a small river of Latium, in the country of the Volsci, which falls into the Liris on its left bank, about 4 miles below Sora and less than 3 from Arpinum.
It is still called the Fibreno,
though more commonly known in the country as the Fiume delta Posta
from the village of La Posta, [p. 1.898]
beneath which it has its source. Its whole course does not exceed 7 or 8 miles in length: but, like many rivers in a limestone country, it rises all at once with a considerable volume of water, which forms, in the first instance, a deep and clear pool, or little lake, from whence its waters flow in a channel of 10 or 12 yards in breadth, but of great depth and remarkable clearness.
This insignificant but beautiful stream derives a high degree of interest from the description of it by Cicero, whose paternal villa was situated on its immediate banks, or even as it would appear on an island surrounded by its waters. Great doubts have, however, been raised as to the exact locality of this villa.
The opinion commonly adopted places its site in an island formed by two arms of the Fibrenus, just above its confluence with the Liris, where there now stands a convent called S. Domenico,
and considerable remains of ancient buildings are certainly visible. Others, however, have transferred it to a smaller island, now called La Carnella,
about a mile higher up the stream.
This islet seems to agree perfectly with the description given at the beginning of the second book De Legibus
of the spot, “insula quae est in Fibreno,” where that dialogue was held; but this is clearly represented as at some distance from the villa itself, and approached by following the shady banks of the river. Hence it seems probable that the villa may have been at S. Domenico,
while the “palaestra,” or planted grove for exercise, which Cicero compares with the Amalthea of his friend Atticus, was in the little island of Carnella.
This appears to be the same which he elsewhere (ad Att.
12.12) calls “insula Arpinas.” The Fibreno
is still remarkable for its extreme coldness, a quality common to many rivers which rise under similar circumstances. (Cic. de Leg. 2.1
, 3, Tusc.
5.26, ad Q. F.
3.1, ad Att.
13.16; Romanelli, vol. iii. pp. 366--371; Kelsall, Excursion to Arpino,
pp. 89--100; Hoare, Classical Tour,
vol. i. p. 293.)
The villa of Cicero passed, at a later period, into the hands of the poet Silius Italicus, who is the only other author besides Cicero that mentions the name of the Fibrenus. (Sil. Ital. 8.401
; Martial, 11.48