Latin Language Blog

Vestal Virgin Posted by on Sep 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

Virgines Vestales or Vestal Virgins as they were called were an elite group of women who served as priestesses for the goddess Vesta. Vesta was the goddess of the hearth of the city of ancient Rome. The Vestal Virgins were responsible for guarding and maintaining the sacred fire that symbolized the continuance of Rome.


Women chosen to be Vestal Virgins had to fulfill several requirements. Girls between the ages of six to ten had to have two parents both alive, had to be free of physical imperfections and have sound mental health. The Pontifex Maximus or the high priest had to make the decision of which girls became Vestal Virgins.

Vestal Virgins had to swear an oath of celibacy for at least 30 years. If they were caught or convicted of breaking this rule, they were punished by being buried alive. If any of the Vestal Virgins failed to keep the sacred fire of Vesta burning, they were flogged and expelled from being a Vestal Virgin. Despite all these penalties, being a Vestal Virgin had its perks.

Vestal Virgins could vote, own property, and even intercede in trials. Considering that ancient Roman women had very little power and control, Vestal Virgins had tremendous power for the women of that time. However, it was also dangerous to be a Vestal Virgin. History has shown that in times of crisis, the Roman Empire has used Vestal Virgins as scapegoats for the city’s problems.

However, recorded instances of a Vestal Virgin condemned to death are rare, and the benefits of being a Vestal Virgin outweighed the dangers of the job.


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  1. Genine Ammons:

    I think this would be kind of like a golden cage. Many would look at you like you lived a fancy life, whereas some Vestal Virgins would feel as though they were trapped. If something went wrong, there was a chance it could be blamed on you, even if it wasn’t necessarily your fault. Despite this, I think I would like to have my daughter be a Vestal Virgin only because of the fact that they did hold power. They were able to vote and own property. I would want my daughter to be able to feel as if her opinion mattered. I wouldn’t want her to feel as if she was just an ordinary citizen. Being a Vestal Virgin would make her special.

  2. Trinh Tran:

    I think becoming a Vestal Virgin was a golden cage for the chosen few. I think that because you had to have all of the requirements to become a Vestal Virgin. For an example, both of your parents have to be alive if you were between the age of 6 and 10, had to be free of physical imperfections and had to have sound mental health. If you didn’t have all of those requirements then you can’t become a Vestal Virgin so its only for the women that meet those requirements, the chosen ones. I would not have wanted my daughter to become a Vestal Virgin because then she might have this feeling that she’s better than all the other ladies that weren’t chosen to be Vestal Virgin. When everybody should be treated equally. So I wouldn’t have wanted my daughter to become that.

  3. Kangofta Oljira:

    In my opinion it would be an honor to be a Vestal Virgin. Although it has some dangerous at least you get your voice heard. It would be a great reparation; but it is worth it since you get a chance to share your opinion and be heard. I would approve of my daughter to be a vestal Virgin but it also depends on what she wants to do it or not. I believe in the power of sharing once’s opinion.