B.C.It was understood between the Romans and the Sabines that they should have by turns a king from each nation, and, on the disappearance of Romulus, a Sabine was chosen, named Numa Pompilius, who had been married to Tatia, the daughter of the Sabine king Tatius, but she was dead, and had left one daughter. Numa had, ever since her death, been going about from one grove or fountain sacred to the gods to another offering up sacrifices, and he was much beloved for his gentleness and wisdom. There was a grove near Rome, in a valley, where a fountain gushed forth from the rock; and here Egeria, the nymph of the stream, in the shade of the trees, counselled Numa on his government, which was so wise that he lived at peace with all his neighbors. When the Romans doubted whether it was really a goddess who inspired him, Egeria convinced them, for the next time he had any guests in his house, the earthenware plates with homely fare on them were changed before their eyes into golden dishes with dainty food. Moreover, there was brought from heaven a bronze shield, which was to be carefully kept, since Rome would never fall while it was safe. Numa had eleven other shields like it made and hung in the temple of Mars, and, yearly, a set of men dedicated to the office bore them through the city with songs and dances. Just as all warlike customs were said to have been invented by Romulus, all peaceful and religious ones were held to have sprung from Numa and his Egeria. He was said to have fixed the calendar and invented the names of the months, and to have built an altar to Good Faith to teach the Romans to keep their word to one another and to all nations, and to have dedicated the bounds of each estate to the Dii Termini, or Landmark Gods, in whose honor there was a feast yearly. He also was said to have had such power with Jupiter as to have persuaded him to be content without receiving sacrifices of men and women. In short, all the better things in the Roman system were supposed to be due to the gentle Numa.
At the gate called Janiculum stood a temple to the watchman god Janus, whose figure had two faces, and held the keys, and after whom was named the month January. His temple was always open in time of war, and closed in time of peace. Numa’s reign was counted as the first out of only three times in Roman history that it was shut.
Numa was said to have reigned thirty-eight years, and then he gradually faded away, and was buried in a stone coffin outside the Janicular gate, all the books he had written being, by his desire, buried with him. Egeria wept till she became a fountain in her own valley; and so ended what in Roman faith answered to the golden age of Greece.