previous next


CLITUMNUS (Clitunno), a small river of Umbria, celebrated for the clearness of its waters, and the beauty of the cattle that pastured on its banks. Its source, of which a well-known and very accurate description has been left us by the younger Pliny (Plin. Ep. 8.8), is situated about half way between Spoleto and Foligno, at a. place called Le Vene, from the numerous sources or springs of water that gush forth from under the limestone rock. These speedily unite into one stream, of sufficient magnitude to be navigable for boats, the waters of which are deep and clear as crystal: it has a course, of about 9 miles to Mevania (Bevagna), below which it assumes the name of Timia: and appears to have been in ancient times also known as the Timia or Tinia from thence to the Tiber. [TINIA] In the upper part of its course it is still called the Clitunno. Pliny describes the source of the Clitumnus in a manner that sufficiently shows it was regarded, not only as an object of local veneration, but as a. sight to be visited by [p. 1.636]strangers; and accordingly we find the emperor Caligula undertaking a journey for this express purpose, and Honorius turning aside from his progress along the Flaminian Way for the same object. (Suet. Cal. 43; Claudian. de VI. Cons. Hon. 506.) The hill immediately above the principal source was clothed, in Pliny's time, with a grove of ancient cypresses: close above the water was a temple. of Clitumnus himself, while numerous smaller shrines or chapels (sacella) of local divinities were scattered around. The peculiar sanctity with which the spot was regarded caused these to be preserved down to a late period; and it is mentioned in the Jerusalem Itinerary (p. 613) under the name of Sacraria, without any notice of the Clitumnus. One only of these numerous small temples still remains, converted into a Christian chapel,: but otherwise unaltered; from its position near the principal source it probably occupies the site of the temple of Clitumnus himself, but is certainly not the same building described by Pliny, its architecture being of a debased character, and belonging to the period of the Lower Empire. (Forsyth's Italy, p. 324, 4th ed.; Eustace's Class. Tour, vol. i. p. 325.) Pliny tells us (l.c.) that the temple and grove of Clitumnus were bestowed by Augustus upon the people of Hispellum, who erected public baths and other buildings there. The nearest town to the spot was Trebia (Trevi), from which it was only 4 miles distant. (Itin. Hier. p. 613.) The valley through which the Clitumnus flows, from its sources to Mevania, is a broad strip of perfectly level plain, bounded by the lateral ranges of the Apennines on each side. It is a tract of great fertility, and its rich and luxuriant pasturages furnished in ancient times a particularly fine breed of pure white cattle, which on account of their size and beauty were set apart as victims to be sacrificed only on occasions of triumphs or other peculiar solemnities. Their colour was thought to result from their drinking. and bathing in the extremely pure waters of the Clitumnus: but though the same tradition is preserved by the inhabitants of the valley, the cattle are no longer remarkable for their whiteness. (Virg. Geor. 2.146; Propert. 2.19. 25; Sil. Ital. 8.452; Juv. 12.13, and Schol. ad loc.; Stat. Silv. 1.4. 129; Vib. Seq. p. 9; Cluver. Ital. p. 702.)


hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Suetonius, Caligula, 43
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 8.8
    • Statius, Silvae, 1.4
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: