The Vestal Virgins enjoyed an elevation in status and surge in popularity, following Emperor Augustus’ promotion of the role around the turn of the millennium. They were a group of six priestesses, selected from patrician families at a young age, who served for thirty years tending the flame of the cult of Vesta. As this bust shows, Vestal Virgins were conspicuous for the veils which they wore, but other privileges also saw them stand out in society. They were the only women who could employ the services of lictors, for instance, and they had reserved the best seats at the public games. Nevertheless, their position did not provide purely privileges, for great restrictions were placed on their livelihoods by virtue of the strict vows taken. Under the watchful eye of Rome’s chief priest and guardian of the Vestals, the Pontifex Maximus, any Virgin found to have transgressed her vows of chastity was buried alive.
Roman Vestal Virgin Bust Appliqué
A bronze female bust, possibly a Vestal Virgin, with curled hair and veil. She wears robes with brooches to the shoulders, and a cloak pinned to centre of the chest.
Provenance: UK art market, acquired prior to 2000.
Condition: Very good condition with excellent details.