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PBP: Ephestios, epithet of Zeus

March 2, 2012

“a year of exploring the Pagan world through blogging”

God epithets, or ritual titles, have a variety of functions. They describe powers, functions, attributes, with who they associate, what festivals associated with them or even geographical location.  Their purpose is to act as a focus or to emphasize something.  They are also a bit of personalization.  I personally believe to learn about a deity beyond the myths (which while teaching stories are still only stories), one needs to study their epithets.  For Zeus, I have collected information on almost 200 epithets, not including ones describing geographical locations.  A lot of epithets have very little information about them that is easily available, a lot of the require extrapolating to the best of our ability based on knowledge of the culture.  Some will forever be a mystery because of a lack of cultural understanding.

Zeus Ephestios, Zeus of the hearth, is very much like the King of Wands, a firm and controlling yet an indulgent, inspiring, caring, creative father.  He is variously described as:  guard of family life, defender of the hearth, presider over hospitality and a family man.  This epithet is often associated with his other domestic epithets:  Agathos Daimon, Ktesios, Herkrios, Euxeinos, Gamelios, Genataios, Horios, etc.

Many find the idea of the King of the Gods as perfectly content in the home surprising.  Yet it is theorized that the home is exactly where Zeus’ worship began.  In times before there was established law, the father was not only the head of the household but also the ultimate authority on every aspect of his family’s life, especially protection and food.  It is because of this view that Zeus is called “Father of Gods and Men”, not because he literally engendered everyone.

As a domestic god, Zeus Ephestios is concerned with food, food preservation, food production, protection, marriages, children, hospitality, friendship and domestic harmony.  He is receptive and ameniable yet will test your mettle to help you grow.  He is less concerned with aesthetics and more interested in making do with what is on hand.  Zeus Ephestios expects one to enjoy life, living it to the fullest.  The best way to interact with him is to honor him and strive for a harmonious and happy home life.  He is often honored along side Hestia.

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