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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 in Roman Politics

The Vestal Virgins in Roman Politics

(p.223) Chapter Seven The Vestal Virgins in Roman Politics
A Place at the Altar

Meghan J. DiLuzio

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores the relationship between individual Vestals and their families. Vestals were legally isolated from their birth families and set apart from the traditional structures of Roman society. Their unique legal status ensured that they belonged, above all, to the Roman people, whose hearth they guarded on a daily basis. However, while the order as a whole maintained its reputation as an isolated and apolitical body at the heart of Rome's religious community, individual Vestals often forged vibrant public careers for themselves and for their family members. The chapter then considers the Vestals as independent actors who more or less successfully negotiated between their identity as public priestesses and their identity as daughters, sisters, and kinswomen. It also argues that they played an important role in political life at Rome by investing in the careers of their male relatives.

Keywords:   Vestals, birth families, Roman society, public careers, public priestesses, Roman politics, Vestal virgins

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