sister and wife of Zeus, the type of virtuous womanhood, from Greek Hēra, literally "protectress," related to hērōs "hero," originally "defender, protector" (see hero (n.1)).
Entries linking to hera
late 14c., "man of superhuman strength or physical courage," from Old French heroe (14c., Modern French héros), from Latin heros (plural heroes) "hero, demi-god, illustrious man," from Greek hērōs (plural hērōes) "demi-god," a variant singular of which was hērōe. This is of uncertain origin; perhaps originally "defender, protector" and from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect," but Beekes writes that it is "Probably a Pre-Greek word."
Meaning "man who exhibits great bravery" in any course of action is from 1660s in English. Sense of "chief male character in a play, story, etc." first recorded 1690s. Hero-worship is from 1713 in reference to ancient cults and mysteries; of living men by 1830s. In Homer, of the Greeks before Troy, then a comprehensive term used of warriors generally, also of all free men in the Heroic Age. In classical mythology from at least the time of Hesiod (8c. B.C.E.) "man born from a god and a mortal," especially one who had done service to mankind; with the exception of Heracles limited to local deities and patrons of cities.
Greek hero, son of Zeus and Alcmene, worshipped by the Romans as a god of strength, c. 1200 (originally in reference to the Pillars of Hercules), also Ercules, from Latin Hercles (Etruscan Hercle), from Greek Hērakles, literally "Glory of Hera;" from Hera (q.v.) + -kles "fame," a common ending in Greek proper names, related to kleos "rumor, report, news; good report, fame, glory," from PIE *klew-yo-, suffixed form of root *kleu- "to hear."
Used figuratively in reference to strength since late 14c. Vocative form Hercule was a common Roman interjection (especially me Hercule!) "assuredly, certainly." The constellation so called in English by 1670s.
updated on October 29, 2018