Strab.: Eth. Nepesinus
), a city of Etruria, situated in the southern part of that province, at a distance of 30 miles from Rome and 8 miles E. of Sutrium.
There is no doubt that it was an ancient Etruscan town, though certainly not a city of the first rank, and was probably a dependency of Veii. Hence we meet with no mention of the name, any more than of its neighbour Sutrium, until after the fall of Veii; but from that period these two cities became places of much importance as the frontier fortresses of the Roman dominion on the side of Etruria (Liv. 6.9
The name of Nepete is first mentioned in B.C. 386, when it was in alliance with Rome, and being attacked by the Etruscans, sent to sue for assistance from the Romans.
But before the military tribunes Valerius and Furius could arrive to their support, the city had surrendered to the Etruscan arms, and was occupied with a strong garrison.
It was, however, speedily retaken, and the leaders of the party who had been instrumental in bringing about the surrender were executed (Liv. 6.9
A few years later a more effectual step was taken to secure its possession by sending thither a Roman colony.
The establishment of this is fixed by Livy in B.C. 383, while Velleius Paterculus would date it 10 years later, or 17 years after the capture of Rome by the Gauls (Liv. 6.21
; Vell. 1.14
It was a Latin colony like most of those established at this period. In B.C. 297, Nepete is again mentioned as one of the frontier towns on this side against the Etruscans (Liv. 10.14
); but with this exception we hear no more of it during the wars of the Romans in Etruria.
In the Second Punic War it was one of the twelve Latin colonies which declared themselves exhausted with the burdens of the war, and unable to furnish any further supplies: for which it was punished, before the end of the war, by the imposition of double contributions (Liv. 27.9
). From this time Nepete seems to have sunk into the condition of a subordinate provincial town. Like the other Latin colonies, it obtained the Roman franchise by the Lex Julia, in B.C. 90, and became from thenceforth a municipium; which rank it appears to have retained under the Empire, though it is said in the Liber Coloniarum to have received a colony at the same time with that sent to Falerii (Fest. s.v. Municipium,
p. 127; Grater, Inscr.
p. 308. 2, p. 441. 7; Lib. Col.
p. 217; Zumpt, de Colon.
p. 337). Its existence as a municipal town throughout the period of the Roman Empire is proved by inscriptions as well as by Pliny, Ptolemy, and the Tabula (Strab. v. p.226
; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 8
; Ptol. 3.1.50
; Tab. Peut.;
879, 3991); but no mention occurs of it in history till after the fall of the Western Empire, when it figures in the Gothic wars as a place of some importance from its strength as a fortress, and was one of the last strongholds maintained by the Goths against Narses (Procop. B. G.
It early became an episcopal see, a dignity which it has retained without intermission till the present time, though now but an insignificant town with about 1500 inhabitants.
The only remains of antiquity now visible at Nepi
are some ancient sepulchres hewn in the rock, and some portions of the ancient walls, much resembling in their construction those of Sutrium and Falerii.
These are considered by Dennis as belonging to the ancient Etruscan city; but it is more probable that they date only from the Roman colony. (Dennis's Etruria,
vol. i. p. 111; Nibby, Dintorni,
vol. ii. p. 398.)