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The vestals


The Vestals were the guardians of the sacred flame, lit with boards of arbor felix outside dell'aedes vestis, embers, then, were brought inside the temple and put on the hearth. The fire had not ever turning off.
In this case, the penalty was terrible: flogging of Vestale responsible, in a dark place, and covered only veils. Initially, the custody of the holy fire, was in the temple of Caco on the Palatine; subsequently took seat in the House of Vesta, in the Forum.

When Rome was still a theocracy, the Vestals dependent by the king. After the introduction of Tables XII, the Vestals passed under the authority of College of Pontiffs, the Pontifex Maximus sottraeva to parental authority.
Initially, the Vestals were four, then passed to six and these remained, until the dissolution of the order.

The Vestals were chosen by the Pontifex Maximus, according to established by law.
They were convened from time to time, twenty girls, between six and ten years, belonging to patrician families, with both genes bulls alive and physically impeccable. Prescelte with draw, at the time of consecration, were gift of their hair to Dea.

Wearing so austere, they did vow of chastity. If you were to surprises commit acts of unsatisfied libido (incestus), the punishment was terrible. The guilty, in fact, was buried alive in the campus sceleratus, around Porta Collina, in a ditch with little light and little food. That was then covered, to erase any memory of Vestale. The seducer was fustigato to death.
After thirty years, however, could leave the priesthood and, if you wish, marry.

The Vestals led a comfortable life, thanks to donations Private and legacies of wills. Even many emperors left substantial wealth on the Vestal Virgins. They also provided help the poor and needy, so for Rome girassero not beggars. Moreover, could grant the grace that was condemned to torture. Honor and respected by the people, the Vestals enjoyed many rights, not granted to all women Roman. They had privileged places theatre and circus, and participated actively in the life of the city. In particular, Summary Vestale was exempted by the civil service called censors.

At their deaths, were buried inside the city walls: privilege rarely granted.

The advent of Christianity not caused the end of the order. On the contrary, Vestals continued to be loved and honoured by the Roman people. Despite repeated warnings of the emperors, the cult of Vestals survived for long. Only in the fourth century AD, the order is dissolved finally. Following the edicts of Graziano, 382 AD, were cut the annual income of the Vestal Virgins. The edicts of Valentinian and Teodosio, respectively in the 391 and 392 AD, ordered not to go into temples, and Finally, Theodosius, in 394 d. C., forbade the maintenance of any religion pagan, decreeing the end of the Vestal Virgins.

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