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TARRACINA (Terracina) Italy.

A city on a high hill along the sea on the border of Latium and Campania, half way between Rome and Naples. Strabo derives the name from trachys (rough)—well suiting its cliff. Prehistoric remains testify to its desirable location. After occupation by the Ausoni, it was taken over by the Etruscans, then by the Volsci, who called it Anxur and made it a fortress against the Romans. There is no evidence to support an ancient theory that it was colonized by Sparta in the days of Lykourgos.

Rome overpowered Anxur in 406 B.C. and in 309 sent 300 colonists to establish Colonia Anxuras, later assimilated to the Tribus Ufentina. The Samnites failed to capture the citadel in their battle against Rome in 315. A few years later, the Via Appia was built, climbing to Tarracina on its way S. Horace took that route in 38 B.C. and admirably describes the site: impositum saxis late candentibus Anxur. Galba was born here in 3 B.C. The town was greatly built up in the days of Sulla and later by Trajan, who brought the Via Appia down to sea level by cutting through the cliff below the citadel along the coast. He and Antoninus Pius expanded the lower town and drained the nearby Pomptine Marshes. Much later, Theodonic repaired the Appia here.

The most notable monument of Tarracina is the Temple of Jupiter Anxur, situated on the edge of the high cliff (ca. 198 m) overlooking the sea. It dates from the days of Sulla in the early 1st c. B.C. The orientation is N-S in the Italic manner, set at an angle on the great courtyard which was made by cutting into the hill at the back and building up a supporting base on the S and W sides resting on 12 massive arches in opus incertum, still visible from afar. The cella is almost square (13 x 14 m); its outer walls carried 6 engaged Corinthian half-columns; a deep porch with 6 columns along the front and 4 down the sides was reached by a flight of steps at the center. The base of the Jupiter statue survives at the back of the cella.

Behind, on a higher level, was a U-shaped ambulatory. Just E of the temple was an oracular site: a hollowed-out rock surrounded by a wall. A small square structure (the “Little Temple”) at the S corner of the temple courtyard was probably for civic use. In a votive pit near the Oracle were found many small representations of Jupiter, usually as an infant, most of them of lead.

West of the Jupiter Temple, on the rest of the hilltop, lay the original town, surrounded by fortification walls of various dates, of which massive towers and a gate exist.

Much of this acropolis development dates to the age of Sulla. The Via Appia served as decumanus, the main longitudinal street. A stone arch, four-sided, stood at the entrance from Campania. The basilica was nearby. The forum area (modern Piazza Municipio) still has its ancient pavement, which was laid at the expense of Aulus Aemilius. A massive substructure of arches supports the edge of the forum facing the sea. The medieval Romanesque cathedral stands on the site of a Roman temple (perhaps of Rome and Augustus) and incorporates some of its columns.

Another temple, probably the Capitolium since it has a triple nave, survives rather extensively. In opus reticulatum, it probably dates to ca. 40 B.C., replacing a much earlier one. Raised on a podium, it had four columns across the front, with projecting antae behind the corner ones and a door leading into each of the three naves. The general plan is square (16.57 m on each side) with pillars 2.33 m high. The naves are each 9.25 m long and half as wide. Under each of them was a covered treasury of opus reticulatum. A ramp of 11 steps led up the front through the central intercolumniation. To the W was another temple, possibly of Minerva. Its massive podium survives (25 m long, 7 high). There is some evidence of a theater N of the Capitolium near the Porta Nova.

The lower town, between the sea and the relocated Via Appia below the cliff, is mostly of 2d and 3d c. construction, though the amphitheater (its arena 90 x 68 m) is somewhat earlier—built mostly in opus reticulatum. A large baths structure, of the mid 2d c., stands near the sea. Other baths, more elaborate and of earlier and later construction periods, are at the SE edge of the lower town.

The harbor, going back to Volscian times but thereafter silted up, was much improved and enlarged by Trajan and reworked by Antoninus Pius. The mole was an arc from W to E, with extensive dock areas on each side and a curving breakwater at the entrance, on which probably stood a lighthouse.

Three aqueducts have been traced. Numerous villas have been located in the vicinity, a proof of the site's attractiveness. A small Museum holds local finds.

About 5 km from the city, at the foot of Mt. Leano, was a Sanctuary of Feronia—a goddess of agriculture and patroness of freed slaves—which Horace mentions visiting. It comprised a sacred grove, a fountain, and a small temple. A fine stretch of the old Via Appia used to be visible between the sanctuary and Tarracina.


Strab. 5.3.6; Dion. of Hal. Ant.Rom. 2.49; Tac. Hist. 3.57-61; Plin. HN 3.5.9; Cic. Att. 7.5.3; Fam. 7.23.3; Hon. Sat. 1.5.24-26; Verg. Aen. 7.799-800; Pomp. Mela 2.4.

M. de la Blanchère, Terracine: Essai d'Histoire Locale (1884); L. Borsari, “Terracina: Tempio di Giove Anxure,” NSc (1894) 96-111; R. Fish, Tarracina-Anxur und Kaiser Galba (1889); G. Lugli, I Santuari Celebri del Lazio Antico (1932) 111-14; id., La Tecnica Edilizia Romana (1957) 144-48; S. Aurigemma, Circeo, Terracina, Fondi (2d ed., 1966)PI; EAA 7 (1966) 729-32 (B. Conticello)P.


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