What is the name of the priestesses of the goddess Vesta? What were their responsibilities? What were they strictly forbidden? How did the Romans feel about them?
The priestesses of the goddess Vesta were called Vestals. The duties of the vestals included maintaining the sacred fire in the temple of Vesta, keeping the temple clean, making sacrifices to Vesta and the penates (patron gods), guarding the palladium (a sacred amulet statue depicting Pallas Athena) and other shrines. The service life of the vestals was 30 years. During this time, the vestals were obliged to lead a chaste lifestyle, and they were also forbidden to marry and have children. Violation of this rule was severely punished. It was believed that Rome could not take upon itself such a sin as the execution of a Vestal, so they were punished by burial alive with a small supply of food, which was not formally a death penalty. Vestals were very respected and wealthy, had a social status unique for a Roman woman, they did not obey anyone except the Supreme Pontiff, they had and independently disposed of wealth and land. They were inviolable, so many Romans even gave them important documents and valuables for preservation.
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