previous next


SE´TIA (Σητία: Eth. Setinus: Sezze), an ancient city of Latium, situated on the S. slope of the Volscian mountains, between Norba and Privernum, looking over the Pontine Marshes. It is probable that it was originally a Latin city, as its name is found in the list given by Dionysius of the thirty cities of the Latin League. (Dionys. A. R. 5.61.) But it must have fallen into the hands of the Volscians, at the time their power was at its height. No mention of it is, however, found during the wars of the Romans with that people until after the Gaulish invasion, when a Roman colony was established there in B.C. 392, and recruited with an additional body of colonists a few years afterwards. (Vell. 1.14; Liv. 6.30.) At this time Setia must have been the most advanced point of the Roman dominion in this direction, and immediately adjoined the territory of the Privernates, who were still an independent and powerful people. [PRIVERNUM] This exposed the new colonists to the incursions of that people, who, in B.C. 342, laid waste their territory, as well as that of Norba. (Liv. 7.42, 8.1.) The Privernates were, however, severely punished for this aggression, and from this time the Setini seem to have enjoyed tranquillity. But it is remarkable that a few years later L. Annius of Setia appears as one of the leaders of the Latins in their great war against Rome, B.C. 340. (Liv. 8.3.) Setia was a Colonia Latina, and was one of those which, during the pressure of the Second Punic War (B.C. 209), declared its inability to furnish any further supplies either of men or money. (Liv. 27.9.) It was, at a later period of the war, severely punished for this by the imposition of much heavier contributions. (Id. 29.15.) From its strong and somewhat secluded position, Setia was selected as the place where the Carthaginian hostages, given at the close of the war, were detained in custody, and in B.C. 198 became in consequence the scene of a very dangerous conspiracy among the slaves of that and the adjoining districts, which was suppressed by the energy of the praetor L. Cornelius Merula. (Id. 32.26.) From this time we hear no more of Setia till the Civil Wars of Marius and Sulla, when it was taken by the latter after a regular siege, B.C. 82. (Appian, App. BC 1.87.) It appears therefore to have been at this period a strong fortress, an advantage which it owed to its position on a hill as well as to its fortifications, the remains of which are still visible. Under the Empire Setia seems to have continued to be a flourishing municipal town, but was chiefly celebrated for its wine, which in the days of Martial and Juvenal seems to have been esteemed one of the choicest and most valuable kinds: according to Pliny it was Augustus who first brought it into vogue. (Plin. Nat. 14.6. s. 8; Martial, 10.36. 6, 13.112; Juv. 10.27; Strab. v. pp. 234, 237; Sil. Ital. 8.379.) We learn from the Liber Coloniarum that Setia received a colony under the Triumvirate; and it is probable that it subsequently bore the title of a Colonia, though it is not mentioned as such by Pliny. (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9; Lib. Colon. p. 237; Orell. Inscr. 2246; Zumpt, de Colon. p. 338.)

The position of Setia on a lofty hill, looking down upon the Pontine Marshes and the Appian Way, is alluded to by several writers (Strab. v. p.237; Martial, 10.74. 11, 13.112), among others in a fragment of Lucilius (ap. A. Gell. 16.9), in whose time it is probable that the highroad, of the extreme hilliness of which he complains, passed by Setia itself. It was, however, about 5 miles distant from the Appian Way, on the left hand. There can be no doubt that the modern town of Sezze occupies the same site with the ancient one, as extensive remains of its walls are still visible. They are constructed of large polygonal or rudely squared blocks of limestone, in the same style as those of Norba and Cora. The substructions of several edifices (probably temples) of a similar style of construction, also remain, as well as sole inconsiderable ruins of an amphitheatre. (Westphal, Rom. Kamp. p. 53; Dodwell's Pelasgic Remains, pp. 115--120.)


hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 1.10.87
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 1
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.5
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 14.6
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 6, 30
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 3
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 9
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 7, 42
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: