House of the Vestals
The Vestal Virgins lived in the Atrium Vestae, a home built for them close to the temple of Vesta. Only daughters of Roman patricians were selected to be Vestals. These children, between the ages of six and ten, took the oath of virginity for thirty years. The first ten years they spent learning their duties; the second ten, in performing them; the final ten, in teaching others. The first duty of these Vestals was to protect the fire in the Temple of Vesta, the oldest and most sacred shrine in the forum. If the fire went out, it was a sign that a Virgin had broken her vow.
The Vestal Virgins had special privileges as well: they were free and independent; they could make a will; the fasces were carried before them whenever they went out; they had the great privilege of being buried inside the walls of the city if they had been blameless in life and death. After thirty years of service, the Virgins could leave their office and live their own lives.
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