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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 Ritual Activities of the Vestal Virgins

The Ritual Activities of the Vestal Virgins

Chapter:
(p.185) Chapter Six The Ritual Activities of the Vestal Virgins
Source:
A Place at the Altar
Author(s):

Meghan J. DiLuzio

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691169576.003.0007

This chapter analyzes the ritual obligations of the Vestal Virgins. The extensive ritual program assigned to the Vestal order further emphasizes the connection between these priestesses and the wellbeing of the community. They participated in various rites designed to cleanse the city of ritual impurity. At the Fordicidia, the October Horse, and the December rites of Bona Dea, they played a role in guaranteeing the fertility of the fields and flocks. They were also involved in rites concerned with the preservation of the food supply, on which the security of the city depended, and with the transformation of raw grain into a substance suitable for consumption. Perhaps most significantly, the Vestals prepared mola salsa, the salted grain used to consecrate sacrificial victims and thereby to maintain Rome's relationship with the gods.

Keywords:   rituals, Vestal Virgins, ritual impurity, Fordicidia, October House, December rites, Bona Dea, fertility, food supply, mola salsa

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