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SUESSA sometimes called for distinction's sake SUESSA AURUNCA (Σύεσσα: Eth. Suessanus: Sessa), a city of Latium in the widest sense of that term, but previously a city of the Aurunci, situated on the SW. slope of the volcaniC mountain of Rocca Monfina, about 5 miles S. of the Liris, and 8 from the sea. Though it became at one time the chief city of the Aurunci, it was not a very ancient city, but was founded as late as B.C. 337, in consequence of the Aurunci having abandoned their ancient city (called from their own name Aurunca), which was situated a good deal higher up, and about 5 miles N. of Suessa. [AURUNCA] Aurunca was now destroyed by the Sidicini, and Suessa became thenceforth the capital of the Aurunci (Liv. 8.15). That people had, after their defeat by T. Manlius in B.C. 340, placed themselves under the protection of Rome, and we do not know by what means they afterwards forfeited it: perhaps, like the neighbouring Ausonians of Vescia and Minturnae, their fidelity had been shaken by the defeat of the Romans at Lautulae: but it is clear that they had in some manner incurred the displeasure of the Romans, and given the latter the right to treat their territory as conquered land, for in B.C. 313 a Roman colony was established at Suessa. (Liv. 9.28; Vell. 1.14.) It was a colony with Latin rights, and is mentioned among those which in the Second Punic War professed their inability to furnish their required quota to the Roman armies. It was punished a few years later by the imposition of double contributions. (Liv. 27.9, 29.15.) It is again mentioned in the Civil Wars of Marius and Sulla, when it espoused the party of the latter, but was surprised and occupied by Sertorius. (Appian, App. BC 1.85, 108). In the time of Cicero it had passed into the condition of a municipium by virtue of the Lex Julia, and is spoken of by that orator as a prosperous and flourishing town; it was the scene of a massacre by Antonius of a number of military captives. (Cic. Phil. 3.4, 4.2, 13.8.) It received a fresh colony under Augustus, and assumed in consequence the title of “Colonia Julia Felix Classica,” by which we find it designated in an inscription. (Lib Col. p. 237; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9: Gruter, Inscr. p. 1093. 8; Orell. Inscr. 4047.) Numerous other inscriptions attest its continuance as a flourishing and important town under the Roman Empire (Orell. Inscr. 130, 836, 1013, 2284, 3042; Mommsen, Inscr.R.N. pp. 210--212); and this is confirmed by existing remains: but no mention of it is found in history. Nor is its name found in the Itineraries; but we learn from existing traces that there was an ancient road which branched off from the Via Appia at Minturnae and proceeded by Suessa to Teanum, from which it was continued to Beneventum. (Hoare's Class. Tour. vol. i. p. 145. This is evidently the same line given in the Itin. Ant. p. 121, though the name of Suessa is not there mentioned.)

Suessa Aurunca was the birthplace of the celebrated satirical poet Lucilius, whence he is called by Juvenal “Auruncae alumnus.” (Auson. Epist. 15. 9; Juv. 1.20.)

The modern city of Sessa undoubtedly occupies the ancient site: and considerable ruins are still visible, including, beside numberous inscriptions and other fragments, the remains of a temple incorporated into the church of the Vescovado, a remarkable cryptoporticus, and several extensive subterranean vaults under the church of S. Benedetto, constructed of reticulated masonry. Some remains of an amphitheatre are also visible, and an ancient bridge of 21 arches, constructed for the support of the road which leads into the town at the modern Porta del Borgo. It is still call Ponte di Ronaco, supposed to be a corruption of Ponte Aurunco (Hoare, l.c. pp. 145--147; Giustiniani, Diz. Topogr. vol. ix. p. 28, &c.).

The fertile plain which extends from the foot of the hills of Sessa to the Liris and the sea, now known as the Demanio di Sessa, is the ancient “Ager Vescinus,” so called from the Ausonian city of Vescia, which seems to have ceased to exist at an early period [VESCIA]. The district in question was probably afterwards divided between the Roman colonies of Suessa and Sinuessa.



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