One of the signs for the asteroid Vesta in early astronomy. Vesta was
discovered in 1807. The little planet has a diameter of 530
According to Greek mythology Hestia (in Rome Vesta) was the chaste goddess of fire and the home hearth. The sign illustrates the hearth, Vesta's altar, above which is a sign for the burning fire, .
In Rome six maidens from the best families served for 30 years from a very young age in the temple of Vesta. Their main responsibility was to keep Vesta's fire forever burning. If they had sexual intercourse during these 30 years their punishment was to be bricked in alive in a wall. However, these Vestals did not, like other Roman women, have a minor legal standing in the patriarchal system, but were considered as major as free men. They also had seats of honour at public events with gladiatorial combats and fights between wild beasts at the Coliseum. Each Vestal had a lictor officer with axe and fasces making way for her when on town, and if she met with a convicted criminal on his way to the gallows, the criminal was granted amnesty.
Vesta, the asteroid, is also drawn and in other ways.
For more information about the asteroids, turn to in Group 17.