Sunday, 17 August 2014

it happened on the way to the forum: opiate for the masses

After the divine disappearance of Rome's founder and first king, the quite polar-opposite figure of Numa Pompilius was elected as monarch.

This tradition of nominating kings, though absolute rulers for life, and sometimes reluctant ones, is a marked statement in the fable of Rome, as opposed to hereditary rule and divine-right, which seemed to court disaster among other nations. Numa's vastly different vision and direction also offers some explanation for the Romans' pathetic beginnings. Sabine by birth, maybe as an apology for abducting the tribe's women and compared to Romulus, Numa was an a disciplined รฆsthetic soul. Being called out of retirement and much content to take long walks in the countryside and converse with the gods, the new king sought to turn the fledgling city away from battle and towards peace and introspection, culling a concord that lasted throughout his reign until the posture of Rome suffered another inversion.
Drawing from influences from the Greeks and the Etruscans to the north, Numa created the Roman religion and embellished the panoply with superstition and ritual that were to endure throughout the Roman civilisation. To occupy the standing-army that Romulus had created and to placate the populace, Numa invented a host of obligations and prestigious offices, including that of the the chief priest, Pontifex Maximus (the great bridge-builder, which is a title that the popes of Rome carry to this day), calendar reform and the cults of useful gods, like Terminus, the god of boundaries, and Janus, the two faced deity of war and peace that looked forwards and backwards.  Numa's institution were enduring and the following semi-legendary kings of Rome, seven in all, contributed to the Roman ideal and waxed between war and peace, until Lucius Tarquinis Superbus (the Proud) whose abuses caused the citizenry to reject all monarchs and spurred the creation of the republic, though far from democratic in its practices—though kept together in part due to inherited piety.