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Robin Lorsch Wildfang
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Rome's Vestal Virgins: A Study of Rome's Vestal Priestesses in the Late Republic and Early Empire

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  25 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Comprehensive and thoroughly up-to-date, this volume offers a brand new analysis of the Vestal Virgins' ritual function in Roman religion. Undertaking a detailed and careful analysis of ancient literary sources, Wildfang argues that the Vestals' virginity must be understood on a variety of different levels and provides a solution to the problem of the Vestals' peculiar ...more
ebook, 158 pages
Published January 10th 2010 by Taylor & Francis Group (first published July 26th 2006)
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Amalie
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, italy
I decided to read this out of curiousity but ended up really enjoying it. It is short, readable and very interesting. Whenever I read something about Vestal Virgins before, they usually didn't go any further than looking at the Vestals' virginity, punishments for incestum, forbidden love with Roman emperors or being buried alive. These are the endless stories that seems to go in circles about these women. Here, Wildfang goes beyond that.

The topics she address include: The public rituals these
...more
Kara
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-ancient

Wildfang lays out her case like a lawyer in a high stakes trial, determined to make, us, the ladies and gentlemen of the reading-jury, understand exactly what happened.

She is very clear on what is known, what is not known, who the sources were, what biases come to play, what possible motivations could have been behind specific actions, and some very grounded theories on the goals behind the actions taken.

What impressed me the most was that, while being a Vestal Virgin granted a woman a
...more
Sarah Nichols
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is highly academic and doesn’t follow a story, but is rather a historical look into a roughly 300 year period in the 1000+ years of the Vestal cult. As is to be expected with an academic book, it can be a bit dry at times, but that doesn’t get in the way of how fascinating all this history is. I learned so much and I really enjoyed it.

The Vestal Virgins were an important part of Roman history and their story is interesting.

Ps: I read this mostly while traveling on a subway, so I
...more
Bonnie_blu
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient_rome
Stunning monograph on the Vestal Virgins. Wildfang uses all of the resources available (written, epigraphic, etc.) to analyze the origins of the Vestal Virgins, how they are chosen, their daily lives, and how their lives changed from Rome's beginning to the first century C.E. Her analysis is very well thought out, and she arrives at well-founded conclusions. There is an enormous amount of information within, and anyone who is interested in ancient Rome or the Vestal Virgins must read this.
Inés Chamarro
Lorsch's understanding of the main aspects of the Vestals (captio, virginity, chastity, sui iuris status) is based on the idea of separation from family in order to ensure that the priestesses represented the Roman people as a whole rather than a family or faction, and to prevent the pollution of the city rites by family cults.

The book examines the duties of the Vestal order in the different rites and ceremonies of the Roman calendar (emphasizing the aspects of purification, fertility and the
...more
Martine
Excellent work on the Vestal virgins. While many historians go no further than looking at the Vestals virginity or the punishment for incestum, devoting endless pages to a discussion that seems to go in circles, Wildfang gives a broader overview of the Vestals' lives and work. She clearly knows her subject and I find her theories concerning the Vestals' position far more convincing than for instance Beard or Parker's. A short but impressive and highly readable discussion.
Maria
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent reference work, but it's also highly readable. Wildfang provides plentiful citations and does not simply assert things as facts. I actually agree with the cover blurb that she provides "a new and penetrating investigation" into the cult of Vesta and of her priestesses, the Vestals.
Teralyn Pilgrim
Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rome
What I adored about this book is that it does so much more than present the facts. Instead of giving us the what, who, when, and where, she gives us a rare treat: WHY. What was the purpose behind the things the Vestal Virgins did? What was the meaning behind their lives? Wildfang's evidence and logic is clear, intelligent, and fascinating. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Rome.
Aleksandra
An interesting and accessible, if sometimes a bit too sketchy study on the character and development of the Vestal virgins in Republican and early Imperial Rome.
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