Sunday, April 11, 2021

Vesta and Her Virgins, Ovid, Fasti VI.283-294


Cur sit virginibus, quaeris, dea culta ministris?
     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


              Tristia, etc.



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



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.



Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE

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