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8. After taking such measures to secure the goodwill and favour of the people, Numa straightway attempted to soften the city, as iron is softened in the fire, and change its harsh and warlike temper into one of greater gentleness and justice. For if a city was ever in what Plato calls1 a ‘feverish’ state, Rome certainly was at that time. It was brought into being at the very outset by the excessive daring and reckless courage of the boldest and most warlike spirits, who forced their way thither from all parts, [2] and in its many expeditions and its continuous wars it found nourishment and increase of its power; and just as what is planted in the earth gets a firmer seat the more it is shaken, so Rome seemed to be made strong by its very perils. And therefore Numa, judging it to be no slight or trivial undertaking to mollify and newly fashion for peace so presumptuous and stubborn a people, called in the gods to aid and assist him. [3] It was for the most part by sacrifices, processions, and religious dances, which he himself appointed and conducted, and which mingled with their solemnity a diversion full of charm and a beneficent pleasure, that he won the people's favour and tamed their fierce and warlike tempers. At times, also, by heralding to them vague terrors from the god, strange apparitions of divine beings and threatening voices, he would subdue and humble their minds by means of superstitious fears. [4] This was the chief reason why Numa's wisdom and culture were said to have been due to his intimacy with Pythagoras; for in the philosophy of the one, and in the civil polity of the other, religious services and occupations have a large place. It is said also that the solemnity of his outward demeanour was adopted by him because he shared the feelings of Pythagoras about it. [5] That philosopher, indeed, is thought to have tamed an eagle, which he stopped by certain cries of his, and brought down from his lofty flight; also to have disclosed his golden thigh as he passed through the assembled throngs at Olympia. And we have reports of other devices and performances of his which savoured of the marvellous, regarding which Timon the Phliasian wrote:—
Down to a juggler's level he sinks with his cheating devices,
Laying his nets for men, Pythagoras, lover of bombast.
[6] In like manner Numa's fiction was the love which a certain goddess or mountain nymph bore him, arid her secret meetings with him, as already mentioned,2 and his familiar converse with the Muses. For he ascribed the greater part of his oracular teachings to the Muses, and he taught the Romans to pay especial honours to one Muse in particular, whom he called Tacita, that is, the silent, or speechless one; thereby perhaps handing on and honouring the Pythagorean precept of silence.

[7] Furthermore, his ordinances concerning images are altogether in harmony with the doctrines of Pythagoras. For that philosopher maintained that the first principle of being was beyond sense or feeling, was invisible and uncreated, and discernible only by the mind. And in like manner Numa forbade the Romans to revere an image of God which had the form of man or beast. Nor was there among them in this earlier time any painted or graven likeness of Deity, [8] but while for the first hundred and seventy years they were continually building temples and establishing sacred shrines, they made no statues in bodily form for them, convinced that it was impious to liken higher things to lower, and that it was impossible to apprehend Deity except by the intellect. Their sacrifices, too, were altogether appropriate to the Pythagorean worship; for most of them involved no bloodshed, but were made with flour, drink-offerings, and the least costly gifts.

[9] And apart from these things, other external proofs are urged to show that the two men were acquainted with each other. One of these is that Pythagoras was enrolled as a citizen of Rome. This fact is recorded by Epicharmus the comic poet, in a certain treatise which he dedicated to Antenor; and Epicharmus was an ancient, and belonged to the school of Pythagoras. Another proof is that one of the four sons born to king Numa was named Mamercus, after the son of Pythagoras. [10] And from him they say that the patrician family of the Aemilii took its name, Aemilius being the endearing name which the king gave him for the grace and winsomeness of his speech. Moreover, I myself have heard many people at Rome recount how, when an oracle once commanded the Romans to erect in their city monuments to the wisest and the bravest of the Greeks, they set up in the forum two statues in bronze, one of Alcibiades, and one of Pythagoras.3 However, since the matter of Numa's acquaintance with Pythagoras is involved in much dispute, to discuss it at greater length, and to win belief for it, would savour of youthful contentiousness.

1 Cf. Lycurgus, v. 6.

2 Chapter iv. 1-2.

3 According to the elder Pliny (N.H. xxxiv. 12), these statues stood in the comitium at Rome from the time of the Samnite wars (343-290 B.C.) down to that of Sulla (138-78 B.C.).

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