The Greek Deity Known as Hestia

 


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When one thinks to Greek Deities, Hestia, probably does not come to mind. Less dramatic than others, she still played an important role in Greek culture.

The Greek Deity Known as Hestia

In ancient Greece, fourteen Olympians made up the pantheon of gods that were worshiped by the Greeks. While some of these deities are extremely well-known today, such as Zeus, Aphrodite and Athena, others are less familiar. These gods, while not in the forefront of Greek mythology, still played a major part in the lives of the ancient Greeks. One of these is Hestia, the first and last born daughter of the Titan Chronos.

In pre-Olympic mythology, the story is told of how the Titans Chronos and Rhea had twelve children, destined to be the first twelve gods of Mount Olympus. Chronos was upset by the birth of his offspring, so he swallowed all of them except for the youngest, Zeus. Hestia was the first born of Chronos, therefore she was the first swallowed. After Zeus led a war against the Titans and won, Chronos was forced to disgorge his offspring, and Hestia, being swallowed first, came out last. In this way, she was both the first and last born daughter of Chronos.

Hestia is seen as the deity of the hearth, and of order and family. She was depicted as being virginal, and her name actually means “home and hearth”. The town hall (prytaneum) of every town had a public hearth, at which sacrifices and dedications were made to Hestia. It also was her official sanctuary. When a new village or colony was established, a flame from one of the existing hearths of Hestia was carried to that new place, and she was later seen as the governing power over the connection between colonies and mother cities.

While not the most active or strongest of the Greek pantheon, Hestia was worshiped in every house. Her altar was seen as being located in every home and public hearth, and she was also regarded as a model of virginity and chastity.

Richard Monk is with Facts Monk - a site with country facts about Greece.

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