A Month of Devotional Thought: Hebe

Χαίρετε πάντες!

k18-1hebe

The marriage of Herakles and Hebe, the bridal pair is accompanied by Eros and Hymenaios. (Source: Theoi.com)

Today comes the second post in the Month of Devotional Thought series, this time about Hebe (Ἥβη). She is a cupbearer of the Gods, Goddess of Youth, and when Herakles (Ἡρακλῆς) ascended to Olympos (Ὄλυμπος) and took his place among the Blessed Gods, Zeus gave her hand to him in marriage. The Romans identified her with thjeir Goddess IuventāsLet’s have a closer look at her, shall we?

Like the previosuly discussed Deity, Hebe is a daughter of Zeus (Ζεύς) and Hera (Ἤρα), a fullblood sister of Ares (Ἄρης) and Enyo (Ἐνυώ) [1]. At first, she served as a Cupbearer and Wine-pourer of the Gods [2] whenever they held council on Olympos, though later she was replaced in this function by Ganymedes (Γανυμήδης), the Trojan prince who is Zeus’s immortalised lover. Hebe also served as handmaiden to her mother Hera [3], who also retained her service as wine-pourer as she was angered by Zeus and Ganymedes. Upon the apotheosis of Herakles, finally, Hebe was given into marriage to Herakles [4], to be his buxom wife, and she bore him two sons, Alexiares (Ἀλεξιάρης) and Aniketos (Ανίκητος) [5].

As a female Goddess of Youth, daughter of the Goddess of Marriage, Hebe is naturally also counted amongst the Marriage Goddesses; which are Hera, Aphrodite (Ἀφροδίτη), the Kharites (Χάριτες), en Harmonia (Ἁρμονία) [6]. In particular, she was connected with the youthful bride.

Let’s move on to her cult, which was not very prominent and often connected to Herakles or Hera’s cults. Statues of her however were a favourite adornment of gymnasia and baths. First, let’s look at the epithets we have for her:

  • Βασιλεία: Queen
  • Γανυμήδα: Gladdening Princess
  • Δῖα: Of Zeus

These epithets most often occur as substitutes of her name in certain places. At Phlious (Φλειοῦς) and Sikyon (Σικυών) she was worshipped as Dia. It is known that in Phlious, her temple was located in the citadel of the town [7]. Strabo (Στράβων) mentions the name of Hebe at Phlious as Dia, whereas Pausanias (Παυσανίας) mentions that Hebe is worshipped here as Ganymeda. At Mantineia (Μαντίνεια), Arkadia (Αρκαδία), an image of her by Praxiteles (Πραξιτέλης) stood beside an image of her mother Hera at her temple [8]. And Aelianus mentions that there was a temple somewhere, dedicated to Herakles and his spouse Hebe. At this temple lived sacred chickens, the cockerells staying in the precinct of Herakles, the hens in the precinct of Hebe. They lived separated by a sacred water source, and never did the hens venture into the male precinct, though at the time of mating, the cockerels would fly over into the female precinct to mate, and when the eggs laid from this union were hatched, the cockerells carried of the male offspring to be raised by them, and the hens raised the female offspring [9]. Athens (Ἀθῆναι) also has altars to Herakles and Hebe [10].

As far as misunderstandings go, I have not really encountered any; nor do I have a clear idea for specific sacrifices to her. Frankincense, myrrh, other incenses, libations of water, honey, milk, or wine should be acceptable (unless off course she indicates to you otherwise). I could perhaps imagine offerings of blushing red apples, particularly when they ar ein season where you live, to be approriate.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

[1] Hesiodos, Theogonia 921; Pseudo-Apollodoros, Bibliotheke 1.13
[2] Homeros, Ilias 4.1; Pausanias, Periegesis Hellados 2. 13. 3; Euphronios, Fragment (from Scholiast on Aristophanes) (Vol. Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides, Fragment 41)
[3] Homeros, Ilias 5.720; Pindaros, Nemean Ode 10.17
[4] Homeros, Odysseia 11.601; Hesiodos, Theogonia 950; Homeric Hymn 15 to Heracles
[5] Apollodoros 2.158; Pseudo-Apollodoros, Bibliotheke, 2.7.7
[6] Hesiodos, Theogonia 5; Homeric Hymn 3 to Pythian Apollon 186; Pindaros, Nemean Ode 8.1
[7] Strabo, Geographia 8.6.24; Pausanias, Periegesis Hellados 2.12.4; Pausanias, Periegesis Hellados 2.13.3
[8] Pausanias, Periegesis Hellados 8.9.2
[9] Aelianus, De Natura Animalium 17.46
[10] Pausanias, Periegesis Hellados 1.19.3

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2 comments on “A Month of Devotional Thought: Hebe

  1. Edward P. Butler says:

    An interesting modern manifestation of Hebe is her presence on the many so-called “Temperance Fountains” erected in many places around the U.S. in the late 19th century, which generally incorporate a statue of Hebe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperance_fountain

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  2. […] Zeus and Hera have a few children together. Those who are in all versions of the myths their children are Hebe, Eileithyia, and Ares. Hebe served as cupbearer and handmaiden to Her Mother, I have already discussed her in this post. […]

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