The priestesses of Vesta. Their sacred duty is to tend the eternal fire of Vesta in her temple. The Vestal Virgins were chosen at the age of eight from Patrician families by the Pontifex maximus ("high priest"). After a training of ten years they served for another ten years in the temple of Vesta and they lived in the Vestal Atrium. During their service to the goddess, they were expected to keep strict vows of chastity. The penalty for losing virginity was burial alive.