But to resume the story, Numa was already completing his fortieth year when the embassy came from Rome inviting him to take the throne. The speakers were Proculus and Velesus, one or the other of whom the people was expected to choose as their king, Proculus being the favourite of the people of Romulus, and Velesus of the people of Tatius. These speakers, then, were brief supposing that Numa would welcome his good fortune.
It was, however, no slight task, but one requiring much argument and entreaty, to persuade and induce a man who had lived in peace and quiet, to accept the government of a city which owed its existence and growth, in a fashion, to war. His reply, therefore, in the presence of his father and one of his kinsmen named Marcius, was as follows.
‘Every change in a man's life is perilous; but when a man knows no lack, and has no fault to find with his present lot, nothing short of madness can change his purposes and remove him from his wonted course of life, which, even though it have no other advantage, is at least fixed and secure, and therefore better than one which is all uncertain.
But the lot of one who becomes your king cannot even be called uncertain, judging from the experience of Romulus, since he himself was accused of basely plotting against his colleague Tatius, and involved the patricians in the charge of having basely put their king out of the way. And yet those who bring these accusations laud Romulus as a child of the gods, and tell how he was preserved in an incredible way and fed in a miraculous manner when he was still an infant. But I am of mortal birth, and I was nourished and trained by men whom you know.
Moreover, the very traits in my disposition which are commended, are far from marking a man destined to be a king, namely, my great love of retirement, my devotion to studies inconsistent with the usual activities of men, and my well-known strong and inveterate love of peace, of unwarlike occupations, and of men who come together only for the worship of the gods and for friendly intercourse, but who otherwise live by themselves as tillers of the soil or herdsmen.
Whereas, unto you, O Romans, whether you want them or not, Romulus has bequeathed many wars, and to make head against these the city needs a king with a warrior's experience and strength. Besides, the people has become much accustomed to war, and eager for it because of their successes, and no one is blind to their desire for growth by conquest. I should therefore become a laughing-stock if I sought to serve the gods, and taught men to honour justice and hate violence and war, in a city which desires a leader of its armies rather than a king.’