Zeus and Hera, Ovid and Io

September 9, 2009

CC 303 Intro to Classical Mythology - Fall 2009
Department of Classics, University of Texas at Austin, Prof. Lawrence Kim

I. Names to Remember

Zeus/Jupiter/Jove       Hera/Juno     Ovid         Metamorphoses
Anthropomorphism     Olympia        Argos       Bosporus
Hermes/Mercury         Argus            Io             Ionian Sea   

II. Lecture Outline

  1. Greek Gods
    1. Polytheism = Many gods
      1. Each god only covers a limited sphere of life
        • As a whole, complementary system
      2. Piety does not mean devotion to only one god, but all
      3. Religion fully integrated into all aspects of life
        • No church, dogmas, Bible, specialists
    2. Characteristics
      1. Each divinity has many manifestations, different areas
      2. Unity and Individuality gained from Narratives about them
      3. Anthropomorphism (anthropos = human; morphe = form)
  2. Twelve Olympians
    1. Children of Cronus/Saturn
      • Zeus, Hera, Hestia, Demeter, Poseidon (Hades)
    2. Children of Zeus
      • Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus
    3. Other: Aphrodite
  3. Zeus and Hera
    1. Zeus (Jupiter, Jove)
      1. Sky and the Heavens; Weather; Mountains
      2. Thunderbolts; Eagle
      3. Custom, Law and Justice (God of Kings)
      4. Protector of Guests and Oaths
      5. Great Temple and Statue of Zeus at Olympia
    2. Hera (Juno)
      1. God of Marriage (not children); Animal: Cow, Peacock
      2. Vindictive punisher of adultery
      3. Pursuer of Zeus' lovers and illegitimate children
      4. Sacred City: Argos
  4. Ovid (43 BCE - 17 CE)
    1. Made his name as Poet of Love (Amores, The Art of Love)
    2. Epic poem: The Metamorphoses (TransFORMations)
    3. Exiled by Emperor Augustus in 8 CE to Tomis (Romania)
  5. The Tale of Io
    1. Zeus vs. Hera, Hermes vs. Argus, Origin of the Peacock
    2. Theme of innocent suffering and redemption
      1. Desired by Zeus, victim of Hera's wrath
      2. Hera turns her into a cow, guarded by Argus the 100-eyed
      3. Hermes kills Argus
    3. Hera sends a gadfly to torment her; she wanders everywhere
      • (Io)nian Sea, Bosporus (= Bos (cow) Porus (crossing))
    4. Settles in Egypt, Zeus comes with a touch
    5. Dynasty founded (Io's son = Epaphus)
      • Connected with Egyptian goddess Isis
  6. The Tale of Io: Ovid's Humorous Touches
    1. Marital Wrangling of Zeus and Hera
      • Zeus turns Io into a heifer to hide his adultery
    2. Pathetic scenes of Io and her family
    3. Hermes Bores Argus to Sleep and Cuts off his Head
      1. The Story of Pan and Syrinx
      2. Hera and the Origin of the Peacock
Return to Syllabus

III. Images

Zeus and Io

  1. Zeus and Io. Correggio, c. 1531-32. Louvre, Paris.
  2. Juno discovering Jupiter with Io. Pieter Lastman, 1618. National Gallery, London.
  3. Mercury and Argus. Peter Paul Rubens, 1636-38. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.
  4. Hermes Kills Argus. Attic vase, c. 490 BCE. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg.
  5. Juno Receives the Head of Argus. Jacopo Amigoni, c. 1730. Moor Park, Rickmansworth.
  6. Juno and Argus. Peter Paul Rubens c. 1611. Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne.

Zeus and Hera

  1. Bronze Statue of Zeus, c. 470-50 BCE. National Archeological Museum, Athens.
  2. Bronze Statue of Zeus. c. 450 BCE. National Archeological Museum, Athens.
  3. Bust of Zeus. c. 4th cent. BCE. Vatican Museums, Vatican City.
  4. Comic Portrayal of Zeus. 6th-5th cent. BCE. Heidelberg.
  5. Hera Ludovisi, c. 5th century BCE. Museo delle Terme, Rome.
  6. Statue of Hera. Roman copy of a Greek original from c. 450-400 BCE. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples.
  7. Zeus and Hera. From the Temple of Hera in Selinus, Sicily. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Palermo.
  8. Jupiter and Juno. Annibale Carracci, c. 1597-1604.


  1. Ovid