"such strict chastity as was preserved in the temple of Vesta"

In ancient Rome, Vesta was the virgin goddess of the hearth, home and family.  Her presence was symbolized by the sacred fire that burned at her hearth and temples.  The fire was tended by her priestesses, the Vestales.  The Vestales were drawn from the patrician class. They lived together in a house near the Forum.  On becoming a priestess, a Vestal Virgin was legally emancipated from her father's authority.  She had to take a vow of chastity for 30 years.  If she broke this vow, she was buried alive in the Campus Sceleris ('Field of Wickedness').

Dedication of a New Vestal Virgin
Public DomainDedication of a New Vestal Virgin - Credit: Alessandro Marchesini