XII. Virgo Vestae quid aetatis et ex quali familia et quo ritu quibusque caerimoniis ac religionibus ac quo nomine a pontifice maximo capiatur et quo statim iure esse incipiat, simul atque capta est; quodque, ut Labeo dicit, nec intestato cuiquam nec eius intestatae quisquam iure heres est.
1 Qui de virgine capienda scripserunt, quorum diligentissime scripsit Labeo Antistius, minorem quam annos sex, maiorem quam annos decem natam negaverunt capi fas esse; 2 item quae non sit patrima et matrima; 3 item quae lingua debili sensuve aurium deminuta aliave qua corporis labe insignita sit; 4 item quae ipsa aut cuius pater emancipatus sit, etiamsi vivo patre in avi potestate sit; 5 item cuius parentes alter ambove servitutem servierunt aut in negotiis sordidis versantur. 6 Sed et eam, cuius soror ad id sacerdotium lecta est, excusationem mereri aiunt; item cuius pater flamen aut augur aut quindecimvirum sacris faciundis aut septemvirum epulonum aut Salius est. 7 Sponsae quoque pontificis et tubicinis sacrorum filiae vacatio a sacerdotio isto tribui solet. 8 Praeterea Capito Ateius scriptum reliquit neque eius legendam filiam, qui domicilium in Italia non haberet, et excusandam eius, qui liberos tres haberet. 9 Virgo autem Vestalis, simul est capta atque in atrium Vestae deducta et pontificibus tradita est, eo statim tempore sine emancipatione ac sine capitis minutione e patris potestate exit et ius testamenti faciundi adipiscitur. 10 De more autem rituque capiundae virginis litterae quidem antiquiores non exstant, nisi, quae capta prima e t, a Numa rege esse captam. 11 Sed Papiam legem invenimus, qua cavetur, ut pontificis maximi arbitratu virgines e populo viginti legantur sortitioque in contione ex eo numero fiat et, cuius virginis ducta erit, ut eam pontifex maximus capiat eaque Vestae fiat. 12 Sed ea sortitio ex lege Papia non necessaria nunc videri solet. Nam si quis honesto loco natus adeat pontificem maximum atque offerat ad sacerdotium filiam suam, cuius dumtaxat salvis religionum observationibus ratio haberi possit, gratia Papiae legis per senatum fit. 13 "Capi" autem virgo propterea dici videtur, quia pontificis maximi manu prensa ab eo parente, in cuius potestate est, veluti bello capta abducitur. 14 In libro primo Fabii Pictoris, quae verba pontificem maximum dicere oporteat, cum virginem capiat, scriptum est. Ea verba haec sunt: "Sacerdotem Vestalem, quae sacra faciat, quae ius siet sacerdotem Vestalem facere pro populo Romano Quiritibus, uti quae optima lege fuit, ita te, Amata, capio." 15 Plerique autem "capi" virginem solam debere dici putant. Sed flamines quoque Diales, item pontifices et augures "capi" dicebantur. 16 L. Sulla rerum gestarum libro secundo ita scripsit: "P. Cornelius, cui primum cognomen Sullae impositum est, flamen Dialis captus." 17 M. Cato de Lusitanis, cum Servium Galbam accusavit: "Tamen dicunt deficere voluisse. Ego me nunc volo ius pontificium optime scire; iamne ea causa pontifex capiar? si volo augurium optime tenere, ecquis me ob eam rem augurem capiat?" 18 Praeterea in commentariis Labeonis, quae ad duodecim tabulas composuit, ita scriptum est: "Virgo Vestalis neque heres est cuiquam intestato, neque intestatae quisquam, sed bona eius in publicum redigi aiunt. Id quo iure fiat, quaeritur." 19 "Amata" inter capiendum a pontifice maximo appellatur, quoniam, quae prima capta est, hoc fuisse nomen traditum est.
---Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae I.12
Regarding Vestal Virgins: On the Appropriate Age, Family Background, Initiation Ceremony, How They are Claimed by the Pontifex Maximus, How they Take their Oath & Become “Taken” ; Also How, as Labeo says, They Can neither Inherit nor Bequeath Property in their Will
1) Those who describe the “taking” of a Vestal Virgin, (and Labeo Antistius describes this the most elaborately), state that it is inappropriate to take one younger than 6 years old, or one that is older than 10; 2) nor if she has lost her mother or father; 3) nor if she has a speech impediment or is hard of hearing, or any other disability; 4) or if either she or her father is emancipated, even if her father is alive, but her grandfather is her patriarch; 5) or if either (or both) parents are currently a slave, or are involved in shady business practices. 6) Furthermore, it is also noted that she is exempt if her sister has been chosen for a priesthood; she is similarly exempt if her father is a flamen augur, a Salian priest, one of the fifteen overseers of the Sibylline books, or one of the seven overseers of the holy banquets. 7) Other exemptions include if she is engaged to a priest [pontifex], as well as if she is a daughter of the sacred Trumpeters.
8) Moreover, in his writings Capito Ateius stated that a daughter should not be selected from a family that does not have residency in Italy, as well as a family that has three children.
9) Once a Vestal Virgin is chosen, she is led to the Temple of Vesta and handed over to its priests. As soon as that happens, she is immediately freed from her patriarch’s control without an official emancipation declaration and without losing control of her rights; she is also able to make her own will.
10) There are no ancient sources on the selection of a Vestal Virgin, but [it is known] that the first ones were selected by King Numa. 11) I have, however, found the Papian Law that twenty maidens are selected from the general population under the oversight of the Chief Priest, and from that number, a lottery is held, the women selected by the Chief Priest becomes a Vestal Virgin. 12). Nowadays, this lottery set up by the Papian Law is no longer necessary. If someone of noble birth approaches the Chief Priest and offers his daughter to the priesthood, provided that religious observances are maintained, he can be exempt from the Papian Law.
13) A Vestal Virgin is said to be “taken,” because she is taken by the hand of the Chief Priest from the control of her parents, the way that a hostage is taken in wartime. 14) In book 1 of his work on history, Fabius Pictor preserves the oath that a Chief Priest is supposed to say when he “takes” a Vestal Virgin. This is the oath: “Beloved one, I hereby seize you as one worthy to be a Vestal Virgin, who shall perform rites on behalf of the Roman people.”
15) Many people think that the word “taken” should only apply to Vestal Virgins, however, Flamen Dialis, priests, and augurs are also said to be “taken.” 16) In the second book of his history, L. Sulla wrote: “P. Cornelius, the first to be named Sulla, was taken as a Flamen Dialis.” 17) When M. Cato accused Servius Galba, he said the following about the Lusitanians: “They say that they wanted to rebel. I really want to know the priestly ways, so does that mean I can be made a pontifex? If I really wanted to know augury, does that mean I can be an augur?” 18) Moreover, in Labeo’s commentaries On the Twelve Tables, the following quote exists: “A Vestal Virgin nether an heir to anyone intestate, nor does her property go to another; instead, her property is liquidated by the state.”
19) She is called “Beloved,” [Amata] when she is taken by the Chief Priest because that was the name of the first Vestal Virgin taken.
Name: Aulus Gellius
Date: 2nd. c. CE
Works: Attic Nights
Aulus Gellius lived during the 2nd century CE. His work, the Attic Nights, are a collection of anecdotes about literature, history, and grammar. From internal evidence, we can deduce that he was in the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ social circle, having close friendships with Herodes Atticus and Fronto.
SILVER AGE LATIN