Vestal Virgin Posted by kunthra 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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