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Text #843

Plutarch. "Lives"


The origin of the Salii is this. In the eighth year of the reign of Numa [reigned 715–673 BC], a terrible pestilence, which traversed all of Italy, ravaged likewise the city of Rome […]

Text #9155

"Numa Pompilius", in Wikipedia.

At a time of a pestilential disease that was playing havoc in the population, a prodigy happened: a shield came to fall from the sky. When it was brought to Numa he declared that Egeria had enlightened him that this was a token of safeguard from Jupiter, for which he organized due measures of recognition, thus bringing the plague at an immediate end. This shield became a sacred relic of the Romans and was placed in the care of the Salii. […]

Recognizing the paramount importance of the sacred shield descended from the skies, King Numa had eleven matching shields made, so perfect that no one, even Numa, could distinguish the original any longer. These shields were the ancilia, the sacred shields of Jupiter, which were carried each year in a procession by the Salii priests. Numa also established the office and duties of Pontifex Maximus and instituted (Plutarch’s version) the flamen of Quirinus, in honour of Romulus, in addition to those of Jupiter and Mars that already existed. Numa also brought the Vestal Virgins to Rome from Alba Longa.; Plutarch adds that they were then at the number of two, were later augmented to four by Servius Tullius and stayed so through the ages.

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