Faculty Seminar Advisor

Benedict Lowe

Department

History

Document Type

Paper

Publication Date

2010

Type (DCMI Terms)

Text

Abstract

The Vestal virgin has forever been an image of a woman draped in white priestly garments, carrying herself with an air of purity and near divinity. The Vestal's image is one that has captured the imagination of writers, painters, sculptures and scholars for centuries. However this near divine woman is more than what she appears. The Vestal was more than a virgin; she was the daughter, mother and priestess of Rome herself. Behind this "glamorous" image is a strong, influential, pious and powerful woman who has sacrificed her sexuality and familial ties for not just the service of the Goddess Vesta but also to reap the rewards that such devotion sowed. It is the purpose of this paper to examine the many faces behind the Vestal virgin, and how she achieved not only political power and honor but ritually forged the sacred familial protections on a grand scale -the protection of The Empire at large.

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