5. Íra - (Hêra; Gr. Ἥρᾱ, ΗΡΑ. Pronounced: EE-rah.)

Íra is one of the most important deities in all of Ællînismόs (Hellênismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, and one of the Twelve Olympian Gods. Íra is the daughter of Krónos (Cronus, Κρόνος) and Rǽa (Rhea, Ῥέα), who, according to the mythology, was swallowed by her father and later disgorged. She is the sister of Æstía (Hestia, Ἑστία), Dimítir (Dêmêtêr, Δημήτηρ), Ploutôn (Plutô, Πλούτων), Poseidóhn (Poseidôn, Ποσειδῶν), and Zefs (Ζεύς), who, together with her, are known collectively as the Kronídai (Cronidae, Κρονίδαι). Íra was reared by Okæanós (Oceanus, Ὠκεανός) and Tithýs (Têthys, Τηθύς) after Zefs overthrew his father, although there are other traditions concerning her upbringing.

The progeny of Íra

It is Zefs by whom she is the mother of Árîs (Arês, Άρης), Íphaistos (Hephaestus, Ἥφαιστος), Eileithyia (Εἰλείθυια), and Ívi (Hêbê, Ἥβη). According to Homeric Hymn 3 (εις Ἀπόλλωνα Πύθιον 305), she gave birth to Typhón (Τυφῶν) alone. There is a poet from late antiquity by the name of Kólouthos (Coluthus, Κόλουθος) who said she was the mother of the Kháritæs (Charities or Graces, Χάριτες), but this is the sole source of that idea (Ἁρπαγὴ Ἑλένης τοῦ Κολούθου 88 & 174).

Characteristics of the Goddess Íra

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

Íra is the Queen of the Heavens, the sky, while being the emanation of the second kozmogonic substance, Earth. The Dærvǽni Papyrus (Δερβένι βύβλος) states that Earth (Γῆ), the Mother (Μήτηρ), Rǽa (Ῥέα), Dimítir (Δημήτηρ) and Íra are one and the same. [1]

Íra, immaculate and incorruptible, protects the institution of marriage and the fidelity which should accompany it.

Similar to Ártæmis (Artemis, Ἄρτεμις) and other Goddesses, Íra watches over childbirth.

The cuckoo is sacred to Íra because Zefs appeared to her in the form of this bird in order to seduce her. Other animals sacred to the Goddess include the royal lion 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. The Orphic hymn to Íra suggest an incense offering of aromatics.

The Position of Íra and Zefs

Íra is the personalized, primordial evolution of Yî (Gê = Earth, Γῆ); Zefs is the personalized, primordial evolution of Ýdôr (Hydôr = Water, Ὕδωρ). Earth and Water are the two primordial kosmogonic substances, consequently, the mythology depicts Íra and Zefs as brother and sister. The creative force of the Kózmos (Cosmos, 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.

Próklos (Proclus, Πρόκλος), in Neoplatonic language, explains marriage between Gods:

"That Ocean (Ὠκεανός) is said to have married Tethys (Τηθύς), and Jupiter (Ζεύς) Juno (Ἥρᾱ), 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 (born together) co-operation in their productions, is called by theologists marriage." (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1816) [2]

Íra and Zefs are equals

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

“Hence Juno (Ἥρᾱ) proceeds together with Jupiter (Ζεύς), 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 (Κρόνος). For this Goddess is the bosom of all the Saturnian (Kronian) power. Earth also is equal in dignity with Heaven (Οὐρανός). For Earth is the mother of all things, of which Heaven is the father.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820.) [3]

“But the Demiurgus (creator), who is the great Jupiter (Ζεύς), is conjoined with Juno (Ἥρᾱ). Hence also, she is said to be of equal rank with him, and proceeds from the same fathers.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820) [4]

Íra and Zefs and the Thæogamía

Thæogamía (Theogamia, Θεογαμία) is 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.

The date of the Thæogamía is disputed, perhaps 26 or 27 Gamîlióhn (Gamêliôn, Γαμηλιών - late January, in the month of Aquarius). The entire Attic month of Gamîlióhn, the “marriage month,” is dedicated to Íra.

Íra in Iconography

Íra is frequently depicted seated on a throne, fully robed, wearing a diadem or a crown, usually 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, Εὔβοια). In the temple, called the Îraion (Hêraeum, Ἡραῖον), there stood a colossal statue of the Goddess, a creation of the sculptor Polýkleitos (Polycleitus, Πολύκλειτος). It was constructed of gold and ivory. Íra was seated wearing a crown adorned with the Kháritæs (Charities or Graces, Χάριτες) and the Órai (Hôrae or Seasons, 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, or a peacock.

Íra and the Three Vasíleiai

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

Yaia (Gaia, Γαῖα) and Ouranós (Uranus, Οὐρανός)

Rǽa (Rhea, Ῥέα) and Krónos (Cronus, Κρόνος)

Íra and Zefs (Ζεύς)

The Epithets of Íra

The Orphic Hymn to Íra


[1] Δερβένι βύβλος Col. 22.

[2] σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Κρατύλου Πλάτωνος, translation found in The Theology of Plato by Próklos, 1816.

[3] Kern Orphic frag. 132. σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 18c (I 46, 27 Diehl):

ἥ τε οὖν Ἥρα συμπρόεισι τῶι Διὶ πάντα ἀποτίκτουσα σύν τῶι πατρί· διὸ καὶ ἰσοτελὴς (fr. 163) αὐττῶι | 47 Dlchl προσαγορεύεται· καὶ ἡ Ῥέα τὼι Κρόνωι· πάσης γάρ ἐστι τῆς Κρονίας δυνάμεως κόλπος ἡ θεὸς αὕτη·καὶ ἡ Γῆ τῶι Οὐρανῶι· πάντων γάρ ἡ Γῆ μήτηρ, ὧν ὁ Οὐρανὸς πατήρ.

[4] Kern Orphic frag. 163. σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 31a (I 450, 20 Diehl):

ὁ δὲ δημιουγὸς αὐτός, ὁ μέγιστος Ζεύς, συζογεῖ τῆι Ἥραι· διὸ καὶ ἰσοτελὴς αὐτῶι καλεῖται, καὶ ἐκ τῶν αὐτῶν προεληλύθασι πατέρων.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic 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.

How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

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, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) 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, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς).

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

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