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by Archaeology Newsroom

The goddess Hera. Virgin, complete and widow

Doctrines concerning the female deities of the Greek Pantheon are necessarily connected with the social change that took place in the historic times leading to social differentiation of females. Such doctrines are a giveaway about social beliefs and conventions binding females of the city-state, beliefs established by the then prevalent notions about wives.

Characteristic features of the wide-spread cult of the goddess Hera, quite distinct in rituals of the “sacred marriage”, suggest that the goddess, who later became the protector of legal, institutional marriage, originally represented the “virgins”; these were the maidens who were just entering puberty,the stage of sexual maturity, and were being collectively prepared for experienced married life. Characteristic initiation rituals for virgins, which testify to the close relation of initiation and marriage, can be traced to the primeval festivals of Tonaeoi on Samos, of Daedaloi at Plataeae and Heraeoi at Olympia.