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The Hestia Giustiniani, named after its owner Vincenzo Giustiniani, a Roman marble copy of a Greek bronze original circa 470-460 BCE, located in the Museo Torlonia, Rome.

The Greek goddess Hestia -- whose name translates to "hearth,” “fireplace,” or “altar” -- is worshipped as the goddess of the hearth and home, the family, hospitality, and protector the political community. She is the giver of all domestic happiness and blessings. Hestia is the firstborn child of the Titans Cronus and Rhea, the daughter of the earth goddess Gaea and the sky god Uranus. Among her siblings are Zeus, Hera, Demeter, Poseidon, and Hades. Sacrifices and offerings are regularly made to Hestia at the hearth within every home and at the city's public hearth, often located at the center of town, to earn her favor as protector of the people. She also receives sacrifices in the temples of all the other gods, as each temple has a hearth, and as the goddess of the hearth and of sacrificial fire, she receives these offerings before the other gods are able, even in their own temples. She also receives the first and last libations of wine offerings at any feast and is mentioned first in any prayers and oaths.

Hestia never married and remained a virgin despite being pursued by several of the gods, including Apollo, Poseidon, and the fertility god Priapus. She is traditionally celebrated on Noumenia, the first day of the lunar month when the earliest sliver of the moon becomes visible. Regular adoration of Hestia is centered around the hearth, both domestic and municipal, as the hearth is essential for warmth, preparing food, and the making of sacrificial offerings to deities. Should the domestic hearth fire go out, due to accident or intentional negligence, this represents a breakdown of domestic and religious protection for the family. A failure to maintain Hestia's public hearth fire, whether in her temple or shrine or that of another god, is seen as a dereliction of duty to the broader community. The lighting of a new hearth fire is accompanied by rituals of completion, purification. In ancient Greece, responsibility for maintaining Hestia's domestic celebration and hearth fire usually fell to the primary woman of the household, while public maintenance of Hestia’s celebration and hearth were the responsibility of a man because women were not able to hold civic office at that time. Public worship of Hestia was especially established in Attica, the region surrounding the city of Athens, with notable followings in the cities of Eleusis, Krokodilopolis, Piraeus, and Halimos. It is uncommon to find free-standing temples dedicated to Hestia, as the hearth of the prytaneum -- the state’s main meeting hall -- functioned as her official sanctuary. Two known temples were built specifically for Hestia, one in the city of Ermioni and one in Olympia. Whenever a new Greek colony was established, the flame from Hestia's public hearth in the parent city would be carried to the new settlement.

Hestia has no specific lore and is not seen often in Greek art. She does notably appear on the Francois Vase (circa 570-565 BCE) and is shown in sculpture on the north-facing side of the Siphnian Treasury at Delphi, erected circa 525 BCE to house the offerings of the city of Siphnos. She is depicted as a plain woman, unassumingly and unpretentiously wrapped in unornamented attire. Occasionally she is shown holding a staff or flowered branch believed to be that of the chastetree, native to the Mediterranean region, and she may be seated on a plain wooden throne with a white cushion made of wool or situated near a large fire, with a cooking kettle as her attribute. Her associated sacrificial animal is a domestic pig. Her counterpart in the Roman pantheon is Vesta,who is similarly attired.


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