(Spoleto) Umbria, Italy.
set on a height at the SE end of the Clitumnus valley,
on the E branch of the Via Flaminia from Narnia.
Though there is proof of habitation in the zone from
the Early Iron Age, Spoletium appears in history only
with the deduction of a Latin colony there in 241 B.C.
. 20). The Romans had had trouble with the
Umbrians for 70 years, and the colony was to be a
watchdog over the Clitumnus valley. The site was likely
chosen for advantage and was not an existing town;
the oldest parts of the walls, the city plan, and street
grid seem to date from the foundation of the colony.
In the Hannibalic war Spoletium remained faithful to
Rome, and according to Livy (22.9
) in the aftermath
of the Battle of Trasimene threw back an assault on its
walls with such losses to the Carthaginians that they were
discouraged from marching on Rome. Its record in this
war won Spoletium high esteem in Rome, and it flourished, becoming a municipium inscribed in the tribus
Horatia in 90 B.C. In 82 B.C., in the struggle between
Marius and Sulla, it had the misfortune to give asylum
to Carinas after his defeat by Pompey and Crassus and,
apparently in reprisal, was simply sold at auction (Florus
2.9.27). A repair of the fortifications, probably made
necessary by an earthquake of 63 B.C. (Obsequens 61),
is recorded in an inscription (CIL
XI, 4809). Under the
Early Empire, it prospered. In the time of Constantine
it entered on a period of new brilliance; it figures in the
letters of Symmachus and Theodoric and the campaigns
of Belisarius and Totila. Around 570, with the creation
of the duchy of Spoleto, it passed into a new era.
The walls of Spoletium can be followed around their
whole circuit of 2 km, with good stretches along the
Via dei Cecili, S of the Rocca, and in the Piperno garden on Via Benedetto Egio. The base is in polygonal
blocks of limestone of medium size, sometimes irregular
in shape, sometimes tending to trapezoidal. Above this
is masonry in squared blocks, the faces and joints carefully worked, probably of the same build as the base,
though this carries the inscription recording a Late Republican restoration. Above work of the second sort in
places is yet a third type of masonry in long thin blocks.
The curtains run mostly in short straight sections joined
at obtuse angles with gates overlapped or in reentrant
angles. There were no towers; small gates had lintels,
while major gates were probably arched. The city plan
is orthogonal with insulae along the main slope of the
site, which is terraced to regularize the terrain. The long
rectangular forum lay near the middle of the slope, close
to the Porta Romana. At its SW end was a small temple
on a high podium (Tempio di S. Ansano), prostyle
tetrastyle, probably Corinthian. Beside this an arch
spanned the approach to the forum, dedicated in A.D.
23, as an inscription on the forum side informs us, to the
dead Drusus and Germanicus. At the opposite end of the
forum rose a large Corinthian temple, probably the
Capitolium, and beside this was a complex building with
a handsome stone arcade. Lower in the city, breaching
the S wall, was a theater (diam. 72 m) of late Augustan
date. Outside the walls in the river plain was the amphitheater (115 x 85 m), well preserved because Totila
converted it into a fortress but stripped it of its stone
facing, which went to build the papal castle of Spoleto.
A good part of a house with atrium and peristyle and
fine mosaic pavements has been excavated under the
Palazzo Comunale, and many other lesser remains are
known. Two aqueducts have been traced, and there are
substantial ancient parts of the Ponte Sanguinario over
the Tessino. Graves of the 7th c. B.C. have been found
near Campello, but so far not in Spoletium itself. Here
the tombs are numerous, but all are Roman.
Antiquities from the region are kept in the Museo
Civico. Perhaps the most interesting items are two Leges
Spoletinae, early inscriptions respecting a sacred grove
C. Pietrangeli, Spoletium
Istituto di Studi Romani (1939)MPI
; B. Toscano, Spoleto
, Azienda del Turismo, Spoleto (1963)I
L. RICHARDSON, JR.