The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Numenius


when the land was threatened with a pestilence, which disappeared as soon as Numa ordained the ceremonies of the Salii. Numa was not a theme of song, like Romulus; indeed he enjoined that, among all the Camenae, the highest honours should be paid to Tacita. Yet a story was handed down, that, when he was entertaining his guests, the plain food in the earthenware dishes were turned on the appearance of Egeria into a banquet fit for gods, in vessels of gold, in order that her divinity might be made manifest to the incredulous. The temple of Janus, his work, continued always shut: peace was spread over Italy ; until Numa, like the darlings of the gods in the golden age, fell asleep, full of days. Egeria melted away in tears into a fountain."

The sacred books of Numa, in which he pre­scribed all the religious rites and ceremonies, were said to have been buried near him in a separate . tomb, and to have been discovered by accident, five hundred years afterwards, by one Terentius, in the consulship of Cornelius and Baebius, b. c. 181. By Terentius they were carried to the city-praetor Petilius, and were found to consist of twelve or seven books, in Latin, on ecclesiastical law (de jure pontifieum\ and the same number of books in Greek on philosophy: the latter were burnt at the command of the senate, but the former, were carefully preserved. The story of the discovery of these books is evidently a forgery ; and the books, which were ascribed to Nurna, and which were extant at a later time, were evidently nothing more than ancient works containing an account of the ceremonial of the Roman religion. (Pint. Numa; Liv. i. 18—21; Cic. de Rep. ii. 13—15; Dionys. ii. 58-r-66; Plin. H. N. xiii. 14. s. 27 ; Val. Max. i. 1. § 12; August, de Civ. Dei, vii. 34.)

It would be idle to inquire into the historical reality of Numa. Whether such a person ever existed or not, we cannot look upon the second king of Rome as a real historical personage. His name represents the rule of law and order, and to him are ascribed all those ecclesiastical institutions which formed the basis of the ceremonial religion of the Romans. Some modern writers connect his name with the word vo^ioy, u law " (Hartung, Die Religion der -Romer, vol. i. p. 216), but this is mere fancy. It would be impossible to enter into a history of the various institutions of this king, without discussing the whole ecclesiastical system of the Romans, a subject which would be foreign to this work. We would only remark, that the universal tradition of the Sabine origin of Nurna intimates that the Romans must have de­rived a great portion of their religious system from the Sabines, rather than from the Etruscans, as is commonly believed.

NUMENIUS (Novjiwfwos), of Apameia in Syria, a Pythagoreo-Platonic philosopher, who was highly esteemed by Plotinus and his school, as well as by Origen. (Porphyr. Vit. Plot. 2, 17 ; Suid. s. vv. *npt7e^7]S, Noy/twjj/ios.) He and Cronius, a man of a kindred mind and a contemporary, who is often spoken of along with him (Porphyr. De Antr. Nymph, p. 121 ed. Holsten.), probably belong to the age of the Antonines. He is mentioned not only by Porphyrius, but also by Clemens of Alex­andria and Origen. Statements and fragments of his apparently very numerous works have been preserved by Oiigen, Thepdoret, and especially by



Eusebius, and from them we may with tolerable accuracy learn the peculiar tendency of this new Platonico-Pythagorean philosophy, and its approxi­mation to the doctrines of Plato. Numenius is almost invariably designated as a Pythagorean, but his object was to trace the doctrines of Plato up to Pythagoras, and at the same time to show that they were not at variance with the dogmas and mysteries of the Brahmins, Jews, Magi and Egyp­tians. (See the Fragm. of the 1st book Ilepi ToiyaOov, ap. Euseb. Praep. Evang. ix. 7.) Nu­menius called Plato " the Atticising Moses,1' probably on the supposition of some historical connexion between them. (Clem. Alex. Strom. i. 342 ; Euseb. Praep. Evang. xi. 10. p. 527 ; Suid. s. v.} In several of his works, therefore, he had based his remarks on passages from the books of Moses, and he had explained one passage about the life of our Saviour, though without mentioning him in a figurative sense. (Orig. adv. Cels. iv. p. 198, &c. Spenc.; comp. i. p. 13 ; Porphyr. De Antr. Nymph, p. lll,&c.) He had also endea­voured to inquire into the hidden meaning of the Egyptian, perhaps also of Greek mythology; (See his explanation of Serapis ap. Orig. Ibid. v. p. 258 ; Fr. ck tov TTfpl twv irapci, TlXaTtavi aTro/Jpr/Tcoz/, ap. Euseb. Praep. Ev. xiii. 5.) His intention was to restore the philosophy of Plato, the genuine Pythagorean and mediator between Socrates and Pythagoras (neither of whom he prefers to the other) in its original purity, cleared from the Aristotelian and Zenonian or Stoic doctrines, and purified from the unsatisfactory and perverse explanations, which he said were found even in Speusippus and Xenocrates, and which, through the influence of Arcesilas and Carneades, i. e. in the second and third Academy, had led to a bot­tomless scepticism. (See especially Euseb. Praep. Ev. xiv. 5.) His work on the apostacy of the Academy from Plato (Ilepi rrjs t&v *AKa5?]ju,aiVcc5j/ irpds ITAaTcoi/a Stacrratrecos), to judge from its rather numerous fragments (ap. Euseb. Praep. Ev. xiv. 5—9), contained a minute and wearisome account of the outward circumstances of those men, and was full of fabulous tales about their lives, without entering into the nature of their scepticism. His books Ilepl rdyadov seem to have been of a better kind ; in them he had minutely explained, mainly in opposition to the Stoics, that existence could neither be found in the ele­ments because they were in a perpetual state of change and transition, nor in matter because it is vague, inconstant, lifeless, and in itself not an object of our knowledge ; and that, on the contrary, existence, in order to resist the annihilation and decay of matter, must itself rather be incorporeal and removed from all mutability (Frag. ap. Euseb. Praep. Ev. xv. 17), in eternal presence, without being subject to the variation of time, simple and imperturbable in its nature by its own will as well as by influence from without. (Ib. xi. 10.) True existence, according to him, is identical with the first god existing in and by himself, that is, with good (t<) dyaddv), and is defined as spirit (vovs, ib. xi. 18, ix. 22). But as the first (absolute) god existing in himself and being undisturbed in his motion, could not be creative (Srj/uoupyiKos), he thought that we must assume a second god, who keeps matter together, directs his energy to it and to intelligible essences, and imparts his spirit to all creatures; his mind is directed to the first

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of