Amanda Aremisia Forrester
Rich-haired Muses Nine, Dwellers on Helikon, I hail you.
I call you, Inspirers of arts and music, to attend to me,
And help me to tell the tale
Of the First Wedding,
The union of Mighty Zeus with Majestic Hera.
Lord Zeus, Ruler of Sky, I hail you.
Glorious King, august, mighty and invincible
Thrower of lightning and causer of rain to fall
Husband of queenly Hera, attend my song and hear my tale.
Queen Hera, Lady of Argos, I hail you.
Cow-eyed Goddess, always faithful
Patroness of young brides and elder crones alike
Wife of Lord Zeus, attend my song and hear my tale.
Years ago, before the present order had come to pass
Young Zeus warred with his cruel father Kronos
And his Titan brothers.
Alongside the young Kreten God, his brothers by Kronos and Rhea,
Poseidon the Earth-Shaker, Haides the grim-faced God Below,
And their sisters, lovely fair-haired Demeter, gentle Hestia of the flames,
and the always Queenly Hera, fought against their severe father.
The war from which they immersed victorious lasted ten years.
Not so long in the lifespan of the Immortals,
But long enough
When spent hiding in dank, dark caves
And fighting fearsome battles with your own kin.
It was in this time of war and upheaval in the ranks of the Deathless Ones
That young Zeus Kourebates began to desire his sister Hera.
His sister was chaste and proper, earthy and beautiful like their sibling Demeter,
But not so wild and free. Queenly Hera, Co-Ruler of Sky, Patroness of Kings,
would not be easily taken.
Cow-eyed Hera was cordial to her brother, but wondered as to their future.
“Dearest brother Zeus,” She said to him, “Your arm is strong, your visage handsome,
And your cause in this war just. But, virile as you are, you are easily ruled by your passion,
and I fear that passion may lead you astray.”
“Ah,” Replied Zeus “But my passion is my rudder. It is my passion
That led me to leave the safety of Krete; the nymphs there cared for me
And gave me all that I needed. But I knew the evils our father Kronos had wrought
And that my five siblings were stored up in his stomach, trapped and miserable, unable to fight for their freedom.
My passion to right this wrong led me back to Hellas,
My passion which free you and the others from captivity,
My passion enlisted the aid of Metis, Styx, and Mnemosyne, powerful Titanesses and valuable allies.
It is passion which has guided me to you, the green shore, where I will find welcome harbor and hospitably in your soft arms, as a sailor sore for the sight of land finds welcome in the bustling cities and green growing things of land. Let us lie together, and I will not forsake your bedside.”
Lady Hera was not convinced by the Thunderer’s honeyed words.
“Ah,” the white-armed Goddess responded. “It is the way that your passion converted these Titanesses three to our cause that worries me! Your advances are not unwelcome, dear brother, but I must have assurances.”
“What more can I say to convince you? What must I give you to assure you of my devotion? I shall give you rule of the heavens, and the fertility of earth you shall share with Demeter, if she does not object. I shall give you a crown of stars, and cities to rule as you sit fit, and all Gods and Goddesses shall give honor to thy name.”
Hera smiled coyly. “If you want me, you must marry me.”
“Sister,” Zeus replied, his brow knit in confusion, “What do you mean by this? There is no such word.”
“It means,” Hera told her brother. “That we will not simply lie together in the dark, and our pairing so be ended, nor be subject to the fickle flows of passion. Our bonding will be of stronger and more enduring stuff. You will swear, by your honor and by the River of Death, before all the Gods, to keep me and protect me. And I shall keep myself only for you, and not give myself to any other God. We will stand beside each other through good and bad, and one shall not desert the other. When the war is over and you have won, we shall live together as husband and wife. I will bare you children, and we will raise them together, not I alone as Demeter with her Kore. And this arrangement, this marriage, will not be limited to us. Others will follow our example, first Gods, and then mankind. Through marriage the world will be civilized, and the practice of it shall be my own special domain.”
And so it was. Zeus swore it, to protect and stand beside her,
And Hera and Zeus lay together in love for the first time.
When the war of the Titans had ended and Kronos was cast into Tartaros,
All the Gods attended their golden wedding, and danced to the drums and feasted from the laden tables.
The beautiful bride and beaming bridegroom were a sight to behold
No blemish in their Immortal faces, but only the shining glow
Of happiness at having found a mate that was truly their equal.
They say that their honeymoon lasted for three hundred years.
So the First Wedding occurred, and on this day of Gamelia,
We mortals of old celebrate the union of these two great Gods,
Our beloved King and Queen of Olympos
She and He Who Unite,
The Most Holy Ones,
Hera Zygia and Zeus Zyios.