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ARPI´NUM (Ἄρπινα, Diod.; Eth. Arpinas,--ātis: Arpino), a very ancient and celebrated city of the Volscians, situated on a hill rising above the valley of the Liris, near its junction with the Fibrenus, and about 6 miles S. of Sora. (Sil. Ital. 8.401.) The still extant remains of its ancient walls prove it to have been a city of importance at a very early period; Juvenal expressly tells us that it was in the Volscian territory (8.245), but no mention of it is found, any more than of the other Volscian cities in this part of Italy, during the wars of the Romans with that people, and it had been wrested from them by the Samnites before its name appears in history. In B.C. 305 it was conquered from the latter by the Romans, but from Livy's expression “recepta ab Samnitibus,” it appears that it had already, as well as Sora, previously been in their hands. (Liv. 9.44; Diod. 20.90.) A few years later, B.C. 302, it obtained the Roman franchise, but without the right of suffrage, which was not bestowed upon its citizens until B.C. 188, when they were enrolled in the Cornelian tribe. (Liv. 38.36; Festus. s. v. Municipium.) During the latter period of the Roman republic, Arpinum was a flourishing municipal town, but its chief celebrity is derived from its having been the birth-place of two of the most illustrious men in Roman history, C. Marius and M. Tullius Cicero. The former was of ignoble birth, and is said to have failed in obtaining some local magistracy in his native place, but the family of Cicero was certainly one of the most ancient and considerable at Arpinum, and his father was of equestrian rank. (Cic. pro Plane. 8, de Leg. 2.1, 3, 3.16; Sail. Jug. 67; V. Max. 2.2.3, 6.9.14; Juv. 8.237-248.) The writings of Cicero abound with allusions to his native place, the inhabitants of which, in common with those of the neighbouring Volscian cities, he describes as rustic and simple in their manners, from the rugged and mountainous character of the country; but possessing many also of the virtues of mountaineers; and he applies to Arpinum the well-known lines in the Odyssey, concerning Ithaca:

τρηχεἴ ἀλλ́ ἀγαθή κονρότρογος, &c.

(Cic. pro Plane. 9, ad Att. 2.11, de Legg. 2.1, 2, &c.) He inherited from his father an estate in the plain beneath the town, on the banks of the little river Fibrenus, where his favourite villa was situated, on an island surrounded by the waters of that beautiful stream. [FIBRENUS] There is no authority for supposing that he had, besides this. a house in the town of Arpinum, as has been assumed by local antiquarians: though the alleged remains of the Casa di Cicerone are still shown in the ancient citadel. (Dionigi, Viaggio net Lazio, p. 51.)

Very little notice is found of Arpinum under the Roman empire. Its name is not mentioned either by Strabo or Ptolemy, though included by Pliny (3.5. s. 9) among the cities of the First Region: it was undoubtedly reckoned a city of Latium, in the later acceptation of that name. But few inscriptions of imperial times have been discovered here : but from two of these we learn that it already possessed, [p. 1.222]under the Romans, the woollen manufactures which are still one of its chief sources of prosperity. (Romanelli, vol. iii. p. 374.) It seems, however, to have declined during the later ages of the empire; but continued to subsist throughout the middle ages, and is still a considerable town with about 9000 inhabitants.

Arpinum contains scarcely any remains of Roman date, but its ancient walls,built in the Cyclopean style, of large polygonal or irregular blocks of stone, are one of the most striking specimens of this style of construction in Italy. They extend along the northern brow of the hill, occupied by the present town, as far as the ancient citadel now called Civita Vecchia on its highest summit. Nearly adjoining this is an ancient gate of very singular construction, being formed of roughly hewn stones, the successive courses of which project over each other till they meet, so as to form a kind of pointed arch. Some resemblance may certainly be traced between this gateway and those at Tiryns and Mycenae, but the agreement is by no means so close as maintained by Gell and other writers. Lower down the hill is a fine Roman arch, serving as one of the gates of the modern town; and near it are some massive remains of a monument, apparently sepulchral, which a local antiquary (Clavelli) maintains to be the tomb of king Saturnus (!), who, according to popular belief, was the founder of Arpinum. (Romanelli, vol. iii. pp. 371--375; Clavelli, Storia di Arpino, pp. 11, 12; Kelsall, Journey to Arpino, Geneva, 1820, pp. 63--79; Craven, Abruzzi, vol. i. pp. 107--109; Dionigi, Viaggio ad alcune Città del Lazio, pp. 47--53.)


Cicero repeatedly alludes to a villa belonging to his brother Quintus, between Arpinum and Aquinum, to which he gives the name of ARCANUM (ad Q. Fr. 3.1, 9, ad Att. 5.1). Hence it has been supposed that the modern village of Arce, about 7 miles S. of Arpinum, was in ancient times known as ARX ; and indeed it is already mentioned under that name by P. Diaconus, in the seventh century. (Hist. 6.27.) There is, however, no ground for connecting it (as has been done by Romanelli and others) with the Α῎ιξ of Ptolemy (3.1.57), which is placed by that writer among the Marsi. It was probably only a village in the territory of Arpinum; though, if we can trust to the inscriptions published by local writers in which ARKAE and ARKANUM are found, it must have been a town with municipal privileges. (Romanelli, vol. iii.pp.361,375; but comp. Muratori, Inscr. p. 1102. 4.) The villa of Q. Cicero was placed, like that of his brother, in the valley of the Liris, beneath the hill now occupied by Arce: and some remains which have been found in that locality are regarded, with much plausibility, as those of the villa itself. The inscriptions alleged to have been discovered there are, however, of very doubtful authenticity. (Romanelli, vol. iii. p. 376; Dionigi, l.c. p. 45; Orell. Inscr. 571, 572.)

Plutarch (Plut. Mar. 3) mentions a village which he calls Cirrhaeaton (Κιρραιάτων), in the territory of Arpinum, at which he tells us that Marius was brought up. The name is probably a corruption of CEREATAE but if so, he is certainly mistaken in assigning it to the immediate neighbourhood of Arpinum. [CEREATAE]


hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 44
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 38, 36
    • Plutarch, Caius Marius, 3
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 20.90
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 2.2.3
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 6.9.14
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