Hera, agatha tykhe and the infancy of Herakles

As I was working on a drawing of Hera, I was inspired to sketch behind her hand (holding reigns, which are symbolic of the goddess who acts as charioteer but also symbolic I think of controlling of the storm winds by this airy goddess) the serpent Agatha Tykhe. As Agathos Daimon is often associated with Zeus, we find Agatha Tykhe associated with Hera However, unlike Agathos Daimon who is viewed as entirely benevolent, we find mixed sentiment on the power of Agatha Tykhe, which I find to be quite appropriate as fortunes and prosperity does change with the shift of the winds, and is also appropriate in her relation to Hera who is likewise seen to deliver mixed fortunes in the myths under allegorical guise.

For of all the gods, we find Hera’s pressure and trials to be more vigorous and perhaps more demanding towards those who belong to Zeus. As usual such thoughts lead to Herakles and I recall the myth of his infancy in which Hera sent two snakes to kill the babe in his cradle. If the myth were taken literally it would be seen as nothing more than vengeful act of the goddess in sending two deadly creatures to invade the crib (and something quite elusive and easily hidden as a serpent). However if we look at it from a symbolic standpoint we see it as a first trial against this holy son, two serpents which could easily represent the duo serpents of Zeus and Hera via Agathos Daimon and Agatha Tykhe. These forces challenge him, and are subdued by him in his infancy. It could indicate that though throughout his life he would be burdened with trials in which gods and fortunes appear to be working against him, that he is not overcome by them and is victorious by his strength of soul. Certainly fortune has never been kind to Herakles in the myths.

Therefore for my first image of Hera I think it is appropriate to depict her not with her common imagery of the peacock but with her associations to the winds and winds of fortune, and the cuckoo, bringer of rain which can be both a blessing and curse depending on the context of its arrival (crop beneficial rains being a positive, incessant flood rains being another thing). But also a reminder that though this things can have both positive and negative perceptions carried by us, in the end all these actions are good even if we cannot see it at the time, and something we ought to be thankful for as it aids in our own growth and development.


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