A Month of Devotional Thought — Hestia: Day 7

Today’s topic is Names and Epithets for the Goddess which is actually something that I confess I know little about other than her being called Prutanitis in the classic world because of her being the Guardian of the Public Hearth at the center of the Polis, just as she is the guardian of the hearth at the center of the home. Her name literally is the word for “hearth” so this points to her centrality.

However, because of this guardianship, I would also call her Poliatis (Keeper of the City), Xenia (of Hospitality), Ambulia (Councilor), and Soteira (Savior). As she is one of the Maiden Goddesses of the Hellenic Pantheon — along with Athene and Artemis — I would also call her Parthenos (Virgin, Maiden).

The Hearth is where guests, both of the city and of the individual home, were — and still are — greeted and given refreshments. When either the home or civic hearth was extinguished, they had to be re-established with “clean” fire. In the case of the home, the fire could be brought from the civic hearth, however the civic hearth had to be re-started either with friction or with a solar-started flame. The hearth is where supplicants came for sanctuary, and it was considered a crime against the Gods to turn them away.

As the Prytaneium was the center of the city, her being the goddess of the community hearth also made her one of the central Gods involved in the safety and stability of any city — and also one of the ones that would hopefully inspire the rulers of the city-state to make the correct decisions. That is why, although the epithets I also would call Hestia are some of the ones more commonly associated with Athene, I tend to think they are appropriate for her. She seems to be one of the Theoi who is more in the background of stories, so many of the epithets that other Theoi are addressed by would also apply to Hestia.

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