You won’t find myths about Hestia. I know, I’ve looked. I’ve scoured my resources. It might be easy to write her off because of this. There are no stories about her, therefore she’s not interesting. Conclusion: she’s not important. But the opposite is actually true.
I’ve only found one thing about Hestia. Zeus decreed that Hestia was off-limits from all the shenanigans of the other gods. No one is allowed to mess with her. And, wonder of wonders, no one did. Not a single one of the other gods ever took action or said a word against Hestia, and the Greek gods are known for their in-fighting.
I cannot overstate the importance of a Greek goddess who doesn’t get into any kind of trouble. But why did Zeus make his decree? An even better question is why did the fractious gods and goddesses abide by it? In a pantheon known for its usurpations, betrayals, and attacks, they left her alone. There’s not even mention of anyone thinking anything bad against her. She is, in a word, untouchable.
Well, this is where we can make the connection back to Prometheus. Hestia is goddess of the hearth. She is the center of worship for the Greek home. Yes, the other gods have temples, but those are big ideals that are not felt in the same way as the personal nature of worship in the home. Now I’m not saying that people worshipped Hestia instead of Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Aphrodite, or any of the others. Remember, this is a polytheistic culture. The Greeks were quite at home worshipping multiple gods.
Hestia is included in the worship of any of the other gods or goddesses. This is mostly because of the structure of Greek worship. In most of the ancient world, Greece included, they made offerings to the gods on the fire. We know this most from the story of Prometheus with regards to the cuts of meat. The cuts of meat that are made for the gods are to be burned on the fire as an offering to the gods, kind of like a meat tithe.
(Incidentally, the Old Testament is full of stories of meat offerings to God, most notably with the stories of Abraham and Elijah.)
Because Greek worship requires the use of fire and the hearth, the first prayers and offerings are to Hestia, who watches over the home. Without the hearth and the home, the Greek people have no worship to the other gods. Zeus’s decree is about safeguarding the ability of human beings to continue to worship the gods.
Right, we’re supposed to connect this back to Perseus. That comes next, I promise.