Musings on Fire, Flame and the Hearth (Part Three)

“Hestia, in the high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you have gained an everlasting abode and highest honour: glorious is your portion and your right. For without you mortals hold no banquet,–where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Hestia both first and last” – from the Homeric Hymn to Hestia

Who is this that has the “highest honor” according to the hymn? It is neither the Lord Zeus nor the Lady Hera, either one of which might be expected to have this role as the rulers of the Gods. It is instead the quietest of the children of the Titan Chronos. What does she do to merit this honor? Why is it said of her that “glorious is your portion and your right”?

It is because she is the lady who governs the center of our lives and is the one whom the Roman orator Cicero said “Her power extends over altars and hearths, and therefore all prayers and all sacrifices end with this goddess, because she is the guardian of the innermost things.”  She is even mentioned in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite where it states “Zeus the Father gave her [Hestia] 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.” It is telling that even in the hymn to the Goddess of Love, who inspires Gods and Men to marry, it states that she is NOT under the authority of that August Lady and it is even stated that among all mortal men she is the chief of the goddesses. This is indeed high praise for a lady that many people do not list when they think of the Olympians.

She is the guardian of parliaments according to Pindar and along with Zeus and Athena is one of the three Gods which Plato places on the acropolis of his ideal city. Her strength is in her power to connect us on the deepest levels and foster communication. It is perhaps for this reason that the Homeric Hymn in Her honor also includes Her nephew who is herald and messenger of the Gods. Let us ask her to aid us as we communicate with one another with understanding in the agora of the mind.

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