Religion Past and Present

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Vestal Virgins
(312 words)

[German Version]

The group of six Vestal virgins was responsible for the cult of Vesta: they watched over the “eternal” fire in her sanctuary, the public hearth, in the Roman Forum (Cic. De legibus 2.8.20 and 2.12.29) and prepared the mola salsa, a salted flour mixture sprinkled on sacrificial victims. They were present at major ceremonies (as depicted, e.g., on the interior of the Ara Pacis Augustae) and led the private nocturnal cult of the Bona Dea (Cic. De haruspicum responso 37; Plut. Cicero 19.3; Plut. Caesar 9f.). The group was directly under the authority of the pontifex maximus, wh…

Cite this page
Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard, “Vestal Virgins”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 10 August 2022 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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