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(in which his mother Ocresia becomes pregnant after sitting upon a phallus that appeared among the ashes of the ara of god Vulcanus, by order of Tanaquil wife of king Tarquinius Priscus) and the birth of Caeculus, the founder of Praeneste.All these mythical or semilegendary characters show a mystical mastery of fire, e.g., Servius's hair was kindled by his father without hurting him, his statue in the temple of Fortuna Primigenia was unharmed by fire after his assassination.In Roman belief, Vesta was present in all weddings, and so was Janus: Vesta was the threshold and Janus the doorway.
It was also because the virgins' ritual concern extended to the agricultural cycle and ensured a good harvest that Vesta enjoyed the title of Mater ("Mother").
She was sometimes thought of as a personification of the fire stick which was inserted into a hollow piece of wood and rotated - in a phallic manner - to light her flame.
Concerning the status of Vesta's hearth, Dionysius of Halicarnassus had this to say: "And they regard the fire as consecrated to Vesta, because that goddess, being the Earth and occupying the central position in the universe, kindles the celestial fires from herself." The sacred flames of the hearth were believed to be indispensable for the preservation and continuity of the Roman State: Cicero states it explicitly.
Cicero supposed that the Latin name Vesta derives from the Greek Hestia, which Cornutus claimed to have derived from Greek hestanai dia pantos ("standing for ever"). Georges Dumézil (1898–1986), a French comparative philologist, surmised that the name of the goddess derives from Proto-Indo-European root *h₁eu-, via the derivative form *h₁eu-s- which alternates with *h₁w-es-.
See also Gallic Celtic visc "fire." According to tradition, worship of Vesta in Italy began in Lavinium, the mother-city of Alba Longa and the first Trojan settlement.
She was the embodiment of the Phallic Mother: she was not only the most virgin and clean of all the gods, but was addressed as mother and granted fertility.