Hera Made Hercules' Life Difficult

Hera, queen of the gods, was Zeus' wife, and the patron of marriage. She greatly affected the course of Hercules' life, for reasons mentioned in the biography section. She hated the hero so much that she caused him problems at every opportunity.

RISD 25.078, Attic red figure lekythos, c. 500-475 B.C.
Hera seated on a throne.
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the Museum of Art, RISD, Providence, RI

Hera set in motion the events which led to his 12 Labors. During the course of the Labors, the goddess stepped in to make things harder, stirring up the Amazons against Hercules, or sending a gadfly to break up the herd of Geryon's cattle.

Even after Hercules finished the Labors, and went on to other adventures, Hera got in his way. When the hero sailed from Troy, Hera sent violent storms that tossed the boat around like a toy. Zeus got so mad at Hera for causing trouble that he hung her off the edge of Mount Olympus.

Louvre CA 616, Attic black figure tripod kothon, c. 570-565 B.C.
The wedding of Zeus and Hera. The bride is veiled, and standing behind her husband in the chariot. Three women carry wreaths to the newlyweds.
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the Musée du Louvre

Hercules did try to smooth things over with the angry queen of the gods; when he noticed that she had not opposed him during his fight against Hippocoon, he sacrificed goats to her, in thanks. When Hercules died, Hera's anger finally cooled, and after the hero ascended to Olympus, he married Hera's daughter, Hebe.

Dewing 2111, silver drachm from Amisos, c. 400-300 B.C.
Hera wearing a crown.
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the Dewing Numismatic Foundation


To read more about these topics, see Further Resources.

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