previous next

CLUSIUM (Chiusi) Italy.

The oldest inland settlement of the Villanovans and one of the chief cities of Etruria, it lies 800 stades (ca. 130 km) N of Rome (Strab. 5.2.9) in the hilly country between lake Trasimene on the NE and the extinct volcanoes of M. Amiata and Radicofani on the SW. Its territory stretched NW to the river Ombrone and S to the Paglia. The city itself crowns an isolated hill dominating the Val di Chiana to the N. In antiquity the Clanis (Chiana) flowed S into the Paglia and the Tiber system and was navigable, so the stories of Clusium's early associations with Rome may be true. It was linked to the coastal cities by two routes: one up the Fiora, around the N end of lake Bolsena, crossing the Paglia at Acquapendente, which accounts for the early influence of Vulci, Tarquinia, and Caere on Clusium; the other route, down the Orcia to the Ombrone, which may explain coins that link its name with Populonia and Vetulonia as issues of a commercial league. The fertility of the region was famous in antiquity, it was also rich in iron and copper, and its hot springs are still appreciated.

Clusium first appears in Roman chronicles as one of five Etruscan cities that promised to help the Latins against Tarquinius Priscus (Dion. Hal. 3.51). The city's most famous son, Lars Porsenna, attacked and captured Rome in the first years of the Republic but did not restore the Etruscan Tarquins to the throne (Livy 2.9-13; Dion. Hal. 5.21-35). Its most notorious citizen, Arruns, enticed the Gauls into Etruria with his merchant's samples of figs, wine, and olive oil (Livy 5.33; Dion. Hal. 13.10-12). Whether or not the story is true, the Senones did invade Etruria and besiege Clusium in 387 B.C. Clusium sent to Rome for help, and the Romans' intervention led to the capture and sack of their city by the Gauls the same year (Livy 5.35; Diod. 14.113-14; Plut. Vit. Cam. 15). Clusium appears next, allied with other Etruscan cities against Rome, in the third Samnite war and was finally subdued in 295 (Livy 10.30). In 205, as an ally, it furnished timber and grain for Scipio's fleet (Livy 28.45). During the war with Marius, Sulla won a cavalry battle near Clusium (Vell.Pat. 2.28) and fought an indecisive engagement with Carbo (App. BCiv. 1.89). After the war, Clusium seems to have received a colony of Sulla's veterans: Pliny speaks of Clusini Veteres and Clusini Novi (HN 3.52), and there are inscriptions from the city referring to duoviri and one from the base of a statue erected to Sulla in 80 B.C. The city continued to exist in quiet comfort under the Empire, as many later inscriptions and a fine head of Augustus capite velato attest; the life of the city seems, in fact, unbroken from Villanovan times.

The earliest and richest of the Villanovan necropoleis was on Poggio Renzo to the N; others have been found to the SW at Fornace and Fonte all'Aia. All burials are cremation; the latest use a great dolium (ziro) as receptacle for ash urn and grave goods. Ziro burials continued into the 6th c. B.C., the old Villanovan urn giving way to an elaborate bronze urn with a human mask fastened to the neck and still later to an urn with a lid in the form of a head. Others had standing figures on the lid, surrounded by a ring of mourners and griffin protomes. The first inhumation burials occur in chamber tombs of the 6th c., but cremation never completely disappeared at Chiusi, and “canopic jars” (urns with a head lid) appear in archaic chamber tombs as well.

Some chamber tombs of the first half of the 5th c. were painted, like those at Tarquinia. Two inhumation tombs can still be seen, the Tomb of the Monkey on Poggio Renzo and the Tomb of the Hill (or Casuccini Tomb) E of the city. Each is approached by a long dromos; the main chamber is broader than deep, the ceiling carved to represent wooden beams like those of some of the tombs at Caere. The figures are in a frieze at the top of the walls, with scenes of banqueting, funeral games, dancers, and musicians. Except that in these tombs the banqueters are all male, the repertory is the same as in Tarquinia but the carefully drawn figures lack the Tarquinian brio.

Hellenistic tombs have a very long dromos with many loculi and a small main chamber or none at all. Sarcophagi and ash urns are found together in these. One, the Tomba della Pellegrina, excavated in 1928, dates from the mid 3d to the mid 2d c. The Tomba del Granduca, discovered by chance in 1818, is coeval but of another type, a rectangular chamber roofed with a barrel vault of cut stone. The eight burials are all cremation.

Of all Etruscan territories this has produced the most sculpture, almost all of it funerary, though scattered architectural terracottas of the Classical and Hellenistic periods have been found and some fine bronzes, both votive and decorative. The funerary sculpture begins with the figured urns of the 7th and 6th c.; in the later 6th and 5th c., ash urns were carved in the soft limestone called pietra fetida in the form of a seated (rarely standing) man or woman. The head was carved separately and the torso hollowed out to receive the ashes.

Contemporary with these ash ums but not from the same workshop are the cippi found in many tombs. These are rectangular blocks carved in relief on all sides, often surmounted by a bulbous, onion-shaped form. The reliefs are low, with delicate details of dress and furniture; the subjects are connected with the funeral: prothesis, processions and dances, games, the funeral banquet.

Stone sarcophagi of the Classical period are sometimes carved like the cippi, but others have a reclining male figure on the lid with a female figure sitting at his feet. Sometimes she is the man's wife, as on a sarcophagus in Florence where the woman lifts her veil with the gesture of Hera as a bride; in others the figure is winged, a messenger from the other world.

Hellenistic sarcophagi, of stone or terracotta, have figures like those at Tarquinia, reclining on banquet couches. The contemporary ash urns have similar covers and a front decorated with a violent mythological scene.

Material from Chiusi can best be seen in the Museo Nazionale at Chiusi and the Museo Archeologico at Florence, but there are fine collections in the Museo Archeologico in Palermo, in Berlin, and in the British Museum in London.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

R. Bianchi-Bandinelli, MonAnt 30 (1925) 209-578; D. Levi, BdA 28 (1934) 49-75; id., Critica d'Arte 1 (1935) 18-26, 82-89; E. H. Dohan, AJA 39 (1935) 198-209I; E. Paribeni, StEtr 12 (1938) 57-139; 13 (1939) 179-202I; K. A. Neugebauer, Die Antike 18 (1942) 18-56; J. Thimme, StEtr 23 (1954-55) 25-147; 25 (1957) 87-160; L. Banti, The Etruscan Cities and their Culture (1973) 162-72.

E. RICHARDSON

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: