Cretan State #53 (1900)

Cretan State #53 (1900)
Cretan State #53 (1900)

The Cretan State (Κρητική Πολιτεία — Kritiki Politia — in Greek or كريد دولتى‎ — Girit Devleti — in Ottoman Turkish) was established in 1898, following the intervention by the Great Powers (Britain, France, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Russia) on the island of Crete. In 1897, an insurrection in Crete led the Ottoman Empire to declare war on Greece, which led Great Britain, France, Italy and Russia to intervene on the grounds that the Ottoman Empire could no longer maintain control. It was the prelude of the island’s final annexation to the Kingdom of Greece, which occurred de facto in 1908 and de jure in 1913.

Crete (Κρήτη — Kríti — in Greek and Κρήτη — Krḗtē — in Ancient Greek) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica. It is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea separating the Aegean from the Libyan Sea. The island has an elongated shape spanning 160 miles (260 kilometers) from east to west and is 37 miles (60 km) wide at its widest point, narrowing to as little as 7.5 miles (12 km) near Ierapetra. Crete covers an area of 3,219 square miles (8,336 km²), with a coastline of 650 miles (1,046 km). To the north, it broaches the Sea of Crete; to the south, the Libyan Sea; in the west, the Myrtoan Sea, and toward the east the Karpathian Sea. It lies approximately 99 miles (160 km) south of the Greek mainland.

The island is first referred to as Kaptara in texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century BC and repeated later in Neo-Assyrian records and the Bible (Caphtor). It was also known in ancient Egyptian as Keftiu, strongly suggesting a similar Minoan name for the island. The current name of Crete is thought to be first attested in Mycenaean Greek texts written in Linear B. In Ancient Greek, the name Crete (Κρήτη) first appears in Homer’s Odyssey. Its etymology is unknown. One proposal derives it from a hypothetical Luvian word kursatta (kursawar “island”, or kursattar “cutting, sliver”). In Latin, it became Creta.

The original Arabic name of Crete was Iqrīṭiš (اقريطش‎‎), but after the Emirate of Crete’s establishment of its new capital at  Rabḍ al-Ḫandaq (ربض الخندق, modern Iraklion), both the city and the island became known as Χάνδαξ (Khandhax) or Χάνδακας (Khandhakas), which gave Latin and Venetian Candia, from which were derived French Candie and English Candy or Candia. Under Ottoman rule, in Ottoman Turkish, Crete was called Girit (كريت).

Excavations in South Crete in 2008–2009 led by Thomas F. Strasser of(Providence College in Rhode Island, U.S.A. revealed stone tools at least 130,000 years old. This was a sensational discovery as the previously accepted earliest sea crossing in the Mediterranean was thought to occur around 12,000 BC. The stone tools found in the Plakias region of Crete include hand axes of the Acheulean type made of quartz . It is believed that pre-Homo sapiens hominids from Africa crossed to Crete on rafts.

In the Neolithic period, some of the early influences upon the development of Cretan culture arise from the Cyclades and from Egypt; cultural records are written in the undeciphered script known as “Linear A”. The archaeological record of Crete includes superb palaces, houses, roads, paintings and sculptures. Early Neolithic settlements in Crete include Knossos and Trapeza.

Because of a lack of written records, estimates of Cretan chronology are based on well-established Aegean and Ancient Near Eastern pottery styles, so that Cretan timelines have been made by seeking Cretan artifacts traded with other civilizations (such as the Egyptians) — a well established occurrence. For the earlier times, radiocarbon dating of organic remains and charcoal offers independent dates. Based on this, it is thought that Crete was inhabited from the 7th millennium BC onwards.

The native fauna of Crete included pygmy hippo, pygmy elephant Paleoloxodon chaniensis, dwarf deer Praemegaceros cretensis, giant rodents and insectivores as well as badger, beech marten and a kind of terrestrial otter. Large carnivores were lacking. Most of these animals died out at the end of the last ice-age. Humans played a part in this extinction, which occurred on other medium to large Mediterranean islands as well, for example on Cyprus, Sicily and Majorca. Crete’s religious symbols included the dove, lily and double-headed ax.

Remains of a settlement found under the Bronze Age palace at Knossos date to the 7th millennium BC. The first settlers introduced cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and dogs, as well as domesticated cereals and legumes. Up to now, Knossos remains the only aceramic site. The settlement covered approximately 350,000 square meters. The sparse animal bones contain the above-mentioned domestic species as well as deer, badger, marten and mouse: the extinction of the local megafauna had not left much game behind.

Neolithic pottery is known from Knossos, Lera Cave and Gerani Cave. The Late Neolithic sees a proliferation of sites, pointing to a population increase. In the late Neolithic, the donkey and the rabbit were introduced to the island, deer and agrimi hunted. The Kri-kri, a feral goat, preserves traits of the early domesticates. Horse, fallow deer and hedgehog are only attested from Minoan times onwards.

Crete was the center of Europe’s most ancient civilization, the Minoans. Tablets inscribed in Linear A have been found in numerous sites in Crete, and a few in the Aegean islands. The Minoans established themselves in many islands besides Ancient Crete: secure identifications of Minoan off-island sites include Kea, Kythera, Milos, Rhodes, and above all, Thera (Santorini).

Archaeologists ever since Sir Arthur Evans have identified and uncovered the palace-complex at Knossos, the most famous Minoan site. Other palace sites in Crete such as Phaistos have uncovered magnificent stone-built, multi-story palaces containing drainage systems, and the queen had a bath and a flushing toilet. The expertise displayed in the hydraulic engineering was of a very high level. There were no defensive walls to the complexes. By the 16th century BC pottery and other remains on the Greek mainland show that the Minoans had far-reaching contacts on the mainland. In the 16th century a major earthquake caused destruction on Crete and on Thera that was swiftly repaired.

By about the 15th century BC, a massive volcanic explosion known as the Minoan eruption blew the island of Thera apart, casting more than four times the amount of ejecta as the explosion of Krakatoa and generating a tsunami in the enclosed Aegean that threw pumice up to 250 meters above sea level onto the slopes of Anaphi, 27 kilometers to the east. Any fleet along the north shore of Crete was destroyed and John Chadwick suggests that the majority of Cretan fleets had kept the island secure from the Greek-speaking mainlanders. The sites, save Knossos, were destroyed by fires. Mycenaeans from the mainland took over Knossos, rebuilding some parts to suit them. They were in turn subsumed by a subsequent Dorian migration.

The collapse of the Mycenaean civilization was followed by the appearance of the first Greek city-states in the 9th century BC and the epics of Homer in the 8th century BC. Some of the Dorian cities that prospered on Crete during those times are Kydonia, Lato, Dreros, Gortyn and Eleutherna.

In the Classical and Hellenistic period Crete fell into a pattern of combative city-states, harboring pirates. Gortyn, Kydonia (Chania) and Lyttos challenged the primacy of ancient Knossos, preyed upon one another, invited into their feuds mainland powers like Macedon and its rivals Rhodes and Ptolemaic Egypt, a situation that all but invited Roman interference. Ierapytna (Ierapetra) gained supremacy on eastern Crete.

In 88 BC, Mithridates VI of Pontus on the Black Sea, went to war to halt the advance of Roman hegemony in the Aegean. On the pretext that Knossos was backing Mithradates, Marcus Antonius Creticus attacked Crete in 71 BC and was repelled. Rome sent Quintus Caecilius Metellus with three legions to the island. After a ferocious three-year campaign Crete was conquered for Rome in 69 BC, earning this Metellus the agnomen “Creticus.” At the archaeological sites, there seems to be little evidence of widespread damage associated with the transfer to Roman power: a single palatial house complex seems to have been razed. Gortyn seems to have been pro-Roman and was rewarded by being made the capital of the joint province of Creta et Cyrenaica.

Gortyn was the site of the largest Christian basilica on Crete, the Basilica of Saint Titus, dedicated to the first Christian bishop in Crete, to whom Paul addressed one of his epistles. The church was begun in the 1st century. As revealed in the Epistle to Titus in the New Testament and confirmed by Cretan poet Epimenides the people of Crete were considered by these Christians to be liars, evil beasts and gluttons.

Crete continued to be part of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, a quiet cultural backwater, until it fell into the hands of Iberian Muslims under Abu Hafs in the 820s, who established a piratical emirate on the island. The archbishop Cyril of Gortyn was killed and the city so thoroughly devastated it was never reoccupied. Candia (Chandax, modern Heraklion), a city built by the Iberian Muslims, was made capital of the island instead.

The Emirate of Crete became a center of Muslim piratical activity in the Aegean, and a thorn on Byzantium’s side. Successive campaigns to recover the island failed until 961, when Nikephoros Phokas reconquered Crete for the Byzantine Empire and made it into a theme. The Byzantines held the island until the Fourth Crusade in 1204. In its aftermath, possession of the island was disputed between the Genoese and the Venetians, with the latter eventually solidifying their control by 1212. Despite frequent revolts by the native population, the Venetians retained the island until 1669, when the Ottoman Empire took possession of it.

In the partition of the Byzantine empire after the capture of Constantinople by the armies of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Crete was eventually acquired by Venice, which held it for more than four centuries..

The most important of the many rebellions that broke out during that period was the one known as the revolt of St. Titus. It occurred in 1363, when indigenous Cretans and Venetian settlers exasperated by the hard tax policy exercised by Venice, overthrew official Venetian authorities and declared an independent Cretan Republic. The revolt took Venice five years to quell.

During Venetian rule, the Greek population of Crete was exposed to Renaissance culture. A thriving literature in the Cretan dialect of Greek developed on the island. The best-known work from this period is the poem Erotokritos by Vitsentzos Kornaros (Βιτσένζος Κορνάρος). Another major Cretan literary figure was Nicholas Kalliakis, a Greek scholar and philosopher who flourished in Italy in the 17th Century. Georgios Hortatzis was author of the dramatic work Erophile. The painter Domenicos Theotocopoulos, better known as El Greco, was born in Crete in this period and was trained in Byzantine iconography before moving to Italy and later, Spain.

During the Cretan War from 1645 until 1669, Venice was pushed out of Crete by the Ottoman Empire, with most of the island lost after the siege of Candia between 1648 and 1669, possibly the longest siege in history. The last Venetian outpost on the island, Spinalonga, fell in 1718, and Crete was a part of the Ottoman Empire for the next two centuries. There were significant rebellions against Ottoman rule, particularly in Sfakia. Daskalogiannis was a famous rebel leader. One result of the Ottoman conquest was that a sizable proportion of the population gradually converted to Islam, with its tax and other civic advantages in the Ottoman system. Contemporary estimates vary, but on the eve of the Greek War of Independence as much as 45% of the population of the island may have been Muslim.

Some of them were crypto-Christians who converted back to Christianity; others fled Crete because of the unrest. By the last Ottoman census in 1881, Christians were 76% of the population, and Muslims (usually called “Turks” regardless of language, culture, and ancestry) only 24%. Christians were over 90% of the population in 19/23 of the districts of Crete, but Muslims were over 60% in the three large towns on the north coast, and in Monofatsi.

The Greek War of Independence began in 1821 and Cretan participation was extensive. An uprising by Christians met with a fierce response from the Ottoman authorities and the execution of several bishops, regarded as ringleaders. Between 1821 and 1828, the island was the scene of repeated hostilities. The Muslims were driven into the large fortified towns on the north coast and it would appear that as many as 60% of them died from plague or famine while there. The Cretan Christians also suffered severely, losing around 21% of their population in the 1830s.

After Greece achieved its independence, Crete became an object of contention as the Christian part of its population revolted Cretan revolts against Ottoman rule|several times against Ottoman rule. Revolts in the Cretan uprisings of 1841 and 1858 secured some privileges, such as the right to bear arms, equality of Christian and Muslim worship, and the establishment of Christian councils of elders with jurisdiction over education and customary law. Despite these concessions, the Christian Cretans maintained their ultimate aim of union with Greece, and tensions between the Christian and Muslim communities ran high.

Greek Orthodox (blue) and Cretan Muslim/Turkish (red) ethnic makeup of Crete in 1861
Greek Orthodox (blue) and Cretan Muslim/Turkish (red) ethnic makeup of Crete in 1861

In 1866 the Great Cretan Revolt began. This uprising, which lasted for three years, involved volunteers from Greece and other European countries, where it was viewed with considerable sympathy. Despite early successes of the rebels, who quickly confined the Ottomans to the northern towns, the uprising failed. The Ottoman Grand Vizier A’ali Pasha personally assumed control of the Ottoman forces and launched a methodical campaign to retake the rural districts, which was combined with promises of political concessions, notably by the introduction of an Organic Law, which gave the Cretan Christians equal (in practice, because of their superior numbers, majority) control of local administration. His approach bore fruits, as the rebel leaders gradually submitted. By early 1869, the island was again under Ottoman control.

During the Congress of Berlin in the summer of 1878, there was a further rebellion, which was halted quickly by the intervention of the British and the adaptation of the 1867-68 Organic Law into a constitutional settlement known as the Pact of Halepa. Crete became a semi-independent parliamentary state within the Ottoman Empire under an Ottoman Governor who had to be a Christian. A number of the senior “Christian Pashas” including Photiades Pasha and Kostis Adosidis Pasha ruled the island in the 1880s, presiding over a parliament in which liberals and conservatives contended for power.

Disputes between the two powers led to a further insurgency in 1889 and the collapse of the Pact of Halepa arrangements. The international powers, disgusted at what seemed to be factional politics, allowed the Ottoman authorities to send troops to the island and restore order but did not anticipate that Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II would use this as a pretext to end the Halepa Pact Constitution and instead rule the island by martial law. This action led to international sympathy for the Cretan Christians and to a loss of any remaining acquiescence among them for continued Ottoman rule. When a small insurgency began in September 1895, it spread quickly, and by the summer of 1896 the Ottoman forces had lost military control of most of the island.

Nationalist secret societies and a fervently irredentist public opinion forced the Greek government to send military forces to the island, provoking a war with the Ottoman Empire. Although most of Crete came under the control of the Greek forces, the unprepared Greek Army was crushed by the Ottomans, who occupied Thessaly.

The war was ended by the intervention of the Great Powers (Great Britain, France, Italy and Russia), who forced the Greek contingent to withdraw from Crete and the Ottoman Army to stop its advance. In the Treaty of Constantinople the Ottoman Government promised to implement the provisions of the Halepa Pact.

British Royal Marines parade in the streets of Chania in Crete following the occupation of the island by the Great Powers in spring 1897.
British Royal Marines parade in the streets of Chania in Crete following the occupation of the island by the Great Powers in spring 1897.

By March 1897, the Great Powers decided to restore order by governing the island temporarily through a committee of four admirals who remained in charge until the arrival of Prince George of Greece as the first High Commissioner (Ὕπατος Ἁρμοστής — Hýpatos Harmostēs) of an autonomous Crete, effectively detached from the Ottoman Empire, on December 9, 1898.

On August 25, 1898, a Turkish mob massacred hundreds of Cretan Greeks, the British Consul and 17 British soldiers. As a result, the Turkish forces were expelled from the island by the Great Powers in November 1898, and an autonomous Cretan State, under Ottoman suzerainty, garrisoned by an international military force, and with its High Commissioner provided by Greece, was founded.

The National Bank of Greece established a bank, the Bank of Crete, which had a 40-year monopoly on note issuance. The Cretan state also established a paramilitary force, the Cretan Gendarmerie, modeled on the Italian Carabinieri, to maintain public order. The Cretan Gendarmerie incorporated the four small gendarmerie units the four occupying powers had created.

On December 13, 1898, George of Greece arrived as High Commissioner for a three-year tenure. On April 27, 1899, an Executive Committee was created, in which a young, Athens-trained lawyer from Chania, Eleftherios Venizelos, participated as Minister of Justice.

Turkish stamps continued to be used in Crete until 1899. Britain and Russia each issued stamps inscribed in Greek. The first stamp released by the British Sphere of Administration, the District of Heraklion (Candia), was a crude handstamped design on unwatermarked paper issued imperforate in 1898. This is listed by the Scott catalogue as Crete #1.  A pair of lithographed stamps in the denominations of 10 paras (blue) and 20 paras (green), perforated 11½, were also issued in 1898 (Scott #2-3) followed a year later by color changes — brown for the 10-para and rose for the 20-para stamp (Scott #3-4).

Stamps for the Russian Sphere of Administration in the District of Rethymnon were released in 1899, the first being a set of four crudely handstamped imperforate values depicting the Cretan coat of arms (Scott #10-13) which exist on both wove and laid papers. Lithographed stamps, perforated 11½, featuring Poseidon’s trident were released later in 1899 both without (Scott #14-34) and with (Scott #35-46) stars at the sides. All of these featured control marks overprinted in violet. Nearly all can be found without control marks, double control marks and in various colors. Counterfeits exist of all of the Russian stamps issued for Crete.

France and Italy used their own stamps, overprinted with the name of the island. These are listed under subheadings of French Offices Abroad (French Offices in Crete) and Italian Offices Abroad (Italian Offices in Crete), in Volumes 2 and 3 of the Scott catalogue, respectively.

The first stamps issued by the Cretan government were issued on March 1, 1900 — four stamps denominated between 1 lepta and 20 lepta engraved and perforated 14 without an overprint (Scott #50-53) and five values from 25 lepta to 5 drachma with red and black overprints (Scott #54-63). The higher values were issued in 1901 without overprints while the 1-lepta and 20-lepta stamps appeared in different colors (Scott #64-71).

By 1900, Venizelos and the Prince had developed differences over domestic policies, as well as the issue of Enosis, the union with Greece. Venizelos resigned in early 1901, and for the next three years, he and his supporters waged a bitter political struggle with the Prince’s faction, leading to a political and administrative deadlock on the island.

On February 15, 1905, Crete issued a set of nine definitive stamps, the three high values of which were printed bicolored (Scott #74-82). Aside from a two-stamp commemorative issue on August 28, 1907, marking the new High Commissioner (Scott #83-84), all further Cretan releases were overprints or surcharges on the previously-issued stamps (Scott #85-120).

In March 1905, Venizelos and his supporters gathered in the village of Therisos, in the hills near Chania, constituted a “Revolutionary Assembly”, demanded political reforms and declared the “political union of Crete with Greece as a single free constitutional state” in a manifesto delivered to the consuls of the Great Powers. The revolutionaries issued stamps for sale to collectors but it is thought that these had no postal value.

The Cretan Gendarmerie remained loyal to the Prince, but numerous deputies joined the revolt, and despite the Powers’ declaration of military law on July 18, their military forces did not move against the rebels.

On August 15, 1905, the Cretan Assembly voted for the proposals of Venizelos, and the Great Powers brokered an agreement, whereby Prince George would resign and a new constitution created. In the 1906 elections, the pro-Prince parties took 38,127 votes while pro-Venizelos parties took 33,279 votes, but in September 1906 Prince George was replaced by former Greek prime minister Alexandros Zaimis and left the island. In addition, Greek officers came to replace the Italians in the organization of the Gendarmerie, and the withdrawal of the foreign troops began, leaving Crete de facto under Greek control.

A Constitution was promulgated in February 1907, but in 1908, taking advantage of domestic turmoil in Turkey as well as the timing of Zaimis’s vacation away from the island, the Cretan deputies declared unilateral union with Greece. The flag of the Cretan State was replaced by the Greek flag, all public servants took an oath to King George I of Greece, and the Greek constitution and laws were enacted on the island. This act was not recognized internationally, including by Greece, where Eleftherios Venizelos was elected Prime Minister in 1910. In May 1912, the Cretan deputies traveled to Athens and tried to enter the Greek Parliament, but were forcibly prevented from doing so by the police.

Upon the outbreak of the First Balkan War, Greece finally recognized the union and sent Stephanos Dragoumis as the island’s governor-general. The Great Powers tacitly recognized the fait accompli by the act of lowering their flags from the Souda fortress on February 14, 1913, and by the Treaty of London in May 1913, Sultan Mehmed V relinquished his formal rights to the island.

On December 1, 1913, the formal ceremony of union took place when the Greek flag was raised at the Firkas Fortress in Chania, with Eleftherios Venizelos and King Constantine in attendance. The Muslim minority of Crete initially remained on the island but was later relocated to Turkey under the general population exchange agreed to in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne between Turkey and Greece.

The last of the Cretan State stamps were issued in 1910. Greek stamps have been used on the island since 1913. In 1923, Greece overprinted and surcharged remaining stocks Cretan postage stamps (Greece Scott #276B-298) and postage due stamps (Greece Scott #299-315). The surcharge d postage due stamps were intended for the payment of ordinary postage. Some of these stamps were previously overprinted by Crete.

Scott #53 is a 20-lepta carmine rose stamp, engraved and perforated 14, issued on March 1, 1900, depicting Hera (Ἥρᾱ) — the goddess of women and marriage in Greek mythology and religion. She is the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Hera is married to her brother Zeus and is titled as the Queen of Heaven. One of her characteristics is her jealous and vengeful nature against Zeus’s other lovers and offspring and against the mortals who cross her.

Hera is commonly seen with the animals she considers sacred including the cow, lion and the peacock. Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned, and crowned with the polos (a high cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great Goddesses), Hera may hold a pomegranate in her hand, emblem of fertile blood and death and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy. Scholar of Greek mythology Walter Burkert writes in Greek Religion (1985), “Nevertheless, there are memories of an earlier aniconic representation, as a pillar in Argos and as a plank in Samos.”

Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome is Juno.

Hera’s importance in the early archaic period is attested by the large building projects undertaken in her honor. She may have been the first deity to whom the Greeks dedicated an enclosed roofed temple sanctuary, at Samos on the Greek mainland about 800 BCE. It was replaced later by the Heraion, one of the largest of all Greek temples (Greek altars were in front of the temples, under the open sky). There were many temples built on this site so evidence is somewhat confusing and archaeological dates are uncertain.

The temple created by the Rhoecus sculptors and architects was destroyed between 570-560 BCE. This was replaced by the Polycratean temple 540-530 BCE. In one of these temples we see a forest of 155 columns. There is also no evidence of tiles on this temple suggesting either the temple was never finished or that the temple was open to the sky.

Temple of Hera at Agrigento, Italy
Temple of Hera at Agrigento, Italy

There were also temples to Hera in Olympia, Corinth, Tiryns, Perachora and the sacred island of Delos. In Magna Graecia, two Doric temples to Hera were constructed at Paestum, about 550 BCE and about 450 BCE. One of them, long called the Temple of Poseidon was identified in the 1950s as a second temple there of Hera.

According to Walter Burkert, both Hera and Demeter have many characteristic attributes of Pre-Greek Great Goddesses. According to the Homeric Hymn III to Delian Apollo, Hera detained Eileithyia to prevent Leto from going into labor with Artemis and Apollo, since the father was Zeus. The other goddesses present at the birthing on Delos sent Iris to bring her. As she stepped upon the island, the divine birth began. In the myth of the birth of Heracles, it is Hera herself who sits at the door instead, delaying the birth of Heracles until her protégé, Eurystheus, had been born first.

The Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo makes the monster Typhaon the offspring of archaic Hera in her Minoan form, produced out of herself, like a monstrous version of Hephaestus, and whelped in a cave in Cilicia. She gave the creature to Python to raise.

In the Temple of Hera at Olympia, Hera’s seated cult figure was older than the warrior figure of Zeus that accompanied it. Homer expressed her relationship with Zeus delicately in the Iliad, in which she declares to Zeus, “I am Cronus’ eldest daughter, and am honorable not on this ground only, but also because I am your wife, and you are king of the gods.” Though Zeus is often called Zeus Heraios (‘Zeus, (consort) of Hera’),  Homer’s treatment of Hera is less than respectful, and in late anecdotal versions of the myths she appeared to spend most of her time plotting revenge on the nymphs seduced by her consort, for Hera upheld all the old right rules of Hellene society and sorority.

Hera is the daughter of the youngest Titan Cronus and his wife, and sister, Rhea. Cronus was fated to be overthrown by one of his children; to prevent this, he swallowed all of his newborn children whole until Rhea tricked him into swallowing a stone instead of her youngest child, Zeus. Zeus grew up in secret and when he grew up he tricked his father into regurgitating his siblings, including Hera. Zeus then led the revolt against the Titans, banished them, and divided the dominion over the world with his brothers Poseidon and Hades.

Hera was most known as the matron goddess, Hera Teleia; but she presided over weddings as well. In myth and cult, fragmentary references and archaic practices remain of the sacred marriage of Hera and Zeus, and at Plataea, there was a sculpture of Hera seated as a bride by Callimachus, as well as the matronly standing Hera.

Hera was also worshiped as a virgin: there was a tradition in Stymphalia in Arcadia that there had been a triple shrine to Hera the Girl (Παις), the Adult Woman (Τελεια), and the Separated (Χήρη, ‘Widowed’ or ‘Divorced’). In the region around Argos, the temple of Hera in Hermione near Argos was to Hera the Virgin. At the spring of Kanathos, close to Nauplia, Hera renewed her virginity annually, in rites that were not to be spoken of (arrheton). The Female figure, showing her “Moon” over the lake is also appropriate, as Hebe, Hera, and Hecate; new moon, full moon, and old moon in that order and otherwise personified as the Virgin of spring, The Mother of Summer, and the destroying Crone of Autumn.

Hera is known for her jealousy; even Zeus, who is known to fear nothing, feared her tantrums. Zeus fell in love with Hera but she refused his first marriage proposal. Zeus then preyed on her empathy for animals and other beings, created a thunderstorm and transformed himself into a little cuckoo. As a cuckoo, Zeus pretended to be in distress outside her window. Hera, feeling pity towards the bird brought it inside and held it to her breast to warm it. Zeus then transformed back into himself and took advantage of her. Hera, ashamed of being exploited, agreed to marriage with Zeus. All of nature burst into bloom for their wedding and many gifts were exchanged.

Zeus loved Hera, but he also loved Greece and often snuck down to Earth in disguise to marry and bear children with the mortals. He wanted many children to inherit his greatness and become great heroes and rulers of Greece. Hera’s jealousy towards all of Zeus’ lovers and children caused her to continuously torment them and Zeus was powerless to stop his wife. Hera was always aware of Zeus’ trickery and kept very close watch over him and his excursions to Earth.

Hera “presided over the right arrangements of the marriage and is the archetype of the union in the marriage bed.” However, she is not notable as a mother.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.