Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/376

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328 The European Sky -God.

monarchy restored to the hands of a dictator/ that magis- trate was still further limited to a rule of six months only.^ The principle on which one Roman king succeeded to another has long been a moot question. "The election," says Mr. A. H. Greenidge,^ "was regarded as free in a far wider sense than the election of the higher magistrates at Rome; since, if we are to trust the traditional accounts, Roman citizenship was not a necessary qualification for the monarchy. Thus the non-burgess Numa, the foreigner Tarquin, the slave's son Servius, are all represented as having been elected kings of Rome." There is, indeed, only one principle wide enough to cover these very diverse claimants, viz. that of physical superiority. And it was precisely on that principle that king succeeded to king at Nemi : as Ovid puts it —

regna tenent fortes manibus pedibusque fugaces.* The strong of hand, the fleet of foot the7-e reign.

Can the same custom be traced at Rome? On July 5 every year the Romans celebrated the old and obscure festival called the Poplifugia. It must have been at one time a festival of great importance, since, as Mr. Warde Fowler^ points out, no other festival falling before the Nones of the month is marked in large capitals on the Roman calendars. Two stories were told to account for the name. One of these connected it with the flight of the Roman army from the men of Fidenae after the retirement of the Gauls from Rome ; but this Mr. Fowler at once dismisses on the ground that the Poplifugia must have been far older than 390 B.C. There remains the other explanation, which interprets the festival as a memorial of the flight of the people after the disappearance of

^The first dictator, according to Mommsen, was Manius Valerius (Liv. 2. l8. 6), who bore a doubly well-omened name {supra pp. 293, 303). 2 Smith-Wayte-Marindin iJ/cA Ant. i. 632.

^ lb. ii. 551. ^Ow.fast. 3. 271.

^ Warde Fowler Roman Festivals p. 174.