The Hestia Tapestry

Hestia Polyolbos (Hestia, full of blessing) distributes blessings from her throne, assisted by six winged genii, each carrying a disc naming a blessing; euphrosyne ("mirth"), euochia ( "good cheer"), prokope ("prosperity"), ploutos ( "wealth"), eulogia ("blessing"), and arete ("virtue"). Two other regal figures frame the group, one labeled phos ("light"). 

Hestia, the Greek noun for hearth, is also the name of the goddess of the household hearth. Our knowledge of her cult is vague, partly because she was venerated, not at a few localized shrines, but wherever fires were found. It may be for this reason that hymns give her a universal character as the center of the world and the house of the gods. Hestia's removal from any narrative context, when combined with her frontal pose and the laudatory epithet Polyolbos, suggests that this image was a focus for worship, one that deviated from the Greek tradition of cult statues. A salient difference is that while worshipers can escape the gaze of a cult statue by moving, the flatness of a tapestry allows Hestia's eyes to follow the devout anywhere they move. This potency of two-dimensional images to conjure up a commanding presence was exploited at this time, both by the last phases of traditional Olympian religion and by the contemporary early phase of Christianity. 

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The Byzantine Legacy
Created by David Hendrix Copyright 2016