Originally published here
Something I’ve been working on for a while, after numerous discussions/rants about Greek Mythology. One of those was whether Hera was oversimplified, because there were several of Zeus’s children who didn’t earn her wrath. Therefore, this was born.
Hera, musing on Zeus and his many (many, many) infidelities.
Despite popular opinion, I do not curse every woman who catches my husband’s lustful attention.
Even as a goddess, there are not enough hours in the day for that, and I have better things to do with my time. In truth, I cannot even blame many of them.
Those who were tricked by a disguise, or who never knew that Zeus was anything more than a mortal man who desired them, I do not despise. Those who were coerced, I do not punish, for they have been through enough. My husband has never been very good at hearing or understanding the word ‘no’, after all.
It is those that knew what they were doing, who cared for nothing but their own pleasure and the rewards they would gain in the brief time that they held my husband’s interest, that I curse. I am the goddess of marriage, and willing infidelity is anathema to me. Other gods have cursed or killed for far less, yet I often seem the only one who is blamed for doing so.
Danae was the exception there, but the poor girl was so starved for company of any kind, and perhaps not aware of which god was visiting, that I counted her as innocent of betrayal. It was not her fault that she would one day bear the child who would doom it’s grandfather, and anger for a wrongdoing is something that I understand.
I made sure that Europa married a good man, after Zeus abandoned her in Crete. I delayed Danae’s forced marriage as long as I could, giving Perseus time to return with the head of Medusa. I cursed Leto and tricked Semele, who made no secret of their affairs. I was not pre-disposed to like Heracles, because Zeus cast out our daughter for distracting him while the birth of his bastard was delayed. Argos was my city, and if anyone was going to interfere with it’s future leadership, that person would be me.
In truth, it is my husband who is the target of my anger, but he is the King of the Gods, and to move against him directly is dangerous. I am far from helpless, but I have felt my husband’s wrath before, and am in no hurry to repeat the experience.
There is some part of me that loves him still, despite his betrayals, and continues to hope that each time he claims that it is the last time, that they meant nothing to him, it will eventually be the truth. There is a greater part of me that knows that I was born to be the Queen of the Gods, and that there is currently no-one who would be a better choice, or whom I would trust with the task. I have a responsibility, and cannot abandon it.
Relationships of any kind are built on trust and faith in each other. My rage is not entirely the result of being a woman scorned, but more at the fact that I cannot trust the one whom I should be able to believe above all others. I am angry that he not only betrays his vows, but tries to conceal it from me.
If he admitted to it, perhaps we could work something out to a happier conclusion. We would be far from the first, or the last, union to involve multiple partners, with the knowledge and consent of all parties.
There are rumours that Poseidon does not begrudge his wife the occasional lover, on the rare occasion that she desires it. Much like gods and mortals, some nymphs have appetites to rival the gods, but others do not. Amphitrite loves her husband, in her own way, but rarely desires to take a lover. As a consequence, they keep the peace in their marriage and she does not act against his lovers or children.
Hephaestus is married more to his craft than to Aphrodite, and when she is discreet, cares little who she takes to her bed. It is only when she flaunts then to him that he becomes angry. I sometimes wonder if Ares would remain so interested in Aphrodite if it were not for the potential for conflict with his brother.
There have been a few times that Zeus has been intimidated into temporary fidelity, though not all of them made it into legend. After he finished punishing me for my part in the rebellion, he was faithful for almost a full century, perhaps fearful that Briares would not be around to rescue him next time.
The only other times worthy of note were when I changed my tactics a little, disguising myself and visiting the lover as I did with Semele. Those times, rather then tricking them to their doom, I timed my visits to be shortly before Zeus would arrive.
His expression when he appeared and recognised me, and realised that his wife and his lover were comparing bedroom experiences, was beyond price.
Small satisfaction in the face of yet another affair, but I will take what I can get.
You can find my other mythological monologues and short stories here and original writing here