Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Stacie Raucci




Rome, scapegoat, citizens, sacrifice, prosecution


The prosperity of the Roman state during its Republic years was not without its share of divine condemnation. Political scapegoats therefore were found guilty of being sources of divine disapproval, and consequently, had to be inflicted with appropriate punishment. The prosecution of Vestal Virgins, consecrated priestesses in charge of preserving Rome’s holy fire, not only emphasized a discriminating perception of Roman women as impure vessels of lustful desires, but also revealed an inherent shame in Vestal lineage for jeopardizing Roman prosperity. The Roman population, also accountable for ensuring the success of its state, witnessed sacrifices of foreign residents, all of which were to benefit Roman citizens. Lastly, the expiation of hermaphrodites and androgens, unusual figures who were marginalized due to their sexual ambiguity, revealed roman hostility towards perceived inferior beings. These cases ultimately demonstrate an assumed superiority that pertained to aspects of Roman masculinity as a perpetuating force behind Roman prosperity.