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Numa Pompilius

The second king of Rome, whose name belongs to legend rather than to history. He was a native of Cures, in the Sabine country, and was elected king one year after the death of Romulus, when the people became tired of the interregnum of the Senate. He was renowned for his wisdom and his piety; and it was generally believed that he had derived his knowledge from Pythagoras. His reign was long and peaceful, and he devoted his chief care to the establishment of religion among his rude subjects. He was instructed by the Camena Egeria, who visited him in a grove near Rome, and who honoured him with her love. He was revered by the Romans as the author of their whole religious worship. It was he who first appointed the pontiffs, the augurs, the flamens, the virgins of Vesta, and the Salii. He founded the Temple of Ianus, which remained always shut during his reign. The length of his reign is stated differently. Livy makes it forty-three years; Polybius and Cicero, thirty-nine years. The sacred books of Numa, in which he prescribed all the religious rites and ceremonies, were said to have been buried near him in a separate tomb, and to have been discovered by accident, 500 years afterwards, in B.C. 181. They were carried to the city-praetor Petilius, and were found to consist of twelve or seven books in Latin on ecclesiastical law and the same number of books in Greek on philosophy; the latter were burned by the command of the Senate, but the former were carefully preserved. The story of the discovery of these books is evidently a forgery; and the books, which were ascribed to Numa, and which were extant at a later time, were evidently nothing more than works containing an account of the ceremonial of the Roman religion. See Plutarch, Numa; Dionys. ii. 58.

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