I will admit that this is not the most exciting video out there, with its 17-minute run, necessarily-slow pace, carefully-enunciated narration, and slow, thrumming music, but hell yes. The particular points that made me squee were the parts where Janet Stephens announces that the hairdresses were lined in purple, then showed them lined with our modern-day red, and also her conclusion, where she compares the results of her hairstyle with non-Vestal hairstyles and indicates how such a hairstyle was a trend in Roman society, indicating modesty on the part of the wearer. Tying your research into general practice? Do I need to say hell yes again?
I nearly lost it when we saw the model all decked out in Vestal Virgin gear. HY.
If you’re not up on the basics of Roman society, the hearth was considered the most important part of the home, the hearth being the gigantic fire in the fireplace. Perhaps it was born up from prehistorical times, when fire was new and we didn’t necessarily understand the science of fires. It was easier and more understandable to maintain one constant fire than to try to start a new one every day (archaeologists once found a fire that had gone for twenty years). Because fire was so crucial to survival, the hearth reached a religious status within the home, and women in particular were tied to it, just as they are tied forever to child-raising, agriculture, and cooking. Vesta is a little-known goddess in the modern day; she was goddess of the hearth. She didn’t do a whole lot, being quiet, staying out of trouble, and maintaining the hearth, although she was very popular in early ancient Rome. By the middle period of Roman history even they had decided she was too boring to think about a lot. It was common practice to nominate your enemy’s daughter to become a Vestal Virgin. By the time she got out of Vestal Virginity, she was too old to be married off and would be nothing but a burden to your household expenses. Roman society ran on marrying your daughters off to strengthen political ties. Your enemy could not turn down a nomination of his daughter, but now his daughter was useless to his career.
Vestal Virgins were powerful women. They maintained the hearth of Rome. They were beautiful and powerful. They were elite. And now we know how they did their hair.