Discuss if Hera was the deadliest enemy of Heracles or if she helped him reach heroic qualities?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is difficult to see Hera as anything other than a wisher of evil on Hercules.  From Herclules' birth, he was pursued by Hera in the most brutal of manners. Interestingly enough, this pursuit is what enabled him to become a hero of massive proportions.  Perhaps there is a statement in how being consumed by evil and vengeance can lead to different than expected circumstances.

Hera was fiercely jealous as a result of her husband's infidelities.  This becomes evident when she sends the two serpents to kill the baby Hercules.  Yet, her vengeance carries the opposite effect when Hercules kills the baby serpents with his bare hands.  Seeking to be Hercules' deadliest enemy helps to establish his qualities as a hero.  Hera strikes Hercules with a bout of madness, causing him to kill his wife and children.  Yet, he achieves heroic stature when he seeks to atone for this act in completing the twelve labors.  In acting out of vengeance and anger, Hera wishes nothing but the worst on Hercules.  Yet, this helps to establish his heroic traits, helping him become an Olympian that Hera, herself, accepted as equal.

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