Given that they were so highly regarded and trusted, penalties for wrong-doing on the part of a Vestal were extremely severe. They were disbanded in 394 CE by the Christian emperor Theodosius I who also prohibited the worship of Vesta along with the other gods of the pagans and closed the schools and temples. Have a 'relationship' What could they not do? ” The ‘silent Virgin’ that Horace was referring to was a Vestal virgin, a priestess of Vesta, the Roman goddess of the hearth and home. Oldest Roman Hairstyle Recreated for First Time, Vestal Virgins, Sibyls, and Matrons: Women in Roman Religion, The Discipline Of The Ancient Vestal Virgins, Brides of Rome: A Novel of the Vestal Virgins, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Why Vestal Virgins Were Special The Vestal Virgins were six priestesses in ancient Rome who came from the leading families and served the temple for 30 years. The fall of the Roman Empire, it was argued, was caused by the acceptance of Christianity and the neglect of the old gods who had kept the city safe and prosperous for so long. There is not much historical analysis, but just facts of specific events and people in history. Please help us create teaching materials on Mesopotamia (including several complete lessons with worksheets, activities, answers, essay questions, and more), which will be free to download for teachers all over the world. The vestal virgins have a significance to the Romance in terms of ensuring that the protection of Rome continues. When she discusses the history of Vestal Virgins, she explains the role of the vestal, but also different persecutions of individual virgins that took place in ancient Rome . The Vestal Virgins kept the sacred fire burning in her temple and tended to her hearth in gratitude for her charity and care of the people. They were disbanded in 394 CE by the Christian emperor Theodosius I who also prohibited the worship of Vesta along with the other gods of the pagans and closed the schools and temples. Important to my books on Marc Antony, they also kept the wills of important men within their complex, safe and sound. The Vestal Virgins were seen as magical and pure women back in the ancient times of Rome, with their ongoing work to keep the magical flame alight one of the most important duties in the entire land. This book, History of the Vestal Virgins of Rome, by Cato Worsfold gives a great length of detail about the history of the Roman Vestal Virgins. This is a great book for a student who is interested in learning an in depth biography of these specific women in history. It also gives broad information of different Roman places, objects, and people that lived in the Mythology eras. Elizabeth Abbott is a Dean of Women at Trinity College in Toronto and she an experienced journalist with a doctrine degree in History. Perhaps some of the interesting facts about Rome’s Vestal virgins can help clear away the confusion. The Romans believed it essential that the Vestals were virgins, and this explains why such a slow and painful death awaited any Vestal who forsook her vow of chastity. They cultivated the sacred fire that was not allowed to go out. At what age did girls become Vestal Virgins? Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. Ancient History Encyclopedia. They had the best seats at public games, and they even had the power to free condemned prisoners and slaves. Keeping the sacred fire lit. The original punishment for sexual transgression was allegedly whipping or stoning to death the guilty party, but an even crueller punishment was later devised by Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of Rome. History of the Vestal Virgins of Rome. They were the only full-time clergy (collegia) of a Roman deity which attests to the high regard in which the goddess was held. 30 years. Written by Joshua J. Mark, Joshua J. Related Content Yet most people don’t really know much about this esteemed group, even though they were one of the most enduring organizations in Roman history. In ancient Rome, Vestal Virgins were tasked with keeping vigil over the flame of Vesta, the virgin goddess of the hearth. The first ten years they were students, then the following they were in their service to the fire, and the last ten years they were the teachers. It is closely associated with status of Roman matron. These individuals cultivated the sacred fire that was not allowed to go out. They were celebrities. The Silent Virgins . … Plutarch writes, "If these vestals commit any minor fault, they are punishable by the high-priest only, who scourges the offender, sometimes with her clothes off, in a dark place, with a curtain drawn between; but she that has broken her vow is buried alive near the gate called Collina, where a little mound of earth stands." the Vestal Virgins are actually priestesses (were) and were part of ROME....(Roman Catholic). Aside from this obvious pitfall of being a Vestal Virgin of Rome, they still had it pretty good. Whatever they said was considered truth. Vestal virgins were chosen from highborn families and were granted privileges that would have been unimaginable for other women in Ancient Rome. "Vestal Virgin." They also inform the reader the process of their death punishment if they are caught in an act that is forbidden for them to do. We understand as well that the Vestal Virgins were responsible for the proliferation of the fascinus or phallus, a symbol otherwise associated with figures like Bacchus or Priapus. Ancient Rome's maidens â€“ who were the Vestal Virgins? Since the vestal virgins were such an important part of Roman society, all of the girls who tried out for the privilege came from aristocratic families. Lefkowitz, Mary R. and Frant Maureen B. Most of the virgins on record kept their vows, however, and continued through time to honor their goddess Vesta, and the city and people of Rome, until the coming of Christianity. This website is mainly dedicated to the different photos that have been taken in an assortment of places in Italy and Denmark . Once the young girls were committed to the priesthood, they would make a vow of celibacy. Vestals were the most important women in Rome, aside from the emperor's wife. Image Source. Once their 30 years of service was completed, they were free to marry, but very few did as it was considered unlucky since they had, essentially, been the brides of Vesta for most of their lives and were consecrated to the … It provides information backed up by sources, photos, and links to other websites. 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. Peta Greenfield goes back in time to find out. The important elements of the Vestal costume include the stola and the vittae. They prepared the mola salsa that was used in all state sacrifices. A freelance writer and former part-time Professor of Philosophy at Marist College, New York, Joshua J. It seems that the Vestal Virgins, along with their practices and their goddess, stood for purification in all of its aspects. The institution of vestal Virgins is an essential aspect of Ancient Rome. In ancient Rome, Vestal Virgins were tasked with keeping vigil over the flame of Vesta, the virgin goddess of the hearth. This website is good for students that are in search to learn about the history of women in history. This is said to have been because the people of Rome feared Vesta's vengeance. VESTAL VIRGINS Women offered advice and schemed in the background, and on occasion they demonstrated in the open, but they were denied public office and a role in the government. The hearth. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. http://www.ancientroute.com/religion/Relig-Subj/vestals.htm, http://www.suppressedhistories.net/secret_history/roman_persecution.html, http://www.stoa.org/diotima/anthology/wlgr/wlgr-religion408.shtml#ag, http://sights.seindal.dk/sight/318_Vestals.html. They were buried alive in a chamber with only a little bit of food and water to keep them alive for few days longer. In ancient Rome, the Vestals or Vestal Virgins (Latin: Vestālēs, singular Vestālis [wɛsˈtaːlɪs]) were priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. Vestal Virgins were the most powerful women in the Roman Empire. Some unfaithful virgins were whipped to death. WHY WERE THE VESTALS VIRGINS? Staples, Ariadne. Which means that they could have property and make their own decisions. This online source gives an outline of the events in the book Womens Life in Greece and Rome . Abbott, Elizabeth. To explore this site, Baird creates an ancient trade route to help the visit each page in chronological order of history. They lived and dined in nice surroundings and they had VIP admittances into public places like the theatre. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. The vittae that the Vestals wore was a cloth ribbon worn in the Vestals' hair. Once their 30 years of service was completed, they were free to marry, but very few did as it was considered unlucky since they had, essentially, been the brides of Vesta for most of their lives and were consecrated to the goddess. They were able to handle their own affairs including financial ones, and were allowed to watch gladiators and other events inside the Coliseum. For a thousand years, they attempted to keep Vesta’s sacred fire lit. She also includes virgins that were caught not being celibate and their punishment by death. We find it baffling too. There were a few Vestal Virgins we know of who were called Licinia. In honour of Vesta, the Vestals would grow sacred grain to burn in the sacred hearth of the temple. The vestal virgins did serve a very important propose for Ancient Rome. Ariadne Staples observes in From Good Goddess to Vestal Virgins how females in Roman history were recognized by them alone and by men they interact with. The Vestal Virgins were charged with protecting the sacred fire of the city, which was never allowed to go out. Vestal Virgins, unlike the majority of women in Rome, were deemed to not need a guardian and were not segregated in important public banquets or events that were typically segregated. With this they would be endowed with many honors and rights that a normal female would not have at that time. The state worship of Vesta was much more elaborate. 09 Dec 2020. Choosing the Vestals. It was, in fact, because they were so highly regarded that the punishment of breaking their vows was so severe. - Peta Greenfield. The flame represented two things: the continuation of Rome as a power in the world and the continuing virginity of Vesta's priestesses. He let the fire out, and forbade any pagan worship. (18 December 2005). For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. The hearth. He goes into further detail that these sexual categories mesh into other Roman culture that includes politics and culture. Baird, Rod. Even though they had restriction, these women were free of subservient restrictions to men. Their vow of chastity and their vow of sustaining the fire, made them vital individuals in that ancient time in history. The flame represented two things: the continuation of Rome as a power in the world and the continuing virginity of Vesta’s priestesses. further discussed later. This website dedicated to discovering the ancient Mediterranean history and this site looks at this history from the beginning of writing to 400 B.C. The end to the Vestal Virgin happened when Emperor Theodosius came into power in Kessinger Publishing, 1942. Read about the Vestals in BRIDES OF ROME: A NOVEL OF THE VESTAL VIRGINS . (2009, September 02). And because they had such important work, they were freed from domestic distractions such as cooking and laundry. Both St. Augustine and Orosius wrote in defense of this very accusation. Matters. Whenever a vestal encountered a condemned criminal being led to his execution, he would be spared. Why does a martyr for Islam get to have 72 of these....why is it that the Muslims get a Catholic as their reward?....sound hillarious to you too?...I don't think they realize it They also set out a different life than the women of Rome at that time. They could own property, vote, and write a will. But what was life really like for these Vestal Virgins? Virgins. (18 December 2005). The college of the Vestals was regarded as fundamental to the continuance and security of Rome. Religion. The Roman writer Plutarch (45-120 CE) notes, "Some are of the opinion that these vestals had no other business than the preservation of [the sacred] fire; but others conceive that they were keepers of other divine secrets, concealed from all but themselves." 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