I) The Birth & Devouring of Hestia

“He [Kronos] married his sister Rhea. Because both Ge (Earth) and Ouranos (Sky) had given him prophetic warning that his rule would be overthrown by a son of his own, he took to swallowing his children at birth. He swallowed his first-born daughter Hestia, then Demeter and Hera, and Poseidon and Haides.
When Zeus was grown, he engaged Okeanosí daughter Metis as a colleague. She gave Kronos a drug, by which he was forced to vomit forth first the stone and then the children he had swallowed [Hestia the first-devoured last]. With them Zeus fought a war against Kronos and the Titanes.” Source: Apollodorus, The Library 1.4

II) Hestia’s Declaration of Virginity

“Nor yet does the pure maiden Histia love Aphrodite’s works [ie, love] . She was the first-born child of wily Kronos and youngest too [she was the first devoured and so the last disgorged], by will of Zeus who holds the aigis, – a queenly maid whom both Poseidon and Apollon sought to wed. But she was wholly unwilling, nay, stubbornly refused; and touching the head of father Zeus who holds the aigis, she, that fair goddess, sware a great oath which has in truth been fulfilled, that she would be a maiden all her days. So Zeus the Father gave her a high honour instead of marriage, and she has her place in the midst of the house and has the richest portion. In all the temples of the gods she has a share of honour, and among all mortal men she is chief of the goddesses. Of these three Aphrodite cannot bend or ensnare the hearts.” Source: Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

III) Hestia & the Lust of Priapos

“Coroneted Cybele [Rhea], with her crow of turrets, invites the eternal gods to her feast. She invites, too, Satyri and Nymphae, Rural-Spirits (Rustica Numina); Silenus is present, uninvited. Itís not allowed and too long to narrate the godsí banquet: night was consumed with much wine. Some blindly stroll shadowy Idaís dells, or lie down and rest their bodies in the soft grass. Others play or are clasped by sleep; or link their arms and thump the green earth in triple quick step. Vesta [Hestia] lies down and takes a quiet, carefree nap, just as she was, her head pillowed by turf. But the red saviour of gardens [Priapos] prowls for Nymphai and goddesses, and wanders back and forth. He spots Vesta. Itís unclear if he thought she was a Nympha or knew it was Vesta. He claims ignorance. He conceives a vile hope and tires to steal upon her, walking on tiptoe, as his heart flutters. By chance old Silenus had left the donkey he came on by a gently burbling stream. The long Hellespontís god was getting started, when it bellowed an untimely bray. The goddess stars up, frightened by the noise. The whole crowd fly to her; the god flees through hostile hands.” Source: Ovid, Fasti 6.319

[1] Hestia, in the high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you have gained an everlasting abode and highest honor: glorious is your portion and your right. [5] For without you mortals hold no banquet, —where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Hestia both first and last.
And you, Slayer of Argus, Son of Zeus and Maia, messenger of the blessed gods, bearer of the golden rod, [10] giver of good, be favorable and help us, you and Hestia, the worshipful and dear. [9] Come and dwell in this glorious house in friendship together; [11] for you two, well knowing the noble actions of men, aid on their wisdom and their strength.

Hail, Daughter of Cronos, and you also, Hermes, bearer of the golden rod! Now I will remember you and another song also.

Εἲς Ἑστίαν
ἑστίη, ἣ πάντων ἐν δώμασιν ὑψηλοῖσιν
ἀθανάτων τε θεῶν χαμαὶ ἐρχομένων τ᾽ ἀνθρώπων
ἕδρην ἀίδιον ἔλαχες, πρεσβηίδα τιμήν,
καλὸν ἔχουσα γέρας καὶ τίμιον: οὐ γὰρ ἄτερ σοῦ
5εἰλαπίναι θνητοῖσιν, ἵν᾽ οὐ πρώτῃ πυμάτῃ τε
Ἑστίῃ ἀρχόμενος σπένδει μελιηδέα οἶνον:
καὶ σύ μοι, Ἀργειφόντα, Διὸς καὶ Μαιάδος υἱέ,
ἄγγελε τῶν μακάρων, χρυσόρραπι, δῶτορ ἐάων,
10ἵλαος ὢν ἐπάρηγε σὺν αἰδοίῃ τε φίλῃ τε.
5ναίετε δώματα καλά, φίλα φρεσὶν ἀλλήλοισιν
εἰδότες: ἀμφότεροι γὰρ ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων
εἰδότες ἔργματα καλὰ νόῳ θ᾽ ἕσπεσθε καὶ ἥβῃ.
χαῖρε, Κρόνου θύγατερ, σύ τε καὶ χρυσόρραπις Ἑρμῆς:
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ὑμέων τε καὶ ἄλλης μνήσομ᾽ ἀοιδῆς.

[1] Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind [5] with Zeus the all-wise —draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song.

Εἲς Ἑστίαν
ἑστίη, ἥτε ἄνακτος Ἀπόλλωνος ἑκάτοιο
Πυθοῖ ἐν ἠγαθέῃ ἱερὸν δόμον ἀμφιπολεύεις,
αἰεὶ σῶν πλοκάμων ἀπολείβεται ὑγρὸν ἔλαιον:
ἔρχεο τόνδ᾽ ἀνὰ οἶκον, ἕν᾽ ἔρχεο θυμὸν ἔχουσα
5σὺν Διὶ μητιόεντι: χάριν δ᾽ ἅμ᾽ ὄπασσον ἀοιδῇ.

Lighting the sacred flame:

Fire has always played a very important role in the life of Man. The knowledge, mastery
and use of fire figure amongst the most important achievements of humanity. Its place
in the beliefs of most ethnic groups is proof of this.
The Ancient Greeks, for example, explained the presence of fire on earth through
the myth of Prometheus.
The divine origin of fire made it a sacred element. The Greeks maintained perpetual
fires in front of their main temples. The purity of this fire was guaranteed by the ignition
technique: the flame was obtained by the rays of the sun. Captured at the centre
of a recipient called a skaphia, the ancestor of the parabolic mirror used today
for lighting the Olympic flame, the rays caused an intense heat which allowed a flame
to be obtained.
Fire in Olympia
In the sanctuary of Olympia, where the Ancient Olympic Games took place, a flame
burned permanently on the altar of the goddess Hestia, situated in the Prytaneum
(building used for the large banquets held in honour of the athletes at the end of
the Games). Also obtained from the heat of the sun’s rays, this fire was used to light
the other fires of the sanctuary.
Such fires were lit on the altars of Zeus and Hera, situated in front of their temples.
To honour these gods, animal sacrifices were made in the same place. Today, nothing
remains of the altars, but the present ceremony for the lighting of the Olympic flame
in front of the temple of Hera acts as a reminder of these events.
These days, everything starts in Olympia, Greece. A few months before the opening
of the Games, a ceremony is organised on the ancient site of the Olympic Games. The
flame is lit in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera by actresses playing the part
of priestesses. The choreography and costumes used in the ceremony are based
on those of Antiquity.
The flame is lit according to the ancient method of the sun’s rays in the parabolic
mirror.The Olympic flame can only be lit in this way. The flame is placed in an urn
and transported into the ancient stadium where it is given to the first runner
by the high priestess responsible for this operation.
This process is done months before the opening of the Games, in order to allow
for the relay to arrive at the host city


O Ever untam’d Fire, who reign’st on high
In Jove’s dominions ruler of the sky;
The glorious sun with dazzling lustre bright,
And moon and stars from thee derive their light;
All taming pow’r, ætherial shining fire, 5
Whose vivid blasts the heat of life inspire:The world’s best element, light-bearing pow’r,
With starry radiance shining, splendid flow’r,
O hear my suppliant pray’r, and may thy frame
Be ever innocent, serene, and tame. 10

Every home had a hearth that was dedicated to the goddess, and each day began and ended with a ritual offering of libation, food or aromatic herbs requesting that she protect and nurture the family within.

As the Goddess of Architecture, Hestia intended that homes should be built from the center out, with the center being a hearth that contained her sacred flame.

As part of the naming ritual, all infants were carried in a circle around the altar of Hestia to secure her blessings. There was an altar to Hestia in the center of every home . . . it was the fireplace, the hearth, where the family gathered.

Hestia’s vision of a house was that it should truly be a home, a place where one’s body, spirit, and relationships would be nurtured and replenished. . . a place to “come home to” after exposure to the cold and chaos of the external world.

Hestia is associated with the warmth and comfort of the welcoming fireplace. Just as the flames glowing from the hearth soothe us with their warmth and glowing light, the goddess Hestia gives us security, peace, and comfort and helps us accept the truth of our lives with inner grace.