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A Place at the AltarPriestesses in Republican Rome$
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Meghan J. DiLuzio

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691169576

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691169576.001.0001

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The Vestal Virgins

The Vestal Virgins

(p.119) Chapter Four The Vestal Virgins
A Place at the Altar

Meghan J. DiLuzio

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the Vestal Virgins. The six Vestal Virgins belonged to the pontifical college (collegium pontificum), the largest and one of Rome's most prestigious religious orders. Chosen for their role between the ages of six and ten, they were committed to serve the cult of Vesta for a minimum of thirty years. They were synonymous with the continued welfare of the city and inseparable from the Roman's view of themselves. In addition to guaranteeing Rome's future, the Vestal priesthood was cherished as one of the most ancient religious institutions in the city. The chapter then considers the social profile of prospective priestesses and explains how they were chosen for their extraordinary role in Roman society. It also outlines their legal status, which set them apart from ordinary Romans, and the privileges they were granted in exchange for their service to the state.

Keywords:   Vestal Virgins, pontifical college, Vesta, Vestal priesthood, priestesses, religious orders, collegium pontificum

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