Episode 6 – Tullus Hostilius’ Holy Cow

— Tullus! Come on, man! Faking being dragged into a war, is the second oldest trick in human history of civilizations!

Who was Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome? The bully of ancient Rome, or another king that ended up in god Jupiter’s frying pan?

Partial Transcript

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

The Tale of Rome, Episode 6 — Tullus Hostilius’ Holy Cow.

Last week we saw how—after forty years of peace, Rome went back to its martial virtues. By the hand of King Tullus Hostilius, Rome went back to war, and it doesn’t seem strange to me, that the English word “hostile” or “hostilities” come from this king’s last name.

Before we really dive into the rest of the life of Tullus Hostilius, I want to add a very short anecdote here.

When the Sabines attacked Rome in the year 752 BC, because of the issue of their kidnapped women, Romulus organized a counterattack, as you might remember from Episode 3 of this podcast.

You also might remember that the counterattack did not really bring any results, and that the Sabine women themselves solved the issue, at the end of the day.

Finally, you also might remember how those Sabines took their time to carry out their attack, and so, almost a whole year had passed between the kidnapping and the actual attack of the Sabines.

So. On the day of the attack, and while the two armies were stuck in a stalemate near the citadel of Rome, a warrior named Hostus Hostilius fought alongside Romulus and the other Romans.

And at one moment during that fight, this guy Hostus Hostilius, singlehandedly went on the attack, and while he was holding his sword high in the air, he ran towards the Sabines, screaming and going berserk.

Needless to say, a moment or two later, his companions joined in on the run.

And even though they got nothing out of this whole thing, the lone act of brave, crazy warrior made the Sabines pull back for a moment, and this deserved him a thank-you-speech, given by Romulus himself, on the next day of the battle.

Well… That was because Hostus Hostilius was one of the few casualties on that day.

Why do I mention this?

You see, Hostus Hostilius was also the grandfather of our third king of Rome, Tullus Hostilius.

And as it seems, the itch to fight ran deep in the veins of the Hostilius family.

Good. End of anecdote. Back to Tullus.

We now know that the name of the king—Tullus, was an extremely rare name at the time, but his last name—Hostilius, not – so – much.

We also know that there was a building that is said to have been built by this king, and the building was named the Curia Hostilia, and that THAT was the first building where the early senators of Rome used to meet and hold their sessions.

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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.

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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.

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