Casa delle Vestali

Ancient Rome

The Casa delle Vestali, situated in the heart of the Roman Forum, was home to the Vestal Virgins who tended the sacred flame in the adjoining Tempio di Vesta. At its centre is a rectangular grassy space lined with a string of statues, now mostly headless, depicting the Vestals.

The six priestesses were selected from patrician families when aged between six and 10 to serve in the temple for 30 years. If the flame in the temple went out, the priestess responsible would be flogged, and if she lost her virginity she would be buried alive, since her blood couldn't be spilled. The offending man would be flogged to death.

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