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and were often dragged through the streets chained to the conqueror's chariot wheels. The stern ferocity that mingled with their better qualities is shown in the story of one of the Horatii, who killed his sister, merely because she wept for her lover slain by his hand; and the example of Marcia, wife of Regulus, who shut up some Carthagenian prisoners in a barrel filled with sharp nails, to revenge her husband, who had been put to death in Carthage. It is, however, true that these actions were not sanctioned by public opinion ; for Horatius was punished, and the senate interfered to check the wanton cruelty of Marcia.
The Romans followed the common practice of hiring mourning women to sing funeral songs in praise of the dead. The nearest female relations sometimes tore their garments, and covered their hair with dust. In the funeral procession, sons veiled their faces, and daughters went with uncovered heads and dishevelled hair, contrary to the usual practice of both. They followed the Grecian custom of burning the corpse, and depositing the ashes in an urn. Infants, that died before they had teeth were buried, not burned; and all children not weaned were carried to the grave by their mothers. The sepulchres were covered with flowers and garlands, and a small altar was placed near, on which libations were made, and incense burnt.
It was thought dishonorable for men to mourn ; but the law prescribed that women should mourn ten months for a parent, or a husband. During this
time they laid aside ornaments, and purple garments, and staid at home, avoiding all amusements; some even refrained from kindling a fire in the house on account of its cheerful appearance. Under the republic, women dressed in black like the men ; but under the emperors, when party-colored garments came in fashion, they wore white for mourning. If a widow married within ten months after her husband's decease, she was held infamous. Indeed second marriages were never esteemed honorable in women. Even in the most corrupt days of the empire, those who had been married but to one husband were treated with peculiar deference; hence UNIVIRA is often found on ancient sepulchres, as an epithet of honor.
Plutarch says maidens never married on festivals, nor widows on working-days, because marriage was honorable to the one and seemed not to be so to the other ; for which reason they celebrated the marriage of widows in presence of a few, and on days that called off the attention of the people to other spectacles. Those who remained widows had the first place in certain solemn ceremonies. The crown of chastity was decreed to them; and if they married again, they were never after allowed to enter the temple of that divinity.
The Romans borrowed their mythology from the Grecian, where female deities abound. When they invoked the gods by name, in their temples, the Romans, in order to avoid mistakes, were accustomed to add, “ Whether thou art a god, or whether thou
art a goddess." Women, as well as men, filled the sacred office of the priesthood. The vestal virgins were young girls, six in number, devoted to the service of Vesta. When any vacancy occurred, twenty maidens, not younger than six, or older than sixteen, were selected from the families of Roman citizens. It was required that their parents should both be living, and free-born, and that they themselves should be without any bodily imperfection or infirmity. It was determined by lot which of the twenty should be chosen ; unless some one, with requisite qualifications, was voluntarily offered by parents, and approved by the pontifex maximus, or high priest. The vestals were bound to their ministry for thirty years. For the first ten, they learned the sacred rites ; for the next ten, they performed them; and for the last ten, they taught the younger virgins. It was the business of the vestals to keep the sacred fire continually burning; they watched it in the night time alternately; and whoever allowed it to go out, was severely scourged. The fire was relighted from the rays of the sun, and extraordinary sacrifices were made to avert the unlucky omen. Certain sacred images, on the preservation of which the safety of Rome was supposed to depend, were likewise intrusted to the care of the vestals. Wills and testaments were often deposited in their hands, by people who were afraid that relations would commit frauds and forgeries. They were chosen as the umpires of difficulties between persons of rank; and their prayers were thought to have peculiar influence with the gods. Even the prætors and consuls, when they met them in the street, lowered their fasces, and went out of the way, to show them respect. They were supported by a public salary; had a lictor to attend them in the streets; rode in chariots; and sat in a distinguished place at the spectacles. Any insult to them was punished with death; and if a criminal chanced to meet one of them on his way to execution, he was immediately set at liberty, provided the vestal affirmed that the meeting was unintentional. They were allowed to make their wills, although under age; and were not subject to the power of parents or guardians, like other "somen. They were not forced to swear, unless so inclined ; and their testimony was admitted concerning wills, though no other female was allowed to give evidence on the subject. Beside these exclusive honors, they enjoyed all the privileges of matrons who had three children.
If any vestal violated her vow of chastity, she was buried alive, with funeral solemnities, after being tried and sentenced; and her paramour was scourged to death in the forum. Such an event was always thought to forebode some dreadful calamity to the state, and extraordinary sacrifices were offered in expiation.
When the vestals were first chosen, their hair was cut off, and buried under an old lotus tree in the city; but it was afterward allowed to grow. They wore long white robes, edged with purple, and their heads were decorated with fillets and ribands. When they left the service of the temple, they might marry ; but this was seldom done, and always reckoned ominous.
There was at Rome a temple to the goddess who presided over the peace of marriages, and the appeasement of husbands. Gibbon remarks that her name, Viriplaca, shows that repentance and submission were always expected from the woman. When domestic quarrels occurred, sacrifices were offered in this temple, to procure reconciliation.
Beside innumerable religious ceremonies appropriated to certain families, and performed on certain occasions, it was customary for the Roman women, at the end of every consular year, to celebrate in the house of the consul, or prætor, certain rites in honor of Bona Dea, or the good goddess. No man was allowed to be present; even the consul himself was obliged to leave his dwelling. Before the ceremonies commenced, every corner and lurking-place was carefully searched; all pictures and statues of men contained within the building were covered with a thick veil ; and male animals of every kind were driven away. All being in readiness, the vestal virgins offered the customary sacrifices; and women kept a secret so much better than free masons have done, that to this day there is no conjecture in what the ceremonies consisted, or why they were observed. Only one attempt was ever made to violate the prescribed rules. While Pompeia, the third wife of Julius Cæsar, was celebrating the mysteries, Clodius, a profligate Roman, who was enamored of her beauty,