Both the Greeks and Romans worshipped Hymen as the god of marriage, and in this regard he was connected with Hera, who among other things was the goddess of the marriage troth.

He was born a mortal, so delicate and beautiful that he might be mistaken for a girl. He used this appearance to get close to a young Athenian maiden whom he loved, but whom he could not marry, on account of his poverty. Joining a band of maidens with whom she was engaged in celebrating a festival of Demeter, he was captured with the rest of the girls when robbers appeared and abducted them, carrying them off to their ship. After some time, the brigands landed at an island, where they became besotted with drink, and fell asleep. Hymen, seeing the opportunity, incited his fellow captives to rise up and slay the robbers, which they did.

Returning to Athens, he sought an audience with the parents of the girl he loved, they fearing for her safety, and longing to have her home. He obtained from them a pledge that, should he return the girl, her parents would allow him to marry her. To this the distraught parents readily agreed, and Hymen set sail for the island where he had left the maidens, returning with them all, and gaining she whom he loved as his wife. Their marriage was so happy that Hymen became identified with matrimony, and became elevated to the status of a god. He was seen as the playmate of Eros, and was said to live with the Muses on Mount Helikon. He is supposed to have lost his voice, and his life, while singing the marriage song of Dionysos and Ariadne. He is always depicted as a youth of great beauty, with a mantle of golden colour--though sometimes he is nude--and carrying a torch, or a veil.