Source: Livy 1.20–21. Translated by William Masfen
Roberts. In The History of Rome. London:
J.M. Dent, 1912.
Next he turned his attention to the appointment of priests. He
himself, however, conducted a great many religious services, especially those
which belong to the Flamen of Jupiter. But he thought that in a warlike state there would be more kings of the type of
Romulus than of Numa who would take the field in person. To guard, therefore,
against the sacrificial rites which the king performed being interrupted, he
appointed a Flamen as perpetual priest to Jupiter, and ordered that he should
wear a distinctive dress and sit in the royal curule chair. He appointed two
additional Flamens, one for Mars, the other for Quirinus, and also chose
virgins as priestesses to Vesta. This order of priestesses came into existence
originally in Alba and was connected with the race of the founder. He assigned them a public stipend that they might give their whole time to the
temple, and made their persons sacred and inviolable by a vow of chastity and
other religious sanctions.
Similarly he chose twelve “Salii” for Mars Gradivus, and
assigned to them the distinctive dress of an embroidered tunic and over it a
brazen cuirass. They were instructed to march in solemn procession through the
City, carrying the twelve shields called the “Ancilia,” and singing hymns
accompanied by a solemn dance in triple time.
The next office to be filled was that of the Pontifex Maximus. Numa appointed the son of M., one of the senators—Numa Marcius—and
all the regulations bearing on religion, written out and sealed, were placed in
his charge. Here was laid down with what victims, on what days, and at what
temples the various sacrifices were to be offered, and from what sources the
expenses connected with them were to be defrayed.
He placed all other sacred functions, both public and private,
under the supervision of the Pontifex, in order that there might be an
authority for the people to consult, and so all trouble and confusion arising
through foreign rites being adopted and their ancestral ones neglected might be
avoided. Nor were his functions confined to directing the worship of the
celestial gods; he was to instruct the people how to conduct funerals and
appease the spirits of the departed, and what prodigies sent by lightning or in
any other way were to be attended to and expiated. To elicit these signs of the
divine will, he dedicated an altar to Jupiter Elicius on the Aventine, and consulted the god through auguries, as to which prodigies
were to receive attention.
The deliberations and arrangements which these matters involved
diverted the people from all thoughts of war and provided them with ample
occupation. The watchful care of the gods, manifesting itself in the
providential guidance of human affairs, had kindled in all hearts such a
feeling of piety that the sacredness of promises and the sanctity of oaths were
a controlling force for the community scarcely less effective than the fear
inspired by laws and penalties. And whilst his subjects were molding their
characters upon the unique example of their king, the neighboring nations, who
had hitherto believed that it was a fortified camp and not a city that was
placed amongst them to vex the peace of all, were now induced to respect them
so highly that they thought it sinful to injure a State so entirely devoted to
the service of the gods.
There was a grove through the midst of which a perennial stream
flowed, issuing from a dark cave. Here Numa frequently retired unattended as if
to meet the goddess, and he consecrated the grove to the Camaenae, because it
was there that their meetings with his wife Egeria took place. He also
instituted a yearly sacrifice to the goddess Fides and ordered that the Flamens
should ride to her temple in a hooded chariot, and should perform the service
with their hands covered as far as the fingers, to signify that Faith must be
sheltered and that her seat is holy even when it is in men’s right hands. There
were many other sacrifices appointed by him and places dedicated for their
performance which the pontiffs call the Argei.
The greatest of all his works was the preservation of peace and
the security of his realm throughout the whole of his reign. Thus by two
successive kings the greatness of the State was advanced; by each in a
different way, by the one through war, by the other through peace. Romulus
reigned thirty-seven years, Numa forty-three. The State was strong and
disciplined by the lessons of war and the arts of peace.