He also has a temple at Rome with double doors, which they call the gates of war; for the temple always stands open in time of war, but is closed when peace has come. The latter was a difficult matter, and it rarely happened, since the realm was always engaged in some war, as its increasing size brought it into collision with the barbarous nations which encompassed it round about.
But in the time of Augustus Caesar it was closed, after he had overthrown Antony; and before that, when Marcus Atilius and Titus Manlius were consuls, it was closed a short time; then war broke out again at once, and it was opened. During the reign of Numa, however, it was not seen open for a single day, but remained shut for the space of forty-three years together, so complete and universal was the cessation of war.
For not only was the Roman people softened and charmed by the righteousness and mildness of their king, but also the cities round about, as if some cooling breeze or salubrious wind were wafted upon them from Rome, began to experience a change of temper, and all of them were filled with longing desire to have good government, to be at peace, to till the earth, to rear their children in quiet, and to worship the gods.
Festivals and feasts, hospitalities and friendly converse between people who visited one another promiscuously and without fear,—these prevailed throughout Italy, while honour and justice flowed into all hearts from the wisdom of Numa, as from a fountain, and the calm serenity of his spirit diffused itself abroad. Thus even the hyperboles of the poets fall short of picturing the state of man in those days:
‘And on the iron-bound shield-handles lie the tawney spiders' webs’; and,
‘rust now subdues the sharp-pointed spears and two-edged swords; no longer is the blast of brazen trumpets heard, nor are the eyelids robbed of delicious sleep.’
For there is no record either of war, or faction, or political revolution while Numa was king. Nay more, no hatred or jealousy was felt towards his person, nor did ambition lead men to plot and conspire against his throne.
On the contrary, either fear of the gods, who seemed to have him in their especial care, or reverence for his virtue, or a marvellous felicity, which in his days kept life free from the taint of every vice, and pure, made him a manifest illustration and confirmation of the saying which Plato,2
many generations later, ventured to utter regarding government,
namely, that human ills would only then cease and disappear when, by some divine felicity, the power of a king should be united in one person with the insight of a philosopher, thereby establishing virtue in control and mastery over vice.
‘Blessed,’ indeed, is such a wise man
‘in himself, and blessed, too, are those who hear the words of wisdom issuing from his lips.’
For possibly there is no need of any compulsion or menace in dealing with the multitude, but when they see with their own eyes a conspicuous and shining example of virtue in the life of their ruler, they will of their own accord walk in wisdom's ways, and unite with him in conforming themselves to a blameless and blessed life of friendship and mutual concord, attended by righteousness and temperance. Such a life is the noblest end of all government, and he is most a king who can inculcate such a life and such a disposition in his subjects. This, then, as it appears, Numa was preeminent in discerning.