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vestal virgins

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Women in ancient Rome who took vows of chastity and tended the sacred flame in the temple of the goddess Vesta. Their group numbered six at any one time. A vestal virgin could marry after her term of service was over, but to do so was considered bad luck. A vestal virgin who lost her virginity during her term of service was punished by being buried alive.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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