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Humanities Libertexts

21: Hestia

  • Page ID
  • Roman name: Vesta

    Function: Goddess of the hearth

    Hestia was the oldest child of Cronus and Rhea, thus she was the first to be swallowed by Cronus and last to come back out when Zeus rescued his siblings [see Origins]. She is both anthropomorphic (i.e., she is a goddess with a human form) but she is also the physical manifestation of, the actual hearth in every home, temple, and city. In fact, her name (῾Εστία) is also the Greek word for the hearth. Hestia was a virgin goddess who does not appear in many myths.  She was highly honored, usually receiving the first offering at sacrifices, but she had few cult activities that were specially dedicated to her. However, to the Romans, Vesta was one of the most important deities. The priestesses of Vesta, called the Vestal Virgins, tended to the city hearth, keeping the goddess’ flame burning.

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