Numa Pompilius (753-673 BC; king of Rome, 715-673 BC) was the legendary second king of Rome, succeeding Romulus. What tales are descended to us about him come from Valerius Antias, an author from the early part of the 1st century BC known through limited mentions of later authors (Plutarch mentions him, Livy seems scarcely to give him any notice), Dionysius of Halicarnassus circa 60BC- later than 7 AD, hagiography-minded Livy (59 BC – 17 AD), critical history-minded Plutarch (approx 46 AD, approx 125 AD), poetry-inspired Ovid (-43BC, 17 AD).
Life and Reign
Plutarch tells that Numa was the youngest of Pomponius' four sons, born on the day of Rome's founding (traditionally, 21 April 753 BC). He lived a severe life of discipline and banished all luxury from his home. Titus Tatius, king of the Sabines and a colleague of Romulus, married his only daughter, Tatia, to Numa. After 13 years of marriage, Tatia died, precipitating Numa's retirement to the country. According to Livy, Numa resided at Cures immediately before being elected king.
Livy and Plutarch refer to and discredit the story that Numa was instructed in philosophy by Pythagoras., as incompatible with dates.
Plutarch reports that some authors credited him with only a single daughter, Pompilia, others also gave him five sons, Pompo (or Pomponius), Pinus, Calpus, Mamercus and Numa, from whom the noble families of the Pomponii, Pinarii, Calpurnii, Aemilii, and Pompilii respectively traced their descent. Other writers believed that this was merely a flattery invented to curry favour with those families. Pompilia, whose mother is variously identified as Numa's first wife Tatia or his second wife Lucretia, supposedly married a certain Marcius and by him gave birth to the future king, Ancus Marcius.
After the death of Romulus, there was an interregnum of one year in which the royal power was exercized by Senate members in rotation for a single day in a row. In 715 BC after a lot of bickering and as the result of a compromise between the Roman (Romulus-originating) and Sabine (Tatius-originating) factions, Numa, himself a Sabine, was elected by the Senate of Rome to be the next king.
According to Plutarch, Numa was a cunning and calculating person; he at first refused the offer, however his father and Sabine kinsmen, and the Roman envoys (two senators) banded together to persuade him to accept. Plutarch and Livy recount how Numa, after being summoned by the Senate from Cures, and proferred the tokens of power within a popular surge of enthusiasm requested that prior to his acceptance an augur to divine the opinion of the gods on the prospect of his kingship should be taken. Jupiter was consulted and the omens were favourable.. Thus placated by the Roman and Sabine people on the one hand and ointed by the heavens, he took up his position as King of Rome.
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