Zonaras 7.5 Part III – Numa’s Religious Reforms

Numa Pompilius attempts to civilize the Romans by turning their minds from war to the cultivation of divine favor:

Bound by these considerations, Numa sacrificed to the gods and then set out to Rome, where the senate and people sang his praises and greeted him warmly. When they then called together the assembly and presented him with the regal insignia, he ordered them to hold off and said that he needed Jupiter, too, to ratify his rule. He then ascended the Capitoline, made a sacrifice, and then finally taking up the regal insignia, he descended once again.

As soon as he assumed the throne, he disbanded the group of three-hundred, which Romulus always had about his person. For he said that it was not right to distrust those who trusted him, nor did he think it a worthy thing to be king of those who distrusted him. Next, he undertook to make the city, which to this point was rough and warlike, a bit more civilized and peaceful. He forbid the erection of an anthropomorphic statue of Zeus by the Romans. For this reason, there was among them no drawn or sculpted images of the god, and in a period of 170 years they made no anthropomorphic images in the shrines which they erected, considering it irreligious to manufacture things which were superior to our hands, and because it was not possible to seize upon a god otherwise than as he intended. Numa also ordered that sacrifices be made bloodless by using barley and libations, because it was necessary that the gods, being as they were guardians of peace and justice, should be pure of any murder. Nor, he insisted, should anyone listen or watch anything pertaining to the gods as a distraction or with little care; rather, they should take a break from other affairs and focus their attention upon piety, since it was the most important affair. From these things and many more which I have not mentioned, Numa fashioned from custom the religious constitution of the state for the people of the time. They say that Numa himself was so hung up on his hopeful notions about the gods that when it was announced to him in the middle of a sacrifice that Rome’s enemies were at hand, he simply smiled and said, “Ah, but I am sacrificing.” Numa also distributed the land, which Romulus had acquired in war, to the needy citizens; in so going, he alleviated their poverty, which he considered a necessary cause of injustice, and turned it into the pursuit of agriculture, which he thought helped to soften the people while making their love of a powerful peace much more keenly perceptible.

Τούτοις ἐνδεδωκὼς ὁ Νόμας θύσας τοῖς θεοῖς προῆγεν εἰς ῾Ρώμην· ὑπήντα δὲ ἡ βουλὴ καὶ ὁ δῆμος εὐφημοῦντες καὶ χαίροντες. ἐπεὶ δὲ κατέστησαν εἰς τὴν ἀγοράν, προσφερομένων αὐτῷ τῶν βασιλικῶν παρασήμων, ἐπισχεῖν κελεύσας ἔφη δεῖσθαι καὶ θεοῦ τὴν βασιλείαν ἐμπεδοῦντος αὐτῷ. ἄνεισιν οὖν εἰς τὸ Καπιτώλιον, καὶ θύσας, οὕτω τε τὴν βασιλικὴν ἀναλαβὼν ἐσθῆτα, κατέβαινε.

Παραλαβὼν δὲ τὴν ἀρχὴν πρῶτον μὲν τὸ τῶν τριακοσίων διέλυσε σύστημα, οὓς περὶ τὸ σῶμα ῾Ρωμύλος εἶχεν ἀεί· οὐ γὰρ δεῖν ἀπιστεῖν πιστεύουσιν ἔλεγεν, οὐδὲ βασιλεύειν ἀπιστούντων ἠξίου· εἶτα τὴν πόλιν ἐκ σκληρᾶς καὶ πολεμικῆς ἐπεχείρει μαλακωτέραν ποιῆσαι καὶ εἰρηνικωτέραν. ἀνθρωποειδῆ τε καὶ ζωόμορφον εἰκόνα θεοῦ ἀνιστᾶν ῾Ρωμαίοις ἀπείρηκεν· ὅθεν οὐδ’ ἦν παρ’ αὐτοῖς οὔτε γραπτὸν οὔτε πλαστὸν εἶδος θεοῦ, ἐν ἑκατὸν δὲ πρὸς ἑβδομήκοντα ἔτεσι ναῶν αὐτοῖς ἀνεγειρομένων οὐδὲν ἔμμορφον ἐποίουν ἀφίδρυμα, ὡς οὔτε ὅσιον ἀφομοιοῦν τοῖς χείροσι τὰ βελτίονα οὔτε ἐφάπτεσθαι ἄλλως θεοῦ δυνατὸν ἢ νοήσει. καὶ τὰς θυσίας δὲ ἀναιμάκτους ποιεῖσθαι ἐθέσπισε δι’ ἀλφίτων τε καὶ σπονδῆς· δεῖν γὰρ τοὺς θεούς, εἰρήνης καὶ δικαιοσύνης φύλακας ὄντας, φόνου καθαροὺς εἶναι· μήτε δὲ ἀκούειν τι τῶν θείων μήτε ὁρᾶν ἐν παρέργῳ καὶ ἀμελῶς, ἀλλὰ σχολὴν ἄγοντας ἀπὸ τῶν ἄλλων καὶ προσέχοντας τὴν διάνοιαν ὡς πράξει μεγίστῃ τῇ περὶ τὴν εὐσέβειαν. ἐκ δὲ τούτων καὶ ἄλλων πλειόνων, ἃ διὰ τὸ πλῆθος παρήκαμεν, διάθεσιν πρὸς τὸ θεῖον τοῖς τότε ἀνθρώποις ἐξ ἐθισμοῦ ὁ Νόμας ἐνεποίησεν. αὐτὸν δὲ οὕτω φασὶν εἰς τὸ θεῖον ἀνηρτῆσθαι ταῖς ἐλπίσιν ὥστε προσαγγελίας αὐτῷ θύοντί ποτε γινομένης ὡς ἐπέρχονται πολέμιοι μειδιᾶσαι καὶ εἰπεῖν “ἐγὼ δὲ θύω.” καὶ τὴν χώραν δὲ ἣν αἰχμῇ ῾Ρωμύλος ἐκτήσατο διένειμεν οὗτος τοῖς ἀπόροις τῶν πολιτῶν, ἀφαιρῶν ἐξ αὐτῶν τὴν ἀπορίαν, ὡς ἀνάγκην τῆς ἀδικίας ποιητικήν, καὶ τρέπων εἰς γεωργίαν, ὡς ταύτης ἐξημερούσης τὸν δῆμον καὶ δριμὺν εἰρήνης δυναμένης ἐμποιεῖν ἔρωτα.

Zonaras 7.5 Part II – Numa Pompilius, The Reluctant King

The Romans and Sabines are united in their choice of Numa Pompilius as king, but he is not eager to accept the crown:

Nevertheless, tumults arose from the suspicion that the patricians were converting the state to an oligarchy and did not wish for a king. The people revolted from this. When all agreed that a ruler should be selected, the Sabines gave the first choice to the Romans, who selected from among the Sabines a certain Numa Pompilius, a man who was well known by all for his virtue. Ambassadors from Rome were therefore sent to him. Numa did not live in Rome, but stayed among the Sabines and and inhabited the city of the Quirites. His father was a well-renowned man named Pomponius, who was adorned by every virtue which can be bestowed by either nature or education. For this reason, he has a great name and a certain amount of fame, such that Tatius, when he ruled with Romulus, married Numa to his only daughter, Tatia. She remained married to Numa for three years before she departed from this life. Numa then left behind his occupations in the city so that he could live for the most part in the open, where he wished to spend his time in the meadows and glades.

Therefore, the ambassadors came from Rome to call him to the throne as he was finishing his fortieth year of life. He declined their offer. The ambassadors, however, pressed hard upon him, having contrived every way to persuade him, and fearing lest the city should again fall into rebellion and civil war, since there was no other man to whom both parts of the state would readily grant their assent. In private, even, Numa’s father urged his son to accept the throne as a divine gift and a form of service of god, as well the sort of thing which would be the source of noble and great deeds for a wise man; moreover, it would serve as a pledge of goodwill and friendship between the entire Sabine race and a powerful, thriving city.

᾿Αλλὰ καὶ οὕτως ἐξ ὑπονοίας ἐφύοντο θόρυβοι, ὑποπτευομένων τῶν πατρικίων εἰς ὀλιγαρχίαν τὴν πολιτείαν περιιστᾶν καὶ μὴ βούλεσθαι βασιλεύεσθαι· ἐκ δὲ τούτου κατεστασίαζον. ὁμονοησάντων δὲ πάντων αἱρεθῆναι τὸν βασιλεύσοντα, οἱ Σαβῖνοι τοῖς ῾Ρωμαίοις προτέροις τὴν αἵρεσιν ἔδοσαν· οἱ δ’ ἐκ Σαβίνων εἵλοντο Νόμαν Πομπίλιον, ὄντα ἄνδρα γνώριμον πᾶσι δι’ ἀρετήν. στέλλονται γοῦν πρὸς ἐκεῖνον ἐκ ῾Ρώμης πρέσβεις· οὐ γὰρ ἐν τῇ ῾Ρώμῃ μετῴκιστο, ἀλλ’ ἐν Σαβίνοις ἦν καὶ πόλιν ᾤκει τὴν Κυριτῶν, πατρὸς ὢν Πομπωνίου ἀνδρὸς εὐδοκίμου, πᾶσαν ἀρετὴν φύσει τε καὶ παιδείᾳ ἐξησκημένος. ὅθεν καὶ ὄνομα μέγα καὶ δόξαν εἶχεν, ὡς καὶ Τάτιον τὸν τῷ ῾Ρωμύλῳ συμβασιλεύσαντα κηδεστὴν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ Τατίᾳ θέσθαι τῇ θυγατρί, ἣν μίαν ἐκεῖνος ἐγείνατο· ἣ δέκα ἐπὶ τρισὶν ἐνιαυτοὺς τῷ Νόμᾳ συνοικήσασα μετήλλαξε τὴν ζωήν. ὁ δὲ Νόμας ἐκλιπὼν τὰς ἐν ἄστει διατριβὰς ἀγραυλεῖν τὰ πολλὰ καὶ διατρίβειν ἤθελεν ἐν λειμῶσι καὶ ἄλσεσιν.

῟Ηκον οὖν ἀπὸ ῾Ρώμης οἱ πρέσβεις καλοῦντες ἐπὶ τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτὸν ἤδη τεσσαρακοστὸν ἔτος ἀνύοντα· ὁ δὲ ἀπείπατο. οἱ πρέσβεις δ’ ἐνέκειντο, πάντα τρόπον πείσειν αὐτὸν μηχανώμενοι, καὶ δεόμενοι μὴ τὴν πόλιν αὖθις εἰς στάσιν ἐμβαλεῖν καὶ ἐμφύλιον πόλεμον, οὐκ ὄντος ἑτέρου πρὸς ὃν ἄμφω τὰ μέρη συννεύσουσιν. ἰδίᾳ μέντοι καὶ ὁ πατὴρ παρεκίνει τὸν Νόμαν δέξασθαι τὴν ἀρχὴν ὡς θεῖον δῶρον καὶ ὑπηρεσίαν θεοῦ καὶ πράξεων καλῶν καὶ μεγάλων ἀνδρὶ φρονίμῳ τε καὶ χρηστῷ ἐσομένην αἰτίαν, σύνδεσμόν τε τῇ πατρίδι καὶ παντὶ τῷ Σαβίνων ἔθνει εὐνοίας τε καὶ φιλίας πρὸς πόλιν δυνατὴν καὶ ἀκμάζουσαν.