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Vesta", whom you see sitting and holding a drum, is the wife of Calum, and the mother of Saturn. She is the eldest of the goddesses. . . . P. If she is the wife of Carlum, why is she placed among the terrestrial goddesses, and not among the celestial rather ? - M. Because this goddess "Vesta is the same with Terra, and has her name from “clothing, because plants and fruits are the clothing of the earth. Or, "according to Ovid, the earth is called Vesta from its stability, because it supports itself. She sits, “because the earth is immoveable, and is placed in the centre of the world. Vesta has a drum, because the earth contains the boisterous winds in its bosom ; and divers flowers weave themselves into a crown, with which her head is crowned. Several kinds of animals creep about and sawn upon her. Because the earth is round, Vesta’s temple at Rome was also round, and some say that the image of Vesta was orbicular in some places, but Ovid says her image was rude and shapeless. And hence round tables were anciently called Evesta!, because, like the earth, they supply all necessaries of life for us. bit is no wonder that the first oblations in all sacrifices were offered to her, since whatever is sacrificed springs from
* Virg. En. 9. b Plut. i. 1. Prim. frige. c Quod plantis frugibusque terra vestiatur. d Stat vi terra sua, vistando Vesta vocatur. Fast. 6, By its own strength supported Terra stands; Hence it is Vesta nam’d. e Var. ap. Aug. de Civ. Dei, 7. Cic. de Somno Hecat. Miles. general. Phurnutius. f Effigiem mullam Vesta mec ignis habet. Fast. 6. No image Vesta's shape can e'er express, Or fire’s. & Plut, in Sympos. h Hom. in Hymn.
the earth. And the agreeks both began and concluded their sacrifices with Vesta, because they esteemed her the mother of all the gods. P. I wish that you would resolve one doubt which I still have concerning this goddess. How can Westa be the same with Terra, when nothing is more frequent among mythologists than to signify fire by Vesta ? M. I perceive I do not deal with a novice : I will satisfy your doubts. There were two Vestas, the elder and the younger. The first, of whom I have been speaking, was the wife of Calum, and the mother of Saturn. The second was the daughter of Saturn by his wife Rhea. And as the first is the same with Terra, as I have already said, so the other is the same with Ignis : and "her power was exercised about altars and houses. The word Vesta is often put for fire itself, for it is derived from a “Greek word which signifies a chimney, a house, or household goods. "She is esteemed the firesident and guardian of houses, and one of the household deities, not without reason, since she invented the art of building houses: and therefore an image of Vesta, to which they sacrificed every day, was placed before the doors of the houses at Rome: and the places where these statues were set up were called vestibula, from Westa. This goddess was a virgine, and so great an admirer of virginity, that when Jupiter, her brother, gave her liberty of asking what she would, she asked, that she might always be a virgin, and have the first oblations in all sacrifices. She not only obtained her desire, but received this further honour among the Romans, that a fiershetual fire was kept in her temple, among the Sacred pledges of the empire; not upon an altar, or in the
* Ap. Lil. Gyr. 1. Strabo. b Hujus vis omnis ad aras et focos pertinet. Cic. de Nat. Deor. 2. c Ducitur à Graeco nomine tario, quod focum, penatem, domum significat. d Hom. in Hymn. Virg. En 2. et Geo. 1. Eugraphius in And Terent: act 4. sc. 3. e Aristot. l. 2. Aristoph. in Vespis. f Liy. 5. decl. 1. Val. Max. l. 4, c. 4. Pap. Stat. 1. 4. Syl. 3.
chimnies, but in earthen vessels, hanging in the air; which the vestal virgins tended with so much care, that if by chance this fire was extinguished, all public and private business was interrupted, and a vacation proclaimed, till they had expiated the unhappy prodigy with incredible pains; “and if it appeared that the virgins were the occasion of its going out by carelessness, they were severely punished, and sometimes with rods. Upon the kalends of March, every year, though it was not extinguished, they used to renew it, with no other fire than that which was produced by the rays of the Sun. Ovid mentions both the elder and the younger Westa, bin the sixth book of his Fasti.
SECT. 2.-AN EXPLANATION OF THE FABLE.
FRoM this we may conjecture, that when the poets say that Vesta is the same with fire, the terrible, scorching, blazing fire of Vulcan’s forge is not understood; nor yet the impure and dangerous flames of Venus, of which we spoke above; but a pure, unmixed, benign flame, so necessary for us, that human life cannot possibly subsist without it; whose heat being diffused through all the parts of the body, quickens, Čherishes, refreshes, and nourishes it: a flame really sacred, heavenly, and divine ; repaired daily by the food which we eat; on which the safety and welfare of our bodies depend. This flame moves and actuates the whole body; and cannot be extinguished but when life itself is extinguished together with it: and then comes a lasting vacation, and a certain end is put to all our business in this world. But if by our own faults it is extinguished,
a Idem. c. 1. Ovid. Fast. 3.
* Vesta eadentest, et Terra; subest vigil ignis utrique,