Vestal Virgins

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  • Vestal Virgins
    • duty
      • to ensure the flame of vesta never blew out
        • the flame symbolised the power of the roman empire
        • the oracle stated that if the flame was to burn out then Rome would fall
        • Vesta was the goddess of the Hearth, Home and family
      • perform sacrifices and other religious rites
      • guard important state documents
    • criteria to be a vestal virgin
      • had to be from a noble family and of an age of between 6-10
      • free of bodily imperfections
      • had to have living parents
    • why parents would want their daughters to be vestal virgins
      • an honourable job
      • would provide their daughter with a high status and financial  security
      • didn't have to pay for a dowry
    • privileges of being a vestal virgin
      • they could make a will
      • they're aloud to drive around the city in two wheeled carriages
      • at theatrical performances they were reserved seats near the emperor
      • they're given these privileges to stop them from yearning to have children
      • they weren't under the control of any paterfamilias and so couldn't be made to swear any oaths
      • out in public the streets were cleared for them by a lector (bodyguard)
      • able to conduct business affairs with out a guardian
      • if a vestal virgin accidently meets a criminal then he will not be executed
      • anyone who walked underneath their litter is put to death
    • punishment for breaking the vow of Chasity
      • the unpure vestal virgin would carried on a bier in a funeral procession
        • her friends and family would be there to mourn for her
      • she would then be placed in a under group cell that the entrance would be filled in
        • in the cell would be a lamp, food and water
          • this way the priests wouldn't be directly murdering her
          • the priest would say certain prayers and then lift his hands to the gods
        • she would be wearing a veil
      • the punishment was severe to encourage the other vestal virgins to remain pure
        • it was thought that the vestal virgin stores up fertility would transferred into religious purposes
    • their service
      • ten years learning the duties of a vestal virgin
      • ten years carrying out the duties of a vestal virgin
      • ten years teaching younger vestal virgins their service
      • afterwards if they wished they could marry and the church would provide them with a dowry
      • but most remained in service to the goddess till their death
    • punishments for minor offenses
      • if the flame blew out (which could of been due to the wind) then the virgin was seen unpure and was whipped)
    • numbers
      • at first numa made two vestal virgins
        • young fertile women couldn't be spared from marriage so the state could grow and because they were more useful to parents in marriage
      • upper class families were smaller so more reluctant
        • emperor Augustus said that anyone with more than three daughter didn't have to give there daughters to find more virgins
      • as Rome became stronger the total increased to six
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