Vestals, in the Ronan Religion

Vestals, in the Ronan religion These maiden priestesses of Vesta (q.v.) were held in high esteem and enjoyed great privileges. They possessed, for instance, the right to make a testament as soon as they stepped into the service of the goddess (they were required to be ten years old upon entrance). They were further allowed a lector, to announce their coming; and they had the right of pardoning a condemned criminal when they met him. They also sat in seats of honor at the theatre. But they were also subject to very strict observances, and incurred frightful punishments in case of any failure. The conditions of their acceptance were: they and their parents must be free- born; both parents were required to be-living and residing in Italy, and carrying on an honorable business. When al election was necessary, twenty girls were selected, who cast lots in public meetings. But this was not necessary when a father lawfully offered, of his own free will and accord, his daughter free from all bodily imperfections. The number of Vestals was at first two, afterwards four and from Servius Tullius's time six. Ten years long they were to learn the service, ten years they were obliged to serve, and ten years they were required to teach the probationers. After the expiration of this term of years they were permitted to marry, but this was not looked upon as honorable. Their duties were, the performance of the sacrifices, care of the sacred vestibules, preservation of the eternal fire, and the strictest virtues, especially chastity. If the fire became extinguished, the guilty one was beaten with switches; if one was found unchaste, she was buried alive. Such an occurrence was looked upon as a dreadful sign of the wrath of the gods, and the whole city went into mourning. The clothing of the Vestals was composed of a long white dress, a priestly fillet, and a veil; still it was not forbidden them to adorn themselves.

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