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Ancient history: vestal virgins
Transcript of Ancient history: vestal virgins
Punishment controversies Consequences Influences Effects The Vestal virgins were priestesses of the goddess Vesta. They were responsible for maintaining the sacred fire within the temple on the Forum Romanum. Other duties included preforming rituals in regards to the goddess of Vesta, and baking the sacred salt cake to be used at numerous ceremonies throughout the year. They were the only female priestesses in the Roman religious system. The college of Vesta had 18 members, though the senior-most 6 were considered actual Vestal Virgins at any given time. They each served a total of thirty years; the first ten years were spent as novices, then ten years as actual vestal virgins, and ten years as supervisors responsible for training the novices. Who were they? Selection process Selected from distinguished partrician families. The high priest would choose girls before puberty at the age of 6 up until they are 10. Such appointments were considered a top honor for a family to receive. Only 6 girls were chosen to sustain the flame at one time. Once the girls were committed to priesthood they would make a vow of celibacy, if they broke this they were punished by death. How they served Woman of Rome (cc) photo by medhead on Flickr Vestal Virgins Comparison There were severe and heavy punishment for breaking the rules. If they let the flame go out they would be whipped. The punishment for breaking the vow of chastity (since they had to remain virgins) was death by burial alive. Since they could be killed without shedding their blood. These executions would take place in the "Evil Fields", just outside the Servian Wall. Even though these executions took place several times, (there was 10 recorded convictions) it was obviously a rare event which carried all sorts of negative omens with it. Vestal Virgins around the fire of vesta. Important to Julius Caesar in his earlier political career Julius Caesar was under threat of execution by the dictator Sulla He was saved only via the intervention of the Vestal Virgins The Vestals Kept his will and testaments safe as they were in charge of looking after important documents. Vestal Virgins were thought to be the most important and powerful woman in ancient Rome. The vestals wielded political and religious influence, they were put in charge of keeping safe the wills and testaments of various people including Julius Caesar and Mark Antony In charge of performing many public rituals and sacrifices throughout the year and people gave offerings to the priestesses to ensure that their loved ones would be included in the vestals’ prayers. They were so powerful that if a person that was sentences to death saw a vestal on his way to execution he was automatically pardoned. Effects on the ancient world Vestals compared to Nuns nuns in churches today hold many of the same rules, regulations and customs of the Vestals Pontifex Maximus (which was the head of the vestals) continues to represent higher order in the catholic church They believed in the same rules like remaining virgins and not marrying while in service Vestal Virgins were very powerful on political and religious levels therefore having many effects on the ancient world. Both were in service to serve a god and both were respected There were many controversies to do with the vestal virgin’s, as it was very easy to accused of breaking the rules. Minucia and Postumia fell under suspicion for wearing a rich dress Postumia was sternly warned, “to leave her sports, taunts and merry conceits,” but Minucia was buried alive. Aemilia, Licinia, and Martia were executed after being denounced by the servant of a barbarian horseman. A few Vestals were acquitted. Some cleared themselves through ordeals; the Vestal Tuccia established her innocence by carrying water from the Tiber in a sieve The implications to these punishments was high in ancient Rome since even though they took place several times it was obviously an infrequent event the people of Rome believed carried all sorts of bad omens The Vestal Virgins were representing the god of Vesta, therefore when they were accused the people would be scared of terrible repercussions. Shared their religious and political practices Thanks for listening!