Motherhood, breastfeeding and adoption : the case of Hera suckling Heracles
Starting from some reflections on how Hera played the role of mother in mythological tales, we move to take into consideration the special case of the goddess suckling Heracles (sometimes as an adult). Notoriously, the Greeks attributed specific properties to breast-milk, such as transmitting genetic traits and creating bonds of kinship; therefore it does not seem unlikely to think that the episode in question alludes to the (symbolic) adoption by Hera of the illegitimate son of her husband, in order to let him access the divine family. Adoption in the ancient world, in fact, often involved adolescents and adults, with the primary goal being the provision of a legitimate heir to a citizen.
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