The Mythology of HEBE

Hebe, greek goddess, was the daughter of Hera and Zeus, sister of Ares and Eileithyia, wife of Hercules (Herakles) and bore 2 children, Alexiares and Anicetus.

Although she was turned into a Temperance Goddess in the 1800's in the USA, she served nectar to the gods on Olympus and was fired from her job by Apollo when she fell and her dress came undone, resulting in a wardrobe malfunction that exposed her breasts. She was immortalized in Homer's Iliad (Book IV, 1-5) " The gods were seated near to Zeus in council, upon a golden floor. Graciously Hebe served them nectar, as with cups of gold they toasted one another, looking down toward the stronghold of Ilion." (Homer, Iliad, Book IV, 1-5)

"Now the gods at the side of Zeus were sitting in council over the golden floor, and among them the goddess Hebe poured them nectar as wine, while they in the golden drinking-cups drank to each other, gazing down on the city of the Trojans." - Homer, Iliad 4.1

In retaliation for Zeus birthing Athene by himself, his wife Hera bore Ares and Hebe without him. Legend says Apollo invited her to dinner and served her wild lettuce that made her pregnant.

There is also evidence that Hebe was the daughter of Zeus and Hera, "Zeus married Hera and fathered Hebe, Eileithyia." - Apollodorus, The Library 1.13

Her marriage to Herakles was celebrated in the Odyssey:

"Next I saw manifest the power of Herakles - a phantom, this, for he himself has gone feasting amid the gods, reclining soft with Hebe of the ravishing pale ankles, daughter of Zeus and Hera, shod in gold." (Homer, Odyssey, Book XI, 603 ff.)

Hebe's Roman counterpart is Juventas, the root of the word, Juvenile, and so Hebe is also associated with youth as well as rejuvenation, while her sister Eileithyia was associated with childbirth.

Hebe was associated with youth, along with maintaining and restoring youth, because she served nectar to the gods, which kept them eternally youthful and protected from the ravages of time. Once, she slipped and fell while serving nectar and her naked body was revealed, which caused shock among the gods! Her indecency made the gods question her manners and they decided she was unfit to continue to perform her duties. Ganymede, the beautiful young man who charmed all the gods, became her replacement. Although she was no longer the Olympian bartender, Hebe remained on Olympus where she performed with the Olympian dancer troupe, comprised of Artemis, Aphrodite, the Graces, Harmony, and accompanied by the music of the Muses and Apollo on the lyre. She was close to her immediate family, caring for her mother, Hera, and her brother, Ares.

She was given in marriage to Heracles after he died and became an immortal, which helped to heal tlhe rift between Hera and Hercules, who was Zeus' son by another woman (Alcmene), which had made Hera mad enough to pursue Hercules and which resulted in his 12 labors and legendary strength. Hercules and Hebe had 2 children, Alexiares and Anicetus.

As a child, Hercules was approached by 2 women at a crossroads. One promised him an easy time, plenty of entertainment, and euphoria, with no care for how that affected anyone else. The other woman was dressed in white and promised him challenges and hard work. This was Arete, the latin root for our word virtue, and this story represents the 2 sides of the god Ares, the choice between taking what makes us feel good and working to perfect ourselves and thereby our world.

The statue of Hebe that stands on the Temperance Fountain in Tompkins Square Park is the work of Danish sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen (1768-1844).

The NYC Parks Department has historical information about the Temperance Fountain in Tompkins Square.

Please visit: This was the best site I found for info on the mythology of Hebe.