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SERIES XXVI NOS. 9-10
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY STUDIES IN HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL SCIENCE
Under the Direction of the Departments of History, Political Economy,
and Political Science
STUDY OF THE TOPOGRAPHY AND MUNICIPAL HISTORY OF PRAENESTE
BY RALPH VAN DEMAN MAGOFFIN, A.B. Fellow in Latin.
September, October, 1908
CHAPTER I. THE TOPOGRAPHY OF PRAENESTE
EXTENT OF THE DOMAIN OF PRAENESTE
THE CITY, ITS WALLS AND GATES
THE PORTA TRIUMPHALIS
THE WATER SUPPLY OF PRAENESTE
THE TEMPLE OF FORTUNA PRIMIGENIA
THE EPIGRAPHICAL TOPOGRAPHY OF PRAENESTE
THE SACRA VIA
CHAPTER II. THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OF PRAENESTE
WAS PRAENESTE A MUNICIPIUM?
PRAENESTE AS A COLONY
THE DISTRIBUTION OF OFFICES
THE REGULATIONS ABOUT OFFICIALS
AN ALPHABETICAL LIST OF THE MUNICIPAL OFFICERS OF PRAENESTE
A CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF THE MUNICIPAL OFFICERS OF PRAENESTE
1. BEFORE PRAENESTE WAS A COLONY
2. AFTER PRAENESTE WAS A COLONY
This study is the first of a series of studies already in progress, in
which the author hopes to make some contributions to the history of the
towns of the early Latin League, from the topographical and epigraphical
points of view.
The author takes this opportunity to thank Dr. Kirby Flower Smith, Head
of the Department of Latin, at whose suggestion this study was begun,
and under whose supervision and with whose hearty assistance its
revision was completed.
He owes his warmest thanks also to Dr. Harry Langford Wilson, Professor
of Roman Archaeology and Epigraphy, with whom he made many trips to
Praeneste, and whose help and suggestions were most valuable.
Especially does he wish to testify to the inspiration to thoroughness
which came from the teaching and the example of his dearly revered
teacher, Professor Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, Head of the Greek
Department, and he acknowledges also with pleasure the benefit from the
scholarly methods of Dr. David M. Robinson, and the manifold
suggestiveness of the teaching of Dr. Maurice Bloomfield.
The cordial assistance of the author's aunt, Dr. Esther B. Van Deman,
Carnegie Fellow in the American School at Rome, both during his stay in
Rome and Praeneste and since his return to America, has been invaluable,
and the privilege afforded him by Professor Dr. Christian Huelsen, of the
German Archaeological Institute, of consulting the as yet unpublished
indices of the sixth volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, is
acknowledged with deep gratitude.
The author is deeply grateful for the facilities afforded him in the
prosecution of his investigations while he was a resident in Palestrina,
and he takes great pleasure in thanking for their courtesies, Cav.
Capitano Felice Cicerchia, President of the Archaeological Society at
Palestrina, his brother, Cav. Emilio Cicerchia, Government Inspector of
Antiquities, Professor Pompeo Bernardini, Mayor of the City, and Cav.
Francesco Coltellacci, Municipal Secretary.
Finally, he desires to express his cordial appreciation of the kind
advice and generous assistance given by Professor John Martin Vincent in
connection with the publication of this monograph.
A STUDY OF THE TOPOGRAPHY AND MUNICIPAL HISTORY OF PRAENESTE.
THE TOPOGRAPHY OF PRAENESTE.
Nearly a half mile out from the rugged Sabine mountains, standing clear
from them, and directly in front of the sinuous little valley which the
northernmost headstream of the Trerus made for itself, rises a
conspicuous and commanding mountain, two thousand three hundred and
eighteen feet above the level of the sea, and something more than half
that height above the plain below. This limestone mountain, the modern
Monte Glicestro, presents on the north a precipitous and unapproachable
side to the Sabines, but turns a fairer face to the southern and western
plain. From its conical summit the mountain stretches steeply down
toward the southwest, dividing almost at once into two rounded slopes,
one of which, the Colle di S. Martino, faces nearly west, the other in a
direction a little west of south. On this latter slope is situated the
modern Palestrina, which is built on the site of the ancient Praeneste.
From the summit of the mountain, where the arx or citadel was, it
becomes clear at once why Praeneste occupied a proud and commanding
position among the towns of Latium. The city, clambering up the slope on
its terraces, occupied a notably strong position, and the citadel was
wholly impregnable to assault. Below and south of the city stretched
fertile land easy of access to the Praenestines, and sufficiently
distant from other strong Latin towns to be safe for regular
cultivation. Further, there is to be added to the fortunate situation
of Praeneste with regard to her own territory and that of her contiguous
dependencies, her position at a spot which almost forced upon her a wide
territorial influence, for Monte Glicestro faces exactly the wide and
deep depression between the Volscian mountains and the Alban Hills, and
is at the same time at the head of the Trerus-Liris valley. Thus
Praeneste at once commanded not only one of the passes back into the
highland country of the Aequians, but also the inland routes between
Upper and Lower Italy, the roads which made relations possible between
the Hernicans, Volscians, Samnites, and Latins. From Praeneste the
movements of Volscians and Latins, even beyond the Alban Hills and on
down in the Pontine district, could be seen, and any hostile
demonstrations could be prepared against or forestalled. In short,
Praeneste held the key to Rome from the south.
Monte Glicestro is of limestone pushed up through the tertiary crust by
volcanic forces, but the long ridges which run off to the northwest are
of lava, while the shorter and wider ones extending toward the southwest
are of tufa. These ridges are from three to seven miles in length. It is
shown either by remains of roads and foundations or (in three cases) by
the actual presence of modern towns that in antiquity the tip of almost
every one of these ridges was occupied by a city. The whole of the tufa
and lava plain that stretches out from Praeneste toward the Roman
Campagna is flat to the eye, and the towns on the tips of the ridges
seem so low that their strong military position is overlooked. The tops
of these ridges, however, are everywhere more than an hundred feet above
the valley and, in addition, their sides are very steep. Thus the towns
were practically impregnable except by an attack along the top of the
ridge, and as all these ridges run back to the base of the mountain on
which Praeneste was situated, both these ridges and their towns
necessarily were always closely connected with Praeneste and dependent
There is a simple expedient by which a conception of the topography of
the country about Praeneste can be obtained. Place the left hand, palm
down, flat on a table spreading the fingers slightly, then the palm of
the right hand on the back of the left with the fingers pointing at
right angles to those of the left hand. Imagine that the mountain, on
which Praeneste lay, rises in the middle of the back of the upper hand,
sinks off to the knuckles of both hands, and extends itself in the
alternate ridges and valleys which the fingers and the spaces between
EXTENT OF THE DOMAIN OF PRAENESTE.
Just as the modern roads and streets in both country and city of ancient
territory are taken as the first and best proof of the presence of
ancient boundary lines and thoroughfares, just so the territorial
jurisdiction of a city in modern Italy, where tradition has been so
constant and so strong, is the best proof for the extent of ancient
domain. Before trying, therefore, to settle the limits of the domain
of Praeneste from the provenience of ancient inscriptions, and by
deductions from ancient literary sources, and present topographical and
archaeological arguments, it will be well worth while to trace rapidly
the diocesan boundaries which the Roman church gave to Praeneste.
The Christian faith had one of its longest and hardest fights at
Praeneste to overcome the old Roman cult of Fortuna Primigenia.
Christianity triumphed completely, and Praeneste was so important a
place, that it was made one of the six suburban bishoprics, and from
that time on there is more or less mention in the Papal records of the
diocese of Praeneste, or Penestrino as it began to be called.
In the fifth century A.D. there is mention of a gift to a church by
Sixtus III, Pope from 432 to 440, of a certain possession in Praenestine
territory called Marmorata, which seems best located near the town of
About the year 970 the territory of Praeneste was increased in extent by
Pope John XIII, who ceded to his sister Stefania a territory that
extended back into the mountains to Aqua alta near Subiaco, and as far
as the Rivo lato near Genazzano, and to the west and north from the head
of the Anio river to the Via Labicana.
A few years later, in 998, because of some troubles, the domain of
Praeneste was very much diminished. This is of the greatest importance
here, because the territory of the diocese in 998 corresponds almost
exactly not only to the natural boundaries, but also, as will be shown
later, to the ancient boundaries of her domain. The extent of this
restricted territory was about five by six miles, and took in Zagarolo,
Valmontone, Cave, Rocca di Cave, Capranica, Poli, and Gallicano.
These towns form a circle around Praeneste and mark very nearly the
ancient boundary. The towns of Valmontone, Cave, and Poli, however,
although in a great degree dependent upon Praeneste, were, I think, just
outside her proper territorial domain.
In 1043, when Emilia, a descendant of the Stefania mentioned above,
married Stefano di Colonna, Count of Tusculum, Praeneste's territory
seems to have been enlarged again to its former extent, because in 1080
at Emilia's death, Pope Gregory VII excommunicated the Colonna because
they insisted upon retaining the Praenestine territory which had been
given as a fief to Stefania, and which upon Emilia's death should have
reverted to the Church.
We get a glance again at the probable size of the Praenestine diocese
in 1190, from the fact that the fortieth bishop of Praeneste was
Giovanni Anagnino de' Conti di Segni (1190-1196), and this seems to
imply a further extension of the diocese to the southeast down the
Trerus (Sacco) valley.
Again, in 1300 after the papal destruction of Palestrina, the government
of the city was turned over to Cardinal Ranieri, who was to hold the
city and its castle (mons), the mountain and its territory. At this time
the diocese comprised the land as far as Artena (Monte Fortino) and and
Rocca Priora, one of the towns in the Alban Hills, and to Castrum Novum
Tiburtinum, which may well be Corcolle.
The natural limits of the ancient city proper can hardly be mistaken.
The city included not only the arx and that portion of the southern
slope of the mountain which was walled in, but also a level piece of
fertile ground below the city, across the present Via degli Arconi. This
piece of flat land has an area about six hundred yards square, the
natural boundaries of which are: on the west, the deep bed of the
watercourse spanned by the Ponte dei Sardoni; on the east, the cut over
which is built the Ponte dell' Ospedalato, and on the south, the
depression running parallel to the Via degli Arconi, and containing the
modern road from S. Rocco to Cave.
From the natural limits of the town itself we now pass to what would
seem to have been the extent of territory dependent upon her. The
strongest argument of this discussion is based upon the natural
configuration of the land. To the west, the domain of Praeneste
certainly followed those long fertile ridges accessible only from
Praeneste. First, and most important, it extended along the very wide
ridge known as Le Tende and Le Colonnelle which stretches down toward
Gallicano. Some distance above that town it splits, one half, under the
name of Colle S. Rocco, running out to the point on which Gallicano is
situated, and the other, as the Colle Caipoli, reaching farther out into
the Campagna. Along and across this ridge ran several ancient roads.
With the combination of fertile ground well situated, in a position
farthest away from all hostile attack, and a location not only in plain
sight from the citadel of Praeneste, but also between Praeneste and her
closest friend and ally, Tibur, it is certain that in this ridge we have
one of the most favored and valuable of Praeneste's possessions, and
quite as certain that Gallicano, probably the ancient Pedum, was one
of the towns which were dependent allies of Praeneste. It was along this
ridge too that probably the earlier, and certainly the more intimate
communication between Praeneste and Tibur passed, for of the three
possible routes, this was both the nearest and safest.
[Illustration: PLATE I. Praeneste, on mountain in background; Gallicano,
on top of ridge, in foreground.]
The second ridge, called Colle di Pastore as far as the Gallicano cut,
and Colle Collafri beyond it, along which for four miles runs the Via
Praenestina, undoubtedly belonged to the domain of Praeneste. But it
was not so important a piece of property as the ridges on either side,
for it is much narrower, and it had no town at its end. There was
probably always a road out this ridge, as is shown by the presence of
the later Via Praenestina, but that there was no town at the end of the
ridge is well proved by the fact that Ashby finds no remains there which
give evidence of one. Then, too, we have plain enough proof of general
unfitness for a town. In the first place the ridge runs oil into the
junction of two roadless valleys, there is not much fertile land back of
where the town site would have been, but above all, however, it is
certain that the Via Praenestina was an officially made Roman road, and
did not occupy anything more than a previous track of little
consequence. This is shown by the absence of tombs of the early
necropolis style along this road.
The next ridge must always have been one of the most important, for from
above Cavamonte as far as Passerano, at the bottom of the ridge on the
side toward Rome, connecting with the highway which was the later Via
Latina, ran the main road through Zagarolo, Passerano, Corcolle, on to
Tibur and the north. As this was the other of the two great roads
which ran to the north without getting out on the Roman Campagna, it is
certain that Praeneste considered it in her territory, and probably kept
the travel well in hand. With dependent towns at Zagarolo and Passerano,
which are several miles distant from each other, there must have been at
least one more town between them, to guard the road against attack from
Tusculum or Gabii. The fact that the Via Praenestina later cut the Colle
del Pero-Colle Seloa just below a point where an ancient road ascends
the ridge to a place well adapted for a town, and where there are some
remains, seems to prove the supposition, and to locate another of
the dependent cities of Praeneste.
That the next ridge, the one on which Zagarolo is situated, was also
part of Praeneste's territory, aside from the fact that it has always
been part of the diocese of Praeneste, is clearly shown by the
topography of the district. The only easy access to Zagarolo is from
Palestrina, and although the town itself cannot be seen from the
mountain of Praeneste, nevertheless the approach to it along the ridge
is clearly visible.
The country south and in front of Praeneste spreads out more like a
solid plain for a mile or so before splitting off into the ridges which
are so characteristic of the neighborhood. East of the ridge on which
Zagarolo stands, and running nearly at right angles to it, is a piece of
territory along which runs the present road (the Omata di Palestrina) to
the Palestrina railroad station, and which as far as the cross valley at
Colle dell'Aquila, is incontestably Praenestine domain.
But the territory which most certainly belonged to Praeneste, and which
was at once the most valuable and the oldest of her possessions is the
wide ridge now known as the Vigne di Loreto, along which runs the road
to Marcigliano. Not only does this ridge lie most closely bound to
Praeneste by nature, but it leads directly toward Velitrae, her most
advantageous ally. Tibur was perhaps always Praeneste's closest and most
loyal ally, but the alliance with her had not the same opportunity for
mutual advantage as one with Velitrae, because each of these towns
commanded the territory the other wished to know most about, and both
together could draw across the upper Trerus valley a tight line which
was of the utmost importance from a strategic point of view. These two
facts would in themselves be a satisfactory proof that this ridge was
Praeneste's first expansion and most important acquisition, but there
is proof other than topographical and argumentative.
At the head of this ridge in la Colombella, along the road leading to
Marcigliano from the little church of S. Rocco, have been found three
strata of tombs. The line of graves in the lowest stratum, the date of
which is not later than the fifth or sixth century B.C., points exactly
along the ancient road, now the Via della Marcigliana or di Loreto.
The natural limit of Praenestine domain to the south has now been
reached, and that it is actually the natural limit is shown by the
Through the Valle di Pepe or Fosso dell' Ospedalato (see Plate II),
which is wide as well as deep, runs the uppermost feeder of the Trerus
river. One sees at a glance that the whole slope of the mountain from
arx to base is continued by a natural depression which would make an
ideal boundary for Praenestine territory. Nor is the topographical proof
all. No inscriptions of consequence, and no architectural remains of the
pre-imperial period have been found across this valley. The road along
the top of the ridge beyond it is an ancient one, and ran to Valmontone
as it does today, and was undoubtedly often used between Praeneste and
the towns on the Volscians. The ridge, however, was exposed to sudden
attack from too many directions to be of practical value to Praeneste.
Valmontone, which lay out beyond the end of this ridge, commanded it,
and Valmontone was not a dependency of Praeneste, as is shown by an
inscription which mentions the adlectio of a citizen there into the
senate (decuriones) of Praeneste.
There are still two other places which as we have seen were included at
different times in the papal diocese of Praeneste, namely, Capranica
and Cave. Inscriptional evidence is not forthcoming in either place
sufficient to warrant any certainty in the matter of correspondence of
local names to those in Praeneste. Of the two, Capranica had much more
need of dependence on Praeneste than Cave. It was down through the
little valley back of Praeneste, at the head of which Capranica lay,
that her later aqueducts came. The outlet from Capranica back over the
mountains was very difficult, and the only tillable soil within reach of
that town lay to the north of Praeneste on the ridge running toward
Gallicano, and on a smaller ridge which curved around toward Tibur and
lay still closer to the mountains. In short, Capranica, which never
attained importance enough to be of any consequence, appears to have
been always dependent upon Praeneste.
But as for Cave, that is another question. Her friends were to the east,
and there was easy access into the mountains to Sublaqueum (Subiaco) and
beyond, through the splendid passes via either of the modern towns,
Genazzano or Olevano.
[Illustration: PLATE II. Praeneste, Monte Glicestro with citadel, as
seen from Valle di Pepe.]
It is quite evident that Cave was never a large town, and it seems most
probable that she realized that an amicable understanding with Praeneste
was discreet. This is rendered almost certain by the proof of a
continuance of business relations between the two places. The greater
number of the big tombs of the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. are of a
peperino from Cave, and a good deal of the tufa used in wall
construction in Praeneste is from the quarries near Cave, as Fernique
Rocca di Cave, on a hill top behind Cave, is too insignificant a
location to have been the cause of the lower town, which at the best
does not itself occupy a very advantageous position in any way, except
that it is in the line of a trade route from lower Italy. It might be
maintained with some reason that Cave was a settlement of dissatisfied
merchants from Praeneste, who had gone out and established themselves on
the main road for the purpose of anticipating the trade, but there is
much against such an argument.
It has been shown that there were peaceable relations between Praeneste
and Cave in the fifth and sixth centuries B.C., but that the two towns
were on terms of equality is impossible, and that Cave was a dependency
of Praeneste, and in her domain, is most unlikely both topographically
and epigraphically. And more than this, just as an ancient feud can be
proved between Praeneste and Rome from the slurs on Praeneste which one
finds in literature from Plautus down, if no other proofs were to be
had, just so there is a very ancient grudge between Praeneste and
Cave, which has been perpetuated and is very noticeable even at the
The topography of Praeneste as to the site of the city proper, and as to
its territorial domain is then, about as follows.
In very early times, probably as early as the ninth or tenth century
B.C., Praeneste was a town on the southern slope of Monte Glicestro,
with an arx on the summit. As the town grew, it spread first to the
level ground directly below, and out along the ridge west of the Valle
di Pepe toward Marcigliano, because it was territory not only fertile
and easily defended, being directly under the very eyes of the citizens,
but also because it stretched out toward Velitrae, an old and trusted
Her next expansion was in the direction of Tibur, along the trade route
which followed the Sabine side of the Liris-Trerus valley, and this
expansion gave her a most fertile piece of territory. To insure this
against incursions from the pass which led back into the mountains, it
seems certain that Praeneste secured or perhaps colonized Capranica.
The last Praenestine expansion in territory had a motive beyond the
acquisition of land, for it was also important from a strategical point
of view. It will be remembered that the second great trade route which
came into the Roman plain ran past Zagarolo, Passerano, and
Corcolle. This road runs along a valley just below ridges which
radiate from the mountain on which Praeneste is situated, and thus
bordered the land which was by nature territory dependent upon
Praeneste. So this final extension of her domain was to command this
important road. With the carrying out of this project all the ridges
mentioned above came gradually into the possession of Praneste, as
natural, expedient, and unquestioned domain, and on the ends of those
ridges which were defensible, dependent towns grew up. There was also a
town at Cavamonte above the Maremmana road, probably a village out on
the Colle dell'Oro, and undoubtedly one at Marcigliano, or in that
We have already seen that across a valley and a stream of some
consequence there is a ridge not at all connected with the mountain on
which Praeneste was situated, but belonging rather to Valmontone, which
was better suited for neutral ground or to act as a buffer to the
southeast. We turn to mention this ridge again as territory
topographically outside Praeneste's domain, in order to say more
forcibly that one must cross still another valley and stream before
reaching the territory of Cave, and so Cave, although dependent upon
Praeneste, by reason of its size and interests, was not a dependent city
of Praeneste, nor was it a part of her domain.
In short, to describe Praeneste, that famous town of Latium, and her
domain in a true if homely way, she was an ancient and proud city whose
territory was a commanding mountain and a number of ridges running out
from it, which spread out like a fan all the way from the Fosso
dell'Ospedalato (the depression shown in plate II) to the Sabine
mountains on the north.
THE CITY, ITS WALLS AND GATES.
The general supposition has been that the earliest inhabitants of
Praeneste lived only in the citadel on top of the hill. This theory is
supported by the fact that there is room enough, and, as will be shown
below, there was in early times plenty of water there; nevertheless it
is certain that this was not the whole of the site of the early city.
The earliest inhabitants of Praeneste needed first of all, safety, then
a place for pasturage, and withal, to be as close to the fertile land at
the foot of the mountain as possible. The first thing the inhabitants of
the new city did was to build a wall. There is still a little of this
oldest wall in the circuit about the citadel, and it was built at
exactly the same time as the lower part of the double walls that extend
down the southern slope of the mountain on each side of the upper part
of the modern town. It happens that by following the edges of the slope
of this southern face of the mountain down to a certain point, one
realizes that even without a wall the place would be practically
impregnable. Add to this the fact that all the stones necessary for a
wall were obtained during the scarping of the arx on the side toward the
Sabines, and needed only to be rolled down, not up, to their places
in the wall, which made the task a very easy one comparatively. Now if a
place can be found which is naturally a suitable place for a lower cross
wall, we shall have what an ancient site demanded; first, safety,
because the site now proposed is just as impregnable as the citadel
itself, and still very high above the plain below; second, pasturage,
for on the slope between the lower town and the arx is the necessary
space which the arx itself hardly supplies; and third, a more reasonable
nearness to the fertile land below. All the conditions necessary are
fulfilled by a cross wall in Praeneste, which up to this time has
remained mostly unknown, often neglected or wrongly described, and
wholly misunderstood. As we shall see, however, this very wall was the
lower boundary of the earliest Praeneste. The establishment of this
important fact will remove one of the many stumbling blocks over which
earlier writers on Praeneste have fallen.
It has been said above that the lowest part of the wall of the arx, and
the two walls from it down the mountain were built at the same time. The
accompanying plate (III) shows very plainly the course of the western
wall as it comes down the hill lining the edge of the slope where it
breaks off most sharply. Porta San Francesco, the modern gate, is above
the second tree from the right in the illustration, just where the wall
seems to turn suddenly. There is no trace of ancient wall after the gate
is passed. The white wall, as one proceeds from the gate to the right,
is the modern wall of the Franciscan monastery. All the writers on
Praeneste say that the ancient wall came on around the town where the
lower wall of the monastery now is, and followed the western limit of
the present town as far as the Porta San Martino.
Returning now to plate II we observe a thin white line of wall which
joins a black line running off at an angle to our left. This is also a
piece of the earliest cyclopean wall, and it is built just at the
eastern edge of the hill where it falls off very sharply.
Now if one follows the Via di San Francesco in from the gate of that
name (see plate III again) and then continues down a narrow street east
of the monastery as far as the open space in front of the church of
Santa Maria del Carmine, he will see that on his left above him the
slope of the mountain was not only precipitous by nature but that also
it has been rendered entirely unassailable by scarping. From the
lower end of this steep escarpment there is a cyclopean wall, of the
same date as the upper side walls of the town, and the wall of the arx,
which runs entirely across the city to within a few yards of the wall on
the east, and to a point just below a portella, where the upper
cyclopean wall makes a slight change in direction. The presence of the
gate and the change of direction in the wall mean a corner in the wall.
[Illustration: PLATE III. The western cyclopean wall of Praeneste, and
the depression which divides Monte Glicestro.]
It is strange indeed that this wall has not been recognized for what it
really is. A bit of it shows above the steps where the Via dello
Spregato leaves the Via del Borgo. Fernique shows this much in his map,
but by a curious oversight names it opus incertum. More than two
irregular courses are to be seen here, and fifteen feet in from the
street, forming the back wall of cellars and pig pens, the cyclopean
wall, in places to a height of fifteen feet or more, can be followed to
within a few yards of the open space in front of Santa Maria del
Carmine. And on the other side toward the east the same wall begins
again, after being broken by the Via dello Spregato, and forms the
foundations and side walls of the houses on the south side of that
street, and at the extreme east end is easily found as the back wall of
a blacksmith's shop at the top of the Via della Fontana, and can be
identified as cyclopean by a little cleaning of the wall.
The circuit of the earliest cyclopean wall and natural ramparts of
the contemporaneous citadel and town of Praeneste was as follows: An arc
of cyclopean wall below the cap of the hill which swung round from the
precipitous cliff on the west to that on the east, the whole of the side
of the arx toward the mountains being so steep that no wall was
necessary; then a second loop of cyclopean wall from the arx down the
steep western edge of the southern slope of the mountain as far as the
present Porta San Francesco. From this point natural cliffs reinforced
at the upper end by a short connecting wall bring us to the beginning of
the wall which runs across the town back of the Via del Borgo from Santa
Maria del Carmine to within a short distance of the east wall of the
city, separated from it in fact only by the Via della Fontana, which
runs up just inside the wall. There it joins the cyclopean wall which
comes down from the citadel on the east side of the town.
The reasons why this is the oldest circuit of the city's walls are the
following: first, all this stretch of wall is the oldest and was built
at the same time; second, topography has marked out most clearly that
the territory inclosed by these walls, here and only here, fulfills the
two indispensable requisites of the ancient town, namely space and
defensibility; third, below the gate San Francesco all the way round the
city as far as Porta del Sole, neither in the wall nor in the buildings,
nor in the valley below, is there any trace of cyclopean wall
stones; fourth, at the point where the cross wall and the long wall
must have met at the east, the wall makes a change in direction, and
there is an ancient postern gate just above the jog in the wall; and
last, the cyclopean wall from this junction on down to near the Porta
del Sole is later than that of the circuit just described.
The city was extended within a century perhaps, and the new line of the
city wall was continued on the east in cyclopean style as far as the
present Porta del Sole, where it turned to the west and continued until
the hill itself offered enough height so that escarpment of the natural
cliff would serve in place of the wall. Then it turned up the hill
between the present Via San Biagio and Via del Carmine back of Santa
Maria del Carmine. The proof for this expansion is clear. The
continuation of the cyclopean wall can be seen now as far as the Porta
del Sole, and the line of the wall which turns to the west is
positively known from the cippi of the ancient pomerium, which were
found in 1824 along the present Via degli Arconi. The ancient gate,
now closed, in the opus quadratum wall under the Cardinal's garden, is
in direct line with the ancient pavement of the road which comes up to
the city from the south, and the continuation of that road, which
seems to have been everywhere too steep for wagons, is the Via del
Carmine. There had always been another road outside the wall which went
up a less steep grade, and came round the angle of the wall at what is
now the Porta S. Martino, where it entered a gate that opened out of the
present Corso toward the west. When at a later time, probably in the
middle ages, the city was built out to its present boundary on the west,
the wagon road was simply arched over, and this arch is now the gate San
It will be necessary to speak further of the cyclopean wall on the east
side of the city from the Porta del Sole to the Portella, for it has
always been supposed that this part of the wall was exactly like the
rest, and dated from the same period. But a careful examination shows
that the stones in this lower portion are laid more regularly than those
in the wall above the Portella, that they are more flatly faced on the
outside, and that here and there a little mortar is used. Above all,
however, there is in the wall on one of the stones under the house no.
24, Via della Fontana an inscription, which Richter, Dressel, and
Dessau all think was there when the stone was put in the wall, and
incline to allow no very remote date for the building of the wall at
that point. To me, after a comparative study of this wall and the one at
Norba, the two seem to date from very nearly the same time, and no one
now dares attribute great antiquity to the walls of Norba. But the rest
of the cyclopean wall of Praeneste is very ancient, certainly a century,
perhaps two or three centuries, older than the part from the Portella
There remains still to be discussed the lower wall of the city on the
south, and a restraining terrace wall along part of the present Corso
Pierluigi. The stretch of city wall from the Porta del Sole clear across
the south front to the Porta di S. Martino is of opus quadratum, with
the exception of a stretch of opus incertum below and east of the
Barberini gardens, and a small space where the city sewage has destroyed
all vestige of a wall. The restraining wall just mentioned is also of
opus quadratum and is to be found along the south side of the Corso, but
can be seen only from the winecellars on the terrace below that street.
These walls of opus quadratum were built with a purpose, to be sure, but
their entire meaning has not been understood.
The upper wall, the one along the Corso, can not be traced farther than
the Piazza Garibaldi, in front of the Cathedral. It has been a mistake
to consider this a high wall. It was built simply to level up with the
Corso terrace, partly to give more space on the terrace, partly to make
room for a road which ran across the city here between two gates no
longer in existence. But more especially was it built to be the lower
support for a gigantic water reservoir which extends under nearly the
whole width of this terrace from about Corso Pierluigi No. 88 almost to
the Cathedral. The four sides of this great reservoir are also of
opus quadratum laid header and stretcher.
The lower wall, the real town wall, is a wall only in appearance, for it
has but one thickness of blocks, set header and stretcher in a mass of
solid concrete. This wall makes very clear the impregnability of
even the lower part of Praeneste, for the wall not only occupies a good
position, but is really a double line of defense. There are here two
walls, one above the other, the upper one nineteen feet back of the
lower, thus leaving a terrace of that width. At the east, instead of
the lower solid wall of opus quadratum, there is a series of fine tufa
arches built to serve as a substructure for something. It is to be
remembered again that between the arches on the east and the solid wall
on the west is a stretch of 200 feet of opus incertum, and a space where
there is no wall at all. This lower wall of Praeneste occupies the same
line as the ancient wall and escarpment, but the most of what survives
was restored in Sulla's time. The opus quadratum is exactly the same
style as that in the Tabularium in Rome.
Now, no one could see the width of the terrace above the lower wall,
without thinking that so great a width was unnecessary unless it was to
give room for a road. The difficulty has been, however, that the
line of arches at the east, not being in alignment with the lower wall
on the west, has not been connected with it hitherto, and so a correct
understanding of their relation has been impossible.
Before adducing evidence to show the location of the main and triumphal
entrance to Praeneste, we shall turn to the town above for a moment to
see whether it is, a priori, reasonable to suppose that there was an
entrance to the city here in the center of its front wall. If roads came
up a grade from the east and west, they would join at a point where now
there is no wall at all. This break is in the center of the south wall,
just above the forum which was laid out in Sulla's time on the level
spot immediately below the town. Most worthy of note, however, is that
this opening is straight below the main buildings of the ancient town,
the basilica, which is now the cathedral, and the temple of Fortuna. But
further, a fact which has never been noticed nor accounted for, this
opening is also in front of the modern square, the piazza Garibaldi,
which is in front of the buildings just mentioned but below them on the
next terrace, yet there is no entrance to this terrace shown. It is
well known that the open space south of the temple, beside the basilica,
has an ancient pavement some ten feet below the present level of the
modern piazza Savoia. Proof given below in connection with the large
tufa base which is on the level of the lower terrace will show that the
piazza Garibaldi was an open space in ancient times and a part of the
ancient forum. Again, the solarium, which is on the south face of the
basilica, was put up there that it might be seen, and as it faces
the south, the piazza Garibaldi, and this open space in the wall under
discussion, what is more likely than that there was not only an open
square below the basilica, but also the main approach to the city?
But now for the proof. In 1756 ancient paving stones were still in
situ above the row of arches on the Via degli Arconi, and even yet
the ascent is plain enough to the eye. The ground slopes up rather
moderately along the Via degli Arconi toward the east, and nearly below
the southeast corner of the ancient wall turned up to the west on these
arches, approaching the entrance in the middle of the south wall of the
city. But these arches and the road on them do not align exactly
with the terrace on the west. Nor should they do so. The arches are
older than the present opus quadratum wall, and the road swung round and
up to align with the road below and the old wall or escarpment of the
city above. Then when the whole town, its gates, its walls, and its
temple, were enlarged and repaired by Sulla, the upper wall was
perfectly aligned, a lower wall built on the west leaving a terrace for
a road, and the arches were left to uphold the road on the east.
Although the arches were not exactly in line, the road could well have
been so, for the terrace here was wider and ran back to the upper
wall. The evidence is also positive enough that there was an ascent
to the terrace on the west, the one below the Barberini gardens, which
corresponds to the ascent on the arches. This terrace now is level, and
at its west end is some twenty feet above the garden below. But the wall
shows very plainly that it had sloped off toward the west, and the slope
is most clearly to be seen, where a very obtuse angle of newer and
different tufa has been laid to build up the wall to a level. It is
to be noticed too that this terrace is the same height as the top of the
ascent above the arches. We have then actual proofs for roads leading up
from east and west toward the center of the wall on the south side of
the city, and every reason that an entrance here was practicable,
credible, and necessary.
But there is one thing more necessary to make probabilities tally
wholly with the facts. If there was a grand entrance to the city, below
the basilica, the temple, and the main open square, which faced out over
the great forum below, there must have been a monumental gate in the
wall. As a matter of fact there was such a gate, and I believe it was
called the PORTA TRIUMPHALIS. An inscription of the age of the Antonines
mentions "seminaria a Porta Triumphale," and this passing reference to a
gate with a name which in itself implies a gate of consequence, so well
known that a building placed near it at once had its location fixed,
gives the rest of the proof necessary to establish a central entrance to
the city in front, through a PORTA TRIUMPHALIS.
Before the time of Sulla there had been a gate in the south wall of the
city, approached by one road, which ascended from the east on the arches
facing the present Via degli Arconi. After entering the city one went
straight up a grade not very steep to the basilica, and to the open
square or ancient forum which was the space now occupied by the two
modern piazzas, the Garibaldi and the Savoia, and on still farther to
the temple. When Sulla rebuilt the city, and laid out a forum on the
level space directly south of and below the town, he made another road
from the west to correspond to the old ascent from the east, and brought
them together at the old central gate, which he enlarged to the PORTA
TRIUMPHALIS. In the open square in front of the basilica had stood the
statue of some famous man on a platform of squared stone 16 x 17-1/2
feet in measurement. Around this base the Sullan improvements put a
restraining wall of opus quadratum. The open square was in front of
the basilica and to its left below the temple. There was but one way to
the terrace above the temple from the ancient forum. This was a steep
road to the right, up the present Via delle Scalette. Another road ran
to the left back of the basilica, but ended either in front of the
western cave connected with the temple, or at the entrance into the
precinct of the temple.
Strabo, in a well known passage, speaks of Tibur and Praeneste as
two of the most famous and best fortified of the towns of Latium, and
tells why Praeneste is the more impregnable, but we have no mention of
its gates in literature, except incidentally in Plutarch, who says
that when Marius was flying before Sulla's forces and had reached
Praeneste, he found the gates closed, and had to be drawn up the wall by
a rope. The most ancient reference we have to a definite gate is to the
Porta Triumphalis, in the inscription just mentioned, and this is the
only gate of Praeneste mentioned by name in classic times.
In 1353 A.D. we have two gates mentioned. The Roman tribune Cola di
Rienzo (Niccola di Lorenzo) brought his forces out to attack Stefaniello
Colonna in Praeneste. It was not until Rienzo moved his camp across from
the west to the east side of the plain below the town that he saw how
the citizens were obtaining supplies. The two gates S. Cesareo and S.
Francesco were both being utilized to bring in supplies from the
mountains back of the city, and the stock was driven to and from pasture
through these gates. These gates were both ancient, as will be shown
below. Again in 1448 when Stefano Colonna rebuilt some walls after the
awful destruction of the city by Cardinal Vitelleschi, he opened three
gates, S. Cesareo, del Murozzo, and del Truglio. In 1642 two
more gates were opened by Prince Taddeo Barberini, the Porta del Sole,
and the Porta delle Monache, the former at the southeast corner of the
town, the latter in the east wall at the point where the new wall round
the monastery della Madonna degl'Angeli struck the old city wall, just
above the present street where it turns from the Via di Porta del Sole
into the Corso Pierluigi. This Porta del Sole was the principal gate
of the town at this time, or perhaps the one most easily defended, for
in 1656, during the plague in Rome, all the other gates were walled up,
and this one alone left open.
The present gates of the city are: one, at the southeast corner, the
Porta del Sole; two, near the southwest corner, where the wall turns up
toward S. Martino, a gate now closed; three, Porta S. Martino, at
the southwest corner of the town; on the west side of the city, none at
all; four, Porta S. Francesco at the northwest corner of the city
proper; five, a gate in the arx wall, now closed, beside the
mediaeval gate, which is just at the head of the depression shown in
plate III, the lowest point in the wall of the citadel; on the east,
Porta S. Cesareo, some distance above the town, six; seven, Porta dei
Cappuccini, which is on the same terrace as Porta S. Francesco; eight,
Portella, the eastern outlet of the Via della Portella; nine, a postern
just below the Portella, and not now in use; ten, Porta delle
Monache or Santa Maria, in front of the church of that name. The most
ancient of these, and the ones which were in the earliest circle of the
cyclopean wall, are five in number: Porta S. Francesco, the gate
into the arx, Porta S. Cesareo, Porta dei Cappuccini, and the
postern at the corner where the early cyclopean cross wall struck the
The second wall of the city, which was rather an enlargement of the
first, was cyclopean on the east as far as the present Porta del Sole,
and either scarped cliff or opus quadratum round to Porta S. Martino,
and up to Porta S. Francesco. At the east end of the modern Corso,
there was a gate, made of opus quadratum, as is shown not only by
the fact that this is the main street of the city, and on the terrace
level of the basilica, but also because the mediaeval wall round the
monastery of the Madonna degl'Angeli, the grounds of the present church
of Santa Maria, did not run straight to the cyclopean wall, but turned
down to join it near the gate which it helps to prove. Next, there was a
gate, but in all probability only a postern, near the Porta del Sole
where the cyclopean wall stops, where now there is a narrow street which
runs up to the piazza Garibaldi. On the south there was the gate which
at some time was given the name Porta Triumphalis. It was at the place
where now there is no wall at all. At the southwest we find the next
gate, the one which is now closed. The last one of the ancient gates
in this second circle of the city wall was one just inside the modern
Porta S. Martino, which opened west at the end of the Corso. All the
rest of the gates are mediaeval.
A few words about the roads leading to the several gates of Praeneste
will help further to settle the antiquity of these gates. The oldest
road was certainly the trade route which came up the north side of the
Liris valley below the hill on which Praeneste was situated, and which
followed about the line of the Via Praenestina as shown by Ashby in his
map. Two branch roads from this main track ran up to the town, one
at the west, the other at the east, both in the same line as the modern
roads. These roads were bound for the city gates as a matter of course
and the land slopes least sharply where these roads were and still are.
Another important road was outside the city wall, from one gate to the
other, and took the slope on the south side of the city where the Via
degli Arconi now runs.
As far as excavations have proved up to this time, the oldest road out
of Praeneste is that which is now the Via della Marcigliana, along which
were found the very early tombs. It is to be noted that these tombs
begin beyond the church of S. Rocco, which is a long distance below the
town. This distance however makes it certain that between S. Rocco and
the city, excavation will bring to light other and yet older tombs along
the road which leads up toward "l'antica porta S. Martino chiusa," and
also in all probability rows of graves will be found along the present
road to Cave. But the tombs give us the direction at least of the old
There is yet another old road which was lately discovered. It is about
three hundred yards below the city and near the road that cuts through
from Porta del Sole to the church of Madonna dell'Aquila. This road
is made of polygonal stones of the limestone of the mountain, and hence
is older than any of the lava roads. It runs nearly parallel with the
Via degli Arconi, and takes a direction which would strike the Via
Praenestina where it crosses the Via Praenestina Nuova which runs past
Zagarolo. That is, the most ancient piece of road we have leads up to
the southeast corner of the town, but the oldest tombs point to a road
the direction of which was toward the southwest corner. However, all the
roads lead toward the southeast corner, where the old grade began that
went up above the arches, mentioned above, to a middle gate of the city.
The gate S. Francesco also is proved to be ancient because of the old
road that led from it. This road is identified by a deposit of ex voto
terracottas which were found at the edge of the road in a hole hollowed
out in the rocks.
The two roads which were traveled the most were the ones that led toward
Rome. This is shown by the tombs on both sides of them, and by the
discovery of a deposit of a great quantity of ex voto terracottas in
the angle between the two.
THE WATER SUPPLY OF PRAENESTE.
In very early times there was a spring near the top of Monte Glicestro.
This is shown by a glance back at plate III, which indicates the
depression or cut in the hill, which from its shape and depth is clearly
not altogether natural and attributable to the effects of rain, but is
certainly the effect of a spring, the further and positive proof of the
existence of which is shown by the unnecessarily low dip made by the
wall of the citadel purposely to inclose the head of this depression.
There are besides no water reservoirs inside the wall of the arx. This
supply of water, however, failed, and it must have failed rather early
in the city's history, perhaps at about the time the lower part of the
city was walled in, for the great reservoir on the Corso terrace seems
to be contemporary with this second wall.
But at all times Praeneste was dependent upon reservoirs for a sure and
lasting supply of water. The mountain and the town were famous because
of the number of water reservoirs there. A great many of these
reservoirs were dependent upon catchings from the rain, but before
a war, or when the rainfall was scant, they were filled undoubtedly from
springs outside the city. In later times they were connected with the
aqueducts which came to the city from beyond Capranica.
It is easy to account now for the number of gates on the east side of
the city. True, this side of the wall lay away from the Campagna, and
egress from gates on this side could not be seen by an enemy unless he
moved clear across the front of the city. But the real reason for
the presence of so many gates is that the best and most copious springs
were on this side of the city, as well as the course of the little
headstream of the Trerus. The best concealed egress was from the Porta
Cesareo, from which a road led round back of the mountain to a fine
spring, which was high enough above the valley to be quite safe.
There are no references in literature to aqueducts which brought water
to Praeneste. Were we left to this evidence alone, we should conclude
that Praeneste had depended upon reservoirs for water. But in
inscriptions we have mention of baths, the existence of which
implies aqueducts, and there is the specus of an aqueduct to be seen
outside the Porta S. Francesco. This ran across to the Colle S.
Martino to supply a large brick reservoir of imperial date. There
were aqueducts still in 1437, for Cardinal Vitelleschi captured
Palestrina by cutting off its water supply. This shows that the
water came from outside the city, and through aqueducts which probably
dated back to Roman times, and also that the reservoirs were at this
time no longer used. In 1581 the city undertook to restore the old
aqueduct which brought water from back of Capranica, but no description
was left of its exact course or ancient construction. While these
repairs were in progress, Francesco Cecconi leased to the city his
property called Terreni, where there were thirty fine springs of clear
water not far from the city walls. Again in 1776 the springs called
delle cannuccete sent in dirty water to the city, so citizens were
appointed to remedy matters. They added a new spring to those already in
use and this water came to the city through an aqueduct.
The remains of four great reservoirs, all of brick construction, are
plainly enough to be seen at Palestrina, and as far as situation and
size are concerned, are well enough described in other places. But
in the case of these reservoirs, as in that of all the other remains of
ancient construction at Praeneste, the writers on the history of the
town have made great mistakes, because all of them have been predisposed
to the pleasant task of making all the ruins fit some restoration or
other of the temple of Fortuna, although, as a matter of fact, none of
the reservoirs have any connection whatever with the temple. The
fine brick reservoir of the time of Tiberius, which is at the
junction of the Via degli Arconi and the road from the Porta S. Martino,
was not built to supply fountains or baths in the forum below, but was
simply a great supply reservoir for the citizens who lived in particular
about the lower forum, and the water from this reservoir was carried
away by hand, as is shown by the two openings like well heads in the top
of each compartment of the reservoir, and by the steps which gave
entrance to it on the east. The reservoir above this in the Barberini
gardens is of a date a half century later. It is of the same brick
work as the great fountain which stands, now debased to a grist mill,
across the Via degli Arconi about half way between S. Lucia and Porta
del Sole. The upper reservoir undoubtedly supplied this fountain, and
other public buildings in the forum below. There is another large brick
reservoir below the present ground level in the angle between the Via
degli Arconi and the Cave road below the Porta del Sole, but it is too
low ever to have served for public use. It was in connection with some
private bath. The fourth huge reservoir, the one on Colle S. Martino,
has already been mentioned.
But the most ancient of all the reservoirs is one which is not mentioned
anywhere. It dates from the time when the Corso terrace was made, and is
of opus quadratum like the best of the wall below the city, and the wall
on the lower side of the terrace. This reservoir, like the one in
the Barberini garden, served the double purpose of a storage for water,
and of a foundation for the terrace, which, being thus widened, offered
more space for street and buildings above. It lies west of the basilica,
but has no connection with the temple. From its position it seems rather
to have been one of the secret public water supplies.
Praeneste had in early times only one spring within the city walls,
just inside the gate leading into the arx. There were other springs on
the mountain to the east and northeast, but too far away to be included
within the walls. Because of their height above the valley, they were to
a certain extent available even in times of warfare and siege. As the
upper spring dried up early, and the others were a little precarious, an
elaborate system of reservoirs was developed, a plan which the natural
terraces of the mountain slope invited, and a plan which gave more space
to the town itself with the work of leveling necessary for the
reservoirs. These reservoirs were all public property. They were at
first dependent upon collection from rains or from spring water carried
in from outside the city walls. Later, however, aqueducts were made and
connected with the reservoirs.
With the expansion of the town to the plain below, this system gave
great opportunity for the development of baths, fountains, and
waterworks, for Praeneste wished to vie with Tibur and Rome, where
the Anio river and the many aqueducts had made possible great things for
public use and municipal adornment.
THE TEMPLE OF FORTUNA PRIMIGENIA.
Nusquam se fortunatiorem quam Praeneste vidisse Fortunam. In this
way Cicero reports a popular saying which makes clear the fame of the
goddess Fortuna Primigenia and her temple at Praeneste.
The excavations at Praeneste in the eighteenth century brought the city
again into prominence, and from that time to the present, Praeneste has
offered much material for archaeologists and historians.
But the temple of Fortuna has constituted the principal interest and
engaged the particular attention of everyone who has worked upon the
history of the town, because the early enthusiastic view was that the
temple occupied the whole slope of the mountain, and that the
present city was built on the terraces and in the ruins of the temple.
Every successive study, however, of the city from a topographical point
of view has lessened more and more the estimated size of the temple,
until now all that can be maintained successfully is that there are two
separate temples built at different times, the later and larger one
occupying a position two terraces higher than the older and more
important temple below.
The lower temple with its precinct, along the north side of which
extends a wall and the ruins of a so-called cryptoporticus which
connected two caves hollowed out in the rock, is not so very large a
sanctuary, but it occupies a very good position above and behind the
ancient forum and basilica on a terrace cut back into the solid rock of
the mountain. The temple precinct is a courtyard which extends along the
terrace and occupies its whole width from the older cave on the west to
the newer one at the east. In front of the latter cave is built the
temple itself, which faces west along the terrace, but extends its
southern facade to the edge of the ancient forum which it overlooks.
This temple is older than the time of Sulla, and occupies the site of an
Two terraces higher, on the Cortina terrace, stretch out the ruins of a
huge construction in opus incertum. This building had at least two
stories of colonnade facing the south, and at the north side of the
terrace a series of arches above which in the center rose a round temple
which was approached by a semicircular flight of steps. This
building, belonging to the time of Sulla, presented a very imposing
appearance from the forum below the town. It has no connection with the
lower temple unless perhaps by underground passages.
Although this new temple and complex of buildings was much larger and
costlier than the temple below, it was so little able to compete with
the fame of the ancient shrine, that until mediaeval times there is not
a mention of it anywhere by name or by suggestion, unless perhaps in one
inscription mentioned below. The splendid publication of Delbrueck
with maps and plans and bibliography of the lower temple and the work
which has been done on it, makes unnecessary any remarks except on some
few points which have escaped him.
The tradition was that a certain Numerius Suffustius of Praeneste was
warned in dreams to cut into the rocks at a certain place, and this he
did before his mocking fellow citizens, when to the bewilderment of them
all pieces of wood inscribed with letters of the earliest style leaped
from the rock. The place where this phenomenon occurred was thus proved
divine, the cult of Fortuna Primigenia was established beyond
peradventure, and her oracular replies to those who sought her shrine
were transmitted by means of these lettered blocks. This story
accounts for a cave in which the lots (sortes) were to be consulted.
But there are two caves. The reason why there are two has never been
shown, nor does Delbrueck have proof enough to settle which is the older
The cave to the west is made by Delbrueck the shrine of Iuppiter puer,
and the temple with its cave at the east, the aedes Fortunae. This he
does on the authority of his understanding of the passage from Cicero
which gives nearly all the written information we have on the subject of
the temple. Delbrueck bases his entire argument on this passage and
two other references to a building called aedes. Now it was Fortuna
who was worshipped at Praeneste, and not Jupiter. Although there is an
intimate connection between Jupiter and Fortuna at Praeneste, because
she was thought of at different times as now the mother and now the
daughter of Jupiter, still the weight of evidence will not allow any
such importance to be attached to Iuppiter puer as Delbrueck
The two caves were not made at the same time. This is proved by the
fact that the basilica is below and between them. Had there been
two caves at the earliest time, with a common precinct as a connection
between them, as there was later, there would have been power enough in
the priesthood to keep the basilica from occupying the front of the
place which would have been the natural spot for a temple or for the
imposing facade of a portico. The western cave is the earlier, but it is
the earlier not because it was a shrine of Iuppiter puer, but because
the ancient road which came through the forum turned up to it, because
it is the least symmetrical of the two caves, and because the temple
faced it, and did not face the forum.
The various plans of the temple have usually assumed like buildings
in front of each cave, and a building, corresponding to the basilica,
between them and forming an integral part of the plan. But the basilica
does not quite align with the temple, and the road back of the basilica
precludes any such idea, not to mention the fact that no building the
size of a temple was in front of the west cave. It is the mania for
making the temple cover too large a space, and the desire to show that
all its parts were exactly balanced on either side, and that this
triangular shaped sanctuary culminated in a round temple, this it is
that has caused so much trouble with the topography of the city. The
temple, as it really is, was larger perhaps than any other in Latium,
and certainly as imposing.
Delbrueck did not see that there was a real communication between the
caves along the so-called cryptoporticus. There is a window-like hole,
now walled up, in the east cave at the top, and it opened out upon the
second story of the cryptoporticus, as Marucchi saw. So there was
an unseen means of getting from one cave to the other. This probably
proves that suppliants at one shrine went to the other and were there
convinced of the power of the goddess by seeing the same priest or
something which they themselves had offered at the first shrine. It
certainly proves that both caves were connected with the rites having to
do with the proper obtaining of lots from Fortuna, and that this
communication between the caves was unknown to any but the temple
There are some other inscriptions not noticed by Delbrueck which mention
the aedes, and bear on the question in hand. One inscription found
in the Via delle Monache shows that in connection with the sedes
Fortunae were a manceps and three cellarii. This is an inscription of
the last of the second or the first of the third century A.D., when
both lower and upper temples were in very great favor. It shows further
that only the lower temple is meant, for the number is too small to be
applicable to the great upper temple, and it also shows that aedes,
means the temple building itself and not the whole precinct. There is
also an inscription, now in the floor of the cathedral, that mentions
aedes. Its provenience is noteworthy. There were other buildings,
however, belonging to the precinct of the lower temple, as is shown by
the remains today. That there was more than one sacred building is
also shown by inscriptions which mention aedes sacrae, though
these may refer of course to the upper temple as well.
There are yet two inscriptions of importance, one of which mentions a
porticus, the other an aedes et porticus. The second of these
inscriptions belongs to a time not much later than the founding of the
colony. It tells that certain work was done by decree of the decuriones,
and it can hardly refer to the ancient lower temple, but must mean
either the upper one, or still another out on the new forum, for there
is where the stone is reported to have been found. The first inscription
records a work of some consequence done by a woman in remembrance of her
husband. There are no remains to show that the forum below the town
had any temple of such consequence, so it seems best to refer both these
inscriptions to the upper temple, which, as we know, was rich in
Now after having brought together all the usages of the word aedes in
its application to the temple of Praeneste, it seems that Delbrueck has
very small foundation for his argument which assumes as settled the
exact meaning and location of the aedes Fortunae.
From the temple itself we turn now to a brief discussion of a space on
the tufa wall which helps to face the cave on the west. This is a
smoothed surface which shows a narrow cornice ledge above it, and a
narrow base below. In it are a number of irregularly driven holes.
Delbrueck calls it a votive niche, and says that the "viele
regellos verstreute Nagelloecher" are due to nails upon which votive
offerings were suspended.
This seems quite impossible. The holes are much too irregular to have
served such a purpose. The holes show positively that they were made by
nails which held up a slab of some kind, perhaps of marble, on which
were displayed the replies from the goddess which were too long to
be given by means of the lettered blocks (sortes). Most likely, however,
it was a marble slab or bronze tablet which contained the lex templi,
and was something like the tabula Veliterna.
On the floor of the two caves were two very beautiful mosaics, one of
which is now in the Barberini palace, the other, which is in a sadly
mutilated condition, still on the floor of the west cave. The date of
these mosaics has been a much discussed question. Marucchi puts it at
the end of the second century A.D., while Delbrueck makes it the early
part of the first century B.C., and thinks the mosaics were the gift of
Sulla. Delbrueck does not make his point at all, and Marucchi is carried
too far by a desire to establish a connection at Praeneste between
Fortuna and Isis. Not to go into a discussion of the date of the
Greek lettering which gives the names of the animals portrayed in the
finer mosaic, nor the subject of the mosaic itself, the inscription
given above should help to settle the date of the mosaic. Under
Claudius, between the years 51 and 54 A.D., a portico was decorated with
marble and a coating of marble facing. That this was a very splendid
ornamentation is shown by the fact that it is mentioned so particularly
in the inscription. And if in 54 A.D. marble and marble facing were
things so worthy of note, then certainly one hundred and thirty years
earlier there was no marble mosaic floor in Praeneste like the one under
discussion, which is considered the finest large piece of Roman mosaic
in existence. And it was fifty years later than the date Delbrueck
wishes to assign to this mosaic, before marble began to be used in any
great profusion in Rome, and at this time Praeneste was not in advance
of Rome. The mosaic, therefore, undoubtedly dates from about the time of
Hadrian, and was probably a gift to the city when he built himself a
villa below the town.
Finally, a word with regard to the aerarium. This is under the temple of
Fortuna, but is not built with any regard to the facade of the temple
above. The inscription on the back wall of the chamber is earlier than
the time of Sulla, and the position of this little vault
shows that it was a treasury connected with the basilica, indeed its
close proximity about makes it part of that building and proves that it
was the storehouse for public funds and records. It occupied a very
prominent place, for it was at the upper end of the old forum, directly
in front of the Sacra Via that came up past the basilica from the Porta
Triumphalis. The conclusion of the whole matter is that the earliest
city forum grew up on the terrace in front of the place where the
mysterious lots had leaped out of the living rock. A basilica was built
in a prominent place in the northwest corner of the forum. Later,
another wonderful cave was discovered or made, and at such a distance
from the first one that a temple in front of it would have a facing on
the forum beyond the basilica, and this also gave a space of ground
which was leveled off into a terrace above the basilica and the forum,
and made into a sacred precinct. Because the basilica occupied the
middle front of the temple property, the temple was made to face west
along the terrace, toward the more ancient cave. The sacred precinct in
front of the temple and between the caves was enclosed, and had no
entrance except at the west end where the Sacra Via ended, which was in
front of the west cave. Before the temple, facing the sacred inclosure
was the pronaos mentioned in the inscription above, and along each
side of this inclosure ran a row of columns, and probably one also on
the west side. Both caves and the temple were consecrated to the service
of Fortuna Primigenia, the tutelary goddess of Praeneste. Both caves and
an earlier temple, which occupied part of the site of the present one,
belong to the early life of Praeneste.
Sulla built a huge temple on the second terrace higher than the old
temple, but its fame and sanctity were never comparable to its beauty
and its pretensions.
THE EPIGRAPHICAL TOPOGRAPHY OF PRAENESTE.
AEDICULA, C.I.L., XIV, 2908.
From the provenience of the inscription this building, not necessarily a
sacred one (Dessau), was one of the many structures on the site of the
new Forum below the town.
PUBLICA AEDIFICIA, C.I.L., XIV, 2919, 3032.
Barbarus Pompeianus about 227 A.D. restored a number of public buildings
which had begun to fall to pieces. A mensor aed(ificiorum) (see Dict.
under sarcio) is mentioned in C.I.L., XIV, 3032.
AEDES ET PORTICUS, C.I.L., XIV, 2980.
See discussion of temple, page 42.
AEDES, C.I.L., XIV, 2864, 2867, 3007.
See discussion of temple, page 42.
AEDES SACRAE, C.I.L., XIV, 2922, 4091, 9== Annali dell'Inst., 1855, p.
See discussion of temple, page 42.
AERARIUM, C.I.L., XIV, 2975; Bull. dell'Inst., 1881, p. 207; Marucchi,
Bull. dell'Inst., 1881, p. 252; Nibby, Analisi, II, p. 504; best and
latest, Delbrueck, Hellenistische Bauten in Latium, I, p. 58.
The points worth noting are: that this aerarium is not built with
reference to the temple above, and that it faces out on the public
square. These points have been discussed more at length above, and will
receive still more attention below under the caption "FORUM."
AMPHITHEATRUM, C.I.L., XIV, 3010, 3014; Juvenal, III, 173; Ovid, A.A.,
I, 103 ff.
The remains found out along the Valmontone road coincide nearly
enough with the provenience of the inscription to settle an amphitheatre
here of late imperial date. The tradition of the death of the martyr S.
Agapito in an amphitheatre, and the discovery of a Christian church on
the Valmontone road, have helped to make pretty sure the identification
of these ruins.
We know also from an inscription that there was a gladiatorial school at
BALNEAE, C.I.L., XIV, 3013, 3014 add.
The so-called nymphaeum, the brick building below the Via degli Arconi,
mentioned page 41, seems to have been a bath as well as a fountain,
because of the architectural fragments found there when it was
turned into a mill by the Bonanni brothers. The reservoir mentioned
above on page 41 must have belonged also to a bath, and so do the ruins
which are out beyond the villa under which the modern cemetery now is.
From their orientation they seem to belong to the villa. There were also
baths on the hill toward Gallicano, as the ruins show.
BYBLIOTHECAE, C.I.L., XIV, 2916.
These seem to have been two small libraries of public and private law
books. They were in the Forum, as the provenience of the
CIRCUS, Cecconi, Storia di Palestrina, p. 75, n. 32.
Cecconi thought there was a circus at the bottom of the depression
between Colle S. Martino and the hill of Praeneste. The depression does
have a suspiciously rounded appearance below the Franciscan grounds, but
a careful examination made by me shows no trace of cutting in the rock
to make a half circle for seats, no traces of any use of the slope for
seats, and no ruins of any kind.
CULINA, C.I.L., XIV, 3002.
This was a building of some consequence. Two quaestors of the city
bought a space of ground 148-1/2 by 16 feet along the wall, and
superintended the building of a culina there. The ground was made
public, and the whole transaction was done by decree of the senate, that
is, it was done before the time of Sulla.
CURIA, C.I.L., XIV, 2924.
The fact that a statue was to be set up (ve)l ante curiam vel in
porticibus for(i) would seem to imply that the curia was in the lower
Forum. The inscription shows that these two places were undoubtedly the
most desirable places that a statue could have. There is a possibility
that the curia may be the basilica on the Corso terrace of the city. It
has been shown that an open space existed in front of the basilica, and
that in it there is at least one basis for a statue. Excavations at
the ruins which were once thought to be the curia of ancient Praeneste
showed instead of a hemicycle, a straight wall built on remains of a
more ancient construction of rectangular blocks of tufa with three
layers of pavement 4-1/2 feet below the level of the ground, under which
was a tomb of brick construction, and lower still a wall of opus
quadratum of tufa, certainly none of the remains belonging to a curia.
[Illustration: PLATE IV. The Sacra Via, and its turn round the upper end
of the Basilica.]
FORUM, C.I.L., XIV, 3015.
The most ancient forum of Praeneste was inside the city walls. It was in
this forum that the statue of M. Anicius, the famous praetor, was set
up. The writers hitherto, however, have been entirely mistaken, in
my opinion, as to the extent of the ancient forum. For the old forum was
not an open space which is now represented by the Piazza Savoia of the
modern town, as is generally accepted, but the ancient forum of
Praeneste was that piazza and the piazza Garibaldi and the space between
them, now built over with houses, all combined. At the present time one
goes down some steps in front of the cathedral, which was the basilica,
to the Piazza Garibaldi, and it has been supposed that this open space
belonged to a terrace below the Corso. But there was no lower terrace
there. The upper part of the forum simply has been more deeply buried in
debris than the lower part.
One needs only to see the new excavations at the upper end of the Piazza
Savoia to realize that the present ground level of the piazza is nearly
nine feet higher than the pavement of the old forum. The accompanying
illustration (plate IV) shows the pavement, which is limestone, not
lava, that comes up the slope along the east side of the basilica,
and turns round it to the west. A cippus stands at the corner to do the
double duty of defining the limits of the basilica, and to keep the
wheels of wagons from running up on the steps. It can be seen clearly
that the lowest step is one stone short of the cippus, that the next
step is on a level with the pavement at the cippus, and the next step
level again with the pavement four feet beyond it. The same grade would
give us about twelve or fifteen steps at the south end of the basilica,
and if continued to the Piazza Garibaldi, would put us below the present
level of that piazza. From this piazza on down through the garden of the
Petrini family to the point where the existence of a Porta Triumphalis
has been proved, the grade would not be even as steep as it was in the
forum itself. Further, to show that the lower piazza is even yet
accessible from the upper, despite its nine feet more of fill, if one
goes to the east end of the Piazza Savoia he finds there instead of
steps, as before the basilica, a street which leads down to the level of
the Piazza Garibaldi, and although it begins at the present level of the
upper piazza, it is not even now too steep for wagons. Again, one must
remember that the opus quadratum wall which extends along the south side
of the Corso does not go past the basilica, and also that there is a
basis for a statue of some kind in front of the basilica on the level of
the Piazza Garibaldi.
It is a question whether the ancient forum was entirely paved. The
paving can be seen along the basilica, and it has been seen back of
it, but this pavement belongs to another hitherto unknown part of
Praenestine topography, namely, a SACRA VIA. An inscription to an
aurufex de sacra via makes certain that there was a road in
Praeneste to which this name was given. The inscription was found in the
courtyard of the Seminary, which was the precinct of the temple of
Fortuna. From the fact that this pavement is laid with blocks such as
are always used in roads, from the cippus at the corner of the basilica
to keep off wagon wheels, from the fact that this piece of pavement is
in direct line from the central gate of the town, and last from the
inscription and its provenience, I conclude that we have in this
pavement a road leading directly from the Porta Triumphalis through the
forum, alongside the basilica, then turning back of it and continuing
round to the delubra and precinct of the temple of Fortuna Primigenia,
and that this road is the SACRA VIA of Praeneste.
At the upper end of the forum under the south facade of the temple, an
excavation was made in April 1907, which is of great interest and
importance in connection with the forum. In Plate V we see that there
are three steps of tufa, and observe that the space in front of
them is not paved; also that the ascent to the right, which is the only
way out of the forum at this corner, is too steep to have been ever more
than for ascent on foot. But it is up this steep and narrow way
that every one had to go to reach the terrace above the temple, unless
he went across to the west side of the city.
The steps just mentioned are not the beginning of an ascent to the
temple, for there were but three, and besides there was no entrance to
the temple on the south. Nor was the earlier temple much lower than
the later one, for in either case the foundation was the rock surface of
the terrace and has not changed much. Although these steps are of an
older construction than the steps of the basilica, yet they were not
covered up in late imperial times as is shown by the brick construction
in the plate. One is tempted to believe that there was a Doric portico
below the engaged Corinthian columns of the south facade of the
temple. But all the pieces of Doric columns found belong to the
portico of the basilica. Otherwise one might try to set up further
argument for a portico, and even claim that here was the place that the
statue was set up, ante curiam vel in por ticibus fori. Again,
these steps run far past the temple to the east, otherwise we might
conclude that they were to mark the extent of temple property. The fact,
however, that a road, the Sacra Via, goes round back of the basilica
only to the left, forces us to conclude that these steps belong to the
city, not to the temple in any way, and that they mark the north side of
the ancient forum.
The new forum below the city is well enough attested by inscriptions
found there mentioning statues and buildings in the forum. The tradition
has continued that here on the level space below the town was the great
forum. Inscriptions which have been found in different places on this
tract of ground mention five buildings, ten statues of public
men, the statue set up to the emperor Trajan on his birthday,
September 18, 101 A.D., and one to the emperor Julian. The
discovery of two pieces of the Praenestine fasti in 1897 and 1903
also helps to locate the lower forum.
[Illustration: PLATE V. The tufa steps at the upper end of the ancient
Forum of Praeneste.]
The forum inside the city walls was the forum of Praeneste, the ally of
Rome, the more pretentious one below the city was the forum of
Praeneste, the Roman colony of Sulla.
IUNONARIUM, C.I.L., XIV, 2867.
Delbrueck follows Preller in making the Iunonarium a part of the
temple of Fortuna. It seems strange to have a statue of Trivia dedicated
in a Iunonarium, but it is stranger that there are no inscriptions among
those from Praeneste which mention Juno, except that the name alone
appears on a bronze mirror and two bronze dishes, and as the
provenience of bronze is never certain, such inscriptions mean nothing.
It seems that the Iunonarium must have been somewhere in the west end of
the temple precinct of Fortuna.
KASA CUI VOCABULUM EST FULGERITA, C.I.L., XIV, 2934.
This is an inscription which mentions a property inside the domain of
Praeneste in a region, which in 385 A.D., was called regio
Campania, but it can not be located.
LACUS, C.I.L., XIV, 2998; Not. d. Scavi, 1902, p. 12. LAVATIO, C.I.L.,
XIV, 2978, 2979, 3015.
These three inscriptions were found in places so far from one another
that they may well refer to three lavationes.
LUDUS, C.I.L., XIV, 3014.
MACELLUM, C.I.L., XIV, 2937, 2946.
These inscriptions were found along the Via degli Arconi, and from the
fact that in 243 A.D. (C.I.L. XIV, 2972) there was a region (regio) by
that name, I should conclude that the lower part of the town below the
wall was called regio macelli. In Cecconi's time the city was divided
into four quarters, which may well represent ancient tradition.
MACERIA, C.I.L., XIV, 3314, 3340.
Cecconi, Storia di Palestrina, p. 87.
MASSA PRAE(NESTINA), C.I.L., XIV, 2934.
MURUS, C.I.L., XIV, 3002.
See above, pages 22 ff.
PORTA TRIUMPHALIS, C.I.L., XIV, 2850.
See above, page 32.
PORTICUS, C.I.L., XIV, 2995.
See discussion of temple, page 42.
QUADRIGA, C.I.L., XIV, 2986.
SACRARIUM, C.I.L., XIV, 2900.
SCHOLA FAUSTINIANA, C.I.L., XIV, 2901; C.I.G., 5998.
Fernique (Etude sur Preneste, p. 119) thinks this the building the ruins
of which are of brick and called a temple, near the Ponte dell'
Ospedalato, but this is impossible. The date of the brick work is all
much later than the date assigned to it by him, and much later than the
name itself implies.
SEMINARIA A PORTA TRIUMPHALE, C.I.L., XIV, 2850.
This building was just inside the gate which was in the center of the
south wall of Praeneste, directly below the ancient forum and basilica.
SOLARIUM, C.I.L., XIV, 3323.
SPOLIARIUM, C.I.L., XIV, 3014.
TEMPLUM SARAPIS, C.I.L., XIV, 2901.
TEMPLUM HERCULIS, C.I.L., XIV, 2891, 2892; Not. d. Scavi, 11
(1882-1883), p. 48.
This temple was a mile or more distant from the city, in the territory
now known as Bocce di Rodi, and was situated on the little road which
made a short cut between the two great roads, the Praenestina and the
SACRA VIA, Not. d. Scavi, Ser. 5, 4 (1896), p. 49.
In the discussions on the temple and the forum, pages 42 and 54, I think
it is proved that the Sacra Via of Praeneste was the ancient road which
extended from the Porta Triumphalis up through the Forum, past the
Basilica and round behind it, to the entrance into the precinct and
temple of Fortuna Primigenia.
VIA, C.I.L., XIV, 3001, 3343. Viam sternenda(m).
In inscription No. 3343 we have supra viam parte dex(tra), and from the
provenience of the stone we get a proof that the old road which led out
through the Porta S. Francesco was so well known that it was called
THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OF PRAENESTE.
Praeneste was already a rich and prosperous community, when Rome was
still fighting for a precarious existence. The rapid development,
however, of the Latin towns, and the necessity of mutual protection and
advancement soon brought Rome and Praeneste into a league with the other
towns of Latium. Praeneste because of her position and wealth was the
haughtiest member of the newly made confederation, and with the more
rapid growth of Rome became her most hated rival. Later, when Rome
passed from a position of first among equals to that of mistress of her
former allies, Praeneste was her proudest and most turbulent subject.
From the earliest times, when the overland trade between Upper Etruria,
Magna Graecia, and Lower Etruria came up the Liris valley, and touching
Praeneste and Tibur crossed the river Tiber miles above Rome, that
energetic little settlement looked with longing on the city that
commanded the splendid valley between the Sabine and Volscian mountains.
Rome turned her conquests in the direction of her longings, but could
get no further than Gabii. Praeneste and Tibur were too strongly
situated, and too closely connected with the fierce mountaineers of the
interior, and Rome was glad to make treaties with them on equal
Rome, however, made the most of her opportunities. Her trade up and
down the river increased, and at the same time brought her in touch with
other nations more and more. Her political importance grew rapidly, and
it was not long before she began to assume the primacy among the towns
of the Latin league. This assumption of a leadership practically hers
already was disputed by only one city. This was Praeneste, and there can
be no doubt but that if Praeneste had possessed anything approaching the
same commercial facilities in way of communication by water she would
have been Rome's greatest rival. As late as 374 B.C. Praeneste was alone
an opponent worthy of Rome.
As head of a league of nine cities, and allied with Tibur, which
also headed a small confederacy, Praeneste felt herself strong
enough to defy the other cities of the league, and in fact even to
play fast and loose with Rome, as Rome kept or transgressed the
stipulations of their agreements. Rome, however, took advantage of
Praeneste at every opportunity. She assumed control of some of her land
in 338 B.C., on the ground that Praeneste helped the Gauls in 390;
she showed her jealousy of Praeneste by refusing to allow Quintus
Lutatius Cerco to consult the lots there during the first Punic
war. This jealousy manifested itself again in the way the leader of
a contingent from Praeneste was treated by a Roman dictator in 319
B.C. But while these isolated outbursts of jealousy showed the ill
feeling of Rome toward Praeneste, there is yet a stronger evidence of
the fact that Praeneste had been in early times more than Rome's equal,
for through the entire subsequent history of the aggrandizement of Rome
at the expense of every other town in the Latin League, there runs a
bitterness which finds expression in the slurs cast upon Praeneste, an
ever-recurring reminder of the centuries of ancient grudge. Often in
Roman literature Praeneste is mentioned as the typical country town. Her
inhabitants are laughed at because of their bad pronunciation, despised
and pitied because of their characteristic combination of pride and
rusticity. Yet despite the dwindling fortunes of the town she was able
to keep a treaty with Rome on nearly equal terms until 90 B.C., the year
in which the Julian law was passed. Praeneste scornfully refused
Roman citizenship in 216 B.C., when it was offered. This refusal
Rome never forgot nor forgave. No Praenestine families seem to have been
taken into the Roman patriciate, as were some from Alba Longa, nor
did Praeneste ever send any citizens of note to Rome, who were honored
as was Cato from Tusculum, although one branch of the gens
Anicia did gain some reputation in imperial times. Rome and
Praeneste seemed destined to be ever at cross purposes, and their
ancient rivalry grew to be a traditional dislike which remained mutual
The continuance of the commercial and military rivalry because of
Praeneste's strategic position as key of Rome, and the religious rivalry
due to the great fame of Fortuna Primigenia at Praeneste, are continuous
and striking historical facts even down into the middle ages. Once in
1297 and again in 1437 the forces of the Pope destroyed the town to
crush the great Colonna family which had made Praeneste a stronghold
against the power of Rome.
There are a great many reasons why Praeneste offers the best
opportunity for a study of the municipal officers of a town of the Latin
league. She kept a practical autonomy longer than any other of the
league towns with the exception of Tibur, but she has a much more varied
history than Tibur. The inscriptions of Praeneste offer especial
advantages, because they are numerous and cover a wide range. The great
number of the old pigne inscriptions gives a better list of names of the
citizens of the second century B.C. and earlier than can be found in any
other Latin town. Praeneste also has more municipal fasti preserved
than any other city, and this fact alone is sufficient reason for a
study of municipal officers. In fact, the position which Praeneste held
during the rise and fall of the Latin League has distinct differences
from that of any other town in the confederation, and these differences
are to be seen in every stage of her history, whether as an ally, a
municipium, or a colonia.
As an ally of Rome, Praeneste did not have a curtailed treaty as did
Alba Longa, but one on equal terms (foedus aequum), such as was
accorded to a sovereign state. This is proved by the right of exile
which both Praeneste and Tibur still retained until as late as 90
As a municipium, the rights of Praeneste were shared by only one other
city in the league. She was not a municipium which, like Lanuvium and
Tusculum, kept a separate state, but whose citizens, although
called Roman citizens, were without right to vote, nor, on the other
hand, was she in the class of municipia of which Aricia is a type, towns
which had no vote in Rome, but were governed from there like a city
ward. Praeneste, on the contrary, belonged to yet a third class.
This was the most favored class of all; in fact, equality was implicit
in the agreement with Rome, which was to the effect that when these
cities joined the Roman state, the inhabitants were to be, first of all,
citizens of their own states. Praeneste shared this extraordinary
agreement with Rome with but one other Latin city, Tibur. The question
whether or not Praeneste was ever a municipium in the technical and
constitutional sense of the word is apart from the present discussion,
and will be taken up later.
As a colony, Praeneste has a different history from that of any other of
the colonies founded by Sulla. Because of her stubborn defence, and her
partisanship for Marius, her walls were razed and her citizens murdered
in numbers almost beyond belief. Yet at a later time, Sulla with a
revulsion of kindness quite characteristic of him, rebuilt the town,
enlarged it, and was most generous in every way. The sentiment which
attached to the famous antiquity and renown of Praeneste was too strong
to allow it to lie in ruins. Further, in colonies the most
characteristic officers were the quattuorviri. Praeneste, again
different, shows no trace of such officers.
Indeed, at all times during the history of Latium, Praeneste clearly had
a city government different from that of any other in the old Latin
League. For example, before the Social War both Praeneste and Tibur
had aediles and quaestors, but Tibur also had censors, Praeneste
did not. Lavinium and Praeneste were alike in that they both had
praetors. There were dictators in Aricia, Lanuvium,
Nomentum, and Tusculum, but no trace of a dictator in
The first mention of a magistrate from Praeneste, a praetor, in 319 B.C,
is due to a joke of the Roman dictator Papirius Cursor. The praetor
was in camp as leader of the contingent of allies from Praeneste,
and the fact that a praetor was in command of the troops sent from
allied towns implies that another praetor was at the head of
affairs at home. Another and stronger proof of the government by two
praetors is afforded by the later duoviral magistracy, and the lack of
friction under such an arrangement.
There is no reason to believe that the Latin towns took as models for
their early municipal officers, the consuls at Rome, rather than to
believe that the reverse was the case. In fact, the change in Rome to
the name consuls from praetors, with the continuance of the name
praetor in the towns of the Latin League, would rather go to prove
that the Romans had given their two chief magistrates a distinctive name
different from that in use in the neighboring towns, because the more
rapid growth in Rome of magisterial functions demanded official
terminology, as the Romans began their "Progressive Subdivision of the
Magistracy." Livy says that in 341 B.C. Latium had two
praetors, and this shows two things: first, that two praetors were
better adapted to circumstances than one dictator; second, that the
majority of the towns had praetors, and had had them, as chief
magistrates, and not dictators, and that such an arrangement was
more satisfactory. The Latin League had had a dictator at its head
at some time, and the fact that these two praetors are found at
the head of the league in 341 B.C. shows the deference to the more
progressive and influential cities of the league, where praetors were
the regular and well known municipal chief magistrates. Before Praeneste
was made a colony by Sulla, the governing body was a senate, and
the municipal officers were praetors, aediles, and
quaestors, as we know certainly from inscriptions. In the
literature, a praetor is mentioned in 319 B.C., in 216 B.C.,
and again in 173 B.C. implicitly, in a statement concerning the
magistrates of an allied city. In fact nothing in the inscriptions
or in the literature gives a hint at any change in the political
relations between Praeneste and Rome down to 90 B.C., the year in which
the lex Iulia was passed. If a dictator was ever at the head of the city
government in Praeneste, there are none of the proofs remaining, such as
are found in the towns of the Alban Hills, in Etruria, and in the medix
tuticus of the Sabellians. The fact that no trace of the dictator
remains either in Tibur or Praeneste seems to imply that these two towns
had better opportunities for a more rapid development, and that both had
praetors at a very early period.
However strongly the weight of probabilities make for proof in the
endeavor to find out what the municipal government of Praeneste was,
there are a certain number of facts that can now be stated positively.
Before 90 B.C. the administrative officers of Praeneste were two
praetors, who had the regular aediles and quaestors as assistants.
These officers were elected by the citizens of the place. There was
also a senate, but the qualifications and duties of its members are
uncertain. Some information, however, is to be derived from the fact
that both city officers and senate were composed in the main of the
An important epoch in the history of Praeneste begins with the year 91
B.C. In this year the dispute over the extension of the franchise to
Italy began again, and the failure of the measure proposed by the
tribune M. Livius Drusus led to an Italian revolt, which soon assumed a
serious aspect. To mitigate or to cripple this revolt (the so-called
Social or Marsic war), a bill was offered and passed in 90 B.C. This was
the famous law (lex Iulia) which applied to all Italian states that had
not revolted, or had stopped their revolt, and it offered Roman
citizenship (civitas) to all such states, with, however, the remarkable
provision, IF THEY DESIRED IT. At all events, this law either did
not meet the needs of the occasion, or some of the allied states showed
no eagerness to accept Rome's offer. Within a few months after the lex
Iulia had gone into effect, which was late in the year 90, the lex
Plautia Papiria was passed, which offered Roman citizenship to the
citizens (cives et incolae) of the federated cities, provided they
handed in their names within sixty days to the city praetor in
There is no unanimity of opinion as to the status of Praeneste in 90
B.C. The reason is twofold. It has never been shown whether Praeneste at
this time belonged technically to the Latins (Latini) or to the allies
(foederati), and it is not known under which of the two laws just
mentioned she took Roman citizenship. In 338 B.C., after the close of
the Latin war, Praeneste and Tibur made either a special treaty
with Rome, as seems most likely, or one in which the old status quo was
reaffirmed. In 268 B.C. Praeneste lost one right of federated cities,
that of coinage, but continued to hold the right of a sovereign
city, that of exile (ius exilii) in 171 B.C., in common with Tibur
and Naples, and on down to the year 90 at any rate (see note 9). It
is to be remembered too that in the year 216 B.C., after the heroic
deeds of the Praenestine cohort at Casilinum, the inhabitants of
Praeneste were offered Roman citizenship, and that they refused it.
Now if the citizens of Praeneste accepted Roman citizenship in 90 B.C.,
under the conditions of the Julian law (lex Iulia de civitate sociis
danda), then they were still called allies (socii) at that time.
But that the provision in the law, namely, citizenship, if the allies
desired it, did not accomplish its purpose, is clear from the immediate
passage in 89 of the lex Plautia-Papiria. Probably there was some
change of phraseology which was obnoxious in the Iulia. The traditional
touchiness and pride of the Praenestines makes it sure that they
resisted Roman citizenship as long as they could, and it seems more
likely that it was under the provision of the Plautia-Papiria than under
those of the Iulia that separate citizenship in Praeneste became a
thing of the past. Two years later, in 87 B.C., when, because of the
troubles between the two consuls Cinna and Octavius, Cinna had been
driven from Rome, he went out directly to Praeneste and Tibur, which had
lately been received into citizenship, tried to get them to revolt
again from Rome, and collected money for the prosecution of the war.
This not only shows that Praeneste had lately received Roman
citizenship, but implies also that Rome thus far had not dared to assume
any control of the city, or the consul would not have felt so sure of
WAS PRAENESTE A MUNICIPIUM?
Just what relation Praeneste bore to Rome between 90 or 89 B.C., when
she accepted Roman citizenship, and 82 B.C. when Sulla made her a
colony, is still an unsettled question. Was Praeneste made a municipium
by Rome, did Praeneste call herself a municipium, or, because the rights
which she enjoyed and guarded as an ally (civitas foederata) had been
so restricted and curtailed, was she called and considered a municipium
by Rome, but allowed to keep the empty substance of the name of an
During the development which followed the gradual extension of Roman
citizenship to the inhabitants of Italy, because of the increase of the
rights of autonomy in the colonies, and the limitation of the rights
formerly enjoyed by the cities which had belonged to the old
confederation or league (foederati), there came to be small difference
between a colonia and a municipium. While the nominal difference seems
to have still held in legal parlance, in the literature the two names
are often interchanged. Mommsen-Marquardt say that in 90 B.C.
under the conditions of the lex Iulia Praeneste became a municipium of
the type which kept its own citizenship (ut municipes essent suae
cuiusque civitatis). But if this were true, then Praeneste would
have come under the jurisdiction of the city praetor (praetor urbanus)
in Rome, and there would be praefects to look after cases for him.
Praeneste has a very large body of inscriptions which extend from the
earliest to the latest times, and which are wider in range than those of
any other town in Latium outside Rome. But no inscription mentions a
praefect and here under the circumstances the argumentum ex silentio is
of real constructive value, and constitutes circumstantial evidence of
great weight. Praeneste had lost her ancient rights one after the
other, but it is sure that she clung the longest to the separate
property right. Now the property in a municipium is not considered as
Roman, a result of the old sovereign state idea, as given by the ius
Quiritium and ius Gabinorum, although Mommsen says this had no real
practical value. So whether Praeneste received Roman citizenship in
90 or in 89 B.C. the spirit of her past history makes it certain that
she demanded a clause which gave specific rights to the old federated
states, such as had always been in her treaty with Rome. There
seems to have been no such clause in the lex Iulia of 90 B.C., and this
fact gives still another reason, in addition to the ones mentioned, to
conclude that Praeneste probably took citizenship in 89 under the lex
Plautia-Papiria. The extreme cruelty which Sulla used toward
Praeneste, and the great amount of its land that he took for
his soldiers when he colonized the place, show that Sulla not only
punished the city because it had sided with Marius, but that the feeling
of a Roman magistrate was uppermost, and that he was now avenging
traditional grievances, as well as punishing recent obstreperousness.
There seems to be, however, very good reasons for saying that Praeneste
never became a municipium in the strict legal sense of the word. First,
the particular officials who belong to a municipium, praefects and
quattuorvirs, are not found at all; second, the use of the word
municipium in literature in connection with Praeneste is general, and
means simply "town"; third, the fact that Praeneste, along with
Tibur, had clung so jealously to the title of federated state (civitas
foederata) from some uncertain date to the time of the Latin rebellion,
and more proudly than ever from 338 to 90 B.C., makes it very unlikely
that so great a downfall of a city's pride would be passed over in
silence; fourth and last, the fact that the Praenestines asked the
emperor Tiberius to give them the status of a municipium, which he
did, but it seems (see note 60) with no change from the regular
city officials of a colony, shows clearly that the Praenestines
simply took advantage of the fact that Tiberius had just recovered from
a severe illness at Praeneste to ask him for what was merely an
empty honor. It only salved the pride of the Praenestines, for it gave
them a name which showed a former sovereign federated state, and not the
name of a colony planted by the Romans. The cogency of this fourth
reason will bear elaboration. Praeneste would never have asked for a
return to the name municipium if it had not meant something. At the very
best she could not have been a real municipium with Roman citizenship
longer than seven years, 89 to 82 B.C., and that at a very unsettled
time, nor would an enforced taking of the status of a municipium, not to
mention the ridiculously short period which it would have lasted, have
been anything to look back to with such pride that the inhabitants would
ask the emperor Tiberius for it again. What they did ask for was the
name municipium as they used and understood it, for it meant to them
everything or anything but colonia.
Let us now sum up the municipal history of Praeneste down to 82 B.C.
when she was made a Roman colony by Sulla. Praeneste, from the earliest
times, like Rome, Tusculum, and Aricia, was one of the chief cities in
the territory known as Ancient Latium. Like these other cities,
Praeneste made herself head of a small league, but unlike the
others, offers nothing but comparative probability that she was ever
ruled by kings or dictators. So of prime importance not only in the
study of the municipal officers of Praeneste, but also in the question
of Praeneste's relationship to Rome, is the fact that the evidence from
first to last is for praetors as the chief executive officers of the
Praenestine state (respublica), with their regular attendant officers,
aediles and quaestors; all of whom probably stood for office in the
regular succession (cursus honorum). Above these officers was a senate,
an administrative or advisory body. But although Praeneste took Roman
citizenship either in 90 or 89 B.C., it seems most likely that she
was not legally termed a municipium, but that she came in under some
special clause, or with some particular understanding, whereby she kept
her autonomy, at least in name. Praeneste certainly considered herself a
federate city, on the old terms of equality with Rome, she demanded and
partially retained control of her own land, and preserved her freedom
from Rome in the matter of city elections and magistrates.
PRAENESTE AS A COLONY.
From the time of Sulla to the establishment of the monarchy, the
expropriation of territory for discharged soldiers found its
expression in great part in the change from Italian cities to
colonies, and of the colonies newly made by Sulla, Praeneste was
one. The misfortunes that befell Praeneste, because she seemed doomed to
be on the losing side in quarrels, were never more disastrously
exemplified than in the punishment inflicted upon her by Sulla, because
she had taken the side of Marius. Thousands of her citizens were killed
(see note 63), her fortifications were thrown down, a great part of her
territory was taken and given to Sulla's soldiers, who were the settlers
of his new-made colony. At once the city government of Praeneste
changed. Instead of a senate, there was now a decuria (decuriones,
ordo); instead of praetors, duovirs with judicial powers (iure dicundo),
in short, the regular governmental officialdom for a Roman colony. The
city offices were filled partly by the new colonists, and the new
government which was forced upon her was so thoroughly established, that
Praeneste remained a colony as long as her history can be traced in the
inscriptions. As has been said, in the time of Tiberius she got back an
empty title, that of municipium, but it had been nearly forgotten again
by Hadrian's time.
There are several unanswered questions which arise at this point. What
was the distribution of offices in the colony after its foundation; what
regulation, if any, was there as to the proportion of officials to the
new make up of the population; and what and who were the quinquennial
duovirs? From the proportionately large fragments of municipal fasti
left from Praeneste it will be possible to reach some conclusions that
may be of future value.
THE DISTRIBUTION OF OFFICES.
The beginning of this question comes from a passage in Cicero,
which says that the Sullan colonists in Pompeii were preferred in the
offices, and had a status of citizenship better than that of the old
inhabitants of the city. Such a state of affairs might also seem natural
in a colony which had just been deprived of one third of its land, and
had had forced upon it as citizens a troop of soldiers who naturally
would desire to keep the city offices as far as possible in their own
control. Dessau thinks that because this unequal state of
citizenship was found in Pompeii, which was a colony of Sulla's, it
must have been found also in Praeneste, another of his colonies.
Before entering into the question of whether or not this can be proved,
it will be well to mention three probable reasons why Dessau is wrong in
his contention. The first, an argumentum ex silentio, is that if there
was trouble in Pompeii between the old inhabitants and the new colonists
then the same would have been true in Praeneste! As it was so close to
Rome, however, the trouble would have been much better known, and
certainly Cicero would not have lost a chance to bring the state of
affairs at Praeneste also into a comparison. Second, the great pains
Sulla took to rebuild the walls of Praeneste, to lay out a new forum,
and especially to make such an extensive enlargement and so many repairs
of the temple of Fortuna Primigenia, show that his efforts were not
entirely to please his new colonists, but just as much to try to defer
to the wishes and civic pride of the old settlers. Third, the fact that
a great many of the old inhabitants were left, despite the great
slaughter at the capture of the city, is shown by the frequent
recurrence in later inscriptions of the ancient names of the city, and
by the fact that within twenty years the property of the soldier
colonists had been bought up, and the soldiers had died, or had
moved to town, or reenlisted for foreign service. Had there been much
trouble between the colonists and the old inhabitants, or had the
colonists taken all the offices, in either case they would not have been
so ready to part with their land, which was a sort of patent to
It is possible now to push the inquiry a point further. Dessau has
already seen that in the time of Augustus members of the old
families were again in possession of many municipal offices, but he
thinks the Praenestines did not have as good municipal rights as the
colonists in the years following the establishment of the colony. There
are six inscriptions which contain lists more or less fragmentary
of the magistrates of Praeneste, the duovirs, the aediles, and the
quaestors. Two of these inscriptions can be dated within a few years,
for they show the election of Germanicus and Drusus Caesar, and of Nero
and Drusus, the sons of Germanicus, to the quinquennial duovirate.
Two others are certainly pieces of the same fasti because of several