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Vesta (mythology)

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Engraving of the goddess Vesta

Vesta was the virgin goddess of the hearth, home, and family in Roman mythology. She rarely appeared in art, as her presence was symbolized by the sacred fire that burned at her temple. The temple was forbidden to all except her priestesses, the Vestal Virgins. The Roman equivalent of the Greek Hestia, Vesta was seen to protect everything that was most important to people's survival. She was not a central figure of many myths. The lack of an easy source of fire in the early Roman community placed a special premium on the ever-burning hearth fire, both publicly and privately maintained; thus, from the earliest times Vesta was assured of a prominent place in both family and state worship. Her worship was observed in every household along with that of the Penates and the Lares, and her image was sometimes encountered in the household shrine.(1)

The state worship of Vesta was much more elaborate. Her sanctuary was traditionally a circular building, in imitation of the early Italian round hut and symbolic of the public hearth. The Temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum was of great antiquity and underwent many restorations and rebuildings in both republican and imperial times. There burned the perpetual fire of the public hearth attended by the Vestal Virgins. This fire was officially extinguished and renewed annually on March 1 (originally the Roman new year), and its extinction at any other time, either accidentally or not, was regarded as a portent of disaster to Rome.(2)

The asteroid 4 Vesta is named for her.

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Media related to Vesta at Wikimedia Commons


References(sorry...on my cell, someone else will have to tidy up.... For (1) & (2) Britannica.com