Life and death of the second king of Rome.
Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.
The Tale of Rome, Episode 5 — Numa, the God Whisperer.
Last week we talked about the end of Romulus, the first king of Rome.
Numa also gets credit for almost all the most important religious institutions in Rome, and here goes a short list of his achievements:
ONE – Numa created the institution of Pontifex Maximus, which was the equivalent of the highest priest of Rome. There could be only one such Pontifex Maximus, and the job was for life.
Think of a Supreme Court Justice, in the US—unless a Justice quits or resigns, he gets to have the job forever.
The number one responsibility of a Pontifex Maximus was to overview the preparation and the delivery of religious services in Rome.
The number one privilege was that he was pretty much the only person in the city who was allowed to dismiss, and in some instances, disobey, both the Senate and the king of Rome, as you will see in future episodes.
Now, check this out:
Numa knew that the future of Rome would be filled with wars, as soon as he would be gone, and he knew that if a king would also be a Pontifex Maximus, religious services all over Rome would suffer, because such king would obviously give priority to war over all other things.
So, Numa solved this by simply setting in stone that kings or any future type of supreme rulers of Rome could not be elected to the office of Pontifex Maximus, while they reigned with the city.
He simply explained that the gods would punish Rome with plagues, floods, earthquakes, and all other kinds of disasters, if ever a king was elected to that office, and if ever the services to the gods were not properly done.
And in fact, the office of the Pontifex Maximus was left in peace by rulers for centuries. It wasn’t until the first emperor of Rome, Augustus dared to take the office of chief priest of Rome in his own hands, that Numa’s rule was being respected.
And that should speak volumes. Furthermore, the office itself still exists today.
That’s right, the institution created by Numa Pompilius is currently being exercised by the Vatican’s Pope, as the head of the Catholic Church, and that’s a tradition that’s been unbroken for some 2,600 years, now.
TWO – Numa Pompilius instituted the first vestal virgins within Rome.