The story of Hera’s myth explains many parts of nature. Zeus wanted to marry Hera, but at first she refused; so he created a thunderstorm and transformed into a cuckoo bird. Zeus flew into Hera’s arms for shelter. This tricked Hera into holding Zeus, therefore, Zeus and Hera would marry. All of nature bloomed on their wedding day. As a gift, Mother Earth gave Hera an apple tree that grew apples which made you immortal.
Unfortunately, Zeus was unfaithful to Hera. His love for Greece and his greed for women led him to disguise himself to trick other mortal women into marrying him. Io was one of those women. One day, Hera spotted a lone thundercloud and suspected Zeus was with another woman. Indeed he was with Io. In order to trick Hera, he turned Io into a white cow. Hera was not fooled, but pretended to be. She asked for the cow, and Zeus had no choice but to give the cow to her because he thought he tricked her.
Hera made Argus, a hundred eyed guard, watch over Io. Zeus couldn’t stand seeing her like that, so he sent his son Hermes, to bore Argus to death with a story that had no beginning or end. This allowed Io to be set free. She ran home to her father, scratched her name with her hoof to reveal her identity to her father, Inachos (the River God). This realiztion made him so angry, he set out to destroy Zeus. ‘He flew at Zeus in such a rage that to save himself Zeus had to throw a thunderbolt, and ever since the bed of the river Inachos in Arcadia has been dry.’ (D’aulaire, Edgar Parin and D’aulaire, Ingri pg. 26-27).
Hera was infuriated by Argus’ death and that Io was free. To keep his memory alive, she placed all of his eyes onto her favorite bird, a peacock. She also sent a gadfly to sting Io repeatdley. Io ran away until she reached Egypt. There she became human again and an Egyptian goddess.
From thunderstorms and cukoo birds, to transforming humans to cows, to peacocks being decorated with one hundred eyes, the myth of Hera allows readers to see and imagine how many parts of nature are created.
Persephone and Demeter
In the myth of Persephone and Demeter, there are several parts of nature that are explained. Peresphone, the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, had her own powers. Whenever she danced lightly, flowers bloomed. Hades, the God of death, wanted Peresphone to be his queen; knowing that Demeter would never let her come willingly, he kidnapped her by spliting the ground beneath her feet. She was forced to leave the beautiful, bright, sunlit world to enter the dark underground palace.
The only signs of life in the underworld was a pomegrante tree that a special gardener cared for. Persephone refused any food Hades offered her, for she knew that if she was ever to be released, she would have to return to the underworld.
Above ground, Demeter and all of nature, grieved with her. what used to be a flourishing, bountiful, and a blooming earth, is now a barren wasteland with no flowers or trees, and no signs of life. This would continue until Demeter found her daughter.
After investigating her disappearance, Demeter met a young man named Triptolemus who told her that his brother saw the ground open up and swallow his pigs and heard a girl screaming. Demeter then requested that Zeus order Hades to let Persephone go. Hades had to obey, and finally Persephone was free. Finally, earth bloomed with flowers, grain, animals and trees again. Demeter turned from an old woman into a beauitiful Goddess. Demeter said to her daughter, ‘never again shall we be parted. Together we shall make all nature bloom.’ (D’aulaire, Edgar Parin and D’aulaire, Ingri pg 62). Unfortunately, because she had eaten the seed of the pomegrante tree, she would have to again enter the underground world for a total of one month for each seed she ate. Demeter, being the good Goddess she was, decided to help human kind even as she grieved during each month her daughter was gone. She told Triptolemus how to grow, harvest and store grain during the dark and cold months. This allowed the earth to continue to thrive during a difficult time.
The story of Persephone and Demeter showed the reader how feelings of happiness and love are potrayed with a beautiful and healthy earth, whilst, grief, greed and sorrow are painted as dark, barren and as death.
Helios and Phaëthon
The story of Helios and Phaëthon show how different parts of nature are transformed with myths of chariots, the sun and thunderbolts. The myth begins Helios, the sun god. He drives a chariot, which is pulled by fiery steeds. While he is driving his chariot, he brings light and heat to the world from coast to coast. He has a son named, Phaëthon that asked his father to bestow upon him his greatest wish, to drive the chariot. Although Helios is afraid to allow him to drive it because of the dangers it can cause, Helios is bound to his oath that he swore to the River Styx, to allow Phaëthon to get whatever his wish was. Since Helios is the only one that can steer the chariot correctly, once Pathëon drives the chariot, it careened off course. This angered the animals of the zodiac. Scorpions lashed out with his tail, lions growled, bulls charged, and the horses and Phaëthon was thrown off the chariot. ‘Without a firm hand to guide them, the horses bolted. They raced so close to the earth that the ground cracked from the heat of the chariot and rivers and lakes dried up.’ (D’aulaire, Edgar Parin and D’aulaire, Ingri pg.84).
In order to save the earth, Zeus had to throw one of his thunderbolts at the chariot. This blasted the chariot to smithereens and Phaëthon dropped into the River Po. Zeus watched Phaëthon’s sisters mourn him so he turned them into poplar trees and their tears into amber. After Hephaestus fixed the broken chariot, he never let anyone drive the sun chariot except Apollo, the God of Light. This allowed the world to be in harmony. Once again, the animals of the zodiac were calm and aligned.