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TELLE´NAE (Τελλήνη; Dionys. Τελλῆναι, Strab.: Eth. Τελληνεύς, Eth. Tellenensis), an ancient city of Latium, which figures in the early Roman history. According to Dionysius it was one of the cities founded by the Aborigines soon after their settlement in Latium (Dionys. A. R. 1.16), a proof at least that it was regarded as a place of great antiquity. Livy also reckons it as one of the cities of the Prisci Latini (1.33), which may perhaps point to the same result, while Diodorus includes it in his list of the colonies of Alba. (Diod. vii. ap. Euseb. Arm. p. 185.) It was attacked by the Roman kino Ancus Marcius, who took the city, and transported the inhabitants to Rome, where he settled them on the Aventine, together with those of Politorium and Ficana. (Liv. 1.33; Dionys. A. R. 3.38, 43.) Tellenae, however, does not seem, like the other two places just mentioned, to have been hereby reduced to insignificance; for its name appears again in B.C. 493 among the confederate cities of the Latin League (Dionys. A. R. 5.61); and though this is the last mention that we find of it in history, it is noticed both by Strabo and Dionysius as a place still in existence in their time. (Dionys. A. R. 1.16; Strab. v. p.231.) It is probable, however, that it had at that time fallen into complete decay, like Antemnae and Collatia; as it is only mentioned by Pliny among the once celebrated cities of Latium, which had left no traces of their existence in his day (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9), and from this time its name wholly disappears. The notices of Tellenae afford scarcely any clue to its position; though the circumstance that it continued to be inhabited, however slightly, down to the days of Augustus, would afford us more hope of being able to identify its site than is the case with Politorium, Apiolae, and other places, which ceased to exist at a very early period. It is this reason that has led Nibby to identify the ruins of an ancient city at La Giostra, as those of Tellenae, rather than Politorium, as supposed by Gell. [POLITORIUM] The site in question is a narrow ridge, bounded by two ravines of no great depth, but with abrupt and precipitous banks, in places artificially scarped, and still presenting extensive remains of the ancient walls, constructed in an irregular style of massive quadrangular blocks of tufo. No doubt can exist that these indicate the site of an ancient city, but whether of Politorium or Tellenae, it is impossible to determine; though the remains of a Roman villa, which indicate that the spot must have been inhabited in the early ages of the Empire, give some additional probability to the latter attribution. La Giostra is situated on the right of the Via Appia, about 2 miles from a farm-house called Fiorano, immediately adjoining the line of the ancient highroad. It is distant 10 miles from Rome, and 3 from Le Frattocchie, on the Via Appia, adjoining the ruins of Bovillae. (Gell, Top. of Rome, pp. 280--283; Nibby, Dintorni, vol. iii. pp. 146--153.)

Whether the proverbial expression of “tricae Tellenae” has any reference to the ancient city of Latium or not, can hardly be determined, the origin and meaning of the phrase being involved in complete obscurity. (Varro, ap. Non. i. p. 8; Arnob. adv. Gentes, v. p. 28, with Oehler's note.)


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