E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
A college of twelve priests of Mars instituted by Numa. The tale is that a shield fell from heaven, and the nymph Egria predicted that wherever that shield was preserved the people would be the dominant people of the earth. To prevent the shield from being surreptitiously taken away, Numa had eleven others made exactly like it, and appointed twelve priests for guardians. Every year these young patricians promenaded the city, singing and dancing, and they finished the day with a most sumptuous banquet, insomuch that saliares cna became proverbial for a most
sumptuous feast. The word saliens means dancing.