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The story of the Vestal Lady: the most “powerful” virgins of ancient Rome, whoever dreams of them will pay dearly

On March 8, let’s come to the story of the most powerful women of ancient Rome. Even though he is a king, once he dares to dream of Vestal Virgins, he must trade it in with his own life.

Marcus Licinius Crassus (died 53 BC), the mighty Roman general and the richest man in Roman history, was almost “scandalized” with Vestal Licinia, a vestal virgin.

Who is this woman, how can the fact of occupying a social position make that a man “less than one person, more than ten thousand people” almost lose his life, invite you to find out!

The scandal that shook ancient Rome

The story goes that for some time Crassus repeatedly appeared at the castle of Vestal Licinia. He obediently followed Licinia everywhere, making everyone suspect, and was eventually arrested and taken to court.

In fact, Crassus did not flirt with Licinia, but only tried to “seduce” her to sell his castle at a low price. It seems that despite his reputation as the richest man (rumored to have 200 million sesterce silver coins), Crassus was not very generous.

Chuyện về Vestal Virgin: những trinh nữ "quyền lực" nhất La Mã cổ đại, ai mơ tưởng đến cũng trả giá đắt - Ảnh 1.
Chuyện về Vestal Virgin: những trinh nữ "quyền lực" nhất La Mã cổ đại, ai mơ tưởng đến cũng trả giá đắt - Ảnh 1.

Crassus – the mighty Roman general was nearly executed for asking a virgin … to sell his house

It is not known how much he offered, only that Licinia refused. However, Crassus still loves Licinia Castle too much, so he continues to meet her to …

Fortunately, during the trial, Crassus successfully proved his “pure” purpose. Thanks to this, his life and that of Licinia were saved.

Caring for the flame represents the destiny of the nation

Before the 4th century, the Romans followed the religion of the Virgin Vesta. According to historians, this custom began during the time of Emperor Num Pompilius (753 – 673 BC). For the religion of the goddess Vesta, keeping the fire in the furnace located in the temple is the most sacred and important task.

Chuyện về Vestal Virgin: những trinh nữ quyền lực nhất La Mã cổ đại, ai mơ tưởng đến cũng trả giá đắt - Ảnh 2.

This flame is believed to represent the fate as well as the prosperity of the nation. If it suddenly goes out, it’s an omen that disaster is about to happen. Therefore, in the temple of Vesta there must always be someone on duty.

The vestal virgins are those who are responsible for maintaining and protecting this fire. They appointed 6 people to eat and sleep in the temple, watching constantly, keeping the fire lit evenly throughout the year.

Chuyện về Vestal Virgin: những trinh nữ quyền lực nhất La Mã cổ đại, ai mơ tưởng đến cũng trả giá đắt - Ảnh 3.

Virgin Vestal is responsible for keeping the holy fire lit throughout the year

Every year in March, virgins are allowed to start a new fire. By next March, they absolutely must not let it go out.

Absolutely revered

In the ancient Roman state, religion was associated with politics. Vestal virgins are therefore treated with boundless reverence.

No one, not even the king, had the right to insult a vestal virgin. If a man dared to deceive and seduce the Vestals to lose their chastity, they would suffer the most terrible punishment: to be beaten to death with a whip.

In fact, in Vestal time there was also a king who deliberately broke tradition, Elagabalus (died 222). This emperor was determined to marry the vestal virgin named Aquilia Severa, and loudly announced in front of his whole court that he would soon give birth to a “divine child”.

With kingship in hand, Elagabalus easily got the Vestal he wanted. But it was this blatant violation of the law that sparked the young king’s most gruesome death. On March 11, 222, while walking with his mother on the road, he was killed by the guards. They cut off Elagabalus’ head, stripped his body naked, dragged him and finally threw him into the river.

On the contrary, if the Death Rower on his way to the place of execution accidentally encounters a Vestal, she will also be released.

Chuyện về Vestal Virgin: những trinh nữ quyền lực nhất La Mã cổ đại, ai mơ tưởng đến cũng trả giá đắt - Ảnh 5.

Rule-breaking Emperor Elagabalus arbitrarily married a vestal and paid a heavy price

But when Vestal breaks the law, he “has had enough too”

With the exception of absolute respect, vestals are also completely free from family control, given mansions and properties, have the right to make wills and defend themselves in court (in case of doubt) without having to swear.

But with great benefits come great risks as well. Due to the cult of the goddess Vesta, ancient Rome placed great importance on the question of virginity. They believe that the virginity of the vestals is the “fuel” to keep the “fire of national life” alive. Therefore, whenever this fire is extinguished, the vestals will first be suspected of being unclean.

Chuyện về Vestal Virgin: những trinh nữ quyền lực nhất La Mã cổ đại, ai mơ tưởng đến cũng trả giá đắt - Ảnh 6.

If they fail to prove their innocence, the Vestals will be punished by being buried alive. Ancient Roman regulations did not allow beating virgins holding fire or shedding blood. They will therefore be locked in four narrow walls and starve.

Chuyện về Vestal Virgin: những trinh nữ quyền lực nhất La Mã cổ đại, ai mơ tưởng đến cũng trả giá đắt - Ảnh 7.

Was “recruited” from childhood and had to “keep” for 30 years

Vestal is a virgin, but not all virgins can become Vestal. In fact, the selection of Vestal is carried out very strictly, since the girls are only 6-10 years old and must be the children of a prestigious, beautiful, healthy and free family.

After being officially selected, the new girls must take an oath, swearing to serve the goddess Vesta wholeheartedly for the next 30 years. Once this was done, all were taken to the Atrium Vestae, the home of the Vestal Virgins, to begin “training” to become a priestess.

During the first 10 years, the girls learned catechism and practiced fire-keeping. During the next ten years, when they became young women, they replaced the previous generation of vestals, taking care of the fire in the temple. During the remaining ten years, he returned to the head of the class of “infantile” Vestals.

If he is correct during all these 30 years of service, a Vestal will experience a life of “retirement” of great wealth. In addition to tall and wide houses, they are still respected.

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