The Iliad

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Hera Character Analysis

Zeus’ wife and queen of the gods. After Paris does not select her as being the most beautiful goddess, Hera has a passionate hatred of Troy. She conspires to destroy the city, often attempting to do so behind Zeus’ back. In Book 14, she puts Zeus to sleep, allowing the Achaeans to beat back the Trojans.

Hera Quotes in The Iliad

The The Iliad quotes below are all either spoken by Hera or refer to Hera. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of The Iliad published in 1998.
Book 16 Quotes

Do as you please, Zeus . . .
but none of the deathless gods will ever praise you…
if you send Sarpedon home, living still, beware!
Then surely some other god will want to sweep
his own son clear of the heavy fighting too.

Related Characters: Hera (speaker), Zeus, Sarpedon
Page Number: 16.526-531
Explanation and Analysis:

In this famous scene, Zeus surveys the Trojan War and sees that his own son, Sarpedon, is about to be killed. Zeus contemplates saving his son from the danger, but decides against it after Hera encourages him to refrain from interfering. Hera's argument is interesting: she claims that Zeus's interference is a "slippery slope," and will encourage the other gods to meddle in human affairs excessively.

The passage conveys the complicated nature of free will in the poem. Zeus has the choice to interfere in human affairs, but he clearly doesn't want the gods to meddle in human affairs excessively--that's why he ultimately allows Sarpedon to die. Zeus's actions suggest that even gods have to bow before to the power of fate and destiny sometimes. Furthermore, the scene suggests that Zeus, just like Agamemnon, is a leader: he has to balance his own desires with his duties to the other gods in Olympus.

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Hera Character Timeline in The Iliad

The timeline below shows where the character Hera appears in The Iliad. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
...and says that helping the Trojans would force him into a fight with his wife Hera, who supports the Achaeans. However, he agrees, and bows his head as a sign of... (full context)
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Although Zeus attempted to make his promise to Thetis in secret, Hera has seen everything. She taunts Zeus for trying to make secret plans, and tells him... (full context)
The Gods Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...of all of the gods, attempting to defuse the quarrel between his parents Zeus and Hera. He tells Hera that Zeus is far too strong, and gives a comic speech about... (full context)
Book 2
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Hera sees the Achaeans preparing to sail, and sends Athena to stop them from leaving. Athena... (full context)
Book 4
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
...in council on Mt. Olympus, watching events take place in Troy. Zeus begins to taunt Hera, mocking her and Athena for standing by while Aphrodite rescues Paris. He notes that Menelaus... (full context)
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Zeus, satisfied with Hera’s offer, agrees to ensure Troy’s destruction. He orders Athena to fly down to the battlefield... (full context)
Book 5
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
The Gods Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...that “the man who fights the gods does not live long”. She heals Aphrodite’s wound. Hera and Athena mock Aphrodite, taunting her delicacy. (full context)
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
The Gods Theme Icon
Hera and Athena, seeing the Achaeans pushed back, harness Hera’s chariot and put on their armor.... (full context)
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
The Gods Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...most of all the gods, and that his injury is the will of his mother Hera. Zeus remarks that if Ares were not his son, he would banish him from Olympus.... (full context)
Book 8
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
On Olympus, Hera shakes with anger in her desire to help the Achaeans, but Poseidon checks her rage.... (full context)
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
With Hector in command, the Trojans drive the Achaeans back into their fortifications. Hera and Athena take pity on the Achaeans and curse Hector. They decide to assist the... (full context)
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Zeus returns to Olympus and mocks Hera and Athena for their failed efforts. Hera tells Zeus of her pity for the Achaeans,... (full context)
Book 14
The Gods Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...to Agamemnon’s side and reassures him that the Trojans will be turned back. On Olympus, Hera watches the actions of Poseidon and is pleased. She plots to help her brother by... (full context)
The Gods Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Hera goes to Aphrodite and asks her for a favor. Aphrodite agrees, and Hera tells her... (full context)
The Gods Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Hera flies to the dwelling places of the god Sleep. She asks the god to put... (full context)
The Gods Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Hera flies to Mount Ida, where Zeus is enthroned. Sleep hides nearby in the form of... (full context)
Book 15
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
...slumber and sees the catastrophe created in his absence. Feeling pity for Hector, he curses Hera for her disobedience, promising to punish her. Hera, trying to escape blame, swears that she... (full context)
The Gods Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Hera agrees to Zeus’ plan and returns to Olympus. She tells the god Themis about Zeus’... (full context)
Book 16
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Wartime Versus Peacetime Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...a son of Zeus, and eventually kills him. Zeus considers saving Sarpedon from Patroclus, but Hera scolds him, telling Zeus not to interfere in Sarpedon’s mortal destiny. As a compromise, Zeus... (full context)
Book 19
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
...armor forged by Hephaestus. Achilles’ team of horses is readied. As Achilles mounts his chariot, Hera gives voice to his horse Roan Beauty. The horse tells Achilles that he will help... (full context)
Book 20
The Gods Theme Icon
Hera, seeing Aeneas approach Achilles, asks Athena and Poseidon to help her give support to the... (full context)
Book 21
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
...to the ships. Xanthus calls to the river Simois to help him drown Achilles, but Hera intervenes, calling her son Hephaestus to battle the river with his fire. Under his blaze,... (full context)
The Gods Theme Icon
...that he will not fight over mortals. Apollo’s sister Artemis calls him a coward, and Hera, overhearing Artemis’ taunt, boxes the goddess’ ears. Artemis and her mother Leto withdraw from the... (full context)
Book 24
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
...his body from Achilles. They ask the god Hermes to steal the body away, but Hera, bent on shaming the Trojans, will not allow it because of her hate of all... (full context)
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
The Gods Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...Hector always respected the gods, and that Achilles has no decency for desecrating his body. Hera counters him, stating that Achilles is the son of a god, and that he and... (full context)