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SETIA (Sezze) Italy.

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 (Livy 27.9.7; 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 (Livy 32.36.5). The slave revolt of 198 B.C. against Rome had its beginning at Setia (Livy 32.26.9). During the struggle between Marius and Sulla, Setia openly sided with Marius and was devastated by the victorious Sulla (App. BCiv. 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 colonies.

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 X, 6463).

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 19 (1915) 42ff; L. Zaccheo & F. Pasquali, Guida all' Antiquario ed ai maggiori monumenti di Sezze (1970); id., Sezze, dalla preistoria all'eta romana (1972).


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 9.7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 32, 26.9
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 32, 36.5
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