Hera was the supreme goddess of the Olympian pantheon, the wife of Zeus and the mother of Ares, Hephaestus and other gods. She was worshipped as the protectress of marriage (Hera Τeleia), but also as a virgin (Parthenos) and as the queen of gods (Vasileia). Portrayed in mythology as majestic and beautiful, Hera was notoriously jealous of Zeus and vengeful towards the numerous women he seduced, amongst them Leto, Io and Semele, and their offspring, most notably Hercules. Festivals in honour of Hera were held in many cities in Ancient Greece, especially at Olympia, where the “Heraia” consisted of footraces for maidens. Major centres of the cult of Hera in antiquity were Argos, Samos and Corinth (the sanctuary of Perachora). Today, the lighting of the Olympic Flame takes place during a ceremony before the Temple of Hera (the Heraion) in Olympia.
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