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date: 02 December 2022

Vesta, Vestalslocked

Vesta, Vestalslocked

  • Richard Gordon

Extract

Vesta was the Roman goddess of (the hearth-) fire, custos flammae (Ov. Fast. 6. 258, comm. F. Bömer), one of the twelve Di *Consentes. The cult is also known from *Pompeii and *Latium: it was believed to have been introduced into Rome by *Pompilius Numa—or *Romulus—from *Alba Longa (Dion. Hal.Ant. Rom. 2. 64. 5 ff.; Serv. on Aen. 1. 273). An ancient etymology linked Vesta to Greek *Hestia (Cic.Nat. D. 2. 67): her cult expressed and guaranteed Rome's permanence. Vesta's main public shrine, never inaugurated certis verbis and so never a true *templum, was a circular building just south-east of Augustus' arch in the *forum Romanum (the original 7th-cent. bce shape is unknown). In the late republic its form was taken to be that of a primitive house, intimating a connection between public and private cults of the hearth. In the historical period, the state cult (Vestalia, 9 June) effectively displaced private cults. There was no statue of Vesta within the shrine (Ov.

Subjects

  • Roman Myth and Religion

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