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ARICIA (Ariccia) Italy.

An ancient Latin town on the Via Appia at the 16th milestone. It lies on a spur at the juncture of the outer slopes of the craters of Lago d'Albano and Lago di Nemi facing SW over Valle Ariccia, the remains of a lesser crater. From a very early period it was one of the most important and most powerful of the Latin towns, and from an early period it led these in war against Rome (Livy 1.50-51). It was finally subdued in the Latin war of 338 B.C. from which time it enjoyed civitas sine suffragio (Livy 8.13). It later was given full citizenship and was inscribed in the tribus Horatia. Its highest magistrate was called dictator even in the time of the Empire; it also had two quaestors, two aediles, and an ordo decurionum called senatus. It had the distinction of being the birthplace of P. Clodius and Atia, the mother of Augustus, as well as many Roman magistrates (Cic. Phil. 3.15-16).

The remains of the town itself spread on either side of the old Via Appia, climbing to a triangular height at the NE, the arx of the town, and spreading out on a broad front on the edge of Valle Ariccia. Three periods of construction in the remains of fortifications have been distinguished: the earliest embracing only the arx; the middle one, an extension of this into lower ground to the S; the last, a further extension to enclose what one may think of as the lower city. There the Appia seems to have been the main street, and an arched gate spanned it at the SE, so these fortifications are not likely to be earlier than Hellenistic, but they seem to be towerless, so the arch may have been inserted later. Little remains of the earlier fortifications.

Among the remains of buildings, only a temple has been more than cursorily examined. This reminds one of the Temple of Gabii but is on a smaller scale, the interior of the cella measuring only 7.70 by 13.15 m. It was a temple with Vitruvian alae; there were four columns across the front and four down each flank; and it stood on a platform 1.75 m high that has largely disappeared. There is no indication of the god of this temple; it is commonly called the Tempio dell' Orto di Mezzo or Tempio di Diana. In 1927 a votive deposit containing an abundance of material, including large statues and busts of terracotta of superior workmanship, was discovered. The divinities here were clearly Ceres and Proserpina.

The most impressive remains lie outside the walls, a viaduct of large rusticated ashlar facing a concrete core that carried the Via Appia across a valley just SE of the town. Canina, who saw it in better state at the beginning of the 19th c., measured it as 231.25 m long, 13.2 m in its greatest height, 8.22 m wide at the level of the pavement. There is a slight batter to each face, and it is pierced at three points by arched tunnels. A building inscription found nearby proves it Augustan in date.

Within the town's territory lay two important sanctuaries, the lucus Ferentinae and the nemus aricinum of Diana in associaton with Egeria and Virbius. The former was a grove surrounding a spring at the foot of the Alban Mount where the Latins assembled in council to award imperium. This was the custom from the time of the destruction of Alba to the consulate of P. Decius Mus, 340 B.C. (Livy 1.50-51; Festus 276L s.v. praetor). It has never been located.

The nemus aricinum lay NE of the Lago di Nemi looking out over the water the poets called “speculum Dianae.” Here a natural shelf was improved by terracing to make a rectangular platform with a surface area of 45,000 square m. Around the E corner runs a retaining wall, the only conspicuous remains today, a series of half-domed semicircular niches faced with opus incertum. The temple itself was not centered on the platform but set back toward the N corner, raised on a podium (overall dimensions: 30 m x 15.9 m). It is reported that Doric capitals were found, but in most other features the temple is not clear. In the vicinity were found a way flanked with bases, colonnades, and a great many structures of unknown purpose. Just outside the precinct to the NW was found a theater of the Imperial period and other remains suggestive of baths.

The whole area has been the object of antiquarian researches since the early 17th c. at least, and in the 18th and 19th c. considerable quantities of antiquities were removed. Most of the material was votive, of the Hellenistic and Imperial periods. Some small portions of the temple's decorations in terracotta and gilt bronze were recovered; from the paucity of the terracottas (antefixes only) it would appear that most of the decoration was carried out in bronze.

The nemus, like the lucus Ferentinae and the Sanctuary of Jupiter Latiaris, seems to have been the shrine of a Latin amphictyony. The extraordinary character and initiation of the rex nemorensis with its overtones of human sacrifice, the mystery cult of Virbius with its theme of resurrection, and the theatrical festival in which women carried torches in procession to the nemus are well known and explain the enormous popularity of the cult in antiquity, but the unsolved problems connected with it are numerous, and the site today is so intensely cultivated that a visitor can see little and form no idea of the whole.

It was known as early as the 15th c. that under the waters of the lake near its edge lay the remains of two large ships (see Shipwrecks).

Considerable collections of material from Aricia and the nemus are in the Museo delle Terme, the British Museum, the museum of Nottingham, and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek in Copenhagen.


L. Morpurgo, MonAnt 13 (1903) 297-392; id., NSc (1931) 237-305; G. Florescu, EphDac 3 (1925) 1-57; R. Paribeni, NSc (1930) 370-80, pls. 16-17; F. Poulsen, ActaA 12 (1941) 1-52, pls. 1-3I; G. Ucelli, Le navi di Nemi (1950)MPI; A. Alföldi, AJA 64 (1960) 137-44, pls. 31-34; S. Haynes, RömMitt 67 (1960) 34-45, pls. 12-19; P. J. Riis, ActaA 37 (1966) 67-75.


hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 13
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 50
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