Hestia, virgin goddess of the fire

Hestia

Hestia.  Public domain.

In Greek mythology one of the oldest matriarchal goddesses. Virgin goddess of the hearth, the home. and domestic life. Eldest child of  Cronus and Rhea. Also known as Histie she was one of the three Great Goddesses of the Olympian pantheon with Demeter and Hera. Sister of Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. One of the original twelve Olympians but gave up her seat to Dionysus to tend the sacred fire on Mount Olympus.

Hestia goddess

Hestia represented the heart of the home, partook of all sacrifices and protected domestic life and virtue. As a minor goddess in the Greek pantheon she had importance in individual households. Representing the hearthside each home had a shrine where she was worshipped daily. Of all the Olympians she was the mildest, most upright and the most charitable. In the public domain each town had a public hearth where a perpetual fire burned to Hestia. These hearths were sacred to her. The first fruits, year-old cows, oil, and wine were sacred to her. Her known period of worship was from circa 500 BC until around 400 AD with Christianisation. Wooed by Apollo and Poseidon she refused marriage and on oath she remained virginal eternally as she was wedded to the sacred hearth fire. Traditionally Greek daughters tended the household fire. Hestia is closely related to Vesta in Roman mythology who was her approximate civic equivalent.

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