By this name the Latins designated the Muses, but included under it also some other deities, principally nymphs of fountains. Egeria was one of them, whose fountain and grotto are still shown. It was said that Numa, the second king of Rome, was favored by this nymph with secret interviews, in which she taught him those lessons of wisdom and of law which he imbodied in the institutions of his rising nation. After the death of Numa the nymph pined away and was changed into a fountain.
Byron, in "Childe Harold," Canto IV., thus alludes to Egeria and her grotto:
"Here didst thou dwell, in this enchanted cover, Egeria! all thy heavenly bosom beating For the far footsteps of thy mortal lover; The purple midnight veiled that mystic meeting With her most starry canopy;" etc.
Tennyson, also, in his "Palace of Art," gives us a glimpse of the royal lover expecting the interview:
"Holding one hand against his ear, To list a footfall ere he saw The wood-nymph, stayed the Tuscan king to hear Of wisdom and of law."