16. Ἥρης, θυμίαμα ἀρώματα.
To Hera, Goddess of Air
Divine media: aromatics
Κυανέοις κόλποισιν ἐνημένη, ἀερόμορφε,
Deep blue essence of the vaulted throne, air-formed,
Ἥρη παμβασίλεια, Διὸς σύλλεκτρε μάκαιρα,
All-ruling Hera, Dios’ blessed bed-partner,
ψυχοτρόφους αὔρας θνητοῖς παρέχουσα προσηνεῖς,
Psyche-nurturing breath, mortal foundation, gentle
ὄμβρων μὲν μήτηρ, ἀνέμων τροφέ, παντογένεθλε·
Mother of rainstorms, wind-nurturer, giving birth to all.
χωρὶς γὰρ σέθεν οὐδὲν ὅλως ζωῆς φύσιν ἔγνω·
Separate, for of thou, and not the whole, life’s origin is engendered;
κοινωνεῖς γὰρ ἅπασι κεκραμένη ἠέρι σεμνῶι·
In union, for all mixes by means of air divine;
πάντων γὰρ κρατέεις μούνη πάντεσσί τ' ἀνάσσεις
The all, for by your power alone all four are ruled.
ἠερίοις ῥοίζοισι τινασσομένη κατὰ χεῦμα.
Winds, sounds, motion, the power of every stream.
ἀλλά, μάκαιρα θεά, πολυώνυμε, παμβασίλεια,
Yes, blessed Goddess, many-named, Basileia over all,
ἔλθοις εὐμενέουσα καλῶι γήθουσα προσώπωι.
Come, kindly power, with your beautiful, joyful countenance.
Hera (Ἢρη) is the immortal Goddess of air (ἡερ-, ἀήρ, ἀερ-). This is consistent with her role as the spouse of Zeus, the God of lightning and the spark of fire/spark of life, because without air the spark would die. It is also consistent with characterizations of her as angry and vengeful, because of the damaging and dangerous windstorms that accompany lightning storms.
Empedocles, naming the four root elements, equates Zeus (Ζεύς) with fire, Hera (Ἢρη) with air, Hades (Ἀϊδωνεύς) with earth, and Nestis (Νῆστις), a Sicilian water-Goddess, with water:
“And first the fourfold root of all things hear!--
White gleaming Zeus (Ζεύς), life-bringing Here (Ἥρη), Dis (Ἀϊδωνεύς),
And Nestis (Νῆστις) whose tears bedew mortality.”
Aetius confirms this characterization in Opinions: “’Zeus is his name for the seething [zesis] of heavenly fire, ‘life-bearing Hera’ for air, ‘Aidoneus’ for earth, and ‘Nestis’…for…water.”
Plato has Socrates say in Cratylus, “But perhaps the lawgiver had natural phenomena in mind, and called her Hera as a disguise for air…You would understand, if you were to repeat the name Hera over and over.”
Plutarch, in Isis and Osiris 32, says the Greeks believe that Hera is a name for Air.
In Virgil’s Aeneid, Hera (Juno) is described as a Goddess of windstorms and whirlwinds and the commander of Aiolos, God of the winds:
“She, from the clouds, herself Jove's (Zeus’) lightning threw,
scattered the ships, and ploughed the sea with storms.
Her foe, from his pierced breast out-breathing fire,
in whirlwind on a deadly rock she flung.”
Hera then commands Aiolos (Αἴολος) (whose name means “changeful”) to raise the winds. He obeys, saying, “My fealty thy high behest obeys. This humble throne is of thy gift.” He raises the winds and ships are destroyed at sea.
The Tonea (Τόνεα) was the festival of Hera at Samos, a festival of the pitch-pipe, giving the key note for singing. One of Hera’s epithets is akraios (ἀκραῖος), “dwelling on heights.”
The Heresides (ἠρεσίδες) were the priestesses of Hera at Argos.
Women of ancient Greece derived significant status by serving as priestesses and ambassadors. Pausanias gives an account of the temple of Hera at Olympus and the Sixteen Women in charge of administering games and negotiating peace treaties:
“[5.16.1] It remains after this for me to describe the temple of Hera…The length of the temple is one hundred and sixty-nine feet, the breadth sixty-three feet, the height not short of fifty feet...
“[5.16.2] Every fourth year there is woven for Hera a robe by the Sixteen women, and the same also hold games called Heraea. The games consist of foot-races for maidens…
“[5.16.3] These too have the Olympic stadium reserved for their games…Those who administer to the Sixteen are, like the presidents of the games, married women…
“[5.16.5] … they tell another story about the Sixteen Women as follows…they chose a woman from each of the sixteen cities of Elis still inhabited at that time to settle their differences, this woman to be the oldest, the most noble, and the most esteemed of all the women.
“[5.16.6]. . .The women from these cities made peace between Pisa and Elis. Later on they were entrusted with the management of the Heraean games…
“[5.16.8] Whatever ritual it is the duty of either the Sixteen Women or the Elean umpires to perform, they do not perform before they have purified themselves with a pig meet for purification and with water. Their purification takes place at the spring Piera. You reach this spring as you go along the flat road from Olympia to Elis.”
Hera is called megistoanassa (μεγιστοάνασσα), “greatest of Queens, “Potnia (πότνια), “revered, august,” and Presba (πρέσβᾰ), “august, honored.” Basileia (βασίλεια) means Queen, ruler, the “base” or seat of governance.
Dios refers to Zeus, the immortal God of lightning and spark of fire, spark of life.
Psyche is the immortal Goddess of the soul.
Phusis is the immortal Goddess of nature, of physics, of the elementary substance, of the originating power.
“All four” refers to the four “root” elements: earth, air, fire, and water.
 Empedocles, Poeta Philosophus (On Nature) 6.1-3; Aetius, Opinions 1.3.20 Diels; Plato, Cratylus (404c); Virgil, Aeneid I.42-45; other references in Pease ND vol.2, p.716.
 The Fragments of Empedocles, (“Physics” also known as “On Nature” (6.2-3)), trans. William Ellery Leonard, Open Court Publishing, Chicago, 1908. p. 17.
 (Aetius, Opinions 1.3.20 Diels)
 Plato, Cratylus (404c).
 Plutarch,Isis and Osiris, 32. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Moralia/Isis_and_Osiris*/B.html
 Virgil. Aeneid. I.42-45 and I. 78-79,Theodore C. Williams. trans. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1910.
 Pausanias. Pausanias Description of Greece with an English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., and H.A. Ormerod, M.A., in 4 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1918.