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ALBA´NUM (Ἀλβανόν), a town of Latium, situated on the western border of the Lacus Albanus, and on the Via Appia, at the distance of 14 miles from Rome. It is still called Albano. There is no trace of the existence of a town upon this spot in early times, but its site formed part of the territory of Alba Longa, which continued long after the fall of that city to retain the name of “Albanus Ager.” (Cic. de Leg. Agr. 2.2. 5) During the, latter period of the republic, it became a favourite resort of the wealthy Roman nobles, who constructed villas here on a magnificent scale. We read of such as belonging to Pompey, to Clodius--who was killed by Milo close to his own villa--to Brutus and to Curio. (Cic. Or. in Pison. 31, pro Mil. 10, 19, 20, Ep. ad Att. 7.5, 9.15, de Orat. 2.55; Plut. Pomp. 53.) Of these the villa of Pompey, called according to the Latin idiom “Albanum Pompeii,” appears to have been the most conspicuous, and is repeatedly alluded to by Cicero. It fell after the death of Pompey into the hands of Dolabella (Cic. Philipp. 13.5), but appears to have ultimately passed into those of Augustus, and became a favourite place of resort both with him and his successors. (Suet. Nero 25; D. C. 53.32, 58.24.) It was, however, to Domitian that it owed its chief aggrandisement; that emperor made it not merely a place of retirement, but his habitual residence, where he transacted public business, exhibited gladiatorial shows, and even summoned assemblies of the senate. (Suet. Domit. 4, 19; D. C. 66.9, 67.1; Juv. Sat. iv.; Orell. Inscr. No. 3318.) Existing remains sufficiently attest the extent and magnificence of the gardens and edifices of all descriptions with which he adorned it; and it is probably from his time that we may date the permanent establishment there of a detachment of Praetorian guards, who had a regular fortified camp, as at Rome. The proximity of this camp to the city naturally gave it much importance, and we find it repeatedly mentioned by succeeding writers down to the time of Constantine. (Ael. Spart. Caracall. 2; Jul. Capit. Maximin. 23; Herodian. 8.5.) It is doubtless on account of this fortified camp that we find the title of “Arx Albana” applied to the imperial residence of Domitian. (Tac. Agric. 45; Juv. Sat. 4.145.)

We have no distinct evidence as to the period when the town of Albanum first arose, but there can be little doubt that it must have begun to grow up as soon as the place became an imperial residence and permanent military station. We first find it mentioned in ecclesiastical records during the reign of Constantine, and in the fifth century it became the see of a bishop, which it has continued ever since. (Nibby, vol. i. p. 79.) Procopius, in the sixth century, mentions it as a city (πόλισμα), and one of the places occupied by Belisarius for the, defence of Rome. (B. G. 2.4.) It is now but a small town, though retaining the rank of a city, with about 5000 inhabitants, but is a favourite place of resort in summer with the modern Roman nobles, as it was with their predecessors, on account of the salubrity and freshness of the air, arising from its elevated situation, and the abundance of shade furnished by the neighbouring woods.

There still remain extensive ruins of Roman times; the greater part of which unquestionably. belong to the villa of Domitian, and its appurtenances, including magnificent Thermae, an Amphitheatre, and various other remains. Some fragments of reticulated masonry are supposed, by Nibby, to have belonged to the villa of Pompey, and the extensive terraces now included in the gardens of the Villa Barberini, between Albano and Castel Gandolfo, though in their present state belonging undoubtedly to the imperial villa, may probably be based upon the “insanae substructiones” of Clodius alluded to by Cicero. (Pro Mil. 20.) Besides [p. 1.91]these ruins, great part of the walls and one of the gates of the Praetorian camp may be observed in the town of Albano: it was as usual of quadrilateral form, and the walls which surround it are built of massive blocks of peperino, some of them not less than 12 feet in length, and presenting much resemblance to the more ancient fortifications of numerous Italian cities, from which they differ, however, in their comparatively small thickness.

Among the most interesting remains of antiquity still visible at Albano may be noticed three remarkable sepulchral monuments. One of these, about half a mile from Albano on the road to Rome, exceeding 30 feet in elevation, is commonly, but erroneously, deemed the sepulchre of Clodius: another, on the same road close to the gate of Albano, has a far better claim to be regarded as that of Pompey, who was really buried, as we learn from Plutarch, in the immediate neigh-bourhood of his Alban villa. (Plut. Pomp. 80.) The third, situated near the opposite gate of the town on the road to Aricia, and vulgarly known as the Sepulchre of the Horatii and Curiatii, has been supposed by some modern antiquarians to be the tomb of Aruns, son of Porsena, who was killed in battle near Aricia. It is, however, probable that it is of much later date, and was constructed in imitation of the Etruscan style towards the close of the Roman republic. (Nibby, l.c. p. 93; Canina in Ann. dell' Inst. Arch. vol. ix. p. 57.) For full details concerning the Roman remains at Albano, see Nibby, Dintorni di Roma, p. 88-97; Riccy, Storia di Alba Longa, 4to. Rome, 1787; Piranesi, Antichitá di Albano, Roma, 1762.


hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Cicero, On the Agrarian Law, 2.2.5
    • Cicero, Against Piso, 31
    • Cicero, Philippics, 13.5
    • Suetonius, Nero, 25
    • Plutarch, Pompey, 53
    • Plutarch, Pompey, 80
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