A small Volscian
town in the coastal plain of Latium on the road from
Antium to Velitrae. It first appears in history as an ally
of the Latins in the battle of Lake Regillus (Dion.Hal.
5.61.3). According to Livy it was the scene in 377 B.C. of
a battle in which the Romans defeated a combined army
of Latins and Volscians. When the Antiates then wished
to capitulate to the Romans, the Latin forces withdrew
and in their fury burned Satricum. All but the Temple
of Mater Matuta perished in the fire; it was saved by a
miraculous voice from the temple that ordered the removal of the brands from its walls (Livy 6.32.4-33.5
A repetition of these events is recorded for 347-346 B.C.,
following a rebuilding of Satricum by a colony from
Antium (Livy 7.27.2-8
). Thereafter Satricum is not heard
of, though the temple long continued to be a pilgrimage shrine.
The site was excavated in 1896, and the temple area
thoroughly explored. It was an unusually important discovery in every way, but no full publication of it has
appeared. The temple building shows at least two major
periods of construction, the earlier on a different orientation from the later, possibly built over a pit belonging
to a time when this was an open-air sanctuary. The material from the pit belongs to the 7th c. and first half of
the 6th. The older temple building may have been peripteral or may have been of Tuscan plan with alae; there
were, in any event, columns down its flanks. The later
temple was certainly peripteral, and the foundations for
steps around it make it look very much more Greek
than Italic. In the later temple there were four columns
on the short sides, eight on the long; the cella was long
and narrow with a pronaos ending in antae without columns between.
The architectural terracottas fall into two groups, possibly representing the two building periods. The earlier
(third quarter of the 6th c. B.C.) comprises antefixes, a
frieze showing pairs of riders, a plaque with a gorgon,
plaques with animals, a hanging frieze of purely formal
design, and eaves tiles. The later (early 5th c.) has pedimental sculptures, acroteria and figured columen plaques,
as well as an extraordinary range of antefixes, including
the famous series of couples of satyrs and maenads, at
least five sets of revetment plaques, raking cornice,
pierced cresting, and eaves tiles. It is probably the richest find of a single temple decoration to date.
Associated with the earliest sanctuary were discovered
foundations of huts, round, elliptical, and rectangular in
plan, over which lay foundations in blocks of tufa that
could not be dated. In exploring the environs a number
of tombs were discovered, as well as a number of structures that indicate occupation of the site into the Roman
Empire. The material from the temple, on the other hand,
stops in the 2d c. B.C. All the material recovered is now
in the Museo della Villa Giulia.
The site is now much overgrown, and an ancient agger
fortification without stone facing which used to bound
the city site on the W has disappeared in the course of
the last 20 years, presumably a victim of agricultural
advances with heavy machinery.
F. Barnabei, A. Cozza, R. Mengarelli,
(1896) 23-48, 69, 99-102, 167, 190-200; A. Della
Seta, Museo di Villa Giulia
(1918) 233-320; A. Andrén,
Architectural Terracottas from Etrusco-Italic Temples
(1940) 453-77, pls. 137-52.
L. RICHARDSON, JR.