Vestal Virginsin Roman religionsix priestesses, representing the daughters of the royal house, who tended the state cult of Vestathe goddess of the hearth. The cult is believed to date to the 7th century bc ; like other non-Christian cults, it was banned in ad by Theodosius I. Afterward they could marry, but few did.
Jeremy AlexanderPublished June 21, Picture this: It is about years before Jesus was born, and you are Numa. You are Numa Pompilius, the king of Rome.
There was, however, one Roman religious college that was off-limits to men, even to the pious emperor himself. This was the College of the Vestals, which only had women amongst its ranks. The College of the Vestals was an important institution that served to ensure the well-being and security of Rome.
At varying times there were four to six priestesses employed. They were the only full-time clergy collegia of a Roman deity which attests to the high regard in which the goddess was held. They also ritually prepared the herbs sprinkled on sacrifices and made the bread pane which was offered on feast days such as March 1st, which was the Roman New Year. The virgins were chosen between the ages of six and ten years old by the chief priest and had to serve for 30 years during which time they, of course, had to remain chaste.
In the Roman Empire, the Vestal Virgins sacerdos Vestaliswere holy female priests who honored Vesta, the goddess of the hearth. Their primary task was to maintain the sacred fire of Vesta. The Vestal duty brought great honor and afforded greater privileges to women who served in that role.
All rights reserved. Marcus Licinius Crassus was one of the richest and most powerful Roman citizen in the first century B. Yet he nearly lost it all, his life included, when he was accused of being too intimate with Licinia, a Vestal Virgin.
They prepared the mola salsa that was used in all state sacrifices. Originally, there were 2, then 4 in Plutarch's timeand then 6 Vestal Virgins. They were proceeded by lictors, who carried the rods and ax that could be used to inflict punishments on the people, if necessary.
Their existence at Alba Longa is connected with the earliest Roman traditions, for Silvia the mother of Romulus was a member of the sisterhood Liv. Sex Vestaeand two more were subsequently added from the Luceres, by Tarquinius Priscus according to one authority Plut. They were originally chosen capere is the technical word by the king Liv.
They numbered only six and were selected from noble Roman families at an early age, between six and 10 years old. They would tend the sacred fire in the Temple of Vesta and remain virgins for the duration of their tenure, which would stretch long into womanhood, lasting at least 30 years. The Vestals cared for the Temple and lived behind it in a three-story house called the Atrium Vestiaelocated at the foot of the Palatine Hill.
The Roman Forum is a labyrinth of ruins — crumbling columns and walls overgrown with weeds and wildflowers. Once the centre of public life in Rome, with its courthouses, temples, and even venues for gladiatorial combat, now all that remains are some evocative fragments. One of the better-preserved temples is the Temple of Vestaat the eastern edge of the Forum. Vesta, the Roman goddess of the home, was one of the most important deities in Ancient Rome, but it is her priests, the Vestal Virginswho have captured the imaginations of subsequent generations.