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With a personalyou can read up to articles each month for free. Already have an ? Log in. Log in through your institution. Go to Table of Contents. Why were the Vestals virgins? An explanation drawing on anthropological studies of witchcraft and the work of Giovannini, Girard, and Douglas allows a partial solution to this and three other puzzles: 1 their unique legal status; 2 their murder at moments of political crisis; 3 the odd details of those murders.
The untouched body of the Vestal Virgin is a metonymy for the untouched city of Rome. Her unique legal status frees her from all family ties so that she can incarnate the collective. Equally, Roman society reveals a deep fear of witchcraft directed at its own matrons.
Danger to the urbs is warded off by the punishment of women, both Vestals and wives, and the foundation of public cults of chastity with admonitory and apotropaic functions. A series of incidents over a thousand-year span reveals a world view deeply rooted in sympathetic magic, where the women embody the state and their inviolability is objectified as the inviolability of the community.
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Abstract Why were the Vestals virgins? Publisher Information One of the largest publishers in the United States, the Johns Hopkins University Press combines traditional books and journals publishing units with cutting-edge service divisions that sustain diversity and independence among nonprofit, scholarly publishers, societies, and associations.Women sex Vestal
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Who were the Vestal Virgins?