Why was Heracles named after Hera, when his real mother was Alcmene?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-04 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, Culture

The in-universe explanation (to treat Greek mythology like fantasy fiction, and that’s not that absurd really) is

He was renamed Heracles [“glory of Hera”] in an unsuccessful attempt to mollify Hera. (Heracles – Wikipedia)

Stepping behind the curtain, in his monograph on Greek religion (p. 322), Walter Burkert says the name might be a coincidence; but he thinks it likelier that Heracles being subject to Eurysthenes and his protector goddess Hera, and the multiple instances where Heracles cross-dressed, point to a hero whose very point was that he could fall from being the son of Zeus to being disempowered (oppressed by a female goddess, cross-dressing like a woman).

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