A Study Of The Topography And Municipal History Of Praeneste by Ralph Van Deman Magoffin

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Wilelmina Malliere and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. 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
This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 1908
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Wilelmina Malliere and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.



Under the Direction of the Departments of History, Political Economy, and Political Science



September, October, 1908








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 Christian Huelsen, of the German Archaeological Institute, of consulting the as yet unpublished indices of the sixth volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, is acknowledged with deep gratitude.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.




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[1], 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 upon her.

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 them represent.


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.[2] 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,[3] 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,[4] which seems best located near the town of Genazzano.

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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

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),[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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,[11] 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.[12]

[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.[13] 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.[14] 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,[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

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 accompanying illustration.

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.[18]

There are still two other places which as we have seen were included at different times in the papal diocese of Praeneste,[19] namely, Capranica and Cave.[20] 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,[21] and a good deal of the tufa used in wall construction in Praeneste is from the quarries near Cave, as Fernique saw.[22]

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,[23] if no other proofs were to be had,[24] just so there is a very ancient grudge between Praeneste and Cave, which has been perpetuated and is very noticeable even at the present day.[25]

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,[26] 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 ally.[27]

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.[28] 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.[29] 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 vicinity.

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.[30]

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 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,[31] 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.[32] 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.[33] 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;[34] 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.[35]

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,[36] 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.[37] 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,[38] 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 Martino.[39]

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,[40] 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 down.

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[41] 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.[42]

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.[43] 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.[44] 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.[45] 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.[46] 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.[47] 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.[48] 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,[49] 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[50] 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.[51] 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.[52] 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.[53] 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.[54]

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[55] 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.[56] 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,[57] 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,[58] 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[59] 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.[60] In 1642[61] 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[62] 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.[63]

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;[64] 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,[65] 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;[66] 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,[67] the gate into the arx, Porta S. Cesareo,[68] Porta dei Cappuccini, and the postern at the corner where the early cyclopean cross wall struck the main wall.

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.[69] At the east end of the modern Corso, there was a gate, made of opus quadratum,[70] 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.[71] At the southwest we find the next gate, the one which is now closed.[72] 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.[73] 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.[74] 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.[75]

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 road.[76]

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.[77] 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.[78]

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,[79] and by the discovery of a deposit of a great quantity of ex voto terracottas in the angle between the two.[80]


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.[81] A great many of these reservoirs were dependent upon catchings from the rain,[82] 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.[83] 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,[84] the existence of which implies aqueducts, and there is the specus of an aqueduct to be seen outside the Porta S. Francesco.[85] This ran across to the Colle S. Martino to supply a large brick reservoir of imperial date.[86] There were aqueducts still in 1437, for Cardinal Vitelleschi captured Palestrina by cutting off its water supply.[87] This shows that the water came from outside the city, and through aqueducts which probably dated back to Roman times,[88] 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.[89] 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.[90]

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.[91] 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.[92] The fine brick reservoir of the time of Tiberius,[93] 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.[94] 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.[95] 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.[96]

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,[97] 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.


Nusquam se fortunatiorem quam Praeneste vidisse Fortunam.[98] In this way Cicero reports a popular saying which makes clear the fame of the goddess Fortuna Primigenia and her temple at Praeneste.[99]

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,[100] 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 earlier temple.

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.[101] 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[102] 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.[103] 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 cave.[104]

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.[105] Delbrueck bases his entire argument on this passage and two other references to a building called aedes.[106] 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 wishes.[107]

The two caves were not made at the same time. This is proved by the fact that the basilica[108] 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[109] 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.[110] 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 servants.

There are some other inscriptions not noticed by Delbrueck which mention the aedes,[111] and bear on the question in hand. One inscription found in the Via delle Monache[112] 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.,[113] 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.[114] There were other buildings, however, belonging to the precinct of the lower temple, as is shown by the remains today.[115] That there was more than one sacred building is also shown by inscriptions which mention aedes sacrae,[116] 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.[117] 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.[118] 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 marble.[119]

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,[120] 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[121] 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.[122]

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.[123] 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,[124] the inscription given above[118] 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.[125]

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,[126] and the position of this little vault[127] 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,[128] 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.[129]


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.


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.


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. 86.

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[130] 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.[131]

We know also from an inscription that there was a gladiatorial school at Praeneste.[132]

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[133] 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.[134]


These seem to have been two small libraries of public and private law books.[135] They were in the Forum, as the provenience of the inscription shows.

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[136] 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.[137] 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,[138] 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,[139] but this pavement belongs to another hitherto unknown part of Praenestine topography, namely, a SACRA VIA. An inscription to an aurufex de sacra via[140] 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.[141]

At the upper end of the forum under the south facade of the temple, an excavation was made in April 1907,[142] which is of great interest and importance in connection with the forum. In Plate V we see that there are three steps of tufa,[143] 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[144] 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.[145] 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.[146] 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.[147] 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,[148] ten statues of public men,[149] the statue set up to the emperor Trajan on his birthday, September 18, 101 A.D.,[150] and one to the emperor Julian.[151] The discovery of two pieces of the Praenestine fasti in 1897 and 1903[152] also helps to locate the lower forum.[153]

[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.


Delbrueck follows Preller[154] 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,[155] 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.


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,[156] 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.

See amphitheatrum.

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,[157] which may well represent ancient tradition.

MACERIA, C.I.L., XIV, 3314, 3340.

Cecconi, Storia di Palestrina, p. 87.


MURUS, C.I.L., XIV, 3002.

See above, pages 22 ff.


See above, page 32.

PORTICUS, C.I.L., XIV, 2995.

See discussion of temple, page 42.

QUADRIGA, C.I.L., XIV, 2986.


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.


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.


See Amphitheatrum.


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 Labicana.

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 simply “via.”



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,[158] and Rome was glad to make treaties with them on equal terms.

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.[159]

As head of a league of nine cities,[160] and allied with Tibur, which also headed a small confederacy,[161] Praeneste felt herself strong enough to defy the other cities of the league,[162] 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;[163] she showed her jealousy of Praeneste by refusing to allow Quintus Lutatius Cerco to consult the lots there during the first Punic war.[164] This jealousy manifested itself again in the way the leader of a contingent from Praeneste was treated by a Roman dictator[165] 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.[166] Praeneste scornfully refused Roman citizenship in 216 B.C., when it was offered.[167] 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,[168] nor did Praeneste ever send any citizens of note to Rome, who were honored as was Cato from Tusculum,[169] although one branch of the gens Anicia[170] 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 and lasting.

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.[171] 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,[172] 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 B.C.[173]

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,[174] 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.[175] 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.[176] 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.[177]

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[178] both Praeneste and Tibur had aediles and quaestors, but Tibur also had censors,[179] Praeneste did not. Lavinium[180] and Praeneste were alike in that they both had praetors. There were dictators in Aricia,[181] Lanuvium,[182] Nomentum,[183] and Tusculum,[184] but no trace of a dictator in Praeneste.

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.[185] The praetor was in camp as leader of the contingent of allies from Praeneste,[186] and the fact that a praetor was in command of the troops sent from allied towns[187] 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,[188] 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.”[189] Livy says that in 341 B.C. Latium had two praetors,[190] 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,[191] and that such an arrangement was more satisfactory. The Latin League had had a dictator[192] at its head at some time,[193] 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,[194] and the municipal officers were praetors,[195] aediles,[196] and quaestors,[197] as we know certainly from inscriptions. In the literature, a praetor is mentioned in 319 B.C.,[198] in 216 B.C.,[199] and again in 173 B.C. implicitly, in a statement concerning the magistrates of an allied city.[200] 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.[201]

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,[202] 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 local nobility.[203]

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.[204] 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 Rome.[205]

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[206] 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,[207] but continued to hold the right of a sovereign city, that of exile (ius exilii) in 171 B.C.,[208] in common with Tibur and Naples,[209] 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.[210] 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.[211] 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.[212] 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,[213] 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 his reception.


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 allied state?

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.[214] Mommsen-Marquardt say[215] 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).[216] 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.[217] 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.[218] 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.[219] 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,[220] and the great amount of its land[221] 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;[222] second, the use of the word municipium in literature in connection with Praeneste is general, and means simply “town”;[223] 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,[224] which he did,[225] but it seems (see note 60) with no change from the regular city officials of a colony,[226] shows clearly that the Praenestines simply took advantage of the fact that Tiberius had just recovered from a severe illness at Praeneste[227] 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.[228] 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,[229] 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.,[56] 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.


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,[230] 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 beginning of this question comes from a passage in Cicero,[231] 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.[232] 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.[233] 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,[234] 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 citizenship.

It is possible now to push the inquiry a point further. Dessau has already seen[235] 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[236] 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.[237] Two others[81] are certainly pieces of the same fasti because of several