LATO´MIAE, or LATU´MIAE
are literally places where stones are cut, or quarries; and in this sense
the word λατομίαι
was used by the Sicilian
Greeks (Pseudo-Ascon. ad Cic. in Verr.
2.1, p. 161, Orelli;
cf. Diod. 11.25
; Plaut. Capt.
3.5, 65; Poen.
4.2, 5; Festus, s. v. Latumiae). In
particular, however, the name lautumiae was given to the quarries of
Syracuse, frequently mentioned by ancient authors (Cic. Ver. 1.5
, § 14; 5.27.68; ib. 55.143; Aelian, Ael. VH 12.44
), and still called
(with the Greek accent). They are situated on a part
of the heights called Epipolae, to the north of the city, which at the time
of the Athenian siege was outside the walls of Achradina; the elder
Dionysius a few years later included the whole of the Epipolae within his
fortifications. On account of their security they were used as prisons from
an early period; the deepest and most inaccessible, now called the
Latomia de' Cappuccini,
is probably that in which the
7,000 Athenian prisoners were confined (Thuc.
). They continued to serve for the same purpose, and in the
days of Cicero were used as a general prison for criminals from all parts of
Sicily. The socalled Ear of Dionysius is in the Latomia del
but the name is a mere fancy of a scholar of the
Renaissance, and Cicero and Aelian are certainly mistaken in the notion that
the lautumiae were excavated by that tyrant expressly for a prison, though
he may have enlarged them (cf. Dict. Geogr.
Several of them are now laid out as gardens, and being completely sheltered
from all winds, though open to the sky, contain a rich sub-tropical
vegetation, which renders them one of the most attractive sights of modern
For the prisons called Lautumiae at Rome, see CARCER