera was in fact his sister Zeus realized that in order to pursue Hera he needed to keep his love a secret from his mother, whom he knew would not approve.

Unfortunately for Zeus Hera was not as impressed with him as he was with her, and so Zeus had to resort to transforming himself into a cuckoo and pretend to be freezing to death while sitting outside her window. His intention was for Hera to take pity on him and bring him into her room. The ploy was effective, as Hera immediately felt sorry for the bird and brought Zeus into her house. Upon entering her home Zeus transformed himself back, revealing his true identity, and made love to Hera.

In order to protect Hera from the shame his actions would bring upon her, Zeus whisked her away and made her his legal wife. In effect Zeus gave Hera no option but to marry him. While the reason for Hera’s wedding may have been to avoid her shame, no expense or ceremony was spared. Hera was garbed in splendor and all honor and sacrifice was made to show how much Zeus cherished and loved his bride. The wedding was conducted in the Garden of Hesperides, and Hera was seated on a golden throne next to Zeus.

This most sacred of weddings brought forth guests offering precious gifts, with one of the most notable being offered by Gaea, Earth Goddess, who gifted Zeus and Hera with the symbol of love, a quince, and in honor of Hera a tree that flourished with golden fruit. Hera was enchanted with the tree and gave it a special place in her ocean side garden.

After the wedding ceremony the newly married couple left to enjoy a honeymoon on the Greek island of Samos. What made this honeymoon so unusual was that it lasted over 300 years! During their marriage Zeus and Hera had three children: Ares, God of war; Hebe, an eternally young beauty; and Eileithyia, Goddess of childbirth.

While the wedding may have been sacred unfortunately Zeus did not honor his vows to Hera, embarking on numerous love affairs with both females and males that rendered Hera less than happy wife. Hera grew tired of his endless parade of lovers, often flying into a terrible rage at having to endure his lack of fidelity. Hera was said to have had a particularly violent temper and yet it was not enough to stop Zeus from carrying on during their marriage.

As well as a volatile and jealous temper, Hera was particularly vain and didn’t appreciate having her place as the most beautiful in the land challenged. One such challenger Side, made the mistake of proclaiming herself more beautiful than any other, resulting in Hera sending her to Hades.

An ongoing argument between Zeus and Hera about who enjoyed more pleasure from making love, a man or a woman, grew into such a debate that Teiresias the great seer, was called in to put an end to the argument. Upon hearing the seer’s opinion that women receive nine times as much pleasure as men do during lovemaking Hera promptly flew once more into a terrible rage and retaliated by robbing the great seer of sight. While Zeus and Hera were King and Queen of Heaven, it seems that their union was not a ‘match made in Heaven’ as some marriages are described today.