100 Greatest Women On Coins Series: Vesta (Hestia)

If you have followed this blog for any amount of time now, you have realized that while we are examining the 100 Greatest Women on Coins publication from Whitman Publishing, we have not gone in any particular order. This particularly rings true today as we are going to turn our attention to the very last entry on the list. With help from author Ron Guth, we will explore a Roman goddess that was among the most elite of women.

#100 - Vesta (Hestia)

A Roman goddess known as Vesta but known as Hestia in Greek mythology, she was a revered deity among all Romans not only at home but in a public forum. A part of The Vestal Virgins, a state-supported cult of an elite group of women, Vesta was selected at a young age and sworn to celibacy for 30 years. As a priestess, the women were to keep the sacred fire in Vesta’s temple continuously lit so that all Roman peoples would have access to fire for their homes. The women, the Vestals as they were known, were privileged more so than anyone else in Rome. They were given preferential seating at theatre performances and games in addition to other benefits. When they came to the end of their service, they were given a dowry and allowed to marry. The end of the Vestal order came in 394 AD after 1,000 years. Then Emperor Theodosius I quelled the fire for the last time.

The goddess Vesta can be found on Roman coins around 60 BC through an estimated 270 AD. She is found mostly on the reverses in a standing position holding the Palladium, a wooden statue made in the image of Pallas. Pallas was the daughter of Triton who was raised with the goddess Athena.

Collecting-wise, Guth explains that Ancient Roman coins are very common featuring the theme of Vesta. Coming in a number of different types, prices start around $150 and continue upward.