Hestia (Greek: Ἑστία, transl. Hestía), in Greek mythology, was the Greek virgin goddess of home, fireplace, architecture, domestic life, family, state, and mystical fire.
Daughter of Cronos and Reia, she was one of the twelve Olympian deities. The birth order of her siblings, according to Pseudo-Apolodorus, is: Hera (the eldest), followed by Demeter and Hestia, followed by Hades and Posidon; the next to be born, Zeus, was hidden by Reia in Crete, who gave a stone for Kronos to eat. Hyginus lists Saturn and Ops' children as Vesta, Ceres, Juno, Jupiter, Pluto, and Neptune, he also reports an alternate version of the legend, in which Saturn buries Orcus in Tartarus and Neptune under the sea instead of eating them.
Wooed by Poseidon and Apollo, she swore virginity before Zeus, and from him received the honor of being venerated in every household, being included in all sacrifices, and remaining in peace in her palace surrounded by the respect of gods and mortals.
Although she does not appear often in mythological stories, she was admired by all the gods. She was the personification of the stable dwelling where people gathered to pray and offer sacrifices to the gods. She was worshiped as the protector of cities, families, and colonies.
Her sacred flame shone continuously in homes and temples. Every city had the fire of Hestia, placed in the palace where the tribes gathered. This fire had to be obtained directly from the sun.
When the Greeks founded cities outside Greece, they took part of the fire from the hearth as a symbol of the connection with the motherland, and with it, they lit the hearth where the political core of the new city would be.
Always fixed and unchanging, Hestia symbolized the perenniality of civilization.
In Delphi, the perpetual flame was kept with which the Hestia of other altars was lit.
Each pilgrim who arrived in a city first made a sacrifice to Hestia.
Her cult was very simple: in the family, it was presided over by the father or mother; in the cities, by the highest political authorities.
In ancient Rome, she was worshiped as Vesta (daughter of Saturn and Cybele), and the sacred fire was the symbol of the perennity of the Empire. Her priestesses were called vestals, took a vow of chastity, and were supposed to serve the goddess for thirty years. There the goddess was worshiped by a chief priest, in addition to the vestals.
She was represented as a young woman, with a wide robe and a veil over her head and shoulders. There were images in her main cities, but her severe and simple figure did not offer much material for artists.