Who was the Temple of Vesta Built for?

The Temple of Vesta is an ancient structure of the Acropolis of Tivoli. Dating back to the first century BC and is the most famous monument of ancient Tibur. The temple was dedicated to the goddess Vesta, the virgin goddess of hearth, home, and family. Built for the Vestal Virgins to dwell in as they honour their Virgin Goddess.

The Vestal Virgins

The birth of the Temple of Vesta and House of Vestals began after the King of Rome was informed that his kingdom would be protected from harm by the Goddess Vesta, the virgin goddess of hearth, home, and family. This protection would only last if the magical fire that was given by the goddess herself, was never to go out, and was to burn forever to honour the Goddess’s protection. The task of this fire was left on a college of virgin women, later known as the Vestal Virgins. The House of Vestal, including the Temple of Vesta, was built, giving these women a dwelling to proceed with the cult’s happenings. The Virgins were seen as powerful and pure women within the city as they were the protectors of Rome. It was a very exclusive cult, only welcoming six virgins at a time, who committed to serve for thirty years. The first ten years were to learn the ways of the college, with the next ten years performing the rituals of the house and finishing their last ten years training the new recruits. They were by far the most powerful women in Rome, as they could vote, own property, and were free from their father’s control. They were also able to access places other women were banned from, such as certain events and seats in the Colosseum. Despite these perks, the cult was a strict and punishable place for the women. Breaking your vows of celibacy would have disastrous repercussions, ensuring whipping or being buried alive in the underground chambers.

The Temple of Vesta

The Temple of Vesta was one of the earliest structures located in the Roman Forum. It was a very important sanctuary in Rome, honouring the Roman goddess of Vesta, and where the Vestal Virgins presided. All vestal temples featured a round structure, which is where the sacred hearth was, and the eternal fire burned. All the entrances to the temple were facing east to signify the connection between the eternal fire and the sun as sources of life. Around the Temple stood ‘The Sacred Grove,’ which was a graveyard for the priests and virgins. The temple was closed when paganism was banned in favour of Christianity, with the descent of the Roman Empire.

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