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NOMENTUM Νώμεντον: Eth. Νωμεντῖνος, Steph. B. sub voce Nomentanus: Mentana), an ancient city of Latium, situated on the Sabine frontier, about 4 miles distant from the Tiber, and 14 1/2 from Rome, by the road which derived from it the name of Via Nomentana. It was included in the territory of the Sabines, according to the extension given to that district in later times, and hence it is frequently reckoned a Sabine town; but the authorities for its Latin origin are decisive. Virgil enumerates it among the colonies of Alba (Aen. 6.773); and Dionysius also calls it a colony of that city, founded at the same time with Crustumerium and Fidenae, both of which are frequently, but erroneously, called Sabine cities. (Dionys. A. R. 2.53.) Still more decisive is the circumstance that its name occurs among the cities of the Prisci Latini which were reduced by the elder Tarquin (Liv. 1.38; Dionys. A. R. 3.50), and is found in the list given by Dionysius (5.61) of the cities which concluded the league against Rome in B. C. 493. There is, therefore, no doubt that Nomentum was, at this period, one of the 30 cities of the Latin League (Niebuhr, vol. ii. p. 17, note); nor does it appear to have ever fallen into the hands of the Sabines. It is again mentioned more than once during the wars of the Romans with the Fidenates and their Etruscan allies; and a victory was gained under its walls by the dictator Servilius Priscus, B. C. 435 (Liv. 4.22, 30, 32); but the Nomentani themselves are not noticed as taking any part. They, however, joined with the other cities of Latium in the great Latin War of B. C. 338; and by the peace which followed it obtained the full rights of Roman citizens. (Liv. 8.14.) From this time we hear no more of Nomentum in history; but it seems to have continued a tolerably flourishing town; and we [p. 2.445] find it retaining its municipal privileges down to a late period. Its territory was fertile, and produced excellent wine; which is celebrated by several writers for its quality as well as its abundance. (Plin. Nat. 14.4. s. 5; Colum. R. R. 3.3; Athen, i. p. 27b; Martial, 10.48. 19.) Seneca had a country house and farm there, as well as Martial, and his friends Q. Ovidius and Nepos, so that it seems to have been a place of some resort as a country retirement for people of quiet habits. Martial contrasts it in this respect with the splendour and luxury of Baiae and other fashionable watering-places; and Cornelius Nepos, in like manner, terms the villa of Atticus, at Nomentum, "rusticum praedium." (Sen. Ep. 104 ; Martial, 6.27, 43, 10.44, 12.57 ; Nep. Att. 14.)

Even under the Roman Empire there is much discrepancy between our authorities as to whether Nomentum was to be reckoned a Latin or a Sabine town. Strabo ascribes it to the latter people, whose territory he describes as extending from the Tiber and Nomentum to the confines of the Vestini (v. p. 228). Pliny, who appears to have considered the Sabines as bounded by the Anio, naturally includes the Nomentani and Fidenates among them (3.12. s. 17); though he elsewhere enumerates the former among the still existing towns of Latium, and the latter among those that were extinct. In like manner Virgil, in enumerating the Sabine followers of Clausus (Aen. 7.712), includes "the city of Nomentum," though he had elsewhere expressly assigned its foundation to a colony from Alba. Ptolemy (3.1.62) distinctly assigns Nomentum as well as Fidenae to Latium. Architectural fragments and other existing remains prove the continued prosperity of Nomentum under the Roman Empire: its name is found in the Tabul ; and we learn that it became a bishop's see in the third century, and retained this dignity down to the tenth. The site is now occupied by a village, which bears the name of La Mentana or Lamentana, a corruption of Civitas Nomentana, the appellation by which it was known in thev middle ages. This stands on a small hill, somewhat steep and difficult of access, a little to the right of the Via Nomentana, and probably occupies the same situation as the ancient Sabine town: the Roman one appears to have extended itself at the foot of the hill, along the high road, which seems to have passed through the midst of it.

The road leading from Rome to Nomentum was known in ancient times as the Via Nomentana. (Orell. Inscr. 208; Tab. Peut.) It issued from the Porta Collina, where it separated from the Via Salaria, crossed the Anio by a bridge (known as the Pons Nomentanus, and still called Ponte Lamentana) immediately below the celebrated Mons Sacer, and from thence led almost in a direct line to Nomentum, passing on the way the site of Ficulea, from whence it had previously derived the name of Via Ficulensis. (Strab. v. p.228; Liv. 3.52.) The remains of the ancient pavement, or other unquestionable marks, trace its course with accuracy throughout this distance. From Nomentum it continued in a straight line to Eretum, where it rejoined | the Via Salaria. (Strab. l.c.) The Tabula gives the distance of Nomentum from Rome at xiv. M. P.; the real distance, according to Nibby, is half a mile more. (Nibby, Dintorni, vol. ii. p. 409, vol. iii. p. 635.)

[E. H. B.]

hide References (12 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (12):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 52
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 14.4
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 22
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 32
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 14
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 38
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 30
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 10.44
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 12.57
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 6.27
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 6.43
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
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