The Ancient Library

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On this page: Hesperides – Hestia



a marine monster. Heracles destroyed the monster and set the maiden free; but Laomedon wanted to break his promise to the hero, and to deprive him of his stipulated payment. So Heracles took Troy, slew Lao­medon and his sons, and gave Hesione to his companion Telamon, to whom she bore a son, Teucer.

Hespgrldes. According to Hesiod, the daughters of Night; according to later accounts, daughters of Atlas and -of Hes-perls. Their names were Algle, Arethusa, Erytheia, Hesperia. They dwell on the river Oceanus, near Atlas, close to the Gorgons, on the borders of eternal dark­ness, in the garden of the gods, where Zeus espoused Hera. Together with the hundred-headed dragon Ladon, the son of Phorcys or Typhon, they guard the golden apples which Gcea (or Earth) caused to grow as a marriage gift for Hera. (Sec heracles.)

Hestla. The goddess of the hearth, which is the emblem of the settled home. She is deemed the founder and maintainer of the family and the state, of civic concord and of public reverence for the gods. She is the daughter of Cronus (Kronos) and of Bhea; sister of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, and Dimeter; one of the twelve Olympian deities, from whom she is distinguished by the fact that, as the abiding goddess of the household, she never leaves Olympus. In Homer the sanctity of the hearth is indeed recognised, but as yet we find no mention of the goddess. It is a matter of discussion whether this was by accident, or because in that period the personification of the worship of the hearth had not at­tained its full perfection. Having been wooed by Apollo and Poseidon, she took an oath of perpetual virginity; so Zeus granted her the honour of being worshipped, as a tutelary goddess, at every hearth, in human habitations as well as in the temples of the gods, and of being called to mind amid libations at the beginning and end of every sacrifice and every festal entertainment. Hence it was that every sacrifice began and ended with a libation to Hestia, so that she had a share in all festivities; and in every prayer, as well as in all the public forms of solemn oaths, her name was recited before the name of any other god. Just as in the home her consecrated hearth formed the central point of family life, at which family festivals were celebrated and where both strangers and fugitives found a hospi­table asylum, so also in the PrytaneiOn, or townhall, where the sacred fire was ever

burning, her hearth was the centre of the life of the city, indeed of the whole state, and of the colonies which had gone forth from it. Here, as representative of the state, the highest officials sacrificed to her, just as in every private house the father or mother of the family provided for her worship. Here also were held the public deliberations, and the public banquet given to deserving citizens and to foreign ambassadors. Hither repaired all who besought the protection of the state. Hence also did the colonists, bound for dis­tant shores, take the fire for the public hearth of their new community. In some respects,


(Rome, now in the Torlonia 3fu*«um.)

[In the original the left hand is nearer the ehoulder; the forefinger

the centre of the religious life of Greece was the tire on the hearth of Hestia in the Del­phic temple, where was the sacred ompMKs (or navel), which the Greeks considered to be the central point of the inhabited earth. Hestia stands in close connexion with Zeus as the guardian of the law of hospitality and of the oath. She was also much asso­ciated with Hermes and often invoked in conjunction with him; Hestia, as the goddess of gentle domesticity, and Hermes, as the

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