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Greek Goddess of the Hearth and Domestic Life

Hestia was the goddess of the hearth, home, architecture, domesticity, family, and the state. She
was one of only three virgin goddesses, next to ATHENA and ARTEMIS. Although both POSEIDON
and APOLLO wanted to marry her, Hestia made an oath to ZEUS that she would remain forever pure
and undefiled, never entering into a union with a man.

She is a goddess of the Olympian generation, daughter of Cronus and Rhea and sister to Zeus,
Poseidon, HADES, DEMETER and HERA. When Cronus swallowed his children for fear one would
dethrone him, Hestia was the eldest and thus swallowed first.

After Zeus forced his father to disgorge his children, Hestia was the last to be yielded up, making her
both the oldest and the youngest daughter.

As the goddess of the hearth she personified the fire burning in the hearth of every home in Greece.
Hestia receiving the first offering at every sacrifice in the household with families pouring sweet wine
in her name and dedicating the richest portion of food to her.

The hearth fire in the household was not allowed to go out by any family unless it was ritually
distinguished. Though Hestia did not have a public cult, she was worshipped at any temple,
regardless of the god the temple was dedicated to. Hestia is described as a kind, forgiving and
discreet goddess with a passive, non-confrontational nature.

Hestia was the eldest daughter of Cronos and Rhea.

As with the rest of his children, Cronos ate her but eventually regurgitated her.

She was a sibling to Demeter, Hades, Poseidon, Hera, and Zeus.

She was primarily known the Goddess of the Hearth.

Of all the gods and goddesses, she was considered the gentlest and mildest. Others, critically, have
called her colorless because there is little information provided in regard to her character.

Although Hestia appeared in a few stories, she was not overly significant in Greek mythology.

Hestia is completely omitted from the works of Homer, author of the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Poets such as Apollodorous, Hesiod, and Ovid allude to her in their works.

Each city had a public hearth that was sacred to Hestia; the fire kindled there was never allowed to
go out.

New colonies took fire from the hearth in the prytaneion (also known as the town hall) and kept the
fires going in those new locations.

Every meal began and ended with an offering to Hestia.

Like Athena and Artemis, Hestia was referred to as a virgin goddess.

Although Apollo and Poseidon proposed marriage to Hestia, she requested of Zeus to remain a
maiden forever.

Domestic life was her dominion in spite of her desire to remain a virgin.

She was one of only twelve Olympian deities.

Her name literally means “hearth”; appropriately, her priorities were family and community.

Children were accepted into the family by being presented at Hestia’s hearth. This observed first step
ensured the goddess’s blessing on the new addition.

Vesta was the Roman equivalent to Hestia.

Public and private worship of Hestia was widespread.

She represented communal security and personal happiness.

Because Hestia remained a virgin, it follows that she had no children.


Demeter, the middle daughter of Cronus and Rhea, was the Ancient Greek goddess of corn and
agriculture, one of the original Twelve Olympians. Her grief over her daughter Persephone – who has
to spend one-third of the year with her husband Hades in the Underworld – is the reason why there
is winter; her joy when she gets her back coincides with the fertile spring and summer months.
Demeter and Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the most famous
secret religious festival in Ancient Greece.

Demeter’s Role


Demeter’s name consists of two parts, the second of which (-meter) is almost invariably linked with
the meaning “mother,” which conveniently fits with Demeter’s role as a mother-goddess. However,
there are still debates over the meaning of the first part (De-), which most scholars associate with
“Ge,” i.e., Gaea (making Demeter “Mother Earth”); others, however, prefer to link it with “Deo,”
which is a surviving epithet of Demeter and may have been, in an earlier form, the name of one of
few grains.

Portrayal and Symbolism

Demeter is usually portrayed as a fully-clothed and matronly-looking woman, either enthroned and
regally seated or proudly standing with an extended hand. Sometimes she is depicted riding a chariot
containing her daughter Persephone, who is almost always in her vicinity. The goddesses – as they
were endearingly called – even share the same attributes and symbols: scepter, cornucopia, ears of
corn, a sheaf of wheat, torch, and occasionally, a crown of flowers.


Demeter was known mostly as the Giver of Food and Grain, or “She of the Grain,” for short (Sito).
However, since she presided over something as vital as the cycles of plants and seasons, the Ancient
Greeks also referred to her as Tesmophoros, or “The Bringer of Laws,” and organized a women-only
festival called Tesmophoria to celebrate her as such. Other epithets include: “Green,” “The Giver of
Gifts,” “The Bearer of Food,” and “Great Mother.”

Demeter’s Family

Demeter was one of the six children of Cronus and Rhea, their middle daughter, and their second
child overall – born after Hestia, but before Hera and her brothers: Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus. Just
like all of her siblings, she was swallowed and later, following an intervention by Zeus, regurgitated
by her father.

Demeter’s Consorts: Iasion, Poseidon, and Zeus

Demeter didn’t have many partners and was rarely portrayed with a male consort. The mortal Iasion
and her brothers Poseidon and Zeus are the most noteworthy – if not the only – exceptions.


Early in her life, Demeter fell in love with a mortal named Iasion. She seduced him at the marriage of
Cadmus and Harmonia and lay with him in a thrice-plowed field. Zeus didn’t think appropriate for
such a respected goddess to have a relationship with a mortal, so he struck Iasion with a
thunderbolt. But, by then, Demeter was already pregnant with twins: Ploutos and Philomelus, the
former the god of wealth, and the latter, the patron of plowing.


Next, Demeter’s brother Poseidon forced himself upon her (once transformed into a stallion), and
the goddess, once again, became pregnant with two children: Despoena, a nymph, and Arion, a
talking horse.

Finally, Demeter became Zeus’ fourth wife. From their union, Demeter’s most well-known child was
born, Persephone.

Demeter and Persephone

The most important myth involving Demeter concerns her daughter Persephone’s abduction by
Hades and Demeter’s subsequent wanderings.

The Abduction of Persephone

Hades, the Lord of the Underworld, fell in love with Demeter’s virgin-daughter and decided to take
her into marriage. So, one day, as she was gathering flowers with her girlfriends, he lured her aside
using a fragrant and inexpressibly beautiful narcissus, and then snatched her up with his chariot,
suddenly darting out of a chasm under her feet.

Demeter Finds Out

Inconsolable, Demeter walked the earth far and wide for nine days to find her daughter – but to no
avail. And then, on the tenth day, Hecate told her what she had seen and Helios, the All-Seeing God
of the Sun, confirmed her story. Demeter wasn’t just brokenhearted anymore. She was now angry as
well. And with everybody! Especially with Zeus who, the rumors claimed so, had approved the whole
operation and even aided Hades throughout.

The Institution of the Eleusinian Mysteries · Iambe, Demophon, and Metanira

So, Demeter left Mount Olympus and went to grieve her daughter among the mortals, disguised as
an old woman. She ended up at the court of King Celeus of Eleusis, where his wife Metanira hired her
to be the nurse to her baby son, Demophon. Iambe, the old servant woman of the house, cheered
her with her jokes, and Demeter laughed for the first time in many weeks. In gratitude for the
kindness, Demeter devised a plan to make Demophon immortal, so she started bathing him in fire
each night, thus, burning away his mortality.

However, one day, Metanira witnessed the ritual and, not realizing what was happening, started
screaming in panic and alarm. This disturbed Demeter’s strategy, so she revealed herself at once and
told Metanira that the only way that the Eleusinians will ever win her kindness back is by building a
temple and establishing a festival in her glory.

The Return of Persephone and the Establishment of the Cycles

King Celeus did just that, and Demeter spent a whole year living in her newly built temple, grieving,
and, in her grief, neglecting all her duties as a goddess of fertility and agriculture. As a consequence,
the earth turned barren, and people started dying out of hunger. After unsuccessfully sending all the
gods, one by one, to Demeter with gifts and pleas, Zeus realized that he would have to bring
Persephone back to her mother if he didn’t want to see humanity wiped out from the planet.

So, he sent Hermes to Hades, and the divine messenger fetched back Persephone to her mother.
However, the gods soon realized that Demeter’s daughter had already eaten one seed of
pomegranate in the Underworld, which obliged her to remain in the Underworld. Knowing that
Demeter wouldn’t allow such thing to happen, Zeus proposed a compromise: Persephone would
spend one-third of the year with Hades and the other two-thirds with Demeter.

The former, the period during which Demeter is grieving, corresponds to the winter months of the
year when the earth is infertile and bare; the latter, when she rejoices, overlaps with the abundant
months of our springs and summers. The myth likewise explains the growth cycle of the plants. The
grain, just like Persephone, must die and be buried under the earth in order to bear much fruit above


was the Titan god of forethought and crafty counsel who was given the task of moulding mankind
out of clay. His attempts to better the lives of his creation brought him into conflict with Zeus. Firstly
he tricked the gods out of the best portion of the sacrificial feast, acquiring the meat for the feasting
of man. Then, when Zeus withheld fire, he stole it from heaven and delivered it to mortal kind hidden
inside a fennel-stalk. As punishment for these rebellious acts, Zeus ordered the creation of Pandora
(the first woman) as a means to deliver misfortune into the house of man, or as a way to cheat
mankind of the company of the good spirits. Prometheus meanwhile, was arrested and bound to a
stake on Mount Kaukasos (Caucasus) where an eagle was set to feed upon his ever-regenerating
liver (or, some say, heart). Generations later the great hero Herakles (Heracles) came along and
released the old Titan from his torture.

Prometheus was loosely identified in cult and myth with the fire-god Hephaistos (Hephaestus) and
the giant Tityos (Tityus).



[1.1] IAPETOS & KLYMENE (Hesiod Theogony 507, Hesiod Works & Days 54, Hyginus Fabulae 142)

[1.2] IAPETOS & ASIA (Apollodorus 1.8)

[1.3] IAPETOS (Quintus Smyrnaeus 10.190, Diodorus Sic. 5.67.1, Ovid Metamorphoses 1.82, Valerius
Flaccus 4.60, Oppian Halieutica 5.4)

[2.1] THEMIS or GAIA (Aesch. Prometheus Bound 8 & 211 & 873)


[1.1] DEUKALION (by Pronoia) (Hesiod Catalogues Frag 1)

[1.2] DEUKALION (Apollodorus 1.45, Ovid Metamorphoses 1.363)

[1.3] HELLEN, DEUKALION (by Klymene) (Schol. on Apollonius Rhod. 2.1086)

[2.1] AIDOS (Pindar Olympian 3)

PROMETHEUS (Promêtheus), is sometimes called a Titan, though in reality he did not belong to the
Titans, but was only a son of the Titan Iapetus (whence he is designated by the patronymic
Iapetionidês, Hes. Theog. 528; Apollon Rhod. iii. 1087), by Clymene, so that he was a brother of Atlas,
Menoetius, and Epimetheus (Hes. Theog. 507). His name signifies "forethought," as that of his
brother Epimetheus denotes "afterthought." Others call Prometheus a son of Themis (Aeschyl.
Prom. 18), or of Uranus and Clymene, or of the Titan Eurymedon and Hera (Potter, Comment. ad Lyc.
Cass. 1283; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 987). By Pandora, Hesione, or Axiothea, he is said to have been the
father of Deucalion (Aesch. Prom. 560 ; Tzetz. ad Lyc. 1283; Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. ii. 1086), by
Pyrrha or Clymene he begot Hellen (and according to some also Deucalion; Schol. ad Apollon. l. c.;
Schol. ad Pind. Ol. ix. 68), and by Celaeno he was the father of Lycus and Chimareus (Tzetz. ad. Lyc.
132, 219), while Herodotus (iv. 45) calls his wife Asia.

The following is an outline of the legends related of him by the ancients. Once in the reign of Zeus,
when gods and men were disputing with one another at Mecone (afterwards Sicyon, Schol. ad Pind.
Nem. ix. 123), Prometheus, with a view to deceive Zeus and rival him in prudence, cut up a bull and
divided it into two parts : he wrapped up the best parts and the intestines in the skin, and at the top
he placed the stomach, which is one of the worst parts, while the second heap consisted of the
bones covered with fat. When Zeus pointed out to him how badly he had made the division,
Prometheus desired him to choose, but Zeus, in his anger, and seeing through the stratagem of
Prometheus, chose the heap of bones covered with the fat. The father of the gods avenged himself
by withholding fire from mortals, but Prometheus stole it in a hollow tube (ferula, narthêx, Aeschyl.
Prom. 110). Zeus now, in order to punish men, caused Hephaestus to mould a virgin, Pandora, of
earth, whom Athena adorned with all the charms calculated to entice mortals; Prometheus himself
was put in chains, and fastened to a pillar, where an eagle sent by Zeus consumed in the daytime his
liver, which, in every succeeding night, was restored again. Prometheus was thus exposed to
perpetual torture, but Heracles killed the eagle and delivered the sufferer, with the consent of Zeus,
who thus had an opportunity of allowing his son to gain immortal fame (Hes. Theog. 521, &c., Op. et
Dies, 47, &c. ; Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 15; Apollod. ii. 5. § 11). Prometheus had cautioned his brother
Epimetheus against accepting any present from Zeus, but Epimetheus, disregarding the advice,
accepted Pandora, who was sent to him by Zeus, through the mediation of Hermes. Pandora then
lifted the lid of the vessel in which the foresight of Prometheus had concealed all the evils which
might torment mortals in life. Diseases and sufferings of every kind now issued forth, but deceitful
hope alone remained behind (Hes. Op. et Dies, 83, &c.; comp. Horat. Carm. i. 3. 25, &c.). This is an
outline of the legend about Prometheus, as contained in the poems of Hesiod.

Aeschylus, in his trilogy Prometheus, added various new features to it, for, according to him,
Prometheus himself is an immortal god, the friend of the human race, the giver of fire, the inventor
of the useful arts, an omniscient seer, an heroic sufferer, who is overcome by the superior power of
Zeus, but will not bend his inflexible mind. Although he himself belonged to the Titans, he is
nevertheless represented as having assisted Zeus against the Titans (Prom. 218), and he is further
said to have opened the head of Zeus when the latter gave birth to Athena (Apollod. i. 3. § 6). But
when Zeus succeeded to the kingdom of heaven, and wanted to extirpate the whole race of man,
the place of which he proposed to give to quite a new race of beings, Prometheus prevented the
execution of the scheme, and saved the human race from destruction (Prom. 228, 233). He deprived
them of their knowledge of the future, and gave them hope instead (248, &c.). He further taught
them the use of fire, made them acquainted with architecture, astronomy, mathematics, the art of
writing, the treatment of domestic animals, navigation, medicine, the art of prophecy, working in
metal, and all the other arts (252, 445, &c., 480, &c.). But, as in all these things he had acted contrary
to the will of Zeus, the latter ordered Hephaestus to chain him to a rock in Scythia, which was done in
the presence of Cratos and Bia, two ministers of Zeus. In Scythia he was visited by the Oceanides; Io
also came to him, and he foretold her the wanderings and sufferings which were yet in store for her,
as well as her final relief (703, &c.). Hermes then likewise appears, and desires him to make known a
prophecy which was of great importance to Zeus, for Prometheus knew that by a certain woman
Zeus would beget a son, who was to dethrone his father, and Zeus wanted to have a more accurate
knowledge of this decree of fate. But Prometheus steadfastly refused to reveal the decree of fate,
whereupon Zeus, by a thunderbolt, sent Prometheus, together with the rock to which he was
chained, into Tartarus (Horat. Carm. ii. 18, 35). After the lapse of a long time, Prometheus returned to
the upper world, to endure a fresh course of suffering, for he was now fastened to mount Caucasus,
and tormented by an eagle, which every day, or every third day, devoured his liver, which was
restored again in the night (Apollon. Rhod. ii. 1247, &c. iii. 853; Strab. xv. p. 688 ; Philostr. Vit. Apoll. ii.
3; Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 15; Aeschyl. Prom. 1015, &c.). This state of suffering was to last until some
other god, of his own accord, should take his place, and descend into Tartarus for him (Prom. 1025).
This came to pass when Cheiron, who had been incurably wounded by an arrow of Heracles, desired
to go into Hades; and Zeus allowed him to supply the place of Prometheus (Apollod. ii. 5. § 4; comp.
Cheiron). According to others, however, Zeus himself delivered Prometheus, when at length the
Titan was prevailed upon to reveal to Zeus the decree of fate, that, if he should become by Thetis the
either of a son, that son should deprive him of the sovereignty. (Serv. ad Virg. Eclog. vi. 42 ; Apollod.
iii. 13. § 5; Hygin. Fab. 54; comp. Aeschyl. Prom. 167, &c. 376.)

There was also an account, stating that Prometheus had created men out of earth and water, at the
very beginning of the human race, or after the flood of Deucalion, when Zeus is said to have ordered
him and Athena to make men out of the mud, and the winds to breathe life into them (Apollod. i. 7. §
1; Ov. Met. i. 81; Etym. Mag. s. v. Promêtheus). Prometheus is said to have given to men something of
all the qualities possessed by the other animals (Horat Carm. i. 16. 13). The kind of earth out of which
Prometheus formed men was shown in later times near Panopeus in Phocis (Paus. x. 4. § 3), and it
was at his suggestion that Deucalion, when the flood approached, built a ship, and carried into it
provisions, that he and Pyrrha might be able to support themselves during the calamity (Apollod. i. 7.
§ 2). Prometheus, in the legend, often appears in connection with Athena, e. g., he is said to have
been punished on mount Caucasus for the criminal love he entertained for her (Schol. ad Apollon.
Rhod. ii. 1249) and he is further said, with her assistance, to have ascended into heaven, and there
secretly to have lighted his torch at the chariot of Helios, in order to bring down the fire to man
(Serv. ad Virg. Eclog. vi. 42). At Athens Prometheus had a sanctuary in the Academy, from whence a
torch-race took place in honour of him (Paus. i. 30. § 2; Schol. ad Soph. Oed. Col. 55; Harpocrat. s. v.


was the first mortal woman who was formed out of clay by the gods.

The Titan Prometheus was once assigned the task of creating the race of man. He afterwards grew
displeased with the mean lot imposed on them by the gods and so stole fire from heaven. Zeus was
angered and commanded Hephaistos (Hephaestus) and the other gods create the first woman
Pandora, endowing her with beauty and cunning. He then had her delivered to Prometheus' foolish
younger brother Epimetheus as a bride. Zeus gave Pandora a storage jar (pithos) as a wedding gift
which she opened, releasing the swarm of evil spirits trapped within. These would forever after
plague mankind. Only Elpis (Hope) remained behind, a single blessing to ease mankind's suffering.

Pandora's daughter Pyrrha (Fire) was the first child born of a mortal mother. She and her husband
Deukalion (Deucalion) were the sole survivors of the Great Deluge. To repopulate the earth they
were instructed to cast stones over their shoulder which formed a new race of men and women.

The creation of Pandora was often depicted in ancient Greek vase painting. She appears as either a
statue-like figure surrounded by gods, or as a woman rising out of the earth (called the anodos in
Greek). Sometimes she is surrounded by dancing Satyroi (Satyrs) in a scene from a lost Satyr-play by



NONE (created by the gods) (Hesiod Works & Days 54, Hesiod Theogony 560, Aeschylus Frag 204,
Sophocles Pandora, Pausanias 1.24.7, Hyginus Fabulae 142)


[1.1] PYRRHA (by Epimetheus) (Apollodorus 1.46, Hyginus Fabulae 142)

[1.2] PYRRHA (Strabo 9.5.23)


PANDO′RA (Pandôra), i. e. the giver of all, or endowed with every thing, is the name of the first
woman on earth. When Prometheus had stolen the fire from heaven, Zeus in revenge caused
Hephaestus to make a woman out of earth, who by her charms and beauty should bring misery upon
the human race (Hes. Theog. 571, &c.; Stob. Serin. 1). Aphrodite adorned her with beauty, Hermes
gave her boldness and cunning, and the gods called her Pandora, as each of the Olympians had given
her some power by which she was to work the ruin of man. Hermes took her to Epimetheus, who
forgot the advice of his brother Prometheus, not to accept any gift from Zeus, and from that
moment all miseries came down upon men (Hes. Op. et Dies, 50, &c.). According to some
mythographers, Epimetheus became by her the father of Pyrrha and Deucalion (Hygin. Fab. 142;
Apollod. i. 7. § 2 ; Procl. ad Hes. Op. p. 30, ed. Heinsius; Ov. Met. i. 350); others make Pandora a
daughter of Pyrrha and Deucalion (Eustath. ad Hom. p. 23). Later writers speak of a vessel of
Pandora, containing all the blessings of the gods, which would have been preserved for the human
race, had not Pandora opened the vessel, so that the winged blessings escaped irrecoverably. The
birth of Pandora was represented on the pedestal of the statue of Athena, in the Parthenon at
Athens (Paus. i. 24. § 7). In the Orphic poems Pandora occurs as an infernal awful divinity, and is
associated with Hecate and the Erinnyes (Orph. Argon. 974). Pandora also occurs as a surname of
Gaea (Earth), as the giver of all. (Schol. ad Aristoph. Av. 970; Philostr. Vit. Apoll. vi. 39; Hesych. s.v.)