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THE STORY OF ROMULUS AND OF NUMA

[Illustration: The Wolf and the Twins 024]

Æneas of Troy, coming to the land of Italy, took to wife Lavinia,daughter of King Latinus, and built him a city, which he calledLavinium, after the name of his wife. And, after thirty years, his sonAscanius went forth from Lavinium with much people, and built him a newcity, which he called Alba. In this city reigned kings of the house andlineage of Æneas for twelve generations. Of these kings the eleventh indescent was one Procas, who, having two sons, Numitor and Amulius, lefthis kingdom, according to the custom, to Numitor, the elder. But Amuliusdrave out his brother, and reigned in his stead. Nor was he content withthis wickedness, but slew all the male children of his brother. And thedaughter of his brother, that was named Rhea Silvia, he chose to be apriestess of Vesta, making as though he would do the maiden honour; buthis thought was that the name of his brother should perish, for theythat serve Vesta are vowed to perpetual virginity.

But it came to pass that Rhea bare twin sons, whose father, it was said,was the god Mars. Very wroth was Amulius when he heard this thing;Rhea he made fast in prison, and the children he gave to certain of hisservants that they should cast them into the river. Now it chancedthat at this season Tiber had overflowed his banks, neither could theservants come near to the stream of the river; nevertheless they did notdoubt that the children would perish, for all that the overflowing ofthe water was neither deep nor of a swift current Thinking then thatthey had duly performed the commandment of the King, they set down thebabes in the flood and departed. But after a while the flood abated, andleft the basket wherein the children had been laid on dry ground. Anda she-wolf, coming down from the hill to drink at the river (for thecountry in those days was desert and abounding in wild beasts), heardthe crying of the children and ran to them. Nor did she devour them,but gave them suck; nay, so gentle was she that Faustulus, the King'sshepherd, chancing to go by, saw that she licked them with her tongue.

This Faustulus took the children and gave them to his wife to rear; andthese, when they were of age to go by themselves, were not willing toabide with the flocks and herds, but were hunters, wandering through theforests that were in those parts. And afterwards, being now come tofull strength, they were not content to slay wild beasts only, butwould assail troops of robbers, as these were returning laden with theirbooty, and would divide the spoils among the shepherds. Now there washeld in those days, on the hill that is now called the Palatine,a yearly festival to the god Pan. This festival King Evander firstordained, having come from Arcadia, in which land, being a land ofshepherds, Pan that is the god of shepherds is greatly honoured. Andwhen the young men and their company (for they had gathered a greatcompany of shepherds about them, and led them in all matters both ofbusiness and of sport) were busy with the festival, there came upon themcertain robbers that had made an ambush in the place, being very wrothby reason of the booty which they had lost. These laid hands on Remus,but Romulus they could not take, so fiercely did he fight against them.Remus, therefore, they delivered up to King Amulius, accusing him ofmany things, and chiefly of this, that he and his companions had invadedthe land of Numitor, dealing with them in the fashion of an enemy andcarrying off much spoil. To Numitor, therefore, did the King deliverRemus, that he might put him to death. Now Faustulus had believed fromthe beginning that the children were of the royal house, for he knewthat the babes had been cast into the river by the King's command, andthe time also of his finding them agreed thereto. Nevertheless he hadnot judged it expedient to open the matter before due time, but waitedtill occasion or necessity should arise. But now, there being suchnecessity, he opened the matter to Romulus. Numitor also, when he hadthe young man Remus in his custody, knowing that he and his brother weretwins, and that the time agreed, and seeing that they were of a highspirit, bethought him of his grandsons; and, indeed, having asked manyquestions of Remus, was come nigh to knowing of what race he was. Andnow also Romulus was ready to help his brother. To come openly with hiswhole company he dared not, for he was not a match for the power of KingAmulius; but he bade sundry shepherds make their way to the palace, eachas best he could, appointing to them a time at which they should meet.And now came Remus also, with a troop of youths gathered together fromthe household of Numitor. Then did Romulus and Remus slay King Amulius.In the meanwhile Numitor gathered the youth of Alba to the citadel,crying out that they must make the place safe, for that the enemy wasupon them; but when he perceived that the young men had done the deed,forthwith he called an assembly of the citizens, and set forth to themthe wickedness which his brother had wrought against him, and how hisgrandsons had been born and bred and made known to him, and then, inorder, how the tyrant had been slain, himself having counselled thedeed. When he had so spoken the young men came with their company intothe midst of the assembly, and saluted him as King; to which then thewhole multitude agreeing with one consent, Numitor was established uponthe throne.

After this Romulus and his brother conceived this purpose, that, leavingtheir grandfather to be king at Alba, they should build for themselves anew city in the place where, having been at the first left to die, theyhad been brought up by Faustulus the shepherd. And to this purposemany agreed both of the men of Alba and of the Latins, and also of theshepherds that had followed them from the first, holding it forcertain all of them that Alba and Lavinium would be of small account incomparison of this new city which they should build together. But whilethe brothers were busy with these things, there sprang up afresh thesame evil thing which had before wrought such trouble in their house,even the lust of power. For though the beginnings of the strife betweenthem were peaceful, yet did it end in great wickedness. The matter fellout in this wise. Seeing that the brothers were twins, and that neithercould claim to have the preference to the other in respect of his age,it was agreed between them that the gods that were the guardians of thatcountry should make known by means of augury which of the two they choseto give his name to the new city. Then Romulus stood on the Palatinehill, and when there had been marked out for him a certain region ofthe sky, watched therein for a sign; and Remus watched in like manner,standing on the Aventine. And to Remus first came a sign, six vultures;but so soon as the sign had been proclaimed there came another toRomulus, even twelve vultures. Then they that favoured Remus clamouredthat the gods had chosen him for King, because he had first seenthe birds; and they that favoured Romulus answered that he was to bepreferred because he had seen more in number. This dispute waxed so hotthat they fell to fighting; and in the fight it chanced that Remus wasslain. But some say that when Romulus had marked out the borders of thetown which he would build, and had caused them to build a wall round it,Remus leapt over the wall, scorning it because it was mean and low; andthat Romulus slew him, crying out, "Thus shall every man perish thatshall dare to leap over my walls." Only others will have it that thoughhe perished for this cause Romulus slew him not, but a certain Celer.This much is certain, that Romulus gained the whole kingdom for himselfand called the city after his own name. And now, having first donesacrifice to the gods, he called a general assembly of the people, thathe might give them laws, knowing that without laws no city can endure.And judging that these would be the better kept of his subjects if heshould himself bear something of the show of royal majesty, he tookcertain signs of dignity, and especially twelve men that shouldcontinually attend him, bearing bundles of rods, and in the midst of therods an axe; these men they called lictors.

Meanwhile the city increased, for the King and his people enlarged theirborders, looking rather to the greatness for which they hoped than tothat which they had. And that this increase might not be altogetherempty walls without men, Romulus set up a sanctuary, to which weregathered a great multitude of men from the nations round about. All thatwere discontented and lovers of novelty came to him. Nor did he take anyaccount of their condition, whether they were bond or free, but receivedthem all. Thus was there added to the city great strength. And the Kingwhen he judged that there was strength sufficient, was minded to add tothe strength counsel. Wherefore he chose a hundred men for counsellors.A hundred he chose, either because he held that number to be sufficient,or because there were no more that were fit to bear this dignity and becalled Fathers, for this was the name of these counsellors.

After this the people bethought themselves how they should get forthemselves wives, for there were no women in the place. WhereforeRomulus sent ambassadors to the nations round about, praying that theyshould give their daughters to his people for wives. "Cities," he said,"have humble beginnings even as all other things. Nevertheless they thathave the gods and their own valour to help become great. Now that thegods are with us, as ye know, be assured also that valour shall not bewanting." But the nations round about would not hearken to him, thinkingscorn of this gathering of robbers and slaves and runaways, so that theysaid, "Why do ye not open a sanctuary for women also that so ye mayfind fit wives for your people?" Also they feared for themselvesand their children what this new city might grow to. Now when theambassadors brought back this answer the Romans were greatly wroth, andwould take by force that which their neighbours would not give of theirfree will. And to the end that they might do this more easily, KingRomulus appointed certain days whereon he and his people would hold afestival with games to Neptune; and to this festival he called allthem that dwelt in the cities round about. But when many were gatheredtogether (for they were fain to see what this new city might be), andwere now wholly bent on the spectacle of the games, the young men of theRomans ran in upon them, and carried off all such as were unwedded amongthe women. To these King Romulus spake kindly, saying, "The fault is notwith us but with your fathers, who dealt proudly with us, and would notgive you to us in marriage. But now ye shall be held in all honour asour wives, and shall have your portion of all that we possess. Put awaytherefore your anger, for ye shall find us so much the better husbandsthan other men, as we must be to you not for husbands only but parentsalso and native country."

In the meanwhile the parents of them that had been carried off put onsackcloth, and went about through the cities crying out for vengeanceupon the Romans. And chiefly they sought for help from Titus Tatius,that was king of the Sabines in those days, and of great power andrenown. But when the Sabines seemed to be tardy in the matter, the menof Caere first gathered together their army and marched into the countryof the Romans. Against these King Romulus led forth his men and put themto flight without much ado, having first slain their king with his ownhand. After then returning to Rome he carried the arms which he hadtaken from the body of the king to the hill of the Capitol, and laidthem down at the shepherds' oak that stood thereon in those days. Andwhen he had measured out the length and breadth of a temple that hewould build to Jupiter upon the hill, he said, "O Jupiter, I, KingRomulus, offer to thee these arms of a King, and dedicate therewitha temple in this place, in which temple they that come after me shalloffer to thee like spoils in like manner, when it shall chance that theleader of our host shall himself slay with his own hands the leader ofthe host of the enemy." And this was the first temple that was dedicatedin Rome. And in all the time to come two only offered in this manner,to wit, Cornelius Cossus that slew Lars Tolumnius, king of Veii, andClaudius Marcellus that slew Britomarus, king of the Gauls.

After this, King Tatius and the Sabines came up against Rome with agreat army. And first of all they gained the citadel by treachery inthis manner. One Tarpeius was governor of the citadel, whose daughter,Tarpeia by name, going forth from the walls to fetch water for asacrifice, took money from the King that she should receive certain ofthe soldiers within the citadel; but when they had been so received, themen cast their shields upon her, slaying her with the weight of them.This they did either that they might be thought to have taken the placeby force, or that they judged it to be well that no faith should be keptwith traitors.

[Illustration: The Death of Tarpeia 038]

Some also tell this tale, that the Sabines wore great bracelets of goldon their left arms, and on their left hands fair rings with preciousstones therein, and that when the maiden covenanted with them that sheshould have for a reward that which they carried in their left hands,they cast their shields upon her. And other say that she asked for theirshields having the purpose to betray them, and for this cause was slain.

Thus the Sabines had possession of the citadel; and the next day KingRomulus set the battle in array on the plain that lay between the hillof the Capitol and the hill of the Palatine. And first the Romans werevery eager to recover the citadel, a certain Hostilius being theirleader. But when this man, fighting in the forefront of the battle, wasslain, the Romans turned their backs and fled before the Sabines, evenunto the gate of the Palatine. Then King Romulus (for he himself hadbeen carried away by the crowd of them that fled) held up his swordand his spear to the heavens, and cried aloud, "O Jupiter, here in thePalatine didst thou first, by the tokens which thou sentest me, lay thefoundations of my city. And lo! the Sabines have taken the citadel bywicked craft, and have crossed the valley, and are come up even hither.But if thou sufferest them so far, do thou at the least defend thisplace against them, and stay this shameful flight of my people. So willI build a temple for thee in this place, even a temple of Jupiter theStayer, that may be a memorial to after generations of how thou didstthis day save this city." And when he had so spoken, even as though heknew that the prayer had been heard, he cried, "Ye men of Rome, Jupiterbids you stand fast in this place and renew the battle." And when themen of Rome heard these words, it was as if a voice from heaven hadspoken to them, and they stood fast, and the King himself went forwardand stood among the foremost. Now the leader of the Sabines was oneCurtius. This man, as he drave the Romans before him, cried out to hiscomrades, "See we have conquered these men, false hosts and feeble foesthat they are! Surely now they know that it is one thing to carry offmaidens and another to fight with men." But whilst he boasted himselfthus, King Romulus and a company of the youth rushed upon him. NowCurtius was fighting on horseback, and being thus assailed he fled,plunging into a certain pool which lay between the Palatine hill andthe Capitol. Thus did he barely escape with his life, and the lake wascalled thereafter Curtius' pool. And now the Sabines began to giveway to the Romans, when suddenly the women for whose sake they fought,having their hair loosened and their garments rent, ran in between themthat fought, crying out, "Shed ye not each other's blood ye that arefathers-in-law and sons-in-law to each other. But if ye break this bondthat is between you, slay us that are the cause of this trouble. Andsurely it were better for us to die than to live if we be bereavedof our fathers or of our husbands." With these words they stirred thehearts both of the chiefs and of the people, so that there was suddenlymade a great silence. And afterwards the leaders came forth to make acovenant; and these indeed so ordered matters that there was not peaceonly, but one state where there had been two. For the Sabines came toRome and dwelt there; and King Romulus and King Tatius reigned together.Only, after a while, certain men of Lanuvium slew King Tatius as he wassacrificing to the gods at Lavinium; and thereafter Romulus only wasking as before.

When he had reigned thirty and seven years there befell the thing thatshall now be told. On a certain day he called the people together onthe Field of Mars, and held a review of his army. But while he did thisthere arose suddenly a great storm with loud thunderings and verythick clouds, so that the king was hidden away from the eyes of all thepeople. Nor indeed was he ever again seen upon the earth. And when menwere recovered of their fear they were in great trouble, because theyhad lost their King, though indeed the Fathers would have it that he hadbeen carried by a whirlwind into heaven. Yet after awhile they began toworship him as being now a god; and when nevertheless some doubted, andwould even whisper among themselves that Romulus had been torn in piecesby the Fathers, there came forward a certain Proculus, who spake afterthis manner: "Ye men of Rome, this day, in the early morning, I sawRomulus, the father of this city, come down from heaven and stand beforeme. And when great fear came upon me, I prayed that it might be lawfulfor me to look upon him face to face. Then said he to me, 'Go thy way,tell the men of Rome that it is the will of them that dwell in heaventhat Rome should be the chiefest city in the world. Bid them thereforebe diligent in war; and let them know for themselves and tell theirchildren after them that there is no power on earth so great that itshall be able to stand against them.' And when he had thus spoken, hedeparted from me going up into heaven." All men believed Proculus whenhe thus spake, and the people ceased from their sorrow when they knewthat King Romulus had been taken up into heaven.

And now it was needful that another king should be chosen. No man inthose days was more renowned for his righteousness and piety than acertain Numa Pompilius that dwelt at Cures in the land of the Sabines.Now it seemed at first to the Senate that the Sabines would be toopowerful in the state if a king should be chosen from amongst them,nevertheless because they could not agree upon any other man, at lastwith one consent they decreed that the kingdom should be offered to him.And Numa was willing to receive it if only the gods consented. And theconsent of the gods was asked in this fashion. Being led by the augurinto the citadel, he sat down on a stone, with his face looking towardsthe south, and on his left hand sat the augur, having his head coveredand in his hand an augur's staff, which is a wand bent at the end andhaving no knot. Then looking towards the city and the country roundabout, he offered prayers to the Gods and marked out the region of thesky from the sunrising to the sunsetting; the parts towards the southhe called the right, and the parts towards the north he called the left;and he set a boundary before as far as his eye could reach. After thishe took his staff in his left hand and laid his right on the head ofNuma, praying in these words: "Father Jupiter, if it be thy will thatthis Numa Pompilius, whose head I hold, should be King of Rome, show us,I pray thee, clear tokens of this thy will within the space which I havemarked out." He then named the tokens which he desired, and when theyhad been shown, Numa was declared to be King.

King Numa, considering that the city was but newly founded, and that byviolence and force, conceived that he ought to found it anew, giving itjustice and laws and religion; and that he might soften the manners andtempers of the people, he would have them cease awhile from war. To thisend he built a temple of Janus, by which it might be signified whetherthere was peace or war in the State; for, if it were peace, the gatesof the temple should be shut, but if it were war, they should be open.Twice only were the gates shut after the days of Numa; for the firsttime when Titus Manlius was Consul, after the ending of the first waragainst Carthage, and for the second time when the Emperor Augustus,after vanquishing Antony at Actium, established universal peace bothby land and sea. This temple then King Numa built, and shut the gatesthereof, having first made treaties of peace with the nations roundabout.

Many other things did King Numa set in order for his people. First hedivided the year into twelve months, each month being according to thecourse of the moon, and in every twenty-fourth year another month, thatthe year might so agree with the course of the sun. Also he appointedcertain lawful days for business, and other days on which nothing mightbe done. He made priests also, of whom the chief was the priest ofJupiter, to whom he gave splendid apparel and a chair of ivory. Twoother priests he made, one of Mars, and the other of Quirinus, thatis to say, of Romulus the god. And he chose virgins for the serviceof Vesta, who should keep alive the sacred fire, and twelve priestsof Mars, whom he called the Salii, to be keepers of the sacred shield.(This shield, men said, fell down from heaven, and that it might be keptthe more safely, King Numa commanded that they should make eleven othershields like unto it.) This shield and its fellows the Salii were tocarry through the city, having on flowered tunics and breastplates ofbrass, and dancing and singing hymns. And many other things as to theworship of the gods, and the interpreting of signs, and the dealing withmarvels and portents, King Numa set in order. And that the people mightregard these laws and customs with the more reverence, he gave out thathe had not devised them of his own wit, but that he had learnt them froma certain goddess whose name was Egeria, whom he was wont to meet in agrove that was hard by the city.

King Numa died, having reigned forty and three years; and the peoplechose in his room one Tullus Hostilius.




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