A Place at the Altar illuminates a previously underappreciated dimension of religion in ancient Rome: the role of priestesses in civic cult. Demonstrating that priestesses had a central place in public rituals and institutions, Meghan DiLuzio emphasizes the complex, gender-inclusive nature of Roman priesthood. In ancient Rome, priestly service was a cooperative endeavor, requiring men and women, husbands and wives, and elite Romans and slaves to work together to manage the community's relationship with its gods.
Like their male colleagues, priestesses offered sacrifices on behalf of the Roman people, and prayed for the community’s well-being. As they carried out their ritual obligations, they were assisted by female cult personnel, many of them slave women. DiLuzio explores the central role of the Vestal Virgins and shows that they occupied just one type of priestly office open to women. Some priestesses, including the flaminica Dialis, the regina sacrorum, and the wives of the curial priests, served as part of priestly couples. Others, such as the priestesses of Ceres and Fortuna Muliebris, were largely autonomous.
A Place at the Altar offers a fresh understanding of how the women of ancient Rome played a leading role in public cult.
Meghan J. DiLuzio is assistant professor of classics at Baylor University.
"DiLuzio addresses a topic both well-known and understudied. Numerous scholars have investigated the role of women in Roman religion, but have focused almost exclusively on the vestal virgins. DiLuzio, however, offers the first detailed treatment of all attested female priesthoods in the Roman Republic. Her book is the most comprehensive treatment of the topic and a valuable contribution to the study of Roman religion."--Choice
"A Place at the Altar examines the role of female officiants in the state cult of Rome and takes a stance that differs significantly from much previous scholarship that marginalizes female participation. This book makes an important contribution toward a fuller account of the role of women in Roman religion."--Lora Holland, University of North Carolina, Asheville
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations ix
1 The Flamen and Flaminica Dialis 17
2 Priestly Couples 52
3 Salian Virgins, Sacerdotes, and Ministrae 79
4 The Vestal Virgins 119
5 The Costume of the Vestal Virgins 154
6 The Ritual Activities of the Vestal Virgins 185
7 The Vestal Virgins in Roman Politics 223