I was recently asked an interesting question that I pondered on for a while:

"In Homeric Hymn 24 to Hestia is the following line: 'with soft oil dripping ever from your locks'. What does this mean?"

I can think of two reasons for the inclusion of this sentence: personal hygiene and Hestia's eternal flame.

To us the ancient world would most likely have been overpowering in terms of smell. Sweating men and animals and their waste filled a city’s streets, making it vital to set off sacred spaces as well as those of luxury by making them smell sweet. Fragrance was everywhere in the ancient world, from scented oils used to adorn the body to incense burnt in homes and temples. For personal use, perfumes were the way to go to ward off the stink.

In the ancient world oils were used as the carrier medium for perfumes, where the medium today is alcohol. This must have meant that ancient perfumes were far less noticeable than modern ones, and would have lain more thickly on the skin. The Gods, obviously, must smell very, very sweet and thus Hestia would have pleasant smelling oil literally 'dripping from Her locks'.

The second reason I can think of is Hestia's sacred flame. Back in ancient Hellas, most religious activities surrounding the household revolved around the central hearth, which was seen as the physical manifestation of Hestia. All the household fires were lit with a flame from the prytaneion (Πρυτανεῖον), the structure where state officials met and where the city kept a fire for Hestia burning day and night. Every single heart fire in the city or town was linked to that central one. This network of fires, which were never allowed to go out, brought all Hellenes together.

This fire, at least in many recorded instances concerning temples, was lit not as a traditional hearth fire but in a lamp--an oil lamp. As such, the dripping oil from Hestia's locks could be a metaphor for the leaping flames from the fire of an oil lamp.