In Ancient Greece, a whole group of people would escort a woman to the groom’s home on her wedding day while singing a song. Hymenaios was believed to be the god of the wedding song that the bridal party would sing along the path as they went from the bride’s home to the groom’s home.
Some mythology says that Hymenaios was named after bridal songs that were already being sung. Others claim that he was sailing as a youth along Africa’s coast when a bad storm stranded some beautiful maidens. He rescued them, so they wrote songs in praise of his heroic efforts and presented them to him as a gift. Regardless, Hymenaios was known for his youth and extreme handsomeness.
Others insist that Hymenaios once fell in love with a beautiful maiden but she refused to marry him. Since he was able to pass himself off as a girl, he ran away from Athens with some maidens to the Festival of Demeter in Eleusis. During their journey, they were carried off by robbers. When the robbers finally slept and they were killed by Hymenaeus who returned to Athens alone. Once he arrived in Athens, he told the citizens if they would force the maiden he wanted to marry him that he would bring the other maidens back safely. The citizens agreed to the trade, and he returned the maidens to Athens where they wrote him bridal music to praise his gallant efforts.
Still, other sources record that Hymenaios was waiting for his own bride to arrive at his house when he was killed by robbers. Legend says that Hymenaios opened the door to the robbers believing it was the bridal party. In order to keep his memory alive, those who knew him created bridal songs. Others claim that Hymenaios was supposed to sing at Dionysus and Ariadne wedding, but that he lost his voice.
According to some, Hymenaios was the son of Apollo who was the Greek god of light, healing and poetry. He was also the son of one of the Mousai who were Greek goddesses who ruled over music, song and dance. Others claim he was the son of Bacchus who was the god of jewelry along with Aphrodite who was the god of love. Regardless, Greek mythology records that he was one of the most beautiful gods of all time.
Hymenaios was believed to show up at every successful marriage. If he did not show up, then the marriage was supposed to be a disaster. In addition to carrying a bridal torch, this Greek god was usually seen wearing a lei of flowers.
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