Divine jealousy in Greek mythology  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
loves of the gods, Jealousy in religion

The gods and goddesses of ancient Greek mythology were no strangers to romantic jealousy. No god or goddess illustrates this better than Hera. Hera was the wife of Zeus. Zeus, the leader of the gods on Mt. Olympus, frequently took lovers in addition to Hera. Hera in turn exacted jealous revenge against her romantic rivals:

  • Leto - When Hera discovered that Leto was pregnant and that Hera's husband, Zeus, was the father, she banned Leto from giving birth on "terra-firma", or the mainland, or any island at sea. Alternatively, Hera kidnapped Ilithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into labor. The other gods forced Hera to let her go.
  • Callisto/Arcas - A follower of Artemis, Callisto took a vow to remain a virgin. But Zeus fell in love with her and disguised himself as Apollo in order to lure her into his embrace. Hera then turned Callisto into a bear out of revenge.
  • Semele/Dionysus - In one of various birth myths of him, Dionysus was a son of Zeus by a mortal woman. A jealous Hera again attempted to kill the child, this time by sending Titans to rip Dionysus to pieces after luring the baby with toys. Though Zeus drove the Titans away with his thunderbolts but only after the Titans ate everything but the heart, which was saved, variously, by Athena, Rhea, or Demeter.
  • Io - Hera almost caught Zeus with a mistress named Io, a fate avoided by Zeus turning Io into a beautiful white heifer. However, Hera was not completely fooled and demanded Zeus give her the heifer as a present. Once Io was given to Hera, she placed her in the charge of Argus to keep her separated from Zeus.
  • Lamia - Lamia was a queen of Libya, whom Zeus loved. Hera turned her into a monster and murdered their children. Or, alternately, she killed Lamia's children and the grief turned her into a monster. Lamia was cursed with the inability to close her eyes so that she would always obsess over the image of her dead children.

Zeus, or the other gods, would frequently intervene to undo some of the damage caused by Hera's vengeance. However, the message in these stories seems clear-- provoking divine jealousy can result in terrible suffering.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Divine jealousy in Greek mythology" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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