Start Date

18-4-2018 9:00 AM

End Date

18-4-2018 10:15 AM

Disciplines

Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | History of Gender | Women's History

Subjects

Virginity -- Social aspects, Virginity -- History, Women -- Rome

Description

This paper discusses the political dynamics of the Roman religious systems, specifically the Vestal Virgins. This work seeks to refute the commonly accepted understanding of the Vestal Virgins as an empowering, religious cult and build an understanding of the cult of Vesta as a political tool that was used by the Roman state to maintain power and traditional values. The location of the Temple of Vesta in the Forum, the political epicenter of the Roman Empire, serves as the foundation for this paper’s assertion that the Vestals were an essentially political tool. Livy’s description of Hannibal’s advance towards Rome and the ensuing conviction and execution of two Vestal Virgins confirms the use of the Vestals as a political tool, in this case for the purpose of placating the Roman people. Plutarch and Aulus Gellius’ descriptions of the exclusive nature of the Vestal priesthood confirms that Rome’s elite families saw the Vestals as an avenue for political advancement. Secondary sources explain and corroborate these primary sources. This paper concludes that Rome was adept at the manipulation of seemingly non-political entities for the purpose of maintaining political and patriarchal power.

Persistent Identifier

http://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/24816

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Apr 18th, 9:00 AM Apr 18th, 10:15 AM

The Veiled Exploitation of the Vestal Virgins

This paper discusses the political dynamics of the Roman religious systems, specifically the Vestal Virgins. This work seeks to refute the commonly accepted understanding of the Vestal Virgins as an empowering, religious cult and build an understanding of the cult of Vesta as a political tool that was used by the Roman state to maintain power and traditional values. The location of the Temple of Vesta in the Forum, the political epicenter of the Roman Empire, serves as the foundation for this paper’s assertion that the Vestals were an essentially political tool. Livy’s description of Hannibal’s advance towards Rome and the ensuing conviction and execution of two Vestal Virgins confirms the use of the Vestals as a political tool, in this case for the purpose of placating the Roman people. Plutarch and Aulus Gellius’ descriptions of the exclusive nature of the Vestal priesthood confirms that Rome’s elite families saw the Vestals as an avenue for political advancement. Secondary sources explain and corroborate these primary sources. This paper concludes that Rome was adept at the manipulation of seemingly non-political entities for the purpose of maintaining political and patriarchal power.