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SU´TRIUM (Σούτριον: Eth. Sutriensis: Sutri), a city of Etruria, situated in the southern part of that country, 32 miles from Rome, on the line of the Via Cassia. There is no doubt that it was an ancient Etruscan site, but apparently a small town, and in all probability a mere dependency of one of its more powerful neighbours. It was not till after the fall of Veii that the Romans carried their arms as far as Sutrium, which they first attacked in B.C. 391, with what success is uncertain (Diod. 14.98); but it must have fallen into their hands either in that or the following year, as we find it in a state of dependency on Rome immediately after the Gaulish invasion. (Liv. 6.3.) The very year after that event (B.C. 389) the neighbouring Etruscans laid siege to Sutrium with a large force; the city fell into their hands, but was recovered (as the tradition related) by the dictator Camillus on the same day. (Liv. 6.3; Diod. 14.117.) Very nearly the same story is told again in B.C. 385, when the city was half taken by the Etruscans, but recovered by Camillus and Valerius. (Liv. 6.9.) It was doubtless with a view to guard against the repetition of these surprises that two years afterwards Sutrium received a Roman colony, B.C. 383 (Veil. Pat. 1.14), and henceforth became, in conjunction with the neighbouring Nepete, one of the principal frontier fortresses of the Roman territory on this side; hence Livy terms it “claustra Etruriae.” (Liv. 9.32.) We do not find any subsequent mention of it in history till B.C. 311, when the Etruscans again laid siege to the city with their united forces, but were defeated in a great battle under its walls by Aemilius Barbula. (Liv. l.c.) The next year (B.C. 310) they were able to renew the siege at the opening of the campaign, but were once more defeated by the consul Q. Fabius Maximus, and took refuge in the Ciminian forest, which lay only a. few miles distant. (Ib. 33, 35.) But this barrier was now for the first time passed by the Roman arms, and henceforth the wars with the Etruscans were transferred to a more northerly region. From this time, therefore, we hear but little of Sutrium, which was, however, still for a time the outpost of the Roman power on the side of Etruria. (Liv. 10.14.) Its name is next mentioned after a long interval during the Second Punic War, as one of the Coloniae Latinae, which, in B.C. 209, declared their inability to bear any longer the burdens of the war. It was in consequence punished at a later period by the imposition of still heavier contributions. (Liv. 27.9, 29.15.) Its territory was one of those in which permission was given to the exiled citizens of Capua to settle. (Id. 26.34.)

Sutrium continued under the Roman government to be a small and unimportant country town: it is only once again mentioned in history, at the outbreak of the Perusian War (B.C. 41), when it was occupied by Agrippa, in order to cut off the communications of Lucius Antonius with Rome. (Appian, B.C. 5.31.) But its position on the Cassiain Way preserved it from falling into decay, like so many of the Etruscan cities, under the Roman Empire: it is noticed by all the geographers, and its continued existence down to the close of the Western Empire is proved by inscriptions as well as the Itineraries. We learn that it received a fresh colony under Augustus, in consequence of which it bears in inscriptions the titles “Colonia Julia Sutrina.” (Strab. v. p.226; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 8; Ptol. 3.1.50; Itin. Ant. p. 286; Tab. Peut.; Lib. Col. p. 217; Gruter, Inscr. p. 302. 1; Zumpt, de Col. p. 351.)

The modern town of Sutri is but a poor place with only about 2000 inhabitants, but retains its episcopal see, which it has preserved throughout the middle ages. It occupies the site of the ancient city, as is shown by many fragments of columns and other architectural ornaments built into the modern houses, as well as by some portions of the ancient walls, which resemble in their style of construction those of Nepe and Falerii. The situation is, like that of most of the towns in this part of Etruria, on a nearly isolated hill bounded by precipitous cliffs or banks of tufo rock, of no great elevation, and surrounded by small glens or ravines on all sides. In the cliffs which bound these are excavated numerous tombs, of no great interest. But the most remarkable relic of antiquity at Sutri is its amphitheatre, which is excavated in the tufo rock, and is in this respect unique of its kind. It is, however, of small size, and, though irregular in construction, its architectural details are all of a late character: hence it is probable that it is really of Roman and Imperial times, though great importance has been sometimes attached to it as a specimen of an original Etruscan amphitheatre. Its anomalies and irregularities of structure are probably owing only to the fact that it was worked out of a previously existing stone-quarry. (Dennis's Etruria, vol. i. pp. 94--97; Nibby, Dintorni, vol. iii. pp. 142, 143.)


hide References (10 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (10):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.117
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.98
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 9
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 10, 14
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 32
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 29, 15
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 6, 3
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 6, 9
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
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