There is likewise1
a vigorous dispute about the time at which King Numa lived, although from the beginning down to him the genealogies seem to be made out accurately. But a certain Clodius, in a book entitled
‘An Examination of Chronology,’ insists that the ancient records were lost when the city was sacked by the Gauls,2
and that those which are now exhibited as such were forged, their compilers wishing to gratify the pride of certain persons by inserting their names among the first families and the most illustrious houses, where they had no cause to appear.
Accordingly, when it is said that Numa was an intimate friend of Pythagoras, some deny utterly that Numa had any Greek culture, holding either that he was naturally capable of attaining excellence by his own efforts, or that the culture of the king was due to some Barbarian superior to Pythagoras. Others say that Pythagoras the philosopher lived as many as five generations after Numa,
but that there was another Pythagoras, the Spartan, who was Olympic victor in the foot-race for the sixteenth Olympiad3
(in the third year of which Numa was made king), and that in his wanderings about Italy he made the acquaintance of Numa, and helped him arrange the government of the city, whence it came about that many Spartan customs were mingled with the Roman, as Pythagoras taught them to Numa. And at all events, Numa was of Sabine descent, and the Sabines will have it that they were colonists from Lacedaemon.
Chronology, however, is hard to fix, and especially that which is based on the names of victors in the Olympic games, the list of which is said to have been published at a late period by Hippias of Elis, who had no fully authoritative basis for his work. I shall therefore begin at a convenient point, and relate the noteworthy facts which I have found in the life of Numa.