Getting back to your home after a long vacation is truly a delightful experience (unless the next day is a Monday).
Only few have truly relished the experience of being back in the familiar territory of your home. No one to question you, no one to stop you from doing what you want, unless you’re a teenager, that is.
Whatever be the matter, we have all got a love-hate relationship with our home. Like they say, home is where the heart is.
But for the Ancient Greeks, things were different. To them, home is where the hearth is.
Get it? A hearth is a type of fireplace, where Hestia, virgin goddess of the home and hearth, is believed to reside.
The daughter of Cronus and Rhea, Hestia is also known as the last Olympian, due to her calm and gentle nature. She was the first to be swallowed by Cronus and last to be disgorged. So, like Zeus, she is both the Alpha and the Omega.
Formerly among the twelve Olympians, she gave way to Dionysus, the party dude, to prevent heavenly conflict.
Homeric hymn 24, To Hestia, is a brief invocation of five lines:
“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 with Zeus the all-wise: draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song.”
The Romans worshiped Hestia as Vesta. Though kind and gentle, she was equally fearsome. Ask Rhea Silvia, a Vestal Virgin (priestess of Vesta), who broke her vow of virginity. She underwent eternal agony. Rhea Silvia gave birth to Romulus and Remus, the sons of Mars and founders of Rome.
The Greeks and Romans always carried a piece of coal from the hearth during long journeys, in the hope of returning someday with Hestia’s/Vesta’s blessings. As the hearth is unmovable, so is Vesta; she could neither change her perception about something nor could she partake in the revelries of her (not) estranged nephew. According to Ovid, Vesta is the Earth itself: