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ECETRA (Ἐχέτρα, Dionys., Steph. B. sub voce: Eth. Ἐχετρανός, Eth. Ecetranus), an ancient city of the Volscians, which figures repeatedly in the wars of that people with the Romans, but subsequently disappears from history; and its situation is wholly uncertain. Its name is first mentioned by Dionysius during the reign of Tarquinius Superbus, when, according to him, the Ecetrani and Antiates were the only two Volscian states which agreed to join the league of the Latins and Hernicans under that monarch. (Dionys. A. R. 4.49.) Niebuhr, however, conceives this statement to belong in reality to a much later period (vol. ii. p. 257). In B.C. 495, after the capture of Suessa Pometia, the “Ecetrani, Volsci” are mentioned as sending ambassadors to Rome to sue for peace, which they obtained only by the cession of a part of their territory. This was immediately occupied by Roman colonists, a circumstance which the Auruncans are said to have made a pretext for declaring war upon Rome two years afterwards. (Liv. 2.25; Dionys. A. R. 6.32.) Again, during the great Volscian war, supposed to have been conducted by Coriolanus, Ecetra appears as an important [p. 1.803]place, at which the general congress of the deputies from the Volscian cities assembled, and where the booty captured at Longula and Satricum was deposited for safety. (Dionys. A. R. 8.5, 36.) Daring the subsequent long-continued struggle of the Aequians and Volscians against Rome, Ecetra is repeatedly mentioned: it appears to have been one of the Volscian cities nearest to the Aequians, and which subsequently afforded a point of junction for the two allied nations. In accordance with this, we find Q. Fabius Vibulanus, in the campaign of B.C. 459, after defeating the. Aequians on Mount Algidus, advancing against Ecetra, the. territory of which he laid waste, but without venturing to attack the city itself. (Liv. 3.4, 10; Dionys. A. R. 10.21.) On this occasion we are expressly told that Ecetra was at this time the most important city of the, Volscians, and occupied the most advantageous situation (Dionys. l.c.): hence the Roman armies repeatedly adopted the same tactics, that of the one consul marching by Algidus upon Ecetra, the other along the low country near the coast upon Antium. (Liv. (6.31.) After the Gallic War, when the Volscian power was beginning to decline, Ecetra and Antium appear to have assumed a position in some degree independent of the other cities, and, from their proximity to Rome, as well as their importance, seem to have generally borne the brunt of the war; but there is no authority for Niebuhr's assumption, that where we find the Volscians mentioned at this period we must understand it of these two cities only. (Nieb. vol. ii. p. 583.). The, last occasion on which Ecetra is directly named by Livy is in the campaign of B.C. 378 (6.31): we have no account of its conquest or destruction, but its name totally disappears from this period, and is only met with again in Pliny's list of the extinct cities of Latium. (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9.)

The only clue to its position is what we may gather from the passages above cited, that it was situated on the NE. frontier of the Volscians towards the Aequians and Mt. Algidus: and, in accordance with this, an incidental notice in Livy (4.61) speaks of a pitched battle with the Volscians “between. Ferentinum and Ecetra.” The suggestion of Abeken, that it was situated at Monte Fortino, and that the remains of ancient walls visible on the summit of the hill above that town (ascribed by Gell and Nibby to Artena) are those of the citadel of Ecetra, is at least highly plausible. (Abeken, Mittel Italien, p. 75.) The ruins are described by Gell (Top. of Rome, p. 110) and Nibby (Dintorni, vol. i. p. 263.) The site is still known as La Civita; and the position of this hill, forming a kind of advanced post, projecting from the great mass of the Volscian mountains, and facing both the Aequians and Mt. Algidus, precisely corresponds with the part assigned to Ecetra in the Roman history.


hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 25
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 4
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 10
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 61
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