Beloved Hera Essay

657 Words3 Pages
Though the societies presented in the Iliad are male-dominated warrior cultures, a woman with enough noble stature can undermine the social order. Hera, through her position and maternal influence gains power over her male contemporaries in the poem. Through using backdoor means to achieving power, Hera accomplishes her endgoal, the annihilation of Troy.
Hera, being the goddess of marriage and motherhood, functions as an exemplar and stereotype of all she represents. Though Hera lives in a patriarchal society on Olympus, within the context of the Mediterranean, she is shown having the power of a general over her son Hephaestus. It seems unlikely that Hephaestus should follow Hera’s orders--he is a warrior (as proved by his fight with Skamandros) and openly states his disdain for his mother, calling her “that brazen bitch” (18.463). However, when Hera “[calls] to arms, [her] child--god of the crooked legs” (21.377), Hephaestus doesn’t hesitate.
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Hera is the only mother portrayed who truly gives her own orders to her sons. Hecuba merely gives her son suggestions and pleas. Thetis gives orders to Achilles in the poem, but they are not her own commands: “I bring you a message sent by Zeus … O give [Hector] back at once--take ransom for the dead!” (24.163-177). This begs the question of which of the two types of mother--the more passive or the more aggressive--is parenting in the “right” way. Perhaps they all are, and each mother depicts a flavor or aspect of a traditionally good mother. Hera, then, represents the mother as matriarch. This matriarch is presented as not unlike a military general--fierce, proud, and willing to go to extremes to protect their own. Zeus states that Ares, the god of war has “[his] mother’s uncontrollable rage” (5.1033). By connecting the mother to the god of war, in a warrior-centric society, lends the matriarch great status and
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