Comments on Comparative Mythology 6, Trifunctionality and the Goddess Hērā
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CitationNagy, Gregory. 2020, March 20. Comments on Comparative Mythology 6, Trifunctionality and the Goddess Hērā. Classical Inquiries.
AbstractIn Classical Inquiries 2020.03.13, where I was testing the idea of trifunctionality in the Homeric retelling of the Judgment of Paris, I analyzed aspects of the goddess Hērā that point to her third function, which is fertility, to be distinguished from her first function, which is sovereignty. Here in Classical Inquiries 2020.03.20, I will analyze further such aspects pointing to the third function of this goddess—as well as other divine aspects that point instead to the second function, which is warfare. For my analysis, I will focus on a moment in Iliad 5 where the hero Hēraklēs is caught in the act of shooting an arrow at Hērā, wounding the goddess in her right breast. I will argue that the wound, which causes a pain described as incurable in the Homeric narrative, is a sign of a dysfunctional relationship between hero and goddess in the world of myth. To be contrasted, however, is a functional relationship between the two in the world of ritual. The image that I have chosen as illustration for this argument highlights the functional side of the relationship between Hērā and Hēraklēs: in this image, of Etruscan origin, we see the goddess showing her benevolence toward the hero, breast-feeding him as if he were a newborn child. I will have to start my analysis by considering such benevolence before I can consider the malevolence of Hērā.
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