Hestia – Greek Goddess of Hearth and Home
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In Ancient Greece, Hestia was the virgin Greek goddess who represented the hearth and home. It is derived by the ancient Greek word Ἑστία, which means hearth, or fireside. Her Roman name is Vesta.
As indicated by the derivation of her name, she came to represent everything in the home including the family and daily domestic life. She and Zeus were siblings because she also was the daughter of the Titans, Cronus and Rhea.
Worshiping Hestia Inside the Home
Hestia had an important place in the daily domestic culture of each household. Most homes featured a simple statue of her likeness, which was often perched on a wooden pedestal. Since she valued simplicity and domesticity, legend states that she was not in favor of elaborate likenesses of herself.
In the religious tradition of Ancient Greece, people would offer sacrifices to their gods. In the household, Hestia was always the first to receive an offering as a token of thanks for all that they believed she provided for them.
One of the most common offerings was a small, preliminary portion of a meal or feast. Far major feasts, she would receive an offering at the beginning and the end of the feast. This practice reflects her importance in the domestic culture.
Note that there were very few temples that were dedicated to Hestia. This is because her main place of worship was inside the home, where people were able to worship and remember her on an almost daily basis.
The fire was an important part of the Ancient Greek household and was never allowed to go out.
Hestia’s Personality and Good Nature
For the most part, Hestia is considered one of the twelve Olympian gods and goddesses but in some literature, she is omitted from the list in favor of Dionysius. The reasons for this are unclear.
However, some scholars speculate that it is due to her good nature. Rather than cause conflict, they believe that she gave up her role as an Olympian goddess to help keep the peace. This idea, however, has not been supported by literature. No stories have been uncovered to support this.
On the other hand, stories do spend some time referring to her personality as being “good-natured”. She has an even temperament and values order and simplicity in her domesticity. In the Greek culture, these qualities were highly valued for women.
All stories that focus on Hera do mention that she was a virgin, and she was dedicated to remaining that way. In some stories, she did receive offers of marriage from both Poseidon and Apollo. She was also nearly raped by a lesser god. However, she remained a virgin and she forever honored an oath she gave Zeus to remain pure.
As you can see, Hestia had an important role in both the culture and religion of Ancient Greece. Since family, food, and domesticity were highly valued in that culture, Hestia was worshiped on an almost daily basis since she represented all these things.
Categorized in: Greek Mythology
This post was written by GreekBoston.com