Zeus, the king of the gods of Mount Olympus, had many relationships but it was his sister, Hera, whom he wanted to rule by his side as his wife. Hera, the goddess of marriage and childbirth and the ruler of the sky, said no every time Zeus proposed marriage. She was all too aware of Zeus’ past and had no interest in the proposition. Zeus continued to propose for hundreds of years, each time getting a “no” from Hera.
Zeus was persistent and finally came up with a plan that would trick Hera into finally becoming his wife. Zeus was able to transform himself and turned himself into a helpless, rain-soaked bird. Hera found the poor bird and brought it to shelter and took care of it. Zeus turned himself back and Hera couldn’t help but fall in love with him. She finally agreed to be his wife.
Zeus and Hera’s wedding was the first formal marriage ceremony and was a huge occasion. It took place at the Garden of Hesperides and all of the gods and goddesses attended and brought fancy gifts. There was lots of feasting and the ceremony was the model for modern weddings.
From then on out Zeus and Hera endured a rocky relationship, caused mostly by Zeus becoming involved with and falling in love with other women. He constantly had affairs with goddesses, nymphs, and mortals. Hera became extremely jealous and spent much of her time on Mount Olympus spying on Zeus and plotting revenge if she found out that Zeus spent time with another woman. She had a violent temper and went out of her way to punish the women and their children that Zeus fathered.
When Zeus fell in love with Calisto and had her child, Hera turned her into a bear. To save her from being hunted by her own son (part of Hera’s plan), Zeus turned her into a constellation of stars, which became known as “Big Bear”. Their son later became the constellation “Little Bear”. When Zeus tried to disguise his lover Io to hide her from Hera, he turned her into a cow. Hera saw through the ruse and sent a biting fly to repeatedly sting her. Other notable mistresses include Danae; mother of her Perseus, Alcmena; mother of Heracles, Leda; mother of Helen of Troy and Pollux, Europa; mother of King Minos of Crete, and Ganymede; a mortal male and Trojan prince.
In addition to being very jealous, Hera was also very vain. In a competition as to who was “the fairest goddess”, Hera was extremely angry that the title went to Aphrodite. Since it was Paris of Troy that chose the winner, Hera’s reaction led to the Trojan War.
Zeus once consulted a wise man when Hera was angry with him and wanted to know how to win back her love. The wise man recommended making a wooden statue of a woman, draping it in cloth, and announcing that she was his bride. Hera removed the drapery and was delighted to see that it was a statue instead of an actual woman.