Io, Priestess of Hera

This week’s Classical woman is Io! Let’s see what happened in her myths.

Who was Io?

Io was a mythological lady who was a priestess of the goddess Hera.

Who were her parents?

Apollodorus explains a few possibilities for her parentage. He says that she might be the daughter of Iasus, who was the son of Argus and Ismene. She might instead be the daughter of Inachus, or Piren. Different sources give different names.

Did Zeus get his hands on her?

He sure did. The varying accounts see her resisting him before being seduced by his usual wiles. Hera found out, particularly since she was a priestess of this goddess. Zeus then used a number of tricks to try and hide Io from his wife, including transforming her into a heifer.

What happened to her as a heifer?

Hera asked for the heifer and Zeus gave her over. Hera put Io under the guard of Argus, who was a hundred-eyed giant that served the goddess. Zeus then had his son Hermes go and slay Argus, which gained him the title Argos-slayer, which is a common epithet for Hermes in myth.

Did Hera let this pass?

Not a chance! According to Ovid, Hera then sent a gadfly to pester Io as she wandered the earth. Io met Prometheus, who gave her a pep talk, and then she went to Egypt where Zeus turned her back into a lady.

Did she have any children?

Yes, she had a son by Zeus, Epaphus, and also a daughter named Keroessa. Her family tree is rather long and a lot of notable mythological figures could count Io as an ancestor – including Danaë and Perseus, Cadmus and Europa, Semele and Dionysos.

What happened to her after she got to Egypt?

Ovid says that she married the Egyptian king Telegonus, and they were the grandparents of Danaos and his fifty daughters.

What a busy life! Hope you enjoyed reading about this week’s Classical lady.

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10 thoughts on “Io, Priestess of Hera

  1. […] Io: Priestess of Hera Admete: Princess of Tiryns Pleiades: The Seven Sisters Omphale: Queen of Lydia Xenoclea: The Oracle Harpalyce: The Swift of Foot Atalanta: The Huntress Camilla of the Volscians Tomorrow we’re starting with Semele! I’ve got another 8 interesting mythological figures that we are going to meet, so look forward to it! […]

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