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Pontefici e vestali nella Roma repubblicana

The volume focuses on the punitive power of the Pontifex Maximus towards the priests of ancient Rome by analyzing, in a specific way, the relationship between the highest Roman religious authority and the Vestal virgins. With regard to the latter, whose strongly charismatic role is central to the socio-political organization of Rome, the methods of their choice, the main functions and their privileges are reconstructed in order to analyze, especially from a procedural point of view, in particular the dramatic consequences of the crime of incestum in which the priestesses could incur: from the prodigia that revealed this event to the various consequences that could arise, such as in particular the need for human sacrifices. The punishment of this crimen, consisting in being buried alive, was the exclusive competence of the Pontifex Maximus, but over time it underwent an important transformation which led in various ways to breaking the pontifical monopoly. The figure of the Vestal and her particular status are then examined in the context of the condition of the Roman woman and the customs characterizing this society, finally looking at the relations between the Vestals and political power and the transformations that will characterize this figure in the imperial age.


Mariangela Ravizza is a scholar of Roman Law and teaches History of the Roman Constitution at the University of Florence. She is a member of the Accademia Romanistica Costantiniana and of the Società Italiana di Storia del Diritto. She has published numerous essays. The most recent are: the Senatusconsultum ultimum: un provvedimento senatorio tra opportunità politica e legittimità costituzionale and Sui poteri giurisdizionali del praefectus annonae in età del principato.

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