), a town of the Sabines, between Reate and Interocrea, situated in the immediate neighbourhood of a small lake, which bore the name of CUTILIAE LACUS (Plin. Nat. 3.12. s. 17
), or Lacus Cutiliensis (Varr. L. L.
5.71; Macr. 1.7
This was in fact a mere pool,--according to Dionysius it was only 400 feet in diameter, but of great depth; and it derived great celebrity from the circumstance of its having a floating island on its surface.
This phenomenon, which is the subject of great exaggeration with many ancient writers, is well described by Dionysius, who tells us that “the island is about 50 feet in diameter, and it rises to the height of about a foot above the water: it is not fixed, and floats about in different directions, as the wind drives it, sometimes one way, sometimes another.
There grow on it a kind of rushes, and a few bushes of small size.” (Dionys. A. R. 1.15
; Plin. Nat. 2.95
; Senec. Nat. Qu.
3.25; Sotion. de Mir. Font.
37; Macrob. l.c.
) It is evident that this marvel arose from the incrustations of carbonate of lime formed by the waters of the lake, fragments of which might from time to time be detached from the overhanging crust thus formed on the banks: the same phenomenon occurs, though on a smaller scale, at the Aquae Albulae near Tibur. (Gell, Top. of Rome,
According to Dionysius the lake was consecrated to Victory, meaning probably the Sabine goddess Vacuna, and was regarded as so sacred that no one was allowed to approach its banks, except on certain festivals. The Cutilian Lake still exists under the name of Pozzo di Ratignano
though apparently reduced in size by the continual incrustation of its banks; but the floating island has disappeared.
The lake is situated in the level valley of the Velino,
at the foot of the hill on which stands the modern village of Paterno.
In its immediate neighbourhood are numerous other springs, some hot and some cold, and varying in their mineral qualities,. but mostly of a sulphureous character.
These are the AQUAE CUTILIAE
(τὰ ἐν Κωτιλίαις ψυχρὰ ὕδατα, Strab. v. p.228
), mentioned by Strabo and other writers, and which, appear to have been much resorted to by the Romans for their medical properties. (Cels. de Med.
4.5.) Among other instances we learn that Vespasian was in the habit of visiting them every year; and it was while residing here for the purpose of using them, that his death took place, A.D. 79. (Suet. Vesp.
24; D. C. 66.17
There still exist some fine ruins of Roman baths, at a short distance from the lake; and the basin of one of the springs is surrounded with marble steps. (K. Craven, Abruzzi,
vol. i. pp. 231--235; Chaupy, Miaison d'Horace,
vol. iii. pp. 102, 103.)
It is probable that there grew up something of a town around the mineral springs of Cutilia, and hence we find the name of Cutiliae, as that of a town or village, both in the Itineraries, and even in Livy, where he is describing the route of Hannibal from Amiternum to Rome. (Liv. 26.11
; Itin. Ant. p. 107. The Tab. Peut., however, marks the spot as the Aquae Cutiliae.)
But there was never, in the Roman times at least, a municipal town of the name, and the lake and springs of Cutilia were included in the territory of Reate. (Plin. Nat. 3.12. s. 17
; Suet. Vesp.
24.) Dionysius indeed asserts that there was in early times “a considerable city” (πόλις ἐπιφανής
), to which he gives the name of Cotylia, and the foundation of which he ascribes to the Aborigines (1.15. 19); but if there ever was a city of the name, all trace of it must have disappeared at a very early period.
The Itinerary places Cutiliae 8 M. P. from Reate, and 6 from Interocrea; which are just about the true distances: the Tabula gives 9 for the one and 7 for the other. Varro terms the Cutilian Lake the “Umbilicus Italiae,” because it was exactly in the centre of the peninsula.
It is in fact just about half way between the two seas. (Varr. ap. Plin. 3.12. s. 17; D'Anville, Anal. Gêogr. de l'Italie,
This circumstance has led some writers to confound it with the Amsanctus of Virgil, which he places “Italiae in medio” (Aen.
7.563.); but the position of the latter in the region of the Hirpini is clearly established. [AMSANCTI VALLIS.]