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ALBA LONGA (Castel Gandolfo) Latium, Italy.

The most eminent city of the Latin league is now believed to have been situated here, 24 km SE of Rome. Remains have been found of villas datable to the Late Republican and the Imperial periods, including the villa of Domitian, whose peregrinations along the lake are referred to by Pliny the Younger (Pan. 81.82). Domitian's villa contained its own theater, and also a grotto along the coast of Lake Albano where a number of fragmentary sculptures in high relief were found in 1841. There were identifiable as a gigantic recumbent Polyphemos, a ram, a Scylla, etc., reminiscent of the sculptures found at Sperlonga. The grotto itself resembles the one at Sperlonga in that it consists of several sections: a large circular one in the middle, and several smaller ones along the sides. The Polyphemos is in the same late Hellenistic style as the similar statue from Sperlonga; and though its surface is considerably worn, the variegated modeling also seems to point to Greek workmanship, contemporary with the Pergamine Altar.

The grotto here and at Sperlonga suggest that there were in Greece—perhaps on Rhodes or at Pergamon—grottos adorned with sculptures representing the adventures of Odysseus and other Homeric heroes, which were later taken by the Romans to Italy and placed in similar settings. Such grottos with several divisions may be found along the indented coast of many Greek lands, and one of them has been immortalized in Homer's description of Odysseus' encounter with Polyphemos (Od. 9.190ff).


G. Lugli, “Lo scavo fatto nel 1841 nel Ninfeo detto Bergantino sulla riva del lago Albano,” BullCom 41 (1913) 89ff; id., “La villa di Domiziano sui colli Albani,” BullCom 47 (1919) 153ff and 48 (1920) 3ff; id., “Una Pianta e due Ninfei di età imperiale romana,” Scritti di Storia dell'Arte in onore di Edoardo Arslan (1966) 47ff; A. Halland, “Une transposition de la grotte de Tibère à Sperlonga: Le Ninfeo Bergantino di Castelgandolfo,” Mel. Ec. Franc. de Rome 79 (1967) 421ff; F. Magi, “Il Polfemo di Castel Gandolfo,” RendPontAcc 41 (1969) 69ff; K. D. Licht, Analecta Romana Instituti Danici 7 (1974) 37-66.

Alba Longa. T. Ashby, “Alba Longa,” JP 27 (1901) 37ff; G. Lugli, “Albano Laziale,” NSc (1946) 60ff; E. L. Wadsworth, “Stucco reliefs of the first and second centuries,” Memoirs Am. Ac. 4 (1924) 49ff; EAA 2 (1959) 68 (F. Castagnoli).


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