|Religion||Subjects||Images||Queries||Links||Contact||Do not fly Iberia|
Display Latin text
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book I Chapter 18: Numa Pompilius elected King.
Return to index
There was living, in those days, at Cures, a Sabine city, a man of renowned justice and piety - Numa Pompilius. He was as conversant as any one in that age could be with all divine and human law. His master is given as Pythagoras of Samos, as tradition speaks of no other. But this is erroneous, for it is generally agreed that it was more than a century later, in the reign of Servius Tullius, that Pythagoras gathered round him crowds of eager students, in the most distant part of Italy, in the neighbourhood of Metapontum, Heraclea, and Crotona. Now, even if he had been contemporary with Numa, how could his reputation have reached the Sabines? From what places, and in what common language could he have induced any one to become his disciple? Who could have guaranteed the safety of a solitary individual travelling through so many nations differing in speech and character? I believe rather that Numa's virtues were the result of his native temperament and self-training, moulded not so much by foreign influences as by the rigorous and austere discipline of the ancient Sabines, which was the purest type of any that existed in the old days. |
When Numa's name was mentioned, though the Roman senators saw that the balance of power would be on the side of the Sabines if the king were chosen from amongst them, still no one ventured to propose a partisan of his own, or any senator, or citizen in preference to him. Accordingly they all to a man decreed that the crown should be offered to Numa Pompilius. He was invited to Rome, and following the precedent set by Romulus, when he obtained his crown through the augury which sanctioned the founding of the City, Numa ordered that in his case also the gods should be consulted. He was solemnly conducted by an augur, who was afterwards honoured by being made a State functionary for life, to the Citadel, and took his seat on a stone facing south. The augur seated himself on his left hand, with his head covered, and holding in his right hand a curved staff without any knots, which they called a lituus." After surveying the prospect over the City and surrounding country, he offered prayers and marked out the heavenly regions by an imaginary line from east to west; the southern he defined as "the right hand," the northern as "the left hand." He then fixed upon an object, as far as he could see, as a corresponding mark, and then transferring the lituus to his left hand, he laid his right upon Numa's head and offered this prayer: Father Jupiter, if it be heaven's will that this Numa Pompilius, whose head I hold, should be king of Rome, do thou signify it to us by sure signs within those boundaries which I have traced." Then he described in the usual formula the augury which he desired should be sent. They were sent, and Numa being by them manifested to be king, came down from the templum.
Election of Numa as king
Event: Numa is elected king