Are Zeus and Hērā a dysfunctional couple?
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CitationNagy, Gregory. 2018. "A comparative approach to beast fables in Greek songmaking, Part 1: A would-be Aesopic werewolf." Classical Inquiries. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.eresource:Classical_Inquiries.
AbstractA sampling of comments on the Iliad and Odyssey includes an attempt of mine to analyze a scene in Iliad 14 where Hērā has a sexual encounter with Zeus on the heights of Mount Ida. In my comments on the wording of the goddess at the moment when she initiates her encounter with the god, at verses 200–210, I argue that this wording “derives from genuine theogonic traditions centering on the idea of sacred intercourse as an act of cosmogonic creation.” But I am forced to admit: “From the dramatic standpoint of the immediate narrative context, Hērā is making up what she is saying.” And the goddess is making things up because her ultimate intent here is to deceive the god. How, then, does the intent to deceive square with the cosmic prestige of Zeus and Hērā as the divine married couple who rule the universe of the ancient Greeks? Is their marriage dysfunctional? The question is sharpened when we view a close-up of the painting by James Barry, 1790, “Jupiter and Juno on Mount Ida.” From the looks of it, this couple is surely dysfunctional! But my answer, as I will argue in what follows, is in fact two-sided: yes, the marriage of Zeus and Hērā is surely dysfunctional in the “past” world of myth, but it becomes functional in the “present” world of ritual as a re-enactment of myth. To make this argument, I will focus on another scene in the Iliad where we see Hērā in the act of deceiving Zeus.
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