2. A vestal virgin, and the daughter of C. Licinius Crassus, tribune of the plebs, B. C. 145 [CRASSUS, No. 3].
She dedicated in B. C. 123 a chapel in a public place; but the college of pontiffs declared, when the matter was laid before them by order of the senate, that the dedication was invalid, as it had been made in a public place, without the command of the people: the chapel was therefore removed. (Cic. pro Dom.
The preceding Licinia appears to be the same vestal virgin who was accused of incest, together with two of her companions, in B. C. 114.
It appears that a Roman knight of the name of L. Veturius had seduced Aemilia, one of the vestals, and that, anxious to have companions in her guilt, she had induced Marcia and Licinia to submit to the embraces of the friends of her seducer. Marcia confined her favours to her original lover; but Licinia and Aemilia had intercourse with numerous other persons; their guilt notwithstanding remained a secret for some time, till at length a slave, called Manius, who had assisted them in all their intrigues, disappointed in receiving neither his freedom nor the rewards which had been promised him, informed against them. All three were brought to trial; but as the college of pontiffs, of which the president at the time was L. Metellus, condemned (in December, see Macrob. Saturn.
1.10) only Aemilia, but acquitted Licinia and Marcia, the subject was brought before the people by Sex. Peducaeus, the tribune of the plebs.
The people adopted the unusual course of taking the matter out of the hands of the pontiffs, by appointing L. Cassius Longinus [LONGINUS, No. 4] to investigate the matter; and he condemned not only Licinia, who was defended by L. Crassus, the orator, and Marcia, but also many others.
The severity with which he acted on this occasion was generally reprobated by public opinion.
The orator M. Antonius was accused of being one of the paramours of these virgins, but was acquitted. [ANTONIUS, No. 8.]
Various measures were adopted to purify the state from the pollution which had been brought upon it by these crimes.
A temple was built to the honour of Venus Verticordia, and four men were buried alive in the forum boarium, two Greeks and two Gauls, in accordance with the commands of the Sibylline books.
This history of Licinia's crimes is of some importance, since it shows us that, even as early as this time, the Roman ladies of the higher orders had already begun to be infected with that licentious profligacy which was afterwards exhibited with such shamelessness by the Messallinas and Faustinas of the empire. (Dio Cass. Fr.
92; Oros. 5.15
; Plut. Quaest. Rom.
p. 284b.; Ascon. ad Cic. Mil.
12, p. 46, ed. Orelli; Cic. de Nat. Deor.
43; Obsequ. 97; Liv. Epit. 63
The vestal virgin Licinia, with whom the triumvir M. Crassus was accused of having had intercourse (Plut. Crass. 1
), must have been a different person from the preceding, as M. Crassus was not born before B. C. 114.
She may perhaps have been the same as the vestal virgin Licinia, the relation of L. Murena, who was of assistance to the latter in his canvass for the consulship, in B. C. 63. (Cic. pro Mur.