It is said also that Romulus first introduced the consecration of fire, and appointed holy virgins to guard it, called Vestals. Others attribute this institution to Numa,1
although admitting that Romulus was in other ways eminently religious, and they say further that he was a diviner, and carried for purposes of divination the so-called
‘lituus,’ a crooked staff with which those who take auguries from the flight of birds mark out the regions of the heavens.
This staff, which was carefully preserved on the Palatine, is said to have disappeared when the city was taken at the time of the Gallic invasion; afterwards, however, when the Barbarians had been expelled, it was found under deep ashes unharmed by the fire, although everything about it was completely destroyed.2
He also enacted certain laws, and among them one of severity, which forbids a wife to leave her husband, but permits a husband to put away his wife for using poisons, for substituting children, and for adultery; but if a man for any other reason sends his wife away, the law prescribes that half his substance shall belong to his wife, and the other half be consecrate to Ceres; and whosoever puts away his wife, shall make a sacrifice to the gods of the lower world.
It is also a peculiar thing that Romulus ordained no penalty for parricides, but called all murder parricide, looking upon one as abominable, and upon the other as impossible. And for many ages his judgement of such a crime seemed to have been right, for no one did any such deed at Rome for almost six hundred years; but after the war with Hannibal, Lucius Hostius is reported to have been the first parricide. So much, then, may suffice concerning these matters.