Praescripsit autem rex Vestalibus triginta annorum castimoniam. Primo decennio discunt ea quae sint sui officii, altero ea exercent, tertio alias ipsae eadem docent. Secundum hoc tempus permissum est illis, quae velint, deposito sacerdotio nubere, aut aliud vitae genus diligere; non multas tamen narrant hac licentia usas et iis, quae eam amplexae fuissent, adversas res evenisse, poenitentiaque et maestitia reliquum vitae tempus vexatas, reliquas in eam superstitionem adduxisse, ut ad senectutem potitus exitumque vitae virginitatem conservarent. Magnos honores his sacerdotibus tribuit Numa, e quorum numero est, quod licebat vivo adhuc patre testamentum condere, quod sine tutore omnia agere poterant, haud secus quam ius trium liberorum adeptae. Cum in publicum progrediuntur, lictores secum habent, ac si tum forte ad capitale supplicium aliquis ducatur, is non necatur; iusiurandum tamen ab ipsis exigitur, forte fortuna se, non data opera, intervenisse. Porro autem qui subit lecticae,qua ipsae vehuntur, moritur.
ὡρίσθη δὲ ταῖς ἱεραῖς παρθένοις ὑπὸ τοῦ βασιλέως ἁγνεία τριακονταέτις, ἐν ᾗ τὴν μὲν πρώτην δεκαετίαν ἃ χρὴ δρᾶν μανθάνουσι, τὴν δὲ μέσην ἃ μεμαθήκασι δρῶσι, τὴν δὲ τρίτην ἑτέρας αὐταὶ διδάσκουσιν. εἶτα ἀνεῖται τῇ βουλομένῃ μετὰ τὸν χρόνον τοῦτον ἤδη καὶ γάμου μεταλαμβάνειν καὶ πρὸς ἕτερον τραπέσθαι βίον, ἀπαλλαγείσῃ τῆς ἱερουργίας, λέγονται δὲ οὐ πολλαὶ ταύτην ἀσπάσασθαι τὴν ἄδειαν, οὐδὲ ἀσπασαμέναις χρηστὰ πράγματα συντυχεῖν, ἀλλὰ μετανοίᾳ καὶ κατηφείᾳ συνοῦσαι τὸν λοιπὸν βίον ἐμβαλεῖν τὰς ἄλλας εἰς δεισιδαιμονίαν, ὥστε μέχρι γήρως καὶ θανάτου διατελεῖν ἐγκαρτερούσας καὶ παρθενευομένας.
τιμὰς δὲ μεγάλας ἀπέδωκεν αὐταῖς, ὧν ἔστι καὶ τὸ διαθέσθαι ζῶντος ἐξεῖναι πατρὸς καὶ τἆλλα πράττειν ἄνευ προστάτου διαγούσας, ὥσπερ αἱ τρίπαιδες. ῥαβδουχοῦνται δὲ προϊοῦσαι: κἂν ἀγομένῳ τινὶ πρὸς θάνατον αὐτομάτως συντύχωσιν, οὐκ ἀναιρεῖται, δεῖ δὲ ἀπομόσαι τὴν παρθένον ἀκούσιον καὶ τυχαίαν καὶ οὐκ ἐξεπίτηδες γεγονέναι τὴν ἀπάντησιν
--Plutarch, Vita Numae 10.1-3, Translated into Latin by Theodore Doener (1857)
[Numa] determined the term of the Vestal Virgins would be thirty years long. In the first decade, Vestal Virgins learn about their duties; in the second decade, they practice them, and in their third, they teach them. After that time, they are allowed to get married, and start whatever lifestyle they choose. They say that not many women choose to do so, and those that do, do not end up happy, but are full of regret and sorrow. Therefore the bulk of Vestals retain their chaste lifestyle for the rest of their life.
Numa bestowed great honors to the Vestal Virgins. They are allowed to create their own wills independent of their fathers. They are allowed to manage their own household without a male guardian (just like those who have mothered three children). When Vestals go out in public, they have lictors [an honor guard] with them. If someone on death row is brought to their presence, they are not killed, provided that they can make an oath that the meeting was an accident and not actively planned. Moreover, if someone bumps into their vehicle, they are put to death.
Date: 46 – 119 CE
Works: Parallel Lives
Plutarch was a Greek author and Roman citizen who lived during the 1st century CE. He had minor governmental and religious administrative roles during his lifetime, but he is best known for his writings. He has numerous philosophical and historical works still extant, including the Parallel Lives, in which he compares the lives of a Roman and Greek statesman for moralistic purposes.
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