The actual manner of the procession to Campus Sceleratus has been described like this:. When condemned by the college of pontifices, she was stripped of her vittae and other badges of office, was scourged, was attired like a corpse, placed in a close litter, and borne through the forum attended by her weeping kindred, with all the ceremonies of a real funeral, to a rising ground called the Campus Sceleratus just within the city walls, close to the Colline gate.
There a small vault underground had been previously prepared, containing a couch, a lamp, and a table with a little food. The pontifex maximus, having lifted up his hands to heaven and uttered a secret prayer, opened the litter, led forth the culprit, and placing her on the steps of the ladder which gave access to the subterranean cell, delivered her over to the common executioner and his assistants, who conducted her down, drew up the ladder, and having filled the pit with earth until the surface was level with the surrounding ground, left her to perish deprived of all the tributes of respect usually paid to the spirits of the departed.
Cases of unchastity and its punishment were rare. O Vesta, if I have always brought pure hands to your secret services, make it so now that with this sieve I shall be able to draw water from the Tiber and bring it to Your temple.
Nun of Watton - Wikipedia
Because a Vestal's virginity was thought to be directly correlated to the sacred burning of the fire, if the fire were extinguished it might be assumed that either the Vestal had acted wrongly or that the vestal had simply neglected her duties. The final decision was the responsibility of the Pontifex Maximus , or the head of the pontifical college, as opposed to a judicial body. While the Order of the Vestals was in existence for over one thousand years there are only ten recorded convictions for unchastity and these trials all took place at times of political crisis for the Roman state.
It has been suggested  that Vestals were used as scapegoats  in times of great crisis. Pliny the Younger was convinced that Cornelia, who as Virgo Maxima was buried alive at the orders of emperor Domitian , was innocent of the charges of unchastity, and he describes how she sought to keep her dignity intact when she descended into the chamber: .
And when the executioner offered her his hand, she shrank from it, and turned away with disgust; spurning the foul contact from her person, chaste, pure, and holy: And with all the deportment of modest grace, she scrupulously endeavoured to perish with propriety and decorum. Dionysius of Halicarnassus claims that the earliest Vestals at Alba Longa were whipped and "put to death" for breaking their vows of celibacy, and that their offspring were to be thrown into the river.
Suspicions first arose against Minucia through an improper love of dress and the evidence of a slave. She was found guilty of unchastity and buried alive. Postumia was sternly warned "to leave her sports, taunts, and merry conceits". Aemilia, Licinia, and Martia were executed after being denounced by the servant of a barbarian horseman. A few Vestals were acquitted. Some cleared themselves through ordeals.
The House of the Vestals was the residence of the vestal priestesses in Rome. Behind the Temple of Vesta which housed the sacred fire , the Atrium Vestiae was a three-storey building at the foot of the Palatine Hill. The simple ceremonies were officiated by the Vestals and they gathered grain and fashioned salty cakes for the festival. This was the only time when they themselves made the mola salsa , for this was the holiest time for Vesta, and it had to be made perfectly and correctly, as it was used in all public sacrifices.
Romans used clothes to express important aspects of their culture, specifically gender and sexuality.
Nun of Watton
The implications of the attire of the Vestal Virgins emphasize the Roman principle of sexual propriety. The important elements of the Vestal costume include the stola and the vittae. It is important to note that these two items are closely related to the traditional attire of Roman brides and the Roman matron, and therefore are not unique to the Vestals.
It is closely associated with status of Roman matron. Vittae were worn by a wider range of woman at different stages of life and therefore cannot be accepted as unique to just one stage. Unmarried girls, matrons, as well as the Vestal virgins all wore them. The vestals also wore a stola , which is associated with Roman matrons, not with Roman brides.
Furthermore, the manner in which the Vestals styled their hair was the way that Roman brides wore their hair on their wedding day. This juxtaposition between the attire and style worn by Vestal Virgins and brides or matrons is particularly intriguing and studied by scholars in numerous instances. The gowns worn by the Vestals and Roman brides were also similar in the way that they were tied. The distinction, though is that the Vestals wore the stola , which is associated more with matrons, while brides were associated with the tunica recta. The connection between Vestals and Roman brides suggest that the Vestals have the connotation of being ambivalent.
They are perceived as eternally stuck at the moment between virginal status and marital status.
The main articles of their clothing consisted of an infula , a suffibulum , and a palla. The infula was a fillet, which was worn by priests and other religious figures in Rome. A vestal's infula was white and made from wool. The suffibulum was the white woolen veil which was worn during rituals and sacrifices. Usually found underneath were red and white woolen ribbons, symbolizing the Vestal's commitment to keeping the fire of Vesta and to her vow of purity, respectively.
The palla was the long, simple shawl, a typical article of clothing for Roman women. The palla, and its pin, were draped over the left shoulder. Vestals also had an elaborate hairstyle consisting of six or seven braids, which Roman brides also wore. From the institution of the Vestal priesthood to its abolition, an unknown number of Vestals held office.
Question 99. Sacrilege
Several are named in Roman myth and history. The Vestals were used as models of female virtue in allegorizing portraiture of the later West. Elizabeth I of England was portrayed holding a sieve to evoke Tuccia , the Vestal who proved her virtue by carrying water in a sieve. The discovery of a "House of the Vestals" in Pompeii made the Vestals a popular subject in the 18th century and the 19th century.
Media related to Portraits as vestal at Wikimedia Commons. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Occupation in Ancient Rome, Priestesses of goddess Vesta. For other uses, see Vestal disambiguation. Flamen — CE. Main article: House of the Vestals. Vestal Virgin — by Jean Raoux. Letter to Emperor Valentianus. Archived from the original on Retrieved The Letters of Ambrose. Archaeology Odyssey. Biblical Archaeology Society. Life of Numa. Translated by Langhorne. History of the Vestal Virgins of Rome. Ultimate Reference DVD.
Law and Literature. Archived PDF from the original on Attic Nights. Ultimate Reference Suite. Made From History. Archived from the original on 18 February Retrieved 17 February Roman Antiquities. University of Chicago.
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. London: John Murray — via University of Chicago. Flower, Harriet I. The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press. Biblical Archaeological Society.
A school dictionary of Greek and Roman antiquities. London: Harper. Ab urbe condita. Vestal Virgin Tuccia. Martindale, C. Studies in Comparative Religion. September The Classical Journal. Some Observations on the Worship of Vesta. London: A. XXXI : —, Anita Dobs Books. Disclaimer :. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any characters alive or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.
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The author retains all rights, and no part of this book may be copied or redistributed without the prior permission of the author. I had never thought I'd become a nun. Such things were the furthest from my mind as a teenage girl growing up in Palermo, Sicily. When not helping my widowed mother with what little work she could find to keep us in cloth and sustenance — my kind father having died prematurely — I would be allowed to play outside.