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Numa Pompilius & Pompous. The Second King Of Roma

03/10/2009

Numa Pompilius (753-673 BC; king of Rome, 717-673 BC) was the second king of Rome, succeeding Romulus.

numa pompilio

life and reign

Numa Pompilius came into the world the year that Rome was founded, and was the longest liver of all the male patrician children born in that year. Such being the law of the Tuscan Saeculum, that its first duration in any state should be always determined by the longest liver amongst the patricians who were born at the precise time of its establishment. The Latin and Sabine Senators chose Numa Pompilius to be king, and the united curiae of Romans, Querites and Luceres, confirmed the election. His name of Pumpili or Pumpu is Etruscan, and was Latinized afterwords into Pompilius and Pomponius. According to the Tuscan and Sabine customs of annexing the mother’s name , we believe Pumpu to have been the name of Numa’s mother.

According to Pompey the Great: a political biography, Pompous was also used as a name, for that reason can be linked to the root of Pumpu , Pomponius, Pompey, Pomponi. … make his way to Luceria, bringing with him a total of twenty-six cohort, to be closely followed by a further five under the command of Pompous‘ cousin.

Plutarch tells that Numa was the youngest of Pomponius’ four sons, born on the day of Rome’s founding (traditionally, 21 April 753 BC). He lived a severe life of discipline and banished all luxury from his home. Titus Tatius, king of the Sabines and a colleague of Romulus, married his only daughter, Tatia, to Numa. After 13 years of marriage, Tatia died, precipitating Numa’s retirement to the country. According to Livy, Numa resided at Cures immediately before being elected king .
Livy refers to and discredits the story that Numa was instructed in philosophy by Pythagoras.
Plutarch reports that some authors credited him with only a single daughter, Pompilia, others also gave him five sons, Pompo (or Pomponius), Pinus, Calpus, Mamercus and Numa, from whom the noble families of the Pomponii, Pinarii, Calpurnii, Aemilii, and Pompilii respectively traced their descent. Other writers believed that this was merely a flattery invented to curry favour with those families. Pompilia, whose mother is variously identified as Numa’s first wife Tatia or his second wife Lucretia, supposedly married a certain Marcius and by him gave birth to the future king, Ancus Marcius.
In 717 BC, after the death of Romulus, Numa was elected by the Roman Senate to be the next king.
According to Plutarch he at first he refused, however his father and kinsmen persuaded him to accept. Livy recounts how Numa, after being summoned by the Senate from Cures, requested an augur to divine the opinion of the gods on the prospect of his kingship. Jupiter was consulted and the omens were favourable ..
One of Numa’s first acts was the construction of a temple of Janus as an indicator of peace and war. The temple was constructed at the foot of the Argiletum, a road in the city. After securing peace with Rome’s neighbours, the doors of the temples were shut .
Numa was later celebrated for his natural wisdom and piety; legend says the nymph Egeria taught him to be a wise legislator. According to Livy, Numa pretended that he held nightly consultations with the goddess Egeria on the proper manner of instituting sacred rites for the city [5]. Wishing to show his favour, the god Jupiter caused a shield to fall from the sky on the Palatine Hill, which had letters of prophecy written on it, and in which the fate of Rome as a city was tied up. Recognizing the importance of this sacred shield, King Numa had eleven matching shields made. These shields were the ancilia, the sacred shields of Jupiter, which were carried each year in a procession by the Salii priests. He established the office and duties of Pontifex Maximus and instituted the flamines of Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus. Numa also brought the Vestal Virgins to Rome from Alba Longa .
By tradition, Numa promulgated a calendar reform that adjusted the solar and lunar years, introducing the months of January and February.
In other Roman institutions established by Numa, Plutarch thought he detected a Laconian influence, attributing the connection to the Sabine culture of Numa, for “Numa was descended of the Sabines, who declare themselves to be a colony of the Lacedaemonians.”
Numa was credited with dividing the immediate territory of Rome into pagi and establishing the traditional occupational guilds of Rome:
“So, distinguishing the whole people by the several arts and trades, he formed the companies of musicians, goldsmiths, carpenters, dyers, shoemakers, skinners, braziers, and potters; and all other handicraftsmen he composed and reduced into a single company, appointing every one their proper courts, councils, and religious observances.” (Plutarch)
Plutarch, in like manner, tells of the early religion of the Romans, that it was imageless and spiritual. He says Numa “forbade the Romans to represent the deity in the form either of man or of beast. Nor was there among them formerly any image or statue of the Divine Being; during the first one hundred and seventy years they built temples, indeed, and other sacred domes, but placed in them no figure of any kind; persuaded that it is impious to represent things Divine by what is perishable, and that we can have no conception of God but by the understanding”.
Numa Pompilius died in 673 BC of old age. He was succeeded by Tullus Hostilius.


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