ÍRA - ΗΡΑ 



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5. Íra - (Hera; Gr. Ἥρᾱ, ΗΡΑ. Pronounced: EE'-rah.)
 
Íra is one of the most important deities in all of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, and one of the Twelve Olympian Gods. Íra is the daughter of Krónos (Cronus; Gr. Κρόνος) and Rǽa (Rhea; Gr. Ῥέα), who, according to the mythology, was swallowed by her father and later disgorged. 

Íra is the sister and lawful wife of Ýpatos (supreme; Gr. Ὕπατος) Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) and it is Íra to whom he confides and whispers his secrets for she is his equal:

“Hence Juno (ed. Íra) proceeds together with Jupiter (ed. Zefs), generating all things in conjunction with the father. Hence, too, she is said to be equal in rank with Jupiter, as is likewise Rhea with Saturn (ed. Krónos). For this Goddess is the bosom of all the Saturnian (ed. Kronian) power. Earth also is equal in dignity with Heaven (ed. Ouranós). For Earth is the mother of all things, of which Heaven is the father.” (Orphic frag. 132. Πρόκλος Commentary on the Τίμαιος 18c [I 46, 27 Diehl], trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820. Found here in 2006 edition of Vol. 1 Proclus' Commentary on the Timaeus of Plato, Prometheus Trust [Dorset, UK]. p. 52. Cf. Orphic frag. 153.)

“But the Demiurgus, who is the great Jupiter (ed. Zefs), is conjoined with Juno (ed. Íra). Hence also, she is said to be of equal rank with him, and proceeds from the same fathers.” (Orphic frag. 163. Πρόκλος Commentary on the Τίμαιος 31a [I 450, 20 Diehl] trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820) 

And it is Zefs by whom she is the mother of Áris (Ares; Gr. Άρης), Íphaistos (Hephaestus; Gr. Ἥφαιστος), and Ívi (Hebe; Gr. Ἥβη). Íra was reared by Okæanós (Oceanus; Gr. Ὠκεανός) and Tithýs (Tethys; Gr. Τηθύς) after Zefs overthrew his father, although there are other traditions concerning her upbringing.

Íra is often depicted in the mythology as an angry wife, defending her marriage against what is described as Zefs' infidelity. She pursues and torments the objects of her husband's advances, including the resulting offspring, most famously Iraklís (Heracles or Hercules; Gr. Ἡρακλῆς). While the mythology constructs a negative impression of the Goddess, her majesty and greatness of soul are ineffably prodigious. Don't be fooled by the superficial story, for hidden within the mythology is a deeper meaning. When Íra pursues and torments various Íroæs (Heroes; Gr. Ἥρωες) she is pushing their souls to greatness, for her ability in this regard is abundant. 


Characteristics of the Goddess Íra

Íra is the Queen of the heavens, the sky, while being the emanation of the second kozmogonic substance, Earth. 

Íra, immaculate and incorruptible, protects the institution of honorable marriage and the fidelity by which it should be accompanied. 

Similar to Ártæmis and other Goddesses, Íra watches over childbirth. 

The animals which are sacred to Íra include the royal lion, the cuckoo (the messenger of spring when she had married Zefs), and the peacock. Offerings of cakes in the shape of these animals would be very appropriate. Of fruit, the pomegranate is sacred to her, for it represents fruitfulness and the happiness and love of marriage, thus a lovely offering for the Goddess. The Orphic hymn to Íra suggest an offering of aromatics.


The Position of Íra and Zefs

Íra is the personalized, primordial evolution of Yi (Ge = Earth; Gr. Γῆ); Zefs is the personalized, primordial evolution of Ýdohr (Hydor = Water; Gr.Ὕδωρ). Earth and Water are the two primordial kosmogonic substances (See Mystic Materialism), consequently, the mythology depicts Íra and Zefs as brother and sister. The creative force of the Kózmos (Cosmos; Gr. Κόσμος) occurs because of the interaction of Earth and Water, hence Íra and Zefs are said to be married. Because of all these things, their position is supreme and all ritual concludes with homage to them.

"Earth (Ge), Mother (Meter), Rhea and Hera is the same (or: are one and the same). She/it was called Earth (Ge) by convention; Mother, because all things are born form her (or: from this one). Ge and Gaia according to each one's dialect. And (she/it) was called Demeter as the Mother Earth (Ge Meter), one name from the two; for it was the same." Derveni Papyrus [1]

Próklos (Proclus; Gr. Πρόκλος) explains marriage between Gods thus:

"That Ocean (ed. Okæanos; Gr. Ὠκεανός) is said to have married Tethys (ed. Tithys; Gr. Τηθύς), and Jupiter (ed. Zefs) [ed. married] Juno (ed. Íra), and the like, as establishing a communion with her, conformably to the generation of subordinate natures. For an according co-arrangement of the Gods, and a connascent (ed. i.e. born together) co-operation in their productions, is called by theologists marriage." [2]


Íra and Zefs and the Thæogamía

The word Thæogamía (Theogamia; Gr. Θεογαμία) means, generally, marriage between Gods, but here we are speaking of the festival which celebrates the marriage of Íra and Zefs, i.e., the union of the two kozmogonic substances, Earth and Water. (See Mystic Materialism)

In the Thæogamía, we also celebrate the union of Ærmís (Hermes; Gr. Ἑρμῆς) and Aphrodíti, (Aphrodite; Gr. Ἀφροδίτη) a pairing which is an exception, not the same as the Divine Consorts but a great symbol of all of them. Together they represent the union or marriage of each pair. The union of Ærmís and Aphrodíti produces Ærmaphróditos (Hermaphroditos; Gr. Ἑρμαφρόδιτος), a being with both sexes. Each pair of Olympians is an Ærmaphróditos, but the Great Ærmaphróditos (Gr. Τω Μεγαλω Έρμαφρώδιτω) is the marriage of Zefs and Íra, which is the union of the two primordial kozmogonic substances, Earth and Water, or Earth and Sky. This union is celebrated in the Thæogamía.  

The date of the Thæogamía is disputed, perhaps 26 or 27 Gamilióhn (Gamelion; Gr. Γαμηλιών - late January, in the month of Aquarius). The month of Gamilióhn (marriage month) was dedicated to Íra.



Íra in Iconography

Íra is depicted, seated on a throne, fully robed, wearing a diadem or a crown, frequently with a veil. She is regal and holds the royal lotus-tipped scepter. When traveling, she can be seen in her chariot drawn by two horses. She is beautiful but mature, with lovely large eyes, her hair gracefully arranged, her arms pure and white.   

In antiquity, the most celebrated sanctuary of Íra lie at the foot of Mount Évvia (Euboea; Gr. Εὔβοια). In the temple, the Iraion (Heraeum; Gr. Ἡραῖον), was a colossal statue of the Goddess, a creation of the sculptor Polýkleitos (Polycleitus; Gr. Πολύκλειτος). It was constructed of gold and ivory. Íra was seated wearing a crown adorned with the Kháritæs (Charities or Graces; Gr. Χάριτες) and the Órai (Horae = Seasons; Gr. Ὧραι). In one hand she held the pomegranate, in the other she held a scepter crowned with a cuckoo.

Íra may be seen in close proximity to the royal lion, a cuckoo (the messenger of spring when she had married Zefs), or a peacock.


Íra and the Three Three Vasíleiai

Íra is the final personalized, primordial evolution of the non-personal Yi (Ge or Gaia; Gr. Γή), Earth. This progression is represented by the Three Vasíleiai (Basileiai or Queens; Gr. βασίλειαι, plural of βασίλεια), the Three Queens. The Three Vasíleiai along with their consorts are:

Yaia (Yi or Gr. Γαῖα) and Ouranós (Uranus; Gr. Οὐρανός)
Rǽa (Rhea; Gr. Ῥέα) and Krónos (Cronus; Gr. Κρόνος)
Íra and Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς)


Íra in Orphismós

Íra rules the fifth Orphic House, the month of Ydrokhóös (AquariusGr. Υδροχόος) from January 21 through February 20, and her dominion is the Natural Law of Ǽrohs (Eros or Attraction; Gr. Ἔρως). This Ǽrohs is different from the Ǽrohs of sexual attraction associated with Pándimos (Gr. Πάνδημος) Aphrodíti, who has dominion over Ἵμερος and the mundane Ἔρωτες; rather, Íra has dominion over the pure Kozmogonic Ǽrohs, the attraction to Beauty which draws Gods and mortals together. The Divine Consort of the Goddess Íra is her brother, Zefs. The Orphic Hymns suggest the offering of aromatic herbs to Íra.


The Orphic Hymn to Íra

Please visit this page for a thorough examination of the Orphic hymn to Íra, a veritable snapshot of the essence of the Goddess. It includes the Thomas Taylor translation, the original Greek text, an easy transliteration of the Greek text for anyone who may wish to learn the hymn in ancient Greek, and a word-by-word examination of the poem:

The Orphic Hymn to Íra


THE MANY NAMES OF ÍRA

Please visit this page: The Epithets of Íra


The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.



NOTES:

[1] The Derveni Papyrus, Col. 22., trans. by Gábor Betegh, Cambridge University Press, 2004,  p. 47.

[2] from Próklos: Manuscript Scolia on the Kratýlos of Plátohn, found in The Theology of Plato/Proclus, trans. Thomas Taylor, Prometheus Trust (Somerset UK), Vol. VIII of The Thomas Taylor Series, p. 682. See also the section entitled DIMITIR AND RHÆA (on the same page).

[3]  L&S = A Greek-English Lexicon by Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott (L&S), 1843; 1996 Clarendon Press-Oxford (England) edition.

[4] By Attraction is meant Ǽrohs (Eros; Gr. Ἔρως). Ǽrohs is usually associated with Aphrodíti; this is the common idea. Nonetheless, Ǽrohs/Attraction is the dominion of Íra.


The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς).



PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as 

, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.


The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages: 

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