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CORNI´CULUM (Κορνίκολος, Dionys.; Κόρνικλος, Steph. B. sub voce: Eth. Κορνικολανός, Eth. Corniculanus), an ancient city of Latium, which appears to have occupied one of the summits of the remarkable group of isolated hills that rises boldly from the plain of the Campagna, about 3 miles from the foot of the lofty Monte Gennaro (Lucretilis Mons). These hills, now known as the Monticelli, were called in ancient times the MONTES CORNICULANI (τὰ Κόρνικλα ὄρεα, Dionys. A. R. 1.16); both their principal summits present remains of ancient cities, and it is probable that one or other of these must have been the site of Corniculum but we have no information from ancient writers to assist us in deciding between them. Corniculum only figures in Roman history during the war of Tarquinius Priscus with the Latins, when it is mentioned among the places re. duced by that monarch by force of arms. (Liv. 1.38; Dionys. A. R. 3.50.) It was on this occasion that, according to the received tradition, Ocrisia, the mother of Servius Tullius, fell into the hands of the Romans as a captive. (Liv. 1.39; Dionys. A. R. 4.1; Ovid, Ov. Fast. 6.628.) At this time Livy reckons it one of the cities of the “Prisci Latini.” Dionysius tells us that it was strongly fortified, and withstood a, long siege, but after its capture was plundered and burnt by Tarquin. He does not speak of the city as destroyed; and it is probable that it did not cease to exist at so early a period. In the list of the thirty cities of the Latin League given by Dionysius (5.61), we find the Corni (Κόρνοι), who are probably, as suggested by Niebuhr, the citizens of Corniculum. (Niebuhr, vol. ii. p. 17, note 21.) Florus also alludes to Corniculum as having taken part in the wars of the Latins against the Republic (1.11.6), though the passage is so rhetorical, that little value can be attached to it. But in later times no mention is found of Corniculum, and it is only noticed by Pliny among the cities of Latium, of which no trace remained in his day. (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9.)

The Montes Corniculani are a very striking feature of the Roman Campagna. They form an isolated group, wholly detached from the main range of the Apennines, consisting of three rocky peaks of considerable elevation, and very steep and difficult of access. Notwithstanding this, all three were inhabited in the middle ages, and two of them still are so. The northernmost and highest of the three, now occupied by a poor village called S. Angelo in Capoccia, presents considerable remains of ancient walls of a very rude, and primitive style of construction, more resembling the earliest specimens of the Cyclopean style than any other ruins of the class in Latium. (See the figure in Gell, Top. of Rome, p. 56.) These are considered by Sir W. Gell to be the remains of Corniculum. On the southernmost peak stands the modern village of Monticelli, which retains no vestiges of very remote antiquity, but presents numerous fragments of buildings, and a small temple or Sacellum, constructed in brick, and obviously of the time of the Roman empire. Nibby, Abeken, and others consider this hill to be the site of Corniculum, and refer the more ancient ruins on that of S. Angelo to Medullia, a city which must probably be placed in the immediate vicinity of Corniculum. [MEDULLIA] Gell, however, is of opinion that there could never have been an ancient city on the site of Monticelli, and that the walls at S. Angelo must therefore be those of Corniculum. (Top. of Rome, pp. 55, 319; Nibby, Dintorni, vol. ii, pp. 327, 367; Abeken, M. I. p. 78.)


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 38
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 39
    • Ovid, Fasti, 6
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