Did You Know – Vestal Virgins

It’s #FactFriday, so we’ve been dug through the archives and found a great nugget of info from historical fiction author Rosemary Rowe. Have you ever wondered about the origins of the phrase, “life begins at 40”? Read on, and all will be revealed:

“In Ancient Rome, females were rarely educated, except in household skills, they w9780727880291ere excluded from public office, and a woman (of any age) was deemed a child in law. There was, however, one notable exception to this rule. The Vestal Virgins were a class apart, and this forms the basis for the story in this book. Chosen exclusively from patrician families and subject to the most stringent requirements for entry, prospective Vestals were taken from their homes very young (from six to ten years old) and were bound to the temple for a span of thirty years: ten years in training, ten years of active duty at the hearth and the final ten years training the new novitiates and – it appears – sometimes dealing with suppliants. During the thirty years of service at the shrine she must remain a virgin on pain of dreadful death, but on retirement she might marry while still enjoying a pension which – uniquely – was provided by the state. (The old saying that ‘life begins at forty’ is said to have its origins in the Vestal life.)” 

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