Founded, according to
legend, by Herakles, the first historical mention of this
city in Volscian territory comes from Velleius Paterculus (1.14) and dates to 382 B.C., the date of the settlement of the first Roman colony on the site. Earlier, the territory had probably been seized and controlled by the
Volscians (cf. Dion. Hal. 6.61). Setia was attacked in
379 B.C. by its warlike neighbor Privernum and received
help from Rome. Yet in 340, Setia participated along
with all the Latin cities in the League in opposing Rome
; 29.15.2). During the second Punic war,
although not siding with the Carthaginians, Setia refused
to help the Romans and for that was severely punished. After the war, the Carthaginian hostages were
kept under guard in the city because of its particularly
defensible position on the ridge of the Lepini mountains
). The slave revolt of 198 B.C. against
Rome had its beginning at Setia (Livy 32.26.9
the struggle between Marius and Sulla, Setia openly sided
with Marius and was devastated by the victorious Sulla
. 87; Plut. Caes
. 58). In the Liber coloniarum
Setia is included among the cities in which the triumvirs,
Antonius, Crassus, and Lepidus, in 43 B.C., established
a second Roman colony. That notice, which would appear to be confirmed by an inscription found at Setia, is directly contradicted by Pliny (HN 3.5.64
), who places the city among the municipia and not among the
Numerous traces of the city's polygonal walls (chiefly
in the third and fourth style) are still preserved, and
they are sufficient to give an idea of the exact perimeter
of the walls. One of the postern gates, with a monolithic architrave, is perfectly preserved.
Near the church of San Lorenzo was found a fragment of a Doric frieze with metopes decorated with
alternating vine leaves and rosettes. Perhaps it comes
from the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, an inscription
from which has been found not far away (CIL
Along the modern street that proceeds from the plain
into the city is an imposing foundation in opus quadratum generally called, but without real reason, the Temple of Saturn. The base is most likely a part of the
fortification works at the entrance to the city.
Near the ponte della valle was found a bronze votive
tablet dedicated to Mercury and Augustus by the Sexviri Augustales and by a Sexvir Augustalis named Lucius
Sotericus Theossenus, with a funerary inscription (CIL
X, 6461, 6469). In all likelihood, a temple to Augustus
was built not far from that spot.
On the street that leads to the Porta Romana are a
few remains of what might possibly be an amphitheater.
Near the monastery of the Bambin Gesù were once visible the remains possibly of a basilica; today the only
record of it is an inscription (CIL
X, 6462). Imposing
ruins of Roman country villas are scattered in numerous
areas of the surrounding countryside.
The discovery of funerary inscriptions in specific areas
has caused speculation that necropoleis may exist there
but systematic investigations have not yet been carried
out. The areas include Piagge Marine, I Colli, Madonna
della Pace and an area near Sezze Scalo.
In the past few years an Antiquarium has been established to house geological, prehistoric (rock paintings
have been discovered in the mountain caves around
Sezze), and archaeological materials. Among the more
valuable finds in the Antiquarium is a bronze statuette
of Mars, coming from Archi di San Lidano, and a piece
of mosaic pavement with polychrome tessera.
F. Lombardini, Della istoria di Sezze
(1876); V. Tufo, Storia antica di Sezze
(1908); H. H.
Armstrong, “Topographical Studies at Setia,” AJA
(1915) 42ff; L. Zaccheo & F. Pasquali, Guida all' Antiquario ed ai maggiori monumenti di Sezze
(1970); id., Sezze, dalla preistoria all'eta romana