), a small river of Etruria, flowing into the Tiber a few miles above Rome.
It is celebrated for the memorable defeat of the 300 Fabii, who established on its banks a fortified post, from whence they carried on hostilities against the Veientes, and laid waste their territory, until they were at length decoyed into an ambuscade, and all put to the sword, B.C. 477. (Liv. 2.49
: Dionys. [p. 1.701]
9.15, 18--22; Diod. 11.53
; Ovid. Fast.
2.193--242; Flor. 1.12
; Gel. 17.21.13
According to Livy (6.1
) this disaster occurred on the same day of the year (the 16th of July), which was afterwards marked by the still more calamitous defeat on the Allia. No other mention of it occurs in history, nor is its name found in any of the geographers: it is evident, therefore, that it was but an inconsiderable stream. Cluverius was the first to identify it with a small river called the Fosso di Valca
which has its source in the crater-formed basin of Baccano,
flows by the site of the ancient Veil, and falls into the Tiber immediately opposite to Castel Giubileo
(the site of Fidenae), about 6 miles from Rome. (Cluver. Ital.
But though the authority of Cluverius has been followed on this point (apparently without investigation) by all subsequent topographers (Gell, Nibby, Westphal, &c.), the arguments which led him to fix upon this stream as the Cremera are based upon his erroneous views as to the position of Veii; and the site of that city being now fixed with certainty near Isola Farnese,
it is difficult to admit any longer that the Fosso di Valca
can be the ancient Cremera. Dionysius speaks of that river (9.15) as not far distant
from the city of Veil--an expression which could hardly apply to a stream that flowed immediately below its walls: and a still stronger objection is that the stream in question could scarcely be said to lie between the Veientes and Rome, so as to intercept the forays of the former people.
It is certain that the little brook now called Acqua Traversa,
which crosses the Flaminian Way and falls into the Tiber almost 3 miles nearer Rome, would correspond far better with the position requisite for such a post as that of the Fabii: and though a very trifling stream, its banks as well as those of the Valca,
are in many places lofty and precipitous, and would afford an advantageous site for their fortress. Ovid indeed speaks of the Cremera as a violent torrent (Cremeram rapacem
), but adds that this was when it was swollen by winter rains.
At any other time indeed such an expression would be equally inapplicable to both streams: the Fosso di Valca
being itself but a small and sluggish brook, though flowing through a deep valley with lofty banks.
In the upper part of its course it is known as the Fosso di Formello.
The castle of the Fabii, to which both Livy and Dionysius give the name of Cremera, was evidently a mere fortified post which was destroyed by the Veientines: and it is idle to attempt its identification, as has been done by some Italian antiquaries.