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A colony was settled this year at Gravisca in Etruria on territory which had formerly been taken from the Tarquinii.  Five jugera were given to each man; the supervisors of the settlement were C. Calpurnius Piso, P. Claudius Pulcher and C Terentius Istra. The year was marked by a drought and failure of the crops. It is recorded that no rain fell for six months.  During this year while labourers were digging at some depth on land belonging to L. Petilius, a scrivener who lived at the foot of the Janiculum, two stone chests were discovered about eight feet long and four wide, the lids being fastened down with lead.  Each bore an inscription in Latin and Greek; one stating that Numa Pompilius, son of Pompo and king of the Romans, was buried there, and the other saying that it contained his books.  When the owner at the suggestion of his friends had opened them, the one which bore the inscription of the buried king was found to be empty, with no vestige of a human body or of anything else, so completely had everything disappeared after such a lapse of time.  In the other there were two bundles tied round with cords steeped in wax, each containing seven books, not only intact but to all appearance new. There were seven in Latin on pontifical law, and seven in Greek dealing with the study of philosophy so far as was possible in that age.  Valerius Antias says further that they were Pythagorean books, thus shaping his belief to the common opinion that Numa was [8??] a disciple of Pythagoras, and trying to give probability to a fiction.  The books were first examined by the friends who were present. As the number of those who read them grew, and they became widely known, Q. Petilius, the City praetor, was anxious to read them and took them from Lucius.  They were on very friendly terms; when Q. Petilius was quaestor he had given Lucius Petilius a place on the decury. After perusing the most important passages he perceived that most of them would lead to the break-up of the national religion.  Lucius promised that he would throw the books into the fire, but before doing so said that he should like to find out, if allowed to do so, whether he could reclaim them either by the right of possession or by the authority of the tribunes of the plebs, without, however, disturbing his friendly relations with the praetor. The scrivener approached the tribunes, and the tribunes left the matter for the senate to deal with.  The praetor stated that he was ready to declare on oath that the books ought not to be preserved.  The senate held the praetor's asseveration to be sufficient, and that the books ought to be burnt as soon as possible in the comitium. Whatever sum the praetor and the majority of the tribunes thought a fair price for the books was to be paid to the owner. The scrivener refused to accept it.  The books were burnt in the comitium in the sight of the people in a fire made by the victimarii.
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