A great reputation for justice and piety was enjoyed in those days by Numa Pompilius. Cures, a town of the Sabines, was his home, and he was deeply versed, so far as anyone could be in that age, in all law, divine and human.
The teacher to whom he owed his learning was not, as men say, in default of another name, the Samian Pythagoras; for it is well established that Servius Tullius was king at Rome, more than a hundred years after this [p. 65]
time, when Pythagoras gathered about him, on the1
farthest coasts of Italy, in the neighbourhood of Metapontum, Heraclea, and Croton, young men eager to share his studies.2
And from that country, even if he had been contemporary, how could his fame have reached the Sabines? Again, in what common language could he have induced anyone to seek instruction of him? Or under whose protection could a solitary man have made his way through so many nations differing in speech and customs?
It was Numa's native disposition, then, as I incline to believe, that tempered his soul with noble qualities, and his training was not in foreign studies, but in the stern and austere discipline of the ancient Sabines, a race incorruptible as any race of the olden time.
When Numa's name had been proposed, the Roman senators perceived that the Sabines would gain the ascendancy if a king were to be chosen from that nation; yet nobody ventured to urge his own claims in preference to those of such a man, nor the claim of any other of his faction, nor those, in short, of any of the senators or citizens.
And so they unanimously voted to offer the sovereignty to Numa Pompilius. Being summoned to Rome he commanded that, just as Romulus had obeyed the augural omens in building his city and assuming regal power, so too in his own case the gods should be consulted. Accordingly an augur (who thereafter, as a mark of honour, was made a priest of the state in permanent charge of that function) conducted him to the citadel and caused him to sit down on a stone, facing the south.
The augur seated himself on Numa's left, having his head covered, and holding his in right hand the crooked staff without a knot [p. 67]
which they call a lituus.
Then, looking out over the3
City and the country beyond, he prayed to the gods, and marked off the heavens by a line from east to west, designating as ' right' the regions to the south, as 'left' those to the north, and fixing in his mind a landmark opposite to him and as far away as the eye could reach;
next shifting the crook to his left hand and, laying his right hand on Numa's head, he uttered the following prayer: “Father Jupiter, if it is Heaven's will that this man Numa Pompilius, whose head I am touching, be king in Rome, do thou exhibit to us unmistakable signs within those limits which I have set.”
He then specified the auspices which he desired should be sent, and upon their appearance Numa was declared king, and so descended from the augural station.