Top 10 Rare Facts about Hebe

Greek deities and heroes were more realistic characters. Their emotions were way more natural and obvious than deities in any other mythology. 

So despite passing hundreds of years, they are still well-known today. But the number of unknown names is greater than known in the list of Greek deities. 

In such unknown deities, Hebe is the one name. She was also a resident of Mount Olympus but remained infamous. Due to her minor duty in Olympus, she was overshadowed in history. 

Who was Hebe, and what was her minor duty? Let’s look into some specific details with ten rare facts about her.

10. Hebe was the goddess of youth or the prime of life.

Hebe - the goddess of youth and prime of life
Hebe – the goddess of youth and prime of life1

After the victory over Titans, Zeus became the new king of Mount Olympus. He assigned everyone with their post and duty. He also announced the Twelve Olympians who became chief deities in Greek Mythology

Hebe was assigned to offer nectar that could grant everlasting beauty and life. She gave this gift to Olympian gods and people who needed it. Thus, she became the goddess of youth or the prime of life.

Several deities approached her to help them out with their problems of not feeling youthful. She didn’t reply to them easily until they convinced her. She gave her blessing when she found it right to do to a particular person.

Once, Hebe had granted Iolaus’ wish to become young again to fight Eurystheus. Iolaus was old enough to be beaten by the enemy. This is the story from Euripides’ play Heracleidae. 

At first, Hebe was reluctant to bestow the older man with a young warrior’s strength and youthful spirit. But Themis, who was a seer, convinced her that her gift could end the war. Then, she made Iolaus the young and powerful warrior.

She was also the keeper of the Fountain of Youth. The fountain was depicted as a natural spring that would restore an individual’s youth. In many ways, the goddess herself personified this spirit of youth and immortality. 

Because of her gift of youthfulness and everlasting life, other deities were jealous of Hebe. They all wanted to be eternally young and immortal. And it was only possible through the help of Hebe.

9. Hebe was the patron of brides.

A painting of Hebe by Jacques Louis Dubois
A painting of Hebe by Jacques Louis Dubois

Hebe was also associated with marriage. She was the bridal attendant of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, and sexuality. She was described dancing with and acting as Aphrodite’s herald. 

Thus, after her mother Hera, she was also one of three Greek Goddesses associated with marriage.

Hebe’s marriage also justifies her legacy as a patron of brides. She was married to Heracles, who was known for his strength and his Twelve Labors. As Heracles was born out of a mortal mother, he was a demigod. But he became immortal later after his life. 

The couple married when Heracles was deified on his funeral pyre at Mount Olympus. At Olympus, Hebe was a cup-bearer, but when she was married, she left her duty. 

Her mother, Hera, was a lifelong enemy of Heracles. She was dissatisfied with her daughter’s wedding. It was a wedding that reconciled Heracles with his stepmother, Hera. To make matters worse, Hebe gave the gift of eternal youth, which further sparked Hera’sHera’s fury.

Anyway, whenever the marriage was held in Ancient Greece, Hebe was worshipped along with Aphrodite and Hera. Unmarried girls also worshipped her to find their suitors.

8. Hebe was the mother of Alexiares and Anicetus.

A statue of Hebe
A statue of Hebe

After marrying Heracles, the couple lived at Mount Olympus. They had two sons, Alexiares and Anicetus. The children became minor deities in Greek Religion. 

They were born after the Heracles’ mortal death and ascent to Olympus. At Olympus, he gained immortality and married Hebe. There she bore the immortal twin sons. In her labor, Eileithyia, the goddess of midwifery, had helped her. 

Alexiares and Anicetus refer to “he who wards off the war” and “the unconquerable” in Greek Mythology. They were the gods of sports, athletics, and defensive strategy.

Their father, Heracles, was the guardian of Mount Olympus. When Alexiares and Anicetus grew up, they assisted their father. As they were immortal by Hebe, they became gatekeepers of Mount Olympus.

Their job was to keep protection and fortification of towns and citadels. Greek people worshipped the twins in Thebes and Rhodes.

7. Hebe’s Roman equivalent is Juventas. 

Juventas - Roman Equivalent of Hebe
Juventas – Roman Equivalent of Hebe

It is interesting that whatever Greek people had, Romans also had the same in their mythology. In place of Hebe, Romans have Juventas, who is also associated with youth and rejuvenation. 

She was the goddess of young men who wore the toga, a distinctive cloth. It was used by people who had just come of age.

Juventas was the daughter of Jupiter and Juno. Her siblings were Mars, Vulcan, Bellona, Discordia, Lucina, and Hercules. Hercules was her brother but later became her husband.

Her sacred attribute was Chalice, through which people worshipped her. Before the temple of Minerva on the Capitol, there was a chapel of Juventas. It was a place where youth deposited a coin on their assumption of the “toga virilis.” 

People also offered sacrifice on behalf of the rising state of manhood to her. Romans worshipped her when they reached their manhood.

Her Chalice is connected with Tarquin’s wish to rebuild the temple district on the Capitoline. The temple was in the course of erection and about to finish in the building. But Terminus, the god of boundaries, and Juventas refused to quit the sites. 

They had already appropriated as sacred to themselves. And that became part of the new sanctuary accordingly later. It was interpreted as a sign of the immovable boundaries and eternal youth of the Roman state.

6. Hebe’s sacred attributes were Wine-cup, Eagle, Ivy, Fountain of Youth, and Wings. 

Hebe with her sacred Eagle and Wine cup
Hebe with her sacred Eagle and Wine cup

Hebe’s symbols, such as Wine-cup and eagle, were offered by Zeus. They were part of her duty. When Hebe was a cup-bearer, she served her father, Zeus, a wine. That’s why people worshipped the wine cup.

Eagle was the sacred attribute of Zeus, who disguised it frequently. It came to Hebe as the eagle was connected with immortality. According to folks, the eagle, like the phoenix, could renew itself to a youthful state.

Hebe’s next symbol was Ivy, an everlasting plant. It persists through the winter and blooms through the year and becomes the symbol of everlasting youth. The plant was also believed to drive out evil spirits from home. 

Fountain of Youth is the most important symbol that Hebe had kept. Withdrawing some amount, she offered to the gods at Mount Olympus. It made the consumer ever-youthful and immortal. 

Wings also emerged as Hebe’ symbol. Her father, Zeus, had gifted her two doves with human voices. One flew to where the Oracle of Dodona would be established. That’s why people worshipped wings. 

5. Hebe is usually depicted wearing a sleeveless dress.

A statue of Hebe with her unique dress up
A statue of Hebe with her unique dress up

In art, Hebe is portrayed as a beautiful and young girl. She wears a sleeveless dress and has a visible breast on her left side. Sometimes, she is nude to admire her everlasting beauty. 

In several portraits, she has an ewer in her left hand over her head and a cup in her right hand. 

As the goddess of the brides, she is always portrayed in wedding scenes. She is either with her parents at a wedding ceremony or with Aphrodite. 

4. Hebe served the role of cup-bearer to Olympian deities. 

Greek Goddess Hebe
Greek Goddess Hebe

In ancient Greece, the female offspring served guests at home. It was the tradition at the time, and nobody could deny it. Even the daughter of Olympian Gods and Goddesses also served that domestic role.

As a daughter of Zeus and Hera, Hebe was a cup-bearer at home. In Mount Olympus, she would bring her golden Chalice filled with nectar and ambrosia to guests. This way, she allowed guests to receive the sustenance of immortality. 

She also provided guests with food and drink. Besides, she prepared her mother’s chariot and drew the bath for her brother Ares.

Though Hebe’s duty was seemingly boring, she also had some advantages. She had the gift of eternal youth that made her and others always young and beautiful. And it was reflected in her adolescent figure and fresh-faced appearance.

Once, Hebe striped her cloth while serving the beverage to the deities. Gods became angry after this accident and stopped her from serving her duty. They accused her of indecency. Later, she was replaced by Ganymede, who continued the cup-bearing duty after her.

3. Hebe was believed to be born after Hera ate Lettuce.

The youngest daughter of Zeus and Hera - Hebe
The youngest daughter of Zeus and Hera – Hebe

Hebe was known as the youngest daughter of Zeus and Hera. She had twenty-six siblings from his father. But from her mother, she had siblings such as Angelos, Ares, Eileithyia, Enyo, Eris, Hebe, Hephaestus.

In another version, Hebe was born after Hera was conceived by eating a lettuce plant. This version also tells that her brother Apollo also was born unnaturally. 

When Zeus became the king of Mount Olympus, he traveled the earth, space, and many other places. Wherever he went, he had his lovers. Along with goddesses, he also had mortal lovers. 

Due to his uncountable affairs, he had several illegitimate children. It infuriated Hera, and she tortured his children, who were born out of an affair. One of the victims was Heracles. 

When she was fed up with Zeus’ affairs, she decided to bore the child without his help. She sought a way by traveling to the realm of Oceanus and Tethys at the end of the world.

She went to the garden of Flora and touched a sole. It was a nameless plant from the land of Olene. With her touch, Hera became pregnant with Ares.

When she returned to the garden sometime later, she was with her son, Apollo. There they had dinner together. While dining, she found Lettuce and ate it. After eating the Lettuce, she was pregnant with Hebe.

2. Cynosarges and Sicyon were places dedicated to Hebe.

Hebe
Hebe

Hebe was strongly associated with spring. It represents the change of season from spring to autumn. This myth is also connected with Hebe as the goddess of youth.

As the goddess of youth and prime of life, she has her cult and at least one temple. Cynosarges was a temple where an altar for Hebe was in Athens. The temple also featured gymnasiums and altars for Heracles and a joint altar to Alcmene and Iolaus. 

According to Aelian, Hebe shared her altar in temples along with her spouse, Heracles. There, temples were separated by a canal. Heracles’ temple housed roosters while Hebe’s temple had hens.

Sicyon was one of Hebe’s special places. There she had a temple dedicated to her, and it was the center of her cult. Near Sicyon, Phliasians lived, and they worshipped her.

Hebe also was the goddess of pardons or forgiveness. Phliasians honored the goddess by pardoning supplicants. Then, freed prisoners would hang their chains in the sacred grove of her sanctuary at Phlius.

1. Hebe was worshipped along with Hera and Heracles. 

A portrait of Hebe bringing Heracles to Olympus
A portrait of Hebe bringing Heracles to Olympus

Greek people worshipped Hebe along with her parents, husband, and her siblings. Argos and the Heraion of Argos were the center places for Hera’s cult. There Hebe’s statue was also established beside her mother. 

Whenever the bridal ceremony or wedding was held, Hebe was next to her mother. People also worshipped her along with her mother as similar to Demeter and Persephone. 

Demeter was the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, whereas Persephone was the queen of the underworld. 

The couples were mothers and daughters who represented the cycle of rebirth and renewal. Both mothers loved their daughters and struck some similarities. 

As a goddess of marriage, Hebe was also worshipped along with her husband, Heracles. Besides, Greek people also worshipped her with many other deities such as Athena and Apollo.

Conclusion

Hebe represented the female aspect of Ancient Greek Mythology. She also justified their status as members of the Olympian family due to her angelic persona and her gift.

Though she had a gift of immortality and everlasting youth, she was taken as a minor goddess. She also was hidden in the Greek pantheon. That’s a dissatisfying fact.

Was Hebe a minor deity in Greek Mythology? What do you think about her after the above facts? You are all welcome to the comment section.

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