Hebe is the ancient Greek Goddess of youth, the daughter of Hera and Zeus, as well as the wife to Heracles. Hebe was the Cupbearer of Olympus, serving nectar and ambrosia to the Gods and Goddesses until she was married to Heracles. Her successor was Zeus’ lover Ganymede.
1In addition to her job as cupbearer, she also served as a chambermaid for a few of the other Gods, drawing baths for Ares, occasionally tending to Aphrodite and she was sometimes the handmaiden to Hera and helped her with her chariot.
Hebe is associated with the Roman Goddess Juventas. She has also been referred to as Ganymede. Hebe is sometimes simply seen as Hera Pais, or Hera’s virgin aspect.
The name Hebe comes from the Greek word for “youth” or “prime of life”. Likewise, Roman Juventas means “youth.” Hebe is usually depicted in a sleeveless dress carrying a pitcher from which she poured ambrosia or standing hand in hand with her husband Heracles. Sometimes she is shown winged. She was also worshipped as the Goddess of forgiveness.
It is recorded that Hebe bore Heracles two twin boys, Alexiares (“he who wards off war”) and Anicetus (“the unconquerable one”). All that is known about these two is that they guard Olympus at the side of their father, Heracles.
Hebe’s symbols include the Chalice, urn or bowl and a tall pitcher, as well as wings.
Hymn to Hebe:
HEBE, to high OLYMPUS borne,
Undoomed to death, by age uncurst,
Handmaiden to gods, night and morn,
Let flow, to appease celestial thirst:
Ev’n so, untouched by years that envious pass
YOUTH greets the guests to-night and fills the glass.2