Leaving the Vestal with food was supposed to absolve her executioners of any responsibility for her death; the virgin died not by human hands, but at the will of the gods.


After his father’s death at the hands of Julius Caesar in 48 B.C., Sextus Pompey took control of part of Rome’s navy and occupied Sicily,using the island as a bas efor raiding and blockading Italy.



Russell T. Scott, “Excavations in the Area Sacra of Vesta, 1987–1989,” in Eius Virtutis Studiosi: Classical and Postclassical Studies in Memory of Frank Edward Brown, ed. Russell T. Scott and Ann Reynolds-Scott (Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1993), pp. 161–181.


Mary Beard, “The Sexual Status of Vestal Virgins,” Journal of Roman Studies 70 (1980), pp. 12–27. See her reconsideration of the problem, “Re-reading (Vestal) Virginity,” in Women in Antiquity, New Assessments, ed. Richard Hawley and Barbara Levick (London: Routledge, 1995), pp. 166–177.


Tim Cornell, “Some Observations on the ‘Crimen Incesti’,” in Le Délit Religieux dans la Cité Antique (Rome: Ècole Française de Rome, 1981), pp. 27–37.


The severity of penalties the Vestals suffered has led one scholar to suggest that they actually lost full citizenship when inducted into the cult, taking on a unique status, not citizen, not alien, but fully sacred. See Ariadne Staples, From Good Goddess to Vestal Virgins: Sex and Category in Roman Religion (London: Routledge, 1998).


On the development of Octavian’s propaganda of clemency and the role of the Vestals as agents of the emperor’s mercy, see my forthcoming book, Begging Pardon: Clemency and Cruelty in the Roman World (Ann Arbor, MI: Univ. of Michigan Press).


Arthur Darby Nock, “A Diis Electa: A Chapter in the Religious History of the Third Century,” Harvard Theological Review 23 (1930) pp. 251–274 (reprinted in Essays on Religion and the Ancient World, ed. Zeph Stewart [Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1972]).


On this point, see the argument of Mary Joann McDaniel, “Augustus, the Vestals, and the Signum Imperii,” Ph.D. diss. (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1995).