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The Greek Goddess Hestia: Mythology & Facts

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson we explore the Greek goddess Hestia. The patron goddess of hearth and home, Hestia had an important, if somewhat inconspicuous, role in Greek society.

Hearths of the Past

In most parts of America, fireplaces are largely a thing of the past. Replaced by electric and gas furnaces, the fireplaces that do remain are often there for vanity's sake in someone's cottage or lake house - and some of these are even powered by gas or electricity! With such modern amenities, it may be hard for some of us to imagine a time when the hearth was of utmost importance in family life. The family fireplace often served as the sole tool for cooking, heating, and, in the evening, light. Considering this, it comes as little surprise that one of the higher Greek goddesses, Zeus' sister Hestia, was the patron goddess of the family hearth and the home in general.

Who Was Hestia?

Hestia
Hestia

Hestia was the first-born daughter to the gods Cronus and Rhea. Her Olympian siblings were Zeus, Poseidon, Demeter, Hera, and Hades. Fearful of his children eventually overthrowing him, Cronus swallowed his children whole, with the exception of Zeus. According to Greek myth, once Zeus grew older and more powerful, he forced Cronus to free his siblings from Cronus' stomach.

As the Greek goddess of hearth and home, Hestia was much more passive relative to other Greek gods like Apollo or Athena, and hence is rarely present as an actor in Greek literature. She purportedly spurned both Poseidon and Apollo when they asked for her hand in marriage. Eventually, she asked and received permission from her brother Zeus to remain chaste.

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