The Giustiniani Hestia in O. Seyffert, Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, 1894
|Goddess of the hearth or fireside|
|Abode||Delphi or Olympus|
|Symbol||The hearth and its fire|
|Parents||Cronus and Rhea|
|Siblings||Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, Zeus|
In Ancient Greek religion Hestia[pronunciation?], (Ancient Greek: Ἑστία, "hearth" or "fireside") is a virgin goddess of the hearth, architecture, and the right ordering of domesticity, the family and the state. In Greek mythology she is a daughter of Cronus and Rhea.
Hestia received the first offering at every sacrifice in the household. In the public domain, the hearth of the prytaneum functioned as her official sanctuary. With the establishment of a new colony, flame from Hestia's public hearth in the mother city would be carried to the new settlement. She sat on a plain wooden throne with a white woolen cushion and did not trouble to choose an emblem for herself. Her Roman equivalent is Vesta.
Origins and cults 
Hestia's name means "home and hearth", the oikos, the household and its inhabitants. "An early form of the temple is the hearth house; the early temples at Dreros and Prinias on Crete are of this type as indeed is the temple of Apollo at Delphi which always had its inner hestia" The Mycenaean great hall, such as the hall of Odysseus at Ithaca was a megaron, with a central hearth fire. Likewise, the hearth of the later Greek prytaneum was the ritual and secular focus of the community and its government.
Hestia's name and functions show the importance of the hearth and its fire in the social, religious and political life of ancient Greece; essential for warmth, food preparation, and the completion of sacrificial offerings to deities, in which Hestia was the "customary recipient of a preliminary, usually cheap, sacrifice". She was also offered the first and last libations of wine at feasts. Her own sacrificial animal was a domestic pig. Just as the accidental or negligent extinction of a domestic hearth-fire represented a failure of domestic and religious care for the family, failure to maintain Hestia's public fire in her temple or shrine was a breach of duty to the broad community. A hearth fire might be deliberately, ritually extinguished at need, and its lighting or relighting should be accompanied by rituals of completion, purification and renewal, comparable with the rituals and connotations of an eternal flame and of sanctuary lamps. At the level of the polis, Hestia's cult symbolizes the alliance between Greek colonies and their mother cities. Her nearest Roman equivalent, Vesta, had similar functions as a divine personification of Rome's "public" and domestic hearths, including those of her colonies; and Vesta's cults bound Romans together in the form of an extended family. The similarity of names between Hestia and Vesta is, however, misleading: "The relationship hestia-histie-Vesta cannot be explained in terms of Indo-European linguistics; borrowings from a third language must also be involved," scholar Walter Burkert has written.
Responsibility for Hestia's domestic cult usually fell to the leading woman of the household, sometimes to a man. Her own public rites were usually enacted by non-religious office holders and their assistants at the hearths of public buildings. Dionysius of Halicarnassus testifies that the prytaneum of a Greek state or community was sacred to Hestia, who was served by the most powerful state officials. Evidence of her specialist priesthoods is extremely rare. Most stems from the early Roman Imperial era, when Sparta offers several examples of women with the priestly title "Hestia"; Chalcis offers one such, a daughter of the local elite. As Hestia was thought equivalent to Roman Vesta, existing civic cults to Hestia probably served as stock for the grafting of Greek ruler-cult to the Roman emperor, the Imperial family and Rome itself. In Athens, a small seating section at the Theatre of Dionysus was reserved for priesthoods of "Hestia on the Acropolis, Livia, and Julia", and of "Hestia Romaion" ("Roman Hestia", thus "The Roman Hearth" or Vesta). A priest at Delos served "Hestia, the Athenian Demos (the people or state) and Roma". An eminent citizen of Carian Stratoniceia described himself as a priest of Hestia and several other deities, as well as holding several civic offices. In general, the lack of a specialised priesthood to Hestia reflects her central public function as political and civic, further evidenced by her very numerous privately funded dedications at civic sites, and the administrative rather than religious titles used by the lay-officials involved in her civic cults.
Throughout time, rarely, there have been cases of communication and interference with ones mind and mortal soul, preventing the mortal from falling into the depths and grasps of the King of death "hades". Hestia is known for her love and care, this is believed to be the explanation for these "communications, it's said that Hestia takes the role or figure of a loved one to voice her concern in order to make the victim listen. Hestia it's believed that the letters (known nowadays) as, c, e, a, y and k were somewhat symbolic to her beliefs and causes.
Myths and attributes 
Hestia is a goddess of the first Olympian generation, along with Demeter and Hera. She was a daughter of the Titans Rhea and Kronos, and sister to Zeus, Poseidon, Demeter, Hera and Hades. Immediately after their birth, Kronos swallowed all but the last and youngest, Zeus, who forced Cronus to disgorge his siblings and led them in a war against their father and the other Titans. As "first to be devoured... and the last to be yielded up again", Hestia was thus both the eldest and youngest daughter; this mythic inversion is found in the Homeric hymn to Aphrodite (700 BC). Hestia rejects the marriage suits of Poseidon and Apollo, and swears herself to perpetual virginity. She thus rejects Aphrodite's values and becomes, to some extent, her chaste, domestic complementary, or antithesis. Zeus assigns Hestia a duty to feed and maintain the fires of the Olympian hearth with the fatty, combustible portions of animal sacrifices to the gods.
Hestia's Olympian status is equivocal. At Athens "in Plato's time," notes Kenneth Dorter "there was a discrepancy in the list of the twelve chief gods, as to whether Hestia or Dionysus was included with the other eleven. The altar to them at the agora, for example, included Hestia, but the east frieze of the Parthenon had Dionysus instead." Hestia's omission from some lists of the Twelve Olympians is sometimes taken as illustration of her passive, non-confrontational nature – by giving her Olympian seat to Dionysus she prevents heavenly conflict – but no ancient source or myth describes such a surrender or removal. "Since the hearth is immovable, Hestia is unable to take part even in the procession of the gods, let alone the other antics of the Olympians," Burkert remarks. Her mythographic status as first-born of Rhea and Cronus seems to justify the tradition in which a small offering is made to Hestia before any sacrifice ("Hestia comes first").
The ambiguities in Hestia's mythology are matched by her indeterminate attributes, character and iconography. She is identified with the hearth as a physical object, and the abstractions of community and domesticity, but portrayals of her are rare, and seldom secure. In classical Greek art, she is occasionally depicted as a woman, simply and modestly cloaked in a head veil. She is sometimes shown with a staff in hand.
Homeric hymn 24, To Hestia, is a brief invocation of five lines:
Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise: draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song.
The hymn locates Hestia in ancient Delphi, the central hearth of all the Hellenes, rather than at the hearth of Zeus on Mount Olympus.
- Graves, Robert. "The Palace of Olympus". Greek Gods and Heroes.
- Burkert p 61.
- link to Homeric Hymn 29, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White.
- Bremmer, Jan. N., in Ogden, D., (Editor) A Companion to Greek Religion, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, googlebooks preview, p.134, ISBN 978-1-4443-3417-3
- Burkert, Greek Religion 1985:III.3.1 note 2.
- Kajava, Mika, "Hestia Hearth, Goddess, and Cult", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology , Vol. 102, (2004), p. 5.
- Kajava, Mika, "Hestia Hearth, Goddess, and Cult", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology , Vol. 102, (2004), pp. 1, 3, 5.
- Hesiod, Theogony, 4.53 f.
- Kereny 1951:91
- Kajava, Mika, "Hestia Hearth, Goddess, and Cult", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology , Vol. 102, (2004), p. 1, 2.
- Dorter, "Imagery and Philosophy in Plato's Phaedrus," Journal of the History of Philosophy 9.3 (July 1971:279-88).
- Károly Kerényi, The Gods of the Greeks, 1951, p.92: "there is no story of Hestia's ever having taken a husband or ever having been removed from her fixed abode."
- Burkert, Greek Religion 1985:170.
- Not so for every Greek in every generation, however: in Odyssey 14, 432-36, the loyal swineherd Eumaeus begin the feast for his master Odysseus by plucking tufts from a boar's head and throwing them into the fire with a prayer addressed to all the powers, then carved the meat into seven equal portions: "one he set aside, lifting up a prayer to the forest nymphs and Hermes, Maia's son." (Robert Fagles' translation).
- Kajava, Mika, "Hestia Hearth, Goddess, and Cult", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology , Vol. 102, (2004), p. 2.
- Hymn 24 to Hestia.
- Burkert, Walter, 1985. Greek Religion (Harvard University Press)
- Kerenyi, Karl, 1951. The Gods of the Greeks
- Stephenson, Hamish, 1985. "The Gods of the Romans and Greeks" (NYT Writer)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Hestia|
- Carlos Parada, "Hestia"
- Socrates to Hermogenes about Hestia - Estia - Esti (Eesti) - Osia
- Theoi Project: Hestia Excerpts in translation of Classical texts.