Every once in a while, I take it upon myself to introduce Gods and Goddesses my readers might not be familiar with. Today, this is the Goddess Hebe.

Hebe (Ἡβη) is the Goddess of youth and the cupbearer of the Gods who serves ambrosia at the heavenly feasts. She is also the patron Goddess of the young bride and an attendant of Aphrodite. This is unsurprising when you know Her father is Zeus and Her mother is Hera. Her husband is the hero Hēraklēs.

       Khaos ------------ Gaea
           |         |
Ouranos --- |
                 Kronos --- Rhea
                      Zeus --- Hera

For a relatively minor Goddess, Hebe has quite a bit of mythology to Her name. Her parentage is mentioned by Hesiod, Apollodorus, Kallimachos, Pausanias and Hyginus. According to the ancient writers, Hebe's day was taken up by to major jobs: be a cupbearer to the Gods and be a handmaiden to her mother Hera. She also tended to Her brother Ares when He returned from war. A few choice selections of Homeros, in 'The Iliad', on these tasks:

"Now the gods at the side of Zeus were sitting in council over the golden floor, and among them the goddess Hebe (Youth) poured them nectar as wine, while they in the golden drinking-cups drank to each other, gazing down on the city of the Trojans." [4. 1]

"Hera, high goddess, daughter of Kronos the mighty, went away to harness the gold-bridled horses. Then Hebe in speed set about the chariot the curved wheels eight-spoked and brazen, with an axle or iron both ways. Golden is the wheel's felly imperishable, and outside it is joined, a wonder to look upon, the brazen running-rim, and the silver naves revolve on either side of the chariot, whereas the car itself is lashed fast with plaiting of gold and silver, with double chariot rails that circle about it, and the pole of the chariot is of silver, to whose extremity Hebe made fast the golden and splendid yoke, and fastened the harness, golden and splendid, and underneath the yoke Hera, furious for hate and battle, led the swift-running horses." [5. 720]

"Hebe washed him [Ares returning from battle] clean and put delicate clothing upon him." [5. 905]

To the ancient Hellenes, youth was of great importance as it was linked to aesthetic beauty--an ideal held very high throughout Hellas. It was said (in part because She poured it) that the nectar of the Gods was what kept Them forever youthful and thus immortal. Hebe was the epitome of subservience and thus was a role model for maidens and an ideal to men. This side of her also aided in Her coming to fulfil another role in ancient Hellenic society: that of a Goddess of pardons and extended forgiveness. Freed prisoners sacrificed to Her in order to restore some of their youthful innocence. In fact, at Hebe's sanctuary at Phlius, prisoners would hang their chains on the branches of the trees in the grove dedicated to her as a form of supplication. This is mentioned by Pausanias in his 'Description of Greece':
"On the Phliasian citadel [at Phlios in Argolis] is a grove of cypress trees and a sanctuary which from ancient times has been held to be peculiarly holy. The earliest Phliasians named the goddess to whom the sanctuary belongs Ganymeda; but later authorites call her Hebe, whom Homer mentions in the duel between Menelaos (Menelaus) and Alexandros (Alexander), saying that she was the cup-bearer of the gods; and again he says, in the descent of Odysseus to Haides, that she was the wife of Herakles. Olen [a legendary Greek poet], in his hymn to Hera, says that Hera was reared by the Horai (Horae, Seasons), and that her children were Ares and Hebe. Of the honours that the Phliasians pay to this goddess the greatest is the pardoning of suppliants. All those who seek sanctuary here receive full forgiveness, and prisoners, when set free, dedicate their fetters on the trees in the grove. The Phliasians also celebrate a yearly festival which they call Kissotomoi (Ivy-cutters). There is no image, either kept in secret of openly displayed, and the reason for this is set forth in a sacred legend of theirs though on the left as you go out is a temple of Hera with an image of Parian marble." [2. 13. 3]

Herakles, perhaps the greatest of all ancient Hellenic heroes, received Hebe as his wife once he ascended to Olympos as a God. Homeros mentions it, Hesiod does, it's even in the Homeic Hymns. The best explination of why Herakles was given Hebe especially as his wife is perhaps best given by Philostratos, though, in his 'Images':

"Before long you [Herakles] will live with them in the sky, drinking, and embracing the beautiful Hebe; for you are to marry the youngest of the gods and the one most revered by them, since it is through her that they also are young." [2. 20]