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Histia

Ἱστίη

Hestia

Histia

The Goddess of the Hearth

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Histia was the first born child of the Titans, Kronos and Rheia.

The Titans were the children of Gaia [Earth] and her son/consort Ouranos [Heavens]. The Titans were a new breed of Immortal and quickly demonstrated their inclination to be self indulgent ... Ouranos named them Titans because the name meant Stretchers and Strainers, i.e. they stretched and strained the bounds of propriety and abused their seemingly limitless powers.

Histia's father Kronos was the youngest of the Titans and had come to his mother's aid in ridding her of Ouranos's continued meddling in her affairs. Kronos mutilated his father and was told that although he had acted in his mother's best interest, he too would be dethroned by one of his children. To avoid such a fate, Kronos decided to swallow any children born to his sister/wife Rheia. Hestia was the first child to be born and Kronos promptly swallowed her.

After Kronos devoured four more children, Rheia substituted a stone for her sixth child so that he would not be swallowed by his pitiless father. The sixth child was named Zeus and secretly nurtured so that Kronos and the other Titans could not find him until he was old enough to confront his father. After Zeus was grown, he attacked his father with such violence that Kronos disgorged the swallowed children. Histia was the last to be spewed forth and so she is considered the youngest AND the oldest Olympian, i.e. the first born to Rheia [oldest] and the last to be freed from Kronos's belly [youngest]. Histia is the sister of: Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Demeter and Hera.

With Zeus as their leader, Histia and her brothers and sisters waged a war on the Titans. It is difficult to imagine what role Histia played in the actual fighting but since she had as much to lose as her siblings, it is unthinkable that she did nothing to help win the War of the Titans. After Kronos and the other Titans were defeated, they were relegated to Tartaros [the Pit]. Histia and her brothers and sisters chose Mount Olympos as their home and called themselves Olympians.

As one of the Olympians, Histia is primarily known as the Goddess of the Hearth ... the protector of home and family ... the goddess of humble domestic joy. She shares her love of the common people with Hermes and is credited with appreciating the good works that people do. She has never wed but still protects orphans and missing children, and chooses to spend her time, not on Mount Olympos, but on earth with the mortals she loves and protects. Her worshipers sing:

There could be no feast of plenty if the first and last libations of sweet wine were not poured in honor of Histia.

Histia is also one of only three Olympians who are immune to the spells of the goddess of Love, Aphrodite ... the other two are Athene and Artemis. When Poseidon [lord of the sea] and Apollon sought to marry Histia, she touched the head of Zeus and swore a great oath that she would remain a maiden all her days. She is one of the few Immortals who is always welcomed by mortals and Immortals alike because of the grace and sincerity she radiates. She tends the sacred dwelling of Apollon at Pytho, i.e. Delphi, and a perpetual fire was kept burning in her honor in the capital city of each province, at Delphi and Olympia. Whenever new colonies were founded, fire was taken from Delphi to the new settlement to insure Histia's blessings.

Histia is often confused with the Roman goddess, Vesta.

Histia

The above image of Hestia is rare and eroded but even when it was in pristine condition it would have been impossible to see the face of the goddess because she seems to be hiding her face with her himation.

Text References

Theogony

Hymn to Aphrodite V

Hymn to Histia XXIV

Hymn to Histia XXIX

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