Rome's Vestal Virgins

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2006-10-31
  • Publisher: Routledge

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Rome's Vestal Virgins examines Vestal Virgins' role in ancient Roman religion and society, including topics such as: the public rituals these priestesses performed in connection with official state rites and festivals, the private rites associated only with the Vestal order, the Vestals' own particular privileges and duties and the function of the order in both Roman history and the Romans' view of their own history. It argues that the Vestals were at the same time both members of the Roman virgins and non-members of Rome's family structure and that this was done to ensure that the Vestals could represent Rome as a whole on the religious level without any risk of pollution from a family cult. Wildfang contends that the rituals the Vestals performed on behalf of the Roman state were neither fertility rites nor reflections of traditional female activities. Instead they were rites concerned with purification, storage and the preparation of harvested grain for food use or sometimes a combination of allthree areas at once. Finally, it explores how the Vestals' own attitude to their cult and the world around them changed as they and the society in which they lived were exposed to new and different cultures through the expansion of the Roman Empire.

Author Biography

Robin Lorsch Wildfang is Project coordinator for Studenterkurset i Sonderjylland.

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Acknowledgements xi
List of abbreviations
Introduction 1(5)
Within the aedes Vestae
The Vestals in public
Vestal initiation -- the rite of captio
The Vestals' virginity
The Vestals' legal and financial position
The Vestals in the Romans' history
The Vestals in Roman history
Conclusion 109(2)
Appendix A: Original texts of translated passages 111(31)
Appendix B: List of known Vestals in chronological order 142(2)
Bibliography 144(12)
Index 156

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