I've been reading Edith Hamilton's anthology Mythology. In the introduction she says:

Hera is often called "cow-faced," as if the adjective had somehow stuck to her through all her changes from a divine cow to the very human queen of heaven.

In what extant Greek tales is Hera called "cow-faced"?

  • In his Iliad, Homer makes a pun between Hera's wide-eyed bewilderment, and her association with certain totemic animals.
    – Lucian
    Sep 27, 2019 at 11:37

1 Answer 1


This is a reference to the greek word βο-ῶπις or bo-opis, which is translated in different places as one of:

  • ox-eyed
  • cow-eyed
  • cow-faced

Homer uses it throughout his works; it is one of his Homeric Epithets. For example, he uses it in the Iliad, Book 1, lines 531-567:

‘Hera’ replied the father of men and gods, ‘do not expect to know all my thoughts: though you are my wife you would find it a burden. Whatever it is right for you to hear, no immortal, no human, shall know before you; but of what I plan without reference to the gods, make no question, do not ask.’

‘Dread son of Cronos,’ the ox-eyed queen replied, ‘what is this? I have never questioned you, nor asked: you have ever peace to think on what you wish. But now my heart fears silver-footed Thetis, daughter of the Old Man of the Sea, has swayed you; for she knelt by you at dawn and clasped your knees. Dare I imagine that you bowed to her, gave her a firm pledge of support for Achilles, and promised slaughter by the Greek ships?’

It is likely Homer chose to give her this nickname as her patron animal was the cow.

  • 3
    there is also Athena called glaucopis , from "glaux", the owl , her "familiar" animal, all through homeric works . same root as glaucoma.
    – anna v
    May 7, 2015 at 3:56

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