Myths About Hera: All Her Famous Stories & Women She Cursed

Many myths about Hera focus on her vengeful acts, yet they often overlook her important part as a protector of women and upholder of marriage vows.

While she is widely recognized for her harsh punishment against her husband’s numerous lovers and offspring, there’s much more to her story.

She did help other gods and heroes. And she viewed herself as fighter for the sanctity of marriage.

Every Hera story tells us a little more about her place amongst the gods and what she was really all about.

As you’ll soon see, her stories highlight her protectiveness and her vengefulness towards anyone who betrayed her.

In this guide, we cover all the famous Hera myths including the ones involving the women she cursed.

Let’s begin…

Most Famous Myths About Hera

Some of the myths about Hera going on behind her.

Here we explore the popular myths about Hera that highlight her standing as the matriarch of Mount Olympus.

Hera and Hercules

Her animosity toward Hercules, one of Zeus’s illegitimate sons, is well-documented.

When looking for Goddess Hera’s most famous story, this might be it.

It’s the one people remember the most.

Her disdain for him began even before he was born. She tried to prevent his birth by delaying his delivery and causing his twin brother to be born prematurely.

After his birth, she sent two serpents to kill him in his cradle. But even as an infant he demonstrated his divine strength by strangling them.

As with many Hera myths, she was relentless in going after those that reminded her of Zeus’ indiscretions.

So throughout his life, she continued to make his tasks more difficult.

Most notably, she was responsible for his madness, which led him to kill his wife and children. This became a tragic event that resulted in him undertaking the famous Twelve Labors as a penance.

Despite all her efforts, he ultimately achieved divine status, becoming one of the most revered heroes in Greek mythology.

The meaning to the Hercules and Hera story is about how destructive envy and anger can be.

The other lesson it teaches us is about the resilience and strength required to overcome obstacles, demonstrating that adversity can be a catalyst for personal growth and heroism.

Io’s Transformation

Io, one of Zeus’s lovers, became one of the women Hera cursed. To hide his affair, Zeus transformed Io into a cow, but his wife wasn’t fooled.

She sent Argus, a giant with many eyes, to guard Io.

Zeus sent Hermes to kill Argus, allowing Io to escape. But his wife continued to torment Io by sending a gadfly to sting her, driving her into madness.

This is another story of Hera that underscores her persistent retaliation and her desire to maintain control over Zeus’s cheating ways. It really speaks to her personality type.

Io’s transformation into a cow by Zeus was initially meant to protect her from his wife’s wrath, but it ultimately triggered a series of tragic events.

Io wandered the earth, eventually crossing the Bosporus and ending up in Egypt.

Io’s eventual restoration to human form and her descendants’ role in Egyptian mythology underscored the interconnectedness of Greek and other ancient legends.

Hera and Ixion Story

In Greek mythology, the story of Goddess Hera and Ixion is a fascinating tale that underscores the goddess’s role as both a victim and an enforcer of divine justice.

Ixion was the king of the Lapiths and, despite being favored by the gods, he committed a grave sin by trying to seduce the goddess. Zeus, aware of Ixion’s intentions, created a cloud replica of his wife, named Nephele, to test him.

Ixion, deceived by the illusion, coupled with Nephele, and from this union came the centaurs, a hybrid of man and horse, representing his deceitful nature.

The real goddess was outraged but not harmed, and she watched as Zeus punished Ixion for his audacity. He was bound to a fiery, spinning wheel in the underworld, doomed to eternal torture for his betrayal and disrespect.

Many of these myths of Hera highlight her significant status among the Olympian gods.

They also underscore themes of divine justice and the consequences of mortal hubris when dealing with the gods.

Iris and Hera Story

The story of Iris and Hera showcases the importance of loyalty, revealing how gods and goddesses manipulated and relied on one another to achieve their own ends.

Iris, known for her role as a messenger of the gods, particularly served the queen of Olympus with loyalty and dedication.

Iris carried messages across the heavens and to the underworld, bridging the gap between the divine and the mortal.

In one of the most well-known Hera myths from ancient texts, she wanted to delay or even prevent the birth of Hercules. So she dispatched Iris to summon Ilithyia, the goddess of childbirth, away from Alcmene.

Iris swiftly carried out the command, ensuring Ilithyia would delay Hercules’s birth, demonstrating her role as a faithful servant.

As the messenger who could traverse multiple worlds, her role was pivotal in executing Hera’s plans smoothly, often involving delicate matters that required both tact and urgency.

Through these narratives, Iris emerges not just as a messenger, but as a key player in the intricate dance of force and diplomacy among the gods.

Hera and Leto

Leto was one of the women Hera cursed because she became Zeus’s lover.

When she became pregnant, the queen of Olympus cursed her to ensure that no fertile land would allow her to give birth.

Leto eventually found refuge on the island of Delos, where she gave birth to twins. The persecution of Leto demonstrates her resolve to eliminate any trace of Zeus’s affairs.

This is yet another myth that Hera was involved in which illustrates her willingness to manipulate the world to her advantage.

It demonstrates her unyielding pursuit of those who crossed her.

Leto’s struggle to find a place to give birth due to the curse was a testament to the vindictiveness of the goddess.

After many rejections, Leto found refuge on the island of Delos, which became a sanctuary for her and her children.

Her relentless pursuit of Leto stemmed from the desire to ensure that Zeus’s affairs had no lasting impact on the divine order.

As this demonstrates, Hera had powers to alter the course of events in order to maintain her authority.

The Punishment of Echo

In one of the stranger myths about Hera, the nymph Echo was punished for distracting the goddess with endless chatter.

Echo was a mountain nymph with a beautiful voice and a loquacious nature.

When Zeus took a liking to the nymphs of the mountains, his wife descended to catch him in the act.

To protect Zeus, Echo engaged the goddess in long-winded conversations, using her loquaciousness to distract the goddess while Zeus made his escape.

When the queen of the gods realized she had been tricked, she unleashed her fury. As punishment, Goddess Hera cursed Echo, stripping her of her free speech and leaving her only able to repeat the last words spoken to her. 

This curse defined the tragic remainder of Echo’s life, affecting her profoundly when she fell in love with the beautiful youth Narcissus.

Unable to declare her love or initiate conversation, Echo’s love remained unrequited, and she eventually withered away, leaving behind just her voice.

This story exemplifies themes of love, loss, and the severe consequences of divine retribution.

Trying to Kill Zeus

In this famous story of Hera, she actually teams up with Poseidon and Athena in a plot to overthrow Zeus.

Frustrated by his tyrannical rule over the gods, they sought to bind him. However, the plot was thwarted when Thetis, a sea nymph, summoned the hundred-handed giant Briareus to rescue Zeus.

Briareus quickly freed Zeus, who then punished the conspirators, particularly his wife, whom he suspended from the sky with golden chains. 

This story highlights her tumultuous relationship with Zeus, marked by conflict and reconciliation.

Hera trying to kill Zeus demonstrated her deep dissatisfaction with his dominance and infidelities.

And it showed the turbulent dynamics within the Olympian family, reflecting the struggles and betrayals that took place from time to time. Despite being punished, her role as Zeus’s wife and queen of the gods remained intact.

Their relationship continued to be a blend of alliance and rivalry, shaping many other mythological tales.

Hera and Semele

Exploring the darker side of the Empress of Olympus, the myth of Hera and Semele is a tragic tale interwoven with deception and divine manipulation.

Semele, a Theban princess, unknowingly became one of Zeus’s many love interests. When the goddess discovered their affair, she devised a cunning plan to eliminate Semele while masking her true identity.

Disguising herself as an old nurse or a trusted confidante, the Queen of the Gods befriended Semele and planted seeds of doubt about her lover’s true identity, suggesting he might be an imposter rather than the king of the gods.

Consumed by doubt and desiring proof of Zeus’s divinity, Semele requested Zeus to reveal his true form to her. 

Bound by an oath to grant her any wish, Zeus reluctantly complied.

As a mortal, Semele could not withstand the sight of Zeus in his divine form, and she was utterly consumed by the divine fire of his thunder and lightning, leading to her tragic death.

From the ashes of Semele, Zeus rescued their unborn child, Dionysus, sewing him into his thigh until he was ready to be born, thereby ensuring his survival.

This is yet another one of those Hera myths that illustrates her relentless pursuit to uphold her dignity and punish those who wrong her or threaten her status. She used her cunning to manipulate and enforce divine justice.

The Transformation of Lamia

Lamia was part of the group of women Hera cursed.

She was a beautiful queen of Libya and, like many others, became an object of Zeus’s affection.

When the goddess discovered their affair, she was inflamed and resolved to exact punishment not on Zeus, but more cruelly, on Lamia.

Of all the myths about Hera, her actions in this one were the most brutal.

She forced Lamia to witness the death of her own children, whom the goddess either killed or caused Lamia to kill in a state of madness.

In some versions of the legend, the queen of Olympus cursed Lamia to become a creature who could never close her eyes, so that she would always obsess over her dead children.

Driven mad by her grief and torment, Lamia preyed on young children, stealing them away in the night. 

Over time, her appearance became increasingly distorted, and she was often depicted as a serpentine-like figure.

This Hera story with Lamia reflects the extreme measures the goddess is willing to take to defend the sanctity of her marriage.

In reality, it was her husband’s fault. But she was unable to punish him, so she went after the other party involved.

Hera and Alcmene

The myth involving Hera and Alcmene is one of envy and resentment, a recurring theme in stories related to the Queen of Marriage.

But they are mostly in response to Zeus’s numerous betrayals.

Alcmene was a mortal woman and the wife of Amphitryon. However, she is most famously known for being the mother of Hercules, whom she bore with Zeus.

Zeus, disguised as her husband, visited Alcmene one night, extending the night to three times its normal length to prolong his stay.

Upon discovering Zeus’s deception and Alcmene’s subsequent pregnancy, Hera’s wrath was unleashed.

She could not tolerate the existence of another of Zeus’s illegitimate children, especially one prophesied to achieve great fame. 

Out of spite, she tried various methods to prevent the birth of Hercules or kill him after his birth.

When Alcmene was in labor with Hercules, the goddess sent her daughter Eileithyia, the deity of childbirth, to prevent the delivery by crossing her legs, symbolically binding the womb.

Additionally, when Hercules was eventually born, the queen of the gods sent two serpents to kill him in his crib.

These myths of Hera underscore her relentless pursuit of those she considered a threat to her status.

The Golden Fleece

The story of Hera and her involvement in the Golden Fleece begins with a compassionate act. When Jason was helping an old woman across a river, he lost a sandal.

This woman was actually the goddess in disguise, testing the virtues of mortals. Pleased with Jason’s kindness, she decided to favor him, assisting him in his quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece.

Her support was pivotal throughout Jason’s adventures.

She guided him to seek advice from Chiron, the wise centaur, and later, she persuaded Aphrodite to compel Medea, a sorceress and the daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, to fall in love with Jason.

Medea’s love proved crucial, as her magical abilities helped Jason overcome the numerous challenges guarding the fleece, including the harrowing task of yoking fire-breathing bulls and sowing the dragon’s teeth.

Hera’s involvement showcases her role as a protector of heroes and a manipulator of fates, using her divine influence to steer the course of mortal endeavors.

The Trojan War

The legend of the Trojan War mentions Hera as a key player. She sided with the Greeks against the Trojans.

Her animosity toward the Trojans stemmed from Paris’s decision to award the golden apple to Aphrodite instead of her. This slight fueled her desire to see Troy fall.

Throughout the war, she worked alongside Athena and other gods to aid the Greeks, demonstrating her capacity for vengeance and her significant influence in determining the outcome of major events.

Her involvement in the war highlighted her ability to shape mortal destinies.

Her actions included deceiving Zeus to aid the Greeks and causing turmoil among the Trojans.

Her strategic involvement in the war highlighted her commitment to change the outcome of significant events, reinforcing her role as an influential goddess.

The story of Hera and her active participation in the Trojan War demonstrated her willingness to take drastic measures to achieve her goals.

Hera and Tiresias

This is one of those myths about Hera that involves a dramatic transformation and a divine dispute that showcases the complexities of gender in Greek mythology.

Tiresias stumbled upon two mating snakes and struck the female, which led to his transformation into a woman by the goddess.

Living as a woman for seven years, Tiresias experienced life and society from a wholly different perspective.

This period ended when he again encountered mating snakes and acted similarly, reversing the transformation.

Years later, Tiresias found himself in the middle of a celestial argument between Zeus and his wife.

They inquired which gender derived greater pleasure from love. 

Drawing on his unique experience of having lived as both man and woman, Tiresias sided with Zeus, asserting that women enjoy it more.

Angered by his answer, she struck him blind as punishment. In compensation, Zeus granted Tiresias the gift of prophecy, making him a revered figure in Greek mythology.

This myth of Hera highlights the contentious dynamics between her and her husband. But it also explores themes of transformation, identity, and the complexities of divine justice.

Lesser Known Hera Myths and Legends

Little-known Hera myths.

Here’s more Hera myths that are not as known as the others.

Zeus Suspends Her from Olympus

In this myth where Zeus suspends Hera from Olympus, the tumultuous relationship between the king and queen of the gods is on full display.

The conflict arose from her incessant distrust and constant interference in Zeus’s affairs, particularly concerning his numerous infidelities.

Fed up with her attempts to thwart his romantic escapades and her punitive actions against his mortal and divine lovers, Zeus decided to teach her a lesson.

In a display of his authority and power, Zeus hung Hera in the sky with golden chains, suspending her from Olympus. 

He attached heavy anvils to her feet, leaving her to dangle helplessly in the void, a punishment meant to curb her rebellious streak.

This act of punishment is a stark illustration of the dynamics of power and retribution among the Olympian gods.

The myth underscores not only the severity of Zeus’s wrath but also the complexities of his relationship with his wife. 

It blends themes of authority, conflict, and the consequences of defiance within divine relationships.

The Birth of Hephaestus

In all the myths about Hera, this is one where she actually gets back at her husband for all his infidelities.

According to one version of this story, she was angry at Zeus for fathering Athena without her, so she decided to conceive a child by herself.

So Hephaestus was said to be born to the goddess alone, without Zeus’s involvement.

However, upon seeing Hephaestus’s deformity, she cast him away from Olympus.

This act of rejection deeply affected Hephaestus, leading him to become the god of fire and forge. Despite his rough start, he played a crucial role in crafting weapons and armor for the gods.

Despite his deformity and rough upbringing, he played a crucial role in many Greek myths, demonstrating his resilience and skill.

This Hera story illustrates her uncompromising nature and her commitment to maintaining divine order.

The Apples of the Hesperides

One of the more unique myths of Hera involves the Apples of the Hesperides, which intertwines with the legendary Twelve Labors of Hercules, particularly the eleventh labor.

The goddess, who harbored a deep-seated animosity towards Hercules, Zeus’s son with the mortal woman Alcmene, was indirectly instrumental in this task.

The Apples of the Hesperides were precious, golden fruits gifted to Hera by Gaia (the Earth) at her wedding to Zeus.

These apples were not only a symbol of fertility and immortality but also were zealously guarded by the Hesperides, nymphs of the evening and the daughters of Atlas, in a distant and secret garden.

To further challenge and torment Hercules, the goddess had placed a hundred-headed dragon named Ladon to guard the apples.

This task was intended to be insurmountable, as Hercules was not only to locate this hidden garden but also to bypass the formidable dragon.

Despite her intentions, Hercules succeeded by enlisting the aid of Atlas, who retrieved the apples while Hercules temporarily shouldered the weight of the heavens.

This is one of those Hera myths that emphasizes her relentless pursuit to impede Hercules and her role in intertwining the fates of gods and mortals.


Callisto was part of the group of women Hera cursed and tormented.

This is a tragic story of transformation and vengeance, illustrating her response to yet another of Zeus’s infidelities.

When Zeus noticed Callisto, he became consumed by desire. He ended up tricking her into a relationship that led to them having kids.

When the queen of the pantheon discovered the betrayal, her wrath was directed not towards Zeus but at Callisto.

In her desire for retaliation, she transformed Callisto into a bear. 

This transformation was a cruel twist of fate for someone who was a dedicated follower of the huntress goddess.

Years later, Callisto, still in bear form, encountered her son Arcas.

Not recognizing his mother, Arcas nearly killed her during a hunt.

In an unexpected twist to one of the zaniest myths about Hera, her husband Zeus intervened.

He placed both mother and son in the sky as the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, immortalizing the victims of his wife’s wrath in the stars.

Hera, Castor, and Pollux

The Hera story with Castor and Pollux is another case of the goddess not having a positive relationship with Zeus’s children, particularly those born from mortal liaisons.

Castor and Pollux, known as the Dioscuri, were twin brothers with shared divine and mortal heritage.

Pollux was immortal, sired by Zeus, while Castor was mortal, fathered by Tyndareus, the king of Sparta. The twins shared a bond that transcended their different paternities, embodying the ideals of brotherly love and loyalty.

Her interaction with the twins is not as directly antagonistic as with some of Zeus’s other offspring. However, her general hostility towards Zeus’s affairs and their resulting progeny inevitably cast a shadow over their lives.

When Castor died, Pollux was devastated and begged Zeus to share his immortality with his brother.

Moved by this display of love and perhaps seeking to soften his wife’s perceived harshness, Zeus allowed the twins to alternate between the underworld and Olympus.

This arrangement symbolizes the blending of divine favor and mortal strife, an ongoing theme in her mythological narratives.

Hera Curses Priapus

Hera cursed Priapus, the god of fertility, because of what his mother did.

According to the story, while pregnant with Priapus, his mother Aphrodite boasted that her son would surpass the beauty of all other gods.

In retaliation for this arrogance, the goddess touched Aphrodite’s belly and cursed Priapus to be born ugly and with a permanent, disproportionate deformity.

Surprisingly, Aphrodite never tried to get back at her for putting a curse on her son.

Despite his deformity, Priapus became a deity associated with fertility, livestock, fruit plants, and gardens.

This myth about Hera, Aphrodite and Priapus is as a cautionary tale about the envious nature of the gods and goddesses.


Europa was not quite a rival of Hera because she wasn’t strong enough, but she was someone the queen of the gods did not like. And that’s because she had an affair with Zeus.

To hide this affair from his wife, Zeus transformed into a gentle white bull and approached Europa while she was gathering flowers. Enchanted by the bull’s docility, Europa climbed onto its back.

Zeus then revealed his true form and carried her across the sea to Crete. There, Europa became the first queen of Crete and bore Zeus’ three sons.

Rather than confronting Europa directly, the goddess chose to subtly influence the circumstances around her, weaving challenges and obstacles into her path.

Conclusion to the Myths About Hera

It’s easy to see that the myths about Hera are not only numerous but also deeply entangled with themes of marriage, infidelity, and punishment.

By debunking common misconceptions, such as her being merely bitter or solely defined by her marriage to Zeus, we gain a deeper appreciation of her reign as queen of the Olympian gods.

Hera’s myths reveal her complexity: she is a goddess of marriage and childbirth, a protector of women, and a figure of immense authority in the pantheon and beyond.

Her actions, though often questionable, prompt reflection on moral and ethical dilemmas.

Her tales also encourage people to consider right from wrong, as well as consider the complications of justice and retribution.

These myths about Hera are a great way to explore the intricacies of ancient Greek social and familial belief systems.

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