Cur sit virginibus, quaeris, dea culta
inveniam causas hac quoque parte suas.
Ex Ope Iunonem memorant Cereremque creatas
semine Saturni; tertia Vesta fuit.
Utraque nupserunt, ambae peperisse feruntur;
de tribus impatiens restitit una viri.
Quid mirum, virgo si virgine laeta ministra
admittit castas ad sua sacra manus?
Nec tu aliud Vestam quam vivam intellege flammam;
nataque de flamma corpora nulla vides.
Iure igitur virgo est, quae semina nulla remittit
nec capit, et comites virginitatis amat.
--Ovid, Fasti VI.283-294
You may ask, “why is the goddess Vesta worshipped by virgin priestesses?”
I’ve found her reasons why.
They say that Juno and Ceres were born
from Ops and Saturn; Vesta was their third daughter.
The first two got married and had kids;
Of the three, only Vesta remained indifferent to men.
So it’s not surprising that a virgin will enjoy
Having virgin priestesses and
Chaste hands taking care of her sacred rites.
And don’t just imagine Vesta as a living flame;
You’ll find nothing born of flames.
Instead, Vesta is a virgin woman, who rightly
Neither conceives or receives, and
Loves companions in her virginity.
Name: Publius Ovidius Naso
Date: 43 BCE – 18 CE
Works: Ars Amatoria
Ovid was one of the most famous love poets of Rome’s Golden Age. His most famous work, the Metamorphoses, provides a history of the world through a series of interwoven myths. Most of his poetry is erotic in nature; for this reason, he fell into trouble during the conservative social reforms under the reign of the emperor Augustus. In 8 CE he was banished to Bithynia, where he spent the remainder of his life pining for his native homeland.
GOLDEN AGE ROME