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The Unwilling Vestal by Edward Lucas White

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A Tale of Rome under the Caesars

By Edward Lucas White

Author of "El Supremo"

Original Project Gutenberg editor's note: First published in 1918, this book went through sixteen printings before it ceased to be a money-maker for its publishers. It provides a fascinating glimpse into a world most of us know nothing about.

It has been slightly re-edited for ease in reading as an E-text. The author's spellings have been left alone even when they are incorrect in English English, American English, and Latin.


EDWARD LUCAS WHITE Author of "El Supremo"

This book presents, for the first time in fiction, a correct and adequate account of the Vestal Virgins, their powers and privileges, as well as of many strange Roman customs and beliefs.

The author combines the power of writing a rattling good story with a sound and full knowledge of conditions of the life which he is depicting. Mr. White brings to the history of Rome all the picturesqueness and power which made his South American novel, "El Supremo," so remarkable. The result is a vivid pageant of imperial Rome and Roman life at the height of its power and splendor.


Readers of _The Unwilling Vestal_ who are not acquainted at first hand with the lighter and more intimate literature of the Romans may be surprised to discover that the lights of Roman high society talked slang and were interested in horseracing. Most writers who have tried to draw Roman society for us have been either ignorant or afraid of these facts. The author of _The Unwilling Vestal_ is neither. He presents to us the upper class Romans exactly as they reveal themselves in the literature of their day; excitable, slangy, sophisticated and yet strangely credulous, enthusiastic sportsmen, hearty eaters and drinkers, and unblushingly keen on the trail of the almighty denarius. In a word, very much like the most up-to-date American society of to-day.

The Publishers feel that it is only fair that it should be made plain that the great difference between the Roman society folk of _The Unwilling Vestal_ and those appearing in other novels is due to the author's thorough acquaintance with the people and the period about which he is writing.

Incidentally, the Publishers wish to thank Mr. C. Powell Minnegerode, the Curator of the Corcoran Gallery of Art of Washington, D. C., for his permission to reproduce Leroux' beautiful painting "The Vestal Tuccia" for use on the wrapper of the volume.


The title of this romance is likely to prejudice any reader against it. There exists a popular delusion that fiction with a classical setting is bound to be dull and lumbering, that it is impossible for it to possess that quality of bravura slangily denominated "punch." Anybody will be disabused of that notion upon reading this story.

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