a mountain and lake of Southern Etruria, between Volsinii and Falerii.
The former, still called Monte Cimino,
is a conspicuous object from Rome and the whole surrounding country, and forms the culminating point of a tract or range of volcanic heights, which extend from the neighbourhood of the Tiber in a SW. direction towards the sea at Civita Vecchia:
and separates the great plain or basin of the Roman Campagna
from the plains of Central Etruria.
The whole of this tract appears to have been covered in ancient times, as a part of it still is, with a dense forest known as the SILVA CIMINIA (Ciminius Saltus, Flor.), which, according to Livy, was regarded by the Romans in early ages with no less awe than the Hercynian forest was in the days of the historian: so that when in B.C. 310, the consul, Q. Fabius Maximus, for the first time approached it with a Roman army, the senate in alarm sent him peremptory orders not to attempt its passage.
This, however, he had already effected with safety before he received the prohibition. (Liv. 9.36
; Florus, 1.17
; Frontin. Strat.
The expressions of Livy are, however, certainly exaggerated: though the forest may have presented a formidable obstacle to an invading army, it is impossible that it should not have been traversed by traders and other peaceful travellers, as well as by the armies of the Etruscans themselves, on their advance to Sutrium, in the previous campaigns.
The highest point of the range exceeds 3000 feet in height, but it is far from presenting a regular and continuous ridge, the several masses or clusters of hills, of which it is composed, being separated by passes of very moderate elevation.
It is across one of these, about 2 miles to the W. of the Ciminian Lake, that the ancient Via Cassia was carried from Sutrium to Forum Cassii: the modern high road from Rome to Florence abruptly ascends the heights above Ronciglione,
and skirts the basin of the lake on its E. side. The Via Cimnia, of which we find mention in an inscription of the time of Hadrian (Orell. 3306), probably followed much the same direction.
The lake (Ciminius Lacus, Vib. Seq. p. 23; Cimini Lacus. Verg. A. 7.697
; Sil. Ital. 8.493
; Κιμινία λίμνη,
Strab.) is situated in the heart of the mountain, to which the name of Mons Ciminus more properly belongs: the deep basin-shaped depression in which it is formed, is evidently the crater of an extinct volcano.
A legend recorded by Servius (ad Aen. l.c.
) attributed its formation to Hercules, while another, similar to those connected with the Lacus Albanus and Fucinus, represented it as covering the site of a town named Saccumum or Succinium, which was said to have been swallowed up by an earthquake. (Amm. Marc. 17.7.13
; Sotion, de Mir. Font.
41.) Strabo and Columella tell us that it abounded in fish and wild fowl. (Strab. v. p.226
; Col. 8.16.2
It is about 3 miles in circumference, and is now called the Lago di Vico,
from a village of that name on its E. bank.