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LANU´VIUM (Λανούϊον, Strab. ; Λανούβιον, Ptol.: Eth. Λανούϊος, Eth. Lanuvinus: Cività Lavinia), an ancient and important city of Latium, situated on a lofty hill forming a projecting spur or promontory of the Alban Hills towards the S. It was distant about 20 miles from Rome, on the right of the Appian Way, rather more than a mile from the road. The name is often written in inscriptions, even of a good time, Lanivium; hence the confusion which has arisen in all our MSS. of ancient authors between it and Lavinium: the two names are so frequently interchanged as to leave constant doubt which of the two is really meant, and in the middle ages they appear to have been actually regarded as the same place; whence the name of “Civitas Lavinia” by which Lanuvium is still known, and which can be traced as far back as the fourteenth century. The foundation of Lanuvium was ascribed by a tradition recorded by Appian (App. BC 2.20) to Diomed; a legend probably arising from some fancied connection with the worship of Juno at Argos. A tradition that has a more historical aspect, though perhaps little more historical worth, represented it as one of the colonies of Alba. (Diod. vii. ap. Euseb. Arm. p. 185.) The statement of Cato (ap. Priscian. 4.4.21) that it was one of the cities which co-operated in the consecration of the celebrated temple of Diana at Aricia, is the first fact concerning it that can be looked upon as historical, and shows that Lanuvium was already a city of consideration and power. Its name appears also in the list given by Dionysius of the cities that formed the league against Rome in B.C. 496, and there is no doubt that it was in fact one of the thirty cities of the Latin League. (Dionys. A. R. 5.61 ; Niebuhr, vol. ii. p. 17.) But from this time we hear little of it, except that it was the faithful ally of Rome during her long wars with the Volscians and Aequians (Liv. 6.21): the position of Lanuvium would indeed cause it to be one of the cities most immediately interested in opposing the progress of the Volscians, and render it as it were the natural rival of Antium. We have no explanation of the causes which, in B.C. 383, led the Lanuvians suddenly to change their policy, and take up arms, together with some other Latin cities, in favour of the Volscians (Liv. 6.21). They must have shared in the defeat of their allies near Satricum; but apparently were admitted to submission on favourable terms, and we hear no more of them till the great Latin War in B.C. 340, in which they took an active and important part. At first, indeed, they seem to have hesitated and delayed to take the field; but in the two last campaigns their forces are [p. 2.121]particularly mentioned, both among those that fought at Pedum in B.C. 339, and the next year at Astura (Liv. 8.12, 13).1 In the general settlement of affairs at the close of the war Lanuvium obtained the Roman civitas, but apparently in the first instance without the right of suffrage; for Festus, in a well-known passage, enumerates the Lanuvini among the communities who at one time enjoyed all the other privileges of Roman citizens except the suffrage and the Jus Magistratuum (Liv. 8.14 ; Festus, v. Municipium), a statement which can only refer to this period. We know from Cicero that they subsequently obtained the full franchise and right of suffrage, but the time when they were admitted to these privileges is unknown. (Cic. pro Balb. 13

From this time Lanuvium lapsed into the condition of an ordinary municipal town, and is mentioned chiefly in relation to its celebrated temple of Juno Sospita. It did not, however, fall into decay, like so many of the early Latin cities, and is mentioned by Cicero among the more populous and flourishing municipia of Latium, in the same class with Aricia and Tusculum, which he contrasts with such poor and decayed places as Labicum and Collatia (Cic. de Leg. Agr. 2.3. 5). Its chief magistrate retained the ancient Latin title of Dictator, which was borne by T. Annius Milo, the celebrated adversary of Clodius, in the days of Cicero. (Cic. pro Mil. 10; Orell. Inscr. 3786.) Previous to this period Lanuvium had suffered severely in the civil wars of Marius and Sulla, having been taken by the former at the same time with Antium and Aricia, just before the capture of Rome itself, B.C. 87. (Appian, App. BC 1.69; Liv. Epit. 80.) Nor did it escape in the later civil wars: the treasures of its temple were seized by Octavian, and a part at least of its territory was divided among a colony of veterans by the dictator Caesar. (Appian, App. BC 5.24; Lib. Colon. p. 235.) It subsequently received another colony, and a part of its territory was at one time allotted to the vestal virgins at Rome. (Ibid.) Lanuvium, however, never bore the title of a colony, but continued only to rank as a municipium, though it seems to have been a flourishing place throughout the period of the Roman Empire. It was the birthplace of the emperor Antoninus Pius, who in consequence frequently made it his residence, as did also his successors, M. Aurelius and Commodus: the last of these three is mentioned as having frequently displayed his skill as a gladiator in the amphitheatre at Lanuvium, the construction of which may probably be referred to this epoch. Inscriptions attest its continued prosperity under the reigns of Alexander Severus and Philippus. (Suet. Aug. 72 ; Tac. Ann. 3.48; Capit. Ant. Pius, 1; Lamprid. Commod. 1, 8; Vict. de Caes. 15; Orell. Inscr. 884, 3740, &c.)

Lanuvium was the place from which several illustrious Roman families derived their origin. Among these were the Annia, to which Milo, the adversary of Clodius, belonged by adoption, as well as the Papia, from which he was originally descended; the Roscia, and the Thoria (Cic. pro Mil. 10; Ascon. ad Milon. pp. 32, 53; Cic. de Divin. 1.36, 2.31, de Fin. 2.20), to which may probably be added, on the authority of coins, the Procilia and Mettia. (Eckhel, vol. v. pp. 253, 267, 289, 293.) We learn from Cicero that not only did the Roscia Gens derive its origin from Lanuvium, but the celebrated actor Roscius was himself born in the territory of that city. (Cic. de Div. 1.3. 6

But the chief celebrity of Lanuvium was derived from its temple of Juno Sospita, which enjoyed a peculiar sanctity, so that after the Latin War in B.C. 338 it was stipulated that the Romans should enjoy free participation with the Lanuvians themselves in her worship and sacred rites (Liv. 8.14): and although at a later period a temple was erected at Rome itself to the goddess under the same denomination, the consuls still continued to repair annually to Lanuvium for the purpose of offering solemn sacrifices. (Liv. 32.30, 34.53; Cic. pro Muren. 41) The peculiar garb and attributes of the Lanuvian Juno are described by Cicero (de Nat. Deor. 1.29), and attested by the evidence of numerous Roman coins: she was always represented with a goat's skin, drawn over her head like a helmet, with a spear in her hand, and a small shield on the left arm, and wore peculiar shoes with the points turned up (calceoli repandi). On coins we find her also constantly associated with a serpent; and we learn from Propertius and Aelian that there was a kind of oracle in the sacred grove attached to her temple, where a serpent was fed with fruits and cakes by virgins, whose chastity was considered to be thus put to the test. (Propert. 4.8 ; Aelian, Ael. NA 11.16, where the true reading is undoubtedly Λανουΐῳ, and not Λαουινίῳ; Eckhel, vol. v. p. 294.)

The frequent notices in Livy and elsewhere of prodigies occurring in the temple and sacred grove of Juno at Lanuvium, as well as the allusions to her worship at that place scattered through the Roman poets, sufficiently show how important a part the latter had assumed in the Roman religion. (Liv. 24.10, 29.14, 31.12, 40.19; Cic. de Divin. 1.44, 2.27; Ovid. Fast. 6.60; Sil. Ital. 13.364.) We learn from Appian that a large treasure had gradually accumulated in her temple, as was the case with most celebrated sanctuaries; and Pliny mentions that it; was adorned with very ancient, but excellent, paintings of Helen and Atalanta, which the emperor Caligula in vain attempted to remove. (Plin. Nat. 35.3. s. 6.) It appears from a passage in Cicero (de Fin. 2.20) that Juno was far from being the only deity especially worshipped at Lanuvium, but that the city was noted as abounding in ancient temples and religious rites, and was probably one of the chief seats of the old Latin religion. A temple of Jupiter adjoining the forum is the only one of which we find any special mention. (Liv. 32.9.)

Though there is no doubt that Cività Lavinia occupies the original site of Lanuvium, the position of which is well described by Strabo and Silius Italicus (Strab. v. p.239; Sil. Ital. 8.360), and we know from inscriptions that the ancient city continued in a flourishing condition down to a late period of the Roman empire, it is curious that scarcely any ruins now remain. A few shapeless masses of masonry, principally substructions and foundations, of which those that crown the summit [p. 2.122]of the hill may possibly have belonged to the temple of Juno Sospita; and a small portion of a theatre, brought to light by excavations in 1832, are all that are now visible. The inscriptions discovered on the spot belong principally to the time of the Antonines, and excavations in the last century brought to light many statues of the same period. (Nibby, Dintorni di Roma, vol. ii. pp. 173--187; Abeken, Mittel Italien, p. 215.)

Lanuvium, as already observed, was situated at a short distance from the Appian Way, on the right of that road: the station “Sub Lanuvio,” marked in the Tabula Peutingeriana between Aricia and Tres Tabernae, was evidently situated on the high road, probably at the eighteenth milestone from Rome, from which point a branch road led directly to the ancient city. (Westphal, Röm. Kamp. p. 28; Nibby, l.c.

The remains of two other ancient roads may be traced, leading from the W. and S. of the city in the direction of Antium and Astura. The existence of this line of communication in ancient times is incidentally referred to by Cicero (Cic. Att. 12.41, 43, 46). The tract of country extending S. of Lanuvium in the direction of Antium and the Pontine marshes, was even in the time of Strabo very unhealthy (Strab. v. p.231), and is now almost wholly depopulated.


1 In the Fasti Capitolini (ad ann. cdxv.; Gruter, p. 297) the consul C. Maenius is represented as celebrating a triumph over the Lavinians, together with the Antiates and Veliterni, where it appears certain from Livy's narrative that the Lanuvians are the people really meant: a remarkable instance at how early a period the confusion between the two names had arisen.

hide References (26 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (26):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 12.41
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 12.43
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 12.46
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 1.8.69
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 2.3.20
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 5.3.24
    • Cicero, For Cornelius Balbus, 13
    • Cicero, On the Agrarian Law, 2.3.5
    • Cicero, For Lucius Murena, 41
    • Cicero, For Milo, 10
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.48
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 72
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 35.3
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 29, 14
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 31, 12
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 32, 30
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 12
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 13
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 24, 10
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 6, 21
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 14
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 34, 53
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 40, 19
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 32, 9
    • Cicero, De Divinatione, 1.3
    • Aelian, De Natura Animalium, 11.16
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