previous next


SABATI´NUS LACUS (Σάβατα λίμνη, Strab.: Lago di Bracciano), one of the most considerable of the lakes of Etruria, which, as Strabo observes, was the most southerly of them, and consequently the nearest to Rome and to the sea. (Strab. v. p.226.) It is, like most of the other lakes in the same region, formed in the crater of an extinct volcano, and has consequently a very regular basin-like form, with a circuit of about 20 miles, and is surrounded on all sides by a ridge of hills of no great elevation. It is probable that it derived its name from a town of the name of SABATE, which stood on its shores, but the rame is not found in the geographers, and the only positive evidence of its existence is its mention in the Tabula as a station on the Via Claudia. (Tab. Peut.) The lake itself is called Sabata by Strabo, and Sabate by Festus, from whom we learn that it gave name to the Sabatine tribe of the Roman citizens, one of those which was formed out of the new citizens added to the state in B.C. 387. (Liv. 6.4, 5; Fest. s. v. Sabatina, pp. 342, 343.) Silius Italicus speaks of the “Sabatia stagna” in the plural (8.492), probably including under the name the much smaller lake in the same neighbourhood called the Lacus Alsietinus or Lago di Martignano. The same tradition was reported of this lake as of the Ciminian, and of many others, that there was a city swallowed up by it, the remains of which could still occasionally be seen at the bottom of its clear waters. (Sotion, de Mir. Font. 41, where we should certainly read Σάβατος for Σάκατος.) It abounded in fish and wild-fowl, and was even stocked artificially with fish of various kinds by the luxurious Romans of late times. (Columell. 8.16.)

The Tabula places Sabate at the distance of 36 miles from Rome, but this number is much beyond the truth. The true distance is probably 27 miles, which would coincide with a site near the W. extremity of the lake about a mile beyond the modern town of Bracciano, where there are some ruins of Roman date, probably belonging to a villa. (Tab. Peut.; Holsten. Not. ad Cluver. p. 44; Westphal, Röm. Kampagne, pp. 156, 158.) The town of Bracciano, which now gives name to the lake, dates only from the middle ages and probably does not occupy an ancient site.


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: