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their apartments. Their service consisted in maintaining and keeping pure the eternal fire in the temple of Vesta, watching the sacred shrines, performing the sacrifices, offering the daily and, when necessary, the special prayers for the welfare of the nation, and taking part in the feasts of Vesta, Tellus, and Bona Dea. They were dressed entirely in white, with a coronet-shaped head-band (infvla), and ornamented with ribands (vittce) suspended from it, and at a sacrifice covered with a white veil [called the suffl-bulum. This was a sort of hood made of a piece of white woollen cloth with a purple border, rectangular in form. It was folded over the head and fastened in front below the throat by a fibula (Festus, p. 340, ed.
* A VESTAL VIItlilN.
(Portrait statue of one of the chief Vestals, of the time of
Trajan or Hadrian, showing the sacred vestment
called the mfflbatim.)
("Mliller, quoted in Middleton's Rome,i 320)]. The chief part in the sacrifices was taken by the eldest, the virgo vestalis maxima.
The Vestal Virgins enjoyed various distinctions and privileges. When they went out, they were accompanied by a lictor, to whom even the consul gave place; at public games they had a place of honour; they were under a guardian, and were free to dispose of their property; they gave evidence without the customary oath ; they were, on account of their incorruptible character, entrusted with important wills and public treaties; death was the penalty for injuring their person; those whom they escorted were thereby protected from any assault. To meet them by chance saved the criminal who was being led away to punishment; and to them, as to men of distinguished
merit, was assigned the honour of burial
in the Forum.
VfitSrani. [A Latin word properly meaning old soldiers.] During the later Republican period and under the Empire the term was applied to those who at the end of their time of service retired from the legion. They were kept with the army under the standard, under which they were taken to the military colonies appointed for them, and again served there for an indefinite period. (Cp. vexillarii.)
Vexillarli. Roman veterans who, at ths end of their period of service, retired from the legion, but were kept together under a standard (vexittum) up to the time of their final dismissal. They formed, by the side of the legion, a select corps like the evScUti of earlier times. They were exempt from ordinary service, and only bound to take part in actual fighting. [They may be briefly described as the oldest class of veter&ni, and the last to be summoned to take the field.]
Vexillum. The Latin name for a four-cornered flag, attached to a cross-pole, and carried by the vexillanus. (See signum, fig. a.) Every squadron (turma), and probably every detachment of a body of troops which formed a separate command, had a red, white, or purple Vexillum of this kind, and hence were themselves called a vexillum, or sometimes a vexillMlo. The latter word, however, from the end of the 3rd century A.D., signifies a squadron of cavalry. At Rome a red flag was displayed on the Capitol during the deliberations of the cGmttla centurl&ta, and was in time of war planted as the signal for battle on the general's tent or the admiral's ship. Vexilla served also as marks of distinction for the higher officers.
Via Appla. See roads.
Viator ("messenger"). A subordinate official (see apparitor), employed by the Roman magistrates for sending a message or a summons, or for executing an arrest. The consuls and praetors had probably three dlcurlce of viatOrgs; the tribunes had a special decurta, as also had the qucest&re's cerarU, and the officers who took their place under the Empire, viz. the prcefecti cerarii; also the aediles, the tres-viri cdpUales, and the quattuorviri vus purgandls. They also appear in connexion with provincial governors and sacerdotal bodies.