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It is the happy fate of all good and just men to be praised more after they are dead than when they lived

Plutarch, Life of Numa 22

Parallel – Lycurgus

Important People

  • Pythagoras – the Greek philosopher and mystic mathematician who lived on the southern Italian peninsula and started a school of philosophy obsessed with simple living, observation of the created universe, piety to the gods, and justice to all men. 
  • Egeria – the second (and supernatural) wife of Numa, a nymph who taught him much about the simple life and seeking justice
  • Romulus – First king of the Romans, rules before Numa
  • Tullus Hostilius – Third king of the Romans, warlike, he lives up to his name (Hostilius = hostile)

Important Places

  • Rome
    • Capitoline Hill
    • Temple of Vesta – hearth of Rome; secret-keepers
    • Temple of Janus – doors closed in times of peace


  1. Records unclear, hard to trace Numa’s genealogy
  2. Romulus taken away
  3. People grow tired of Senators ruling seriatim, want a king
  4. Numa moves to the country
  5. @ 40 years old, ambassadors come to offer him kingship
  6. His father convinces him
  7. Numa accepts
  8. Religion as a tool to tame the spirit (Pythagorean parallels)
  9. Pontifices
  10. More on the Vestal Virgins
  11. Temple of Vesta
  12. Funerals and Burial
  13. Salii – Plague and Falling Shields
  14. Rest and Quiet as Essential for Worship
  15. Romans grow superstitious under Numa
  16. Fides and Terminus – Rome's Trust and Limits
  17. Dividing the people by trade/craft
  18. The Calendar Revised
  19. More months!
    • January – Janus (two-faces, brought man from beast to social animal) – transition
    • February – februa (and Lupercalia) – rituals of purification (see Life of Romulus)
    • March – Mars
    • April – from Aphrodite (or aperīre – to open)
    • May – Maïa, mother of Mercury
    • June – Juno
      1. Maiores from May and juniors from June?
    • July – Quintilis – Fifth (re-named under Augustus's reign after Julius Caesar)
    • August – Sextilis – Sixth (re-named after Augustus's death after Augustus)
    • September – Seventh
    • October – Eighth
    • November – Ninth
    • December – Tenth
  20. Janus’s temple – Proof that Numa is the philosopher-king
  21. Numa’s wives and children
    • Numa dies of old age
  22. Numa’s funeral
    • Allies and friends pour into the city
    • The whole city mourns
      1. Senators carry the litter
      2. Priests following in procession
      3. All the people, wailing and mourning
    • The kings after Numa (none of whom get their own biography)
      • Last one dies in exile
      • Three of the other four were assassinated
      • Tullus Hostilius, who reigned right after Numa, was his opposite, loving war and “mocking most of the fine things Numa had done”
        • Struck down by a bolt of lightning (cf. Lycurgus’s tomb hit by lightning)

Helpful External Links

Numa in Paint

English Translation of Numa Online

Pythagoras Podcast in the History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps

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