: Eth. Perusinus
), one of the most important and powerful cities of [p. 2.580]
Etruria, situated nearly on the eastern frontier of that country, on a lofty hill on the right hank of the Tiber, and overlooking the lake of Thrasymene which now derives from it the name of Lago di Perugia.
It closely adjoins the frontiers of Umbria, and hence the tradition reported by Servius, that it was originally an Umbrian city, inhabited by the tribe called Sarsinates, is at least a very probable one. (Serv. ad Aen. 10.201
The same author has, however, preserved to us another tradition, which ascribes the foundation of Perusia to a hero named Auletes, the brother of Ocnus, the reputed founder of Mantua. (Ib.
10.198.) Justin‘s assertion that it was of Achaean origin (20.1) may be safely rejected as a mere fable; but whatever historical value may be attached to the statements of Servius, it seems probable that Perusia, in common with the other chief places in the same part of Etruria, was in the first instance an Umbrian city, and subsequently passed into the hands of the Etruscans, under whom it rose to be a powerful and important city, and one of the chief members of the Etruscan confederacy.
It is not till B.C. 310, when the Romans had carried their arms beyond the Ciminian forest, that the name of Perusia is heard of in history; but we are told that at that period it was one of the most powerful cities of Etruria. (Liv. 9.37
The three neighbouring cities of Perusia, Cortona, and Arretium, on that occasion united in concluding a peace with Rome for thirty years (Liv. l.c.; Diod. 20.35
); but they seem to have broken it the very next year, and shared in the great defeat of the Etruscans in general at the Vadimonian lake.
This was followed by another defeat under the walls of Perusia itself, which compelled that city to sue for peace; but the statement that it surrendered at discretion, and was occupied with a Roman garrison, is one of those obvious perversions of the truth that occur so frequently in the Roman annals. (Liv. 9.40
.) When we next meet with the name of Perusia, it is still as an independent and powerful state, which in B.C. 295, in conjunction with Clusium, was able to renew the war with Rome; and though their combined forces were defeated by Cn. Fulvius, the Perusians took the lead in renewing the contest the next year. On this occasion they were again defeated with heavy loss by Fabius, 4500 of their troops slain, and above 1700 taken prisoners. (Id. 10.30, 31.)
In consequence of this disaster they were compelled before the close of the year to sue for peace, and, by the payment of a large sum of money, obtained a truce for forty years, B.C. 294. (Id. 10.37.)
At this time Livy still calls the three cities of Perusia, Volsinii, and Arretium (all of which made peace at. the same time) the three most powerful states and chief cities of Etruria. (Id. l.c.
We find no other mention of Perusia as an independent state; and we have no explanation of the circumstances or terms under which it ultimately became a dependency of Rome.
But during the Second Punic War it figures among the allied cities which then formed so important a part of the Roman power: its cohorts were serving in her armies (Liv. 23.17
), and towards the end of the contest it was one of the “populi” of Etruria which came forward with alacrity to furnish supplies to the fleet of Scipio. Its contribution consisted of corn, and timber for shipbuilding. (Id. 28.45.)
With this exception, we meet with no. other mention of Perusia till near the close of the republican period, when it bore so conspicuous a part in the civil war between Octavian and L. Antonius, in B.C. 41, as to give to that contest the name of Bellum Perusinum. (Suet. Aug. 9
; Tac. Ann. 5.1
; Oros. 6.18
It was shortly after the outbreak of hostilities on that occasion that L. Antonius, finding himself pressed, on all sides by three armies under Agrippa, Salvidienus, and Octavian himself, threw himself into Perusia, trusting in the great natural strength of the city to enable him to hold out till the arrival of his generals, Ventidius and Asinius Pollio, to his relief.
But whether from disaffection or incapacity, these officers failed in coming to his support, and Octavian surrounded the whole hill on which the city stands with strong lines of circumvallation, so as to cut him off from all supplies, especially on the side of the Tiber, on which Antonius had mainly relied. Famine soon made itself felt in the city; the siege was protracted through the winter, and Ventidius was foiled in an attempt to compel Octavian to raise it, and drew off his forces without success. L. Antonius now made a desperate attempt to break through the enemy's lines, but was repulsed with great slaughter, and found himself at length compelled to capitulate. His own life was spared, as were those of most of the Roman nobles who had accompanied him; but the chief citizens of Perusia itself were put to death, the city given up to plunder, and an accidental conflagration having been spread by the wind, ended by consuming the whole city. (Appian, App. BC 5.32
; D. C. 48.14
; Vell. 2.74
; Flor. 4.5
; Suet. Aug. 14
A story told by several writers of Octavian having sacrificed 300 of the prisoners at an altar consecrated to the memory of Caesar, is in all probability a fiction, or at least an exaggeration. (Dio Cass. l.c.; Suet. Aug. 15
; Senec. de Clem.
1.11 ; Merivale's Roman Empire,
vol. iii. p. 227.)
Perusia was raised from its ashes again by Augustus, who settled a fresh body of citizens there, and the city assumed in consequence the surname of Augusta Perusia, which we find it bearing in inscriptions; but it did not obtain the rank or title of a colony; and its territory was confined to the district within a mile of the walls. (D. C. 48.14
; Orell. Inscr.
93--95, 608.) Notwithstanding this restriction, it appears to have speedily risen again into a flourishing municipal town.
It is noticed by Strabo as one of the chief towns in the interior of Etruria, and its municipal consideration is attested by numerous inscriptions. (Strab. v. p.226
; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 8
; Ptol. 3.1.48
; Tab. Peut.;
2531, 3739, 4038.) From one of these we learn that it acquired under the Roman Empire the title of Colonia Vibia; but the origin of this is unknown, though it is probable that it was derived from the emperor Trebonianus Gallus, who appears to have bestowed some conspicuous benefits on the place. (Vermiglioli, Iscriz. Perug.
pp. 379--400; Zumpt, de Colon.
The name of Perusia is not again mentioned in history till after the fall of the Roman Empire, but its natural strength of position rendered it a place of importance in the troubled times that followed; and it figures conspicuously in the Gothic wars, when it is called by Procopius a strong fortress and the chief city of Etruria.
It was taken by Belisarius in A.D. 537, and occupied with a strong garrison: in 547 it was besieged by Totila, but held out against his arms for nearly two years, and did not surrender till after Belisarius had quitted Italy.
It was again recovered by Narses in 552. (Procop. B. G
1.16, 17, 3.6, 25, 35, 4.33.) [p. 2.581]
It is still mentioned by Paulus Diaconus Hist. Lang.
2.16) as one of the chief cities of Tuscia under the Lombards, and in the middle ages became an independent republic. Perugia
still continues a considerable city, with 15,000 inhabitants, and is the capital of one of the provinces of the Roman states.
The modern city of Perugia
retains considerable vestiges of its ancient grandeur.
The most important of these are the remains of the walls, which agree in character with those of Chiusi
being composed of long rectangular blocks of travertine, of very regular masonry, wholly different from the ruder and more massive walls of Cortona and Volterra
It is a subject of much doubt whether these walls belong to the Etruscan city, or are of later and Roman times.
The ancient gates, two of which still exist, must in all probability be referred to the latter period.
The most striking of these is that now known as the Arco d'Augusto,
from the inscription “Augusta Perusia” over the arch: this probably dates from the restoration of the city under Augustus, though some writers would assign it to a much more remote period. Another gate, known as the Porta Marzia,
also retains its ancient arch; while several others, though more or less modernised, are certainly of ancient construction as high as the imposts.
It is thus certain that the ancient city was not more extensive than the modern one; but, like that, it occupied only the summit of the hill, which is of very considerable elevation, and sends down its roots and underfalls on the one side towards the Tiber, on the other towards the lake of Thrasymene. Hence the lines of circumvallation drawn round the foot of the hill by Octavian enclosed a space of 56 stadia, or 7 Roman miles (Appian, App. BC 5.33
), though the circuit of the city itself did not exceed 2 miles.
The chief remains of the ancient Etruscan city are the sepulchres without the walls, many of which have been explored, and one--the family tomb of the Volumnii--has been preserved in precisely the same state as when first discovered. From the inscriptions, some of which are bilingual, we learn that the family name was written in Etruscan “Velimnas,” which is rendered in Latin by Volumnius. Other sepulchres appear to have belonged to the families whose names assumed the Latin forms, Axia, Caesia, Petronia, Vettia, and Vibia. Another of these tombs is remarkable for the careful construction and regular masonry of its arched vault, on which is engraved an Etruscan inscription of considerable length.
But a far more important monument of that people is an inscription now preserved in the museum at Perugia.
which extends to forty-six lines in length, and is the only considerable fragment of the language which has been preserved to us. [ETRURIA
p. 858.] Numerous sarcophagi, urns, vases, and other relics from the various tombs, are preserved in the same museum, as well as many inscriptions of the Roman period. (Vermiglioli, Iscrizioni Perugine,
2 vols. 4to., Perugia, 1834; Id. Il Sepolcro dei Volunni,
4to., Perugia, 1841; Dennis's Etruria,
vol. ii. pp. 458-489.)
We learn from ancient authors that Juno was regarded as the tutelary deity of Perusia till after the burning of the city in B.C. 40, when the temple of Vulcan being the only edifice that escaped the conflagration, that deity was adopted by the surviving citizens as their peculiar patron. (D. C. 48.14
; Appian. B.C.