A Sabine city at the
point where the Via Salaria crosses the river Avens (Velino). Strabo says (5.228) that it was one of only two
cities belonging to the Sabines, the other being Amiternum. Reate dominated an upland plain subject to flooding
by the Avens and its tributary the Tolenus, and from an
early period drainage and flood control was of vital importance to it and brought Reate into conflict with her
neighbor Interamnum. At one point Cicero defended
Reate in court (Att
. 4.15.5). It was a praefectura down
to the time of Augustus, where justice was administered
by a representative of the praetor urbanus; subsequently,
at an uncertain date, it was elevated to the status of
municipium. Under Vespasian it received a settlement of
veterans but was not made a colonia. It was inscribed in
the tribus Quirina and famous for the mules it bred
(Strab. ibid.; Plin. HN
8.167). It was the home of the
Flavian dynasty and a number of Republican figures,
including the encyclopedist Varro.
Though systematic excavations have never been undertaken and the ancient city lies beneath the modern one,
antiquities have come to light on numerous occasions.
Parts of a fortification in large rectangular blocks set
dry are still visible; a Roman bridge, much rebuilt, spans
the Velino; another, better preserved, carried the Via
Salaria over a small watercourse S of the city; and bits
of Roman masonry have been found in various cellars.
In the Palazzo Municipale is housed the Museo Civico,
a collection of material from the neighborhood, including
a hut-urn burial and Early Iron Age pottery from the
vicinity of Lago di Ripasottile and Camporeatine, as well
as Imperial marbles and inscriptions.
F. Palmegiani, Rieti e la regione sabina
(1932) passim; P. Gazzola, Ponti romani
2 (1963) 82,
L. RICHARDSON, JR.