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Hestia's Divine Role



Hestia was an important goddess in the everyday life of Greeks. As the goddess of the hearth, she personified the fire burning in the hearth of every home. Accordingly, she received the first offering at every sacrifice in the household with families pouring sweet wine in her name and dedicating the richest portion of food to her. The hearth fire in the household was not allowed to go out unless it was ritually distinguished.

   

Though Hestia did not have a public cult, she was worshipped at every temple, regardless of the god to which the temple was dedicated.

   

In “The Black Pearl,” a story in The Deadliest Returns, Miriam and Judah are feted in a banquet in the town hall at Ephesus for returning the jewels stolen from the city’s treasury. Although the goddess of the city was Artemis, Hestia was honored with her own priestesses as well. Miriam tells us about the dog-breath air of that hot summer night and the strain of meeting the clerics for both goddesses:

 

The heat from the crush of bodies besieged me as soon as we shouldered our way into the portico and were introduced to the countless curates, the attractive young clerics from prominent families who held their esteemed office for one year. By the time we were presented to each of the nine priests for Artemis, her single priestess, and the scores of priestesses for Hestia, scalding rivulets were soaking my tunic. By then, a wave of dizziness was sweeping over me as if I were stepping off a fiery boat.

 

Be sure to read The Deadliest Returns if not in an air-conditioned room then in one with a cool breeze. To find out more, just click here.


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