Episode 7 – Ancus Marcius Founds Ostia

— Come on! Don’t make me laugh!

The Tale of Rome – Ancus Marcius, the grandson of Numa Pompilius, shows that he is neither a lame priest nor a cruel bully.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 7 — Ancus Marcius Founds Ostia.

Last week we saw the life and death of Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome, and we also saw how Rome itself became a synonym of war.

In fact, Rome—again, became all the things nobody wanted to have in a neighbor.

This week’s episode deals with the fourth king of Rome, a man named Ancus Marcius.

Ancus Marcius was a man with many different and sometimes contrasting aspects. For one, he was the son of Numa Marcius, who in turn was elected by Numa Pompilius to become Rome’s very first Pontifex Maximus, which we talked about in Episode five.

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We also cannot reliably assess all these events, and their dates. Anecdotes, above all, are to be read as a tale, and rather than taking them as pure facts, they serve the purpose of answering questions of the origins of Rome to the romans that lived centuries later, as well as trying to teach morals.

As a perfect example of these quite incredible mess-ups with dates, we have that Numa Pompilius, the now well-known second king of Rome, was born on April 21st of the year 753 BC, which just so happens to be the day Rome was founded.

Come on! Don’t make me laugh!

The other thing that we can kind of be sure of, is that one of the major jobs Ancus Marcius had to do, was to transcribe all those documents left by Numa Pompilius, about the religious ceremonies of Rome, since the third king of Rome, Tullus Hostilius ignored that job completely.

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Episode 5 – Numa, the God Whisperer

— There could be only one such Pontifex Maximus, and the job was for life.

Life and death of the second king of Rome.

Partial Transcript

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.

[…]

Episode 4 – Throne of Thunders

— Not because they were better or smarter, or because they were right all along, and certainly not because they were God’s chosen people…

The end of Romulus’ life, the way the Romans describe it.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 4 — Throne of Thunders.

Last week we saw how Romulus dealt with three top topics of the day: the army of Rome, the female population of Rome, and the Senate of Rome.

This week we will see the rest of his life and how his life ends, not an ounce less mythological than his whole life before.

But before we start, I would like to make something clear: Rome, the city on the Seven Hills, had Seven Kings.

Right? Right.

From the year 753 BC until the year 509 BC, Rome had a grand total of Seven Kings. That means, those Seven Kings ruled Rome for 244 years.

Let’s see. Seven Kings – 244 years.

If I divide 244 by 7, I get 34.8, which means that each king must have ruled Rome for an average of 34 years and 9 months.

Even though this is not a physical impossibility, I can tell you something right away. In the course of human history, there has not been any empire, or state, or nation, or even a private company or entity that has been so blessed to rule for so long, and have only seven rulers.

The exceptional case of her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, is by far one of the longest reigns in recent history, but this cannot be seen as the norm.

Yes, she has ruled since 1952 which means she held the crown for 65 years. But that will not be repeated two, three, or—let alone, seven times.

A little more on that in a bit, but first let’s go to the Latin Word of the Week.

[…]

A big thunder cracked down on them, and a great dust cloud rose up, all around the throne and around the people standing by Romulus.

But… When the cloud dissipated, Romulus was no longer seated on his throne.

According to the legend, the senators who were next to Romulus during the military exercise, searched everywhere, but never found the body of their king.

He was gone with a thunder while sitting on his throne!

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