), a mountain of Latium, forming part of the volcanic group of the Alban Hills, though detached from the central summit, the Mons Albanus or Monte Cavo,
and separated, as well from that as from the Tusculan hills, by an elevated valley of considerable breadth.
The extent in which the name was applied is not certain, but it seems to have been a general appellation for the north-eastern portion of Alban group, rather than that of a particular mountain summit.
It is celebrated by Horace for its black woods of holm-oaks (nigrae feraci frondis in Algido
), and for its cold and snowy climate (nivali Algido, Carm.
1.21. 6, 3.23. 9, 4.4. 58): but its lower slopes became afterwards much frequented by the Roman nobles as a place of summer retirement, whence Silius Italicus gives it the epithet of amoena Algida
(Sil. Ital. 12.536
; Martial, 10.30. 6
It has now very much resumed its ancient aspect, and is covered with dense forests, which are frequently the haunts of banditti.
At an earlier period it plays an important part in the history of Rome, being the theatre of numberless conflicts between the Romans and Aequians.
It is not clear whether it was--as supposed by Dionysius (10.21
), who is followed by Niebuhr (vol. ii. p. 258)--ever included in the proper territories of the Aequians: the expressions of Livy would certainly lead to a contrary conclusion: but it was continually occupied by them as an advanced post, which at once secured their own communications with the Volscians, and intercepted those of the Romans and Latins with their allies the Hernicans.
The elevated plain which separated it from the Tusculan hills thus became their habitual field of battle. (Liv. 3.2. 23
, &c.; Dionys. A. R. 10.21
, &c.; Ovid, Ov. Fast. 6.721
.) Of the exploits of which it was the scene, the most celebrated are the victory of Cincinnatus over the Aequians under Cloelius Gracchus, in B.C. 458, and that of Postumius Tubertus, in B.C. 428, over the combined forces of the Aequians and Volscians.
The last occasion on which we find the former people encamping on Mt. Algidus, was in B.C. 415.
In several passages Dionysius speaks of a town named Algidus, but Livy nowhere alludes to the existence of such a place, nor does his narrative admit of the supposition: and it is probable that Dionysius has mistaken the language of the annalists, and rendered “in Algido” by ἐν πόλει Ἀλγίδῳ
(Dionys. A. R. 10.21
; Steph. B. sub voce Ἄλγιδος,
probably copies Dionysius.) In Strabo's time, however, it is certain that there was a small town (πολίχνιον
) of the name (Strab. p. 237): but if we can construe his words strictly, this must have been lower down, on the southern slope of the hill; and was probably a growth of later times.
It was situated on the Via Latina; and the gorge or narrow pass through which that road emerged from the hills is still called la Cava dell' Aglio,
the latter word being evidently a corruption of Algidus. (Nibby, Dintorni di Roma,
vol. i. p. 123.)
We find mention in very early times of a temple of Fortune on Mt. Algidus (Liv. 21.62
), and we learn also that the mountain itself was sacred to Diana, who appears to have had there a temple of ancient celebrity. (Hor. Charm. Saec.
69.) Existing remains on the summit of one of the peaks of the ridge are referred, with much probability, to this temple, which appears to have stood on an elevated platform, supported by terraces and walls of a very massive construction, giving to the whole much of the character of a fortress, in the same manner as in the case of the Capitol at Rome.
These remains--which are not easy of access, on account of the dense woods with which they are surrounded, and hence appear to have been unknown to earlier writers--are described by Gell (Topography of Rome,
p. 42) and Nibby (Dintorni di Roma,
vol. i. p. 121), but more fully and accurately by Abeken (Mittel-Italien,