Hera Maritima: Exploring Hera as a Goddess of the Sea

  • Author / Creator
    Skinner, Kaitlyn N
  • Is Hera, queen of the gods and supreme goddess of marriage, also a goddess of the sea? In this thesis I will argue that she is. The exceptional number of miniature ships that were dedicated in multiple Hera sanctuaries in the Archaic period, begged the question of whether Hera’s veneration served broader purposes than that of a deity connected to marriage alone. This research takes an interdisciplinary approach and I use a large variety of sources rooted in: archaeology, literature, folktale, myth, psychology, and the landscape. The conclusions are largely based on the analysis of Hera’s sanctuaries, their votive assemblages, and myths that include her involvement, contextualized in their historical setting.
    Hera’s maritime aspects derive from long-term religious developments, regionality, and practical material aspects. I will argue that part of her religious veneration is rooted in her identification and role as an ancient mother goddess with symbolic connections to the realm of the sea and water. She presides over transitional periods in young men and women’s lives in both the real lives of ancient Greeks and mythic tales. The transitional period often leads to marriage and includes religious customs involving water, a sea-voyage, or experiencing trials and tribulations. She is also affiliated with liminal spaces, one of which is the sea.

    There are at least 7 sea-side sanctuaries dedicated to Hera, and in many others, rivers and other natural and man-made water sources are in the vicinity. Her most well-known sanctuaries all contain evidence of maritime imagery and/or votive dedications. She is related to other elements associated with water and the sea including weather, navigation, the seasons, and agriculture. Hera’s relationship with Poseidon is examined, as well as other water deities, to place her further within the religious realm that they all reside in.
    Hera’s roots and long history of independence is reaffirmed throughout this research. In addition to being venerated as a maritime deity, she is also concerned with the consequences of sea travel such as colonization, war, and guest-friendship. This sheds light on her characterization as a patron deity that was often overshadowed by her involvement in marriage and with Zeus. This thesis argues that her many realms are much more connected than previously imagined.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.