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TU´SCULUM (Τούσκουλον, Ptol. 3.1.61; Τούσκλον, Strab. v. p.237; Τούσκλος, Steph. B. sub voce p. 673: Eth. Tusculanus, Cic. Balb. 20; Liv. 3.7, &c.: Adj. Tusculus, Tib. 1.7. 57; Stat. Silv. iv. 4. 16; Tusculanensis, Cic. Fam. 9.6: Frascati and Il Tuscolo), a strong and ancient city of Latium, lying on the hills which form a continuation of Mount Albanus on the W. When Dionysius of Halicarnassus (10.20) places it at a distance of 100 stadia, or 12 1/2 miles, from Rome, he does not speak with his accustomed accuracy, since it was 120 stadia, or 15 miles, from that city by the Via Latina. Josephus (J. AJ 18.7.6) places the imperial villa of Tiberius at Tusculum at 100 stadia from Rome, which, however, lay at some distance to the W. of the town. Festus (s. v. Tuscos) makes Tusculum a diminutive of Tuscus, but there is but slight authority to connect the town with the Etruscans. According to common tradition, it was founded by Telegonus, the son of Ulysses and Circe; and hence we find its name paraphrased in the Latin poets as “Telegoni moenia” (Ov. Fast. 3.91, 4.71; Prop. 3.30. 4; Sil. It. 12.535) and “Circaea moenia” (Hor. Epod. 1.30); and the hill on which it stood called “Telegoni juga parricidae” (Id. Od. 3.29. 8), “Circaeum dorsum” (Sil. It. 7.691), and “Telegoni jugera” (Stat. Silv. 1.3. 83). Thus Tusculum did not claim so remote an origin as many other Latin cities; and, as being founded a generation after the Trojan War, Virgil, a learned antiquary, consistently omits all notice of it in his Aeneid. The author of the treatise entitled Origo Gentis Romanae mentions that it was made a dependency or colony of Alba by Latinus Silvius ( 17.6). After the destruction of Alba by Tullus Hostilius it appears to have recovered its independence, and to have become a republic under the government of a dictator.

But to descend from these remote periods to the more historical times. In the reign of Tarquinius [p. 2.1242]Superbus, who courted the friendship of the Latin cities, Octavius Mamilius of Tusculum was the foremost man of all the race, tracing his descent from Ulysses and Circe. Him Tarquin conciliated by the gift of his daughter in marriage, and thus obtained the powerful alliance of his family and connections. (Liv. 1.49; Dionys. A. R. 4.45.) The genealogical pretensions of the gens Mamilia are still to be seen on their coins, which bear on the obverse the head of Mercury, and on the reverse Ulysses in his travelling dress and with his dog. The alliance of Mamilius with Tarquin, however, was the main cause of the Latin War. After his expulsion from Rome, and unsuccessful attempt to regain his crown by means of the Etruscans, Tarquin took refuge with his son-in-law at Tusculum (Liv. 2.15), and by his assistance formed an alliance with the confederacy of the thirty Latin cities. (Ib. 18). The confederate army took up a position near Lake Regillus, a small sheet of water, now dry, which lay at the foot of the hill on which Tusculum is seated. This was the scene of the famous battle so fatal to the Latins, in B.C. 497. Marmilius, who commanded the Latin army, was killed by the hand of Titus Herminius; Tarquinius Superbus himself, who, though now advanced in years, took a part in the combat, was wounded; and the whole Latin army sustained an irretrievable defeat (ib. 19, 20; Dionys. A. R. 6.4, seq.).

After the peace which ensued, the Tusculans remained for a long while the faithful allies of Rome; an attachment which drew down on their territory the incursions of the Volsci and Aequi, B.C. 461, 460. (Liv. 3.7; 8.) In B.C. 458, when the Roman capitol was seized by the Sabine Appius Herdonius, the Tusculans gave a signal proof of their love and fidelity towards Rome. On the next morning after the arrival of the news, a large body of them marched to that city and assisted the Romans in recovering the capitol; an act for which they received the public thanks of that people (ib. 18; Dionys. A. R. 10.16); and soon afterwards, Lucius Mamilius, the Tusculan dictator was rewarded with the gift of Roman citizenship. (Liv. ib. 29.) In the following year the Romans had an opportunity of repaying the obligation. The Aequi had seized the citadel of Tusculum by a nocturnal assault. At that time, Fabius with a Roman army was encamped before Antium; but, on hearing of the misfortune of the Tusculans, he immediately broke up his camp and flew to their assistance. The enterprise, however, was not of such easy execution as the expulsion of Herdonius, and several months were spent in combats in the neighbourhood of Tusculum. At length the Tusculans succeeded in recapturing their citadel by reducing the Aequi to a state of famine, whom they dismissed after compelling them to pass unarmed under the yoke. But as they were flying homewards the Roman consul overtook them on Mount Algidus, and slew them to a man. (Ib. 23; Dionys. A. R. 10.20.)

In the following year, the Aequi, under the conduct of Gracchus, ravaged the Labican and Tusculan territories, and encamped on the Algidus with their booty. The Roman ambassadors sent to expostulate with them were treated with insolence and contempt. Then Tit. Quinctius Cincinnatus was chosen dictator, who defeated the Aequi, and caused them, with their commander Gracchus, to pass ignominiously under the yoke. (Liv. ib. 25--28.) Algidus became the scene of a struggle between the Romans and Aequi on two or three subsequent occasions, as in B.C. 452 and 447. (Ib. 31, 42.) In the latter battle the Romans sustained a severe defeat, being obliged to abandon their camp and take refuge in Tusculum. After this, we do not again hear of the Tusculans till B.C. 416. At that period, the Romans, suspecting the Labicans of having entered into a league with the Aequi, charged the Tusculans to keep a watch upon them. These suspicions were justified in the following year, when the Labicans, in conjunction with the Aequi, ravaged the territory of Tusculum and encamped upon the Algidus. The Roman army despatched against them was defeated and dispersed, owing to the dissensions among its chiefs. Many of these, however, together with the élite of the army, took refuge at Tusculum; and Q. Servilius Priscus, being chosen dictator, changed the face of affairs in eight days, by routing the enemy and capturing Labicum. (Id. 4.45--47.)

This steady friendship between Tusculum and Rome, marked for so many years by the strongest tokens of mutual goodwill, was at length interrupted by an occurrence which took place in B.C. 379. In that year the Tusculans, in conjunction with the Gabinians and Labicans, accused the Praenestines before the Roman senate of making inroads on their lands; but the senate gave no heed to their complaints. Next year Camillus, after defeating the Volscians, was surprised to find a number of Tusculans among the prisoners whom he had made, and, still more so when, on questioning them, he found that they had taken up arms by public consent. These prisoners he introduced before the Roman senate, in order to prove how the Tusculans had abandoned the ancient alliance. So war was declared against Tusculum, and the conduct of it entrusted to Camillus. But the Tusculans would not accept this declaration of hostilities, and opposed the Roman arms in a manner that has scarcely been paralleled before or since. When Camillus entered their territory he found the peasants engaged in their usual avocations; provisions of all sorts were offered to his army; the gates of the town were standing open; and as the legions defiled through the streets in all the panoply of war, the citizens within, like the countrymen without, were seen intent upon their daily business, the schools resounded with the hum of pupils, and not the slightest token of hostile preparation could be discerned. Then Camillus invited the Tusculan dictator to Rome. When he appeared before the senate in the Curia Hostilia, not only were the existing treaties with Tusculum confirmed, but the Roman franchise also was shortly afterwards bestowed upon it, a privilege at that time but rarely conferred.

It was this last circumstance, however, together with their unshaken fidelity towards Rome, that drew down upon the Tusculans the hatred and vengeance of the Latins; who, in the year B.C. 374, having burnt Satricum, with the exception of the temple of Matuta, directed their arms against Tusculum. By an unexpected attack, they obtained possession of the city; but the inhabitants retired to the citadel with their wives and children, and despatched messengers to Rome with news of the invasion. An army was sent to their relief, and the Latins in turn became the besieged instead of the besiegers; for whilst the Romans encompassed the walls of the city, the Tusculans made sorties upon the enemy from the arx. In a short time the Romans took the town by assault and slew all the [p. 2.1243]Latins. (Ib. 33.) Servius Sulpicius and L. Quinctius, both military tribunes, were the Roman commanders on this occasion; and on some rare gold coins, still extant, of the former family, are seen on the obverse the heads of Castor and Pollux, deities peculiarly worshipped at Tusculum (Cic. Div. 1.43; cf. Festus, s. v. Stroppus), and on the reverse the image of a city with the letters TVSCVL on the gate.

From this period till the time of the great Latin war we have little to record of Tusculum except the frustrated attempt of the Veliterni on its territory (Liv. 4.36) and the horrible devastations committed on it by the Gauls, when in alliance with the Tiburtines, in B.C. 357. (Id. 7.11.) After their long attachment to Rome we are totally at a loss to conjecture the motives of the Tusculans in joining the Latin cities against her. The war which ensued is marked by the well-known anecdote of Titus Manlius, who, being challenged by Geminus Mettius, the commander of the Tusculan cavalry, attacked and killed him, against strict orders to the contrary; for which breach of military discipline he was put to death by his father. (Id. 8.7.) The war ended with the complete subjugation of the Latins; and by the famous senatusconsultum regulating the settlement of Latium, the Tusculans were treated with great indulgence. Their defection was ascribed to the intrigues of a few, and their right of citizenship was preserved to them. (Ib. 14.) This settlement took place in B.C. 335. In 321 the Tusculans were accused by the tribune, M. Flavius, of having supplied the Veliterni and Privernates with the means of carrying on war against Rome. There does not appear to have been any foundation for this charge; it seems to have been a mere calumny; nevertheless the Tusculans, with their wives and children, having put on mourning habits, went in a body to Rome, and implored the tribes to acquit them of so odious an imputation. This spectacle moved the compassion of the Romans, who, without further inquiry, acquitted them unanimously; with the exception of the tribe Pollia, which voted that the men of Tusculum should be scourged and put to death, and the women and children sold, agreeably to the laws of war. This vote remained indelibly imprinted on the memory of the Tusculans to the very latest period of the Roman Republic; and it was found that scarce one of the tribe Papiria, to which the Tusculans belonged, ever voted in favour of a candidate of the tribe Pollia. (Ib. 37.)

Tusculum always remained a municipium, and some of its families were distinguished at Rome. (Id. 6.21--26; Orell. Inscr. 775, 1368, 3042.) Among them may be mentioned the gens Mamilia, the Porcia, which produced the two Catos, the Fulvia, Coruncania, Juventia, Fonteia, &c. (Cic. p. Planc. 8, p. Font. 14; Corn. Nep. Cat. 1; V. Max. 3.4.6.)

Hannibal appears to have made an unsuccessful attempt upon, or perhaps rather a mere demonstration against, Tusculum in B.C. 212. (Liv. 26.9; cf. Sil. It. 12.534.) In the civil wars of Marius and Sulla, its territory seems to have been distributed by the latter. (Auct. de Coloniis.) Its walls were also restored, as well as during the wars of Pompey. We have no notices of Tusculum under the Empire. After the war of Justinian and the inroads of the Lombards, Tusculum regained even more than its ancient splendour. For several centuries during the middle ages the counts of Tusculum were supreme in Rome, and could almost dispose of the papal chair. The ancient city remained entire till near the end of the 12th century. At that period there were constant wars between the Tusculans and Romans, the former of whom were supported by the German emperors and protected by the popes. According to Romualdus, X archbishop of Salerno (apud Baronium, vol. xix. p. 340), the walls of Tusculum were razed in the pontificate of Alexander III. in the year 1168; but perhaps a more probable account by Richard de S. Germano (ap. Muratori, Script. t. vii. p. 972) ascribes the destruction of the city to the permission of the German emperor in the year 1191.

Towards the end of the Republic and beginning of the Empire, Tusculum was one of the favourite resorts of the wealthy Romans. Strabo (v. p.239) describes the hill on which it was built as adorned with many villas and plantations, especially on the side that looked towards Rome. But though the air was salubrious and the country fine, it does not appear, like Tibur, to have been a favourite resort of the Roman poets, nor do they speak of it much in their verses. The Anio, with its fall, besides other natural beauties, lent a charm to Tibur which would have been sought in vain at Tusculum. Lucullus seems to have been one of the first who built a villa there, which seems to have been on a magnificent scale, but with little arable land attached to it. (Plin. Nat. 18.7. s. 1.) His parks and gardens, however, which were adorned with aviaries and fishponds, extended to the Anio, a distance of several miles; whence he was noted in the report of the censors as making more use of the broom than the plough. (Ib. and Varr. R. R. 1.13, 3.3, seq.; Columella, 1.4.) On the road towards Rome, in the Vigna Angelotti, is the ruin of a large circular mausoleum, 90 feet in diameter inside, and very much resembling the tomb of Caecilia Metella on the Via Appia. It evidently belongs to the last period of the Republic; and Nibby (Dintorni, p. 344) is inclined to regard it as the sepulchre of Lucullus, mentioned by Plutarch (Vit. Luc. 43), though that is commonly identified with a smaller mausoleum between Frascati and the Villa Rufinella. Besides the villa of Lucullus, we hear of those of Cato, of Cicero and his brother Quintus, of Marcus Brutus, of Q. Hortensius, of T. Anicius, of Balbus, of Caesar, of L. Crassus, of Q. Metellus, &c. It would now be vain to seek for the sites of most of these; though it may perhaps be conjectured that Cato's stood on the hill to the NE. of the town, which seems to have been called Mons Porcius from it, and still bears the name of Monte Porzio. So much interest, however, is attached to the villa of Cicero (Tusculanum), as the favourite retirement in which he probably composed a great portion of his philosophical works, and especially the Disputations which take their name from it, that we shall here present the reader with the chief particulars that can be collected on the subject. Respecting the site of the villa there have been great disputes, one school of topographers seeking it at Grotta Ferrata, another at the Villa Rufinella. Both these places lie to the W. of Tusculum, but the latter nearer to it, and on an eminence, whilst Grotta Ferrata is in the plain. We have seen from Strabo that the Roman villas lay chiefly on the W. side of the town; and it will be found further on that Cicero's adjoined those of Lucullus and Gabinius, which were the most splendid and remarkable, [p. 2.1244]and must therefore have belonged to those noticed by Strabo. The scholiast on Horace (Epod. 1.30) describes Cicero's as being “ad latera superiora” of the Tusculan hill; and if this authority may be relied on, it disposes of the claims of Grotta Ferrata. The plural “latera” also determines us in favour of the W. side of the town, or Villa Rufinella, where the hill has two ridges. At this spot some valuable remains were discovered in 1741, especially a beautiful mosaic, now in the Museo Pio Clementino. The villa belonged originally to Sulla (Plin. Nat. 22.6. s. 6). It was, as we have said, close to that of Lucullus, from which, in neighbourly fashion, Cicero was accustomed to fetch books with his own hand. (De Fin. 3.2.) It was likewise near that of the consul Gabinius (pro Dom. 24, post Red. 7), which also stood on the Tusculan hill (in Pis. 21), probably on the site of the Villa Falconieri. In his oration pro Sestio (43), Cicero says that his own villa was a mere cottage in comparison with that of Gabinius, though the latter, when tribune, had described scribed it as “pictam,” in order to excite envy against its owner. Yet from the particulars which we learn from Cicero himself, his retirement must have been far from deficient in splendour. The money which he lavished on it and on his villa at Pompeii brought him deeply into debt. (Ep. ad Att. 2.1.) And in another letter (Ib. 4.2) he complains that the consuls valued that at Tusculum at only quingentis millibus, or between 4000l. and 5000l. This would be indeed a very small sum, to judge by the description of it which we may collect from his own writings. Thus we learn that it contained two gymnasia (Div. 1.5), an upper one called Lyceum, in which, like Aristotle, he was accustomed to walk and dispute in the morning (Tusc. Disp. 2.3), and to which a library was attached (Div. 2.3), and a lower one, with shady walks like Plato's garden, to which lie gave the name of the Academy. (Tusc. Disp. 2.3.) The latter was perhaps on the spot now occupied by the Casino of the Villa Rufinella. Both were adorned with beautiful statues in marble and bronze. (Ep. ad Att. 1.1, 8, 9, 10.) The villa likewise contained a little atrium (atriolum, Ib. 1.10, ad Quint. Fr. 3.1), a small portico with exedria (ad Fam. 7.23), a bath (Ib. 14.20), a covered promenade ( “tecta ambulatiuncula,” ad Att. 13.29), and an horologium (ad Fam. 16.18). In the excavations made in the time of Zuzzeri, a sun-dial was discovered here, and placed in the Collegio Romano. The villa, like the town and neighbourhood, was supplied with water by the Aqua Crabra. (De Leg. Agr. 3.31.) But of all this magnificence scarce a vestige remains, unless we may regard as such the ruins now called Scuola di Cicerone, close to the ancient walls. These consist of a long corridor with eight chambers, forming apparently the ground floor of an upper building, and if they belonged to the villa they were probably granaries, as there is not the least trace of decoration.

We will now proceed to consider the remains at Frascati. Strabo (v. p.239) indicates where we must look for Tusculum, when he describes it as situated on the high ridge connected with Mount Albanus, and serving to form with it the deep valley which stretches out towards Mount Algidus. This ridge was known by the name of the Tusculani Colles. We have already seen that Tusculum was composed of two distinct parts, the town itself and the arx or citadel, which was isolated from it, and seated on a higher point; so elevated, indeed, that when the Aequi had possession of it, as before narrated, they could descry the Roman army defiling out of the gates of Rome. (Dionys. A. R. 10.20.) It was indeed on the very nut, or pinnacle, of the ridge, a point isolated by cliffs of great elevation, and approachable only by a very steep ascent. According to Sir W. Gell (Topogr. &c. p.429) it is 2079 French feet above the level of the sea. Here a few traces of the walls of the citadel remain, from which, and from the shape of the rock on which the town stood, we may see that it formed an irregular oblong about 2700 feet in circumference. There must have been a gate towards the town, where the ascent is less steep; and there are also vestiges of another gate on the E. side, towards La Molara, and of a road which ran into the Via Latina. Under the rock are caves, which probably served for sepulchres. The city lay immediately under the arx, on the W. side. Its form was a narrow oblong approaching to a triangle, about 3000 feet in length, and varying in breadth from about 1000 to 500 feet. Thus it is represented of a triangular shape on the coins of the gens Sulpicia. Some vestiges of the walls remain, especially on the N. and S. sides. Of these the ancient parts consist of large quadrilateral pieces of local tufo, some of them being 4 to 5 feet long. They are repaired in places with opus incertum, of the age of Sulla, and with opus reticulatum. Including the arx, Tusculum was about 1 1/2 mile in circumference. Between the town and the citadel is a large quadrilateral piscina, 86 feet long by 67 1/2 broad, divided into three compartments, probably intended to collect the rain water, and to serve as a public washingplace. One of the theatres lies immediately under this cistern, and is more perfect than any in the vicinity of Rome. The scena, indeed is partly destroyed and covered with earth; but the benches or rows of seats in the cavea, of which there are nine, are still nearly entire, as well as the steps cut in them for the purpose of commodious descent. There are three flights of these steps, which consequently divide the cavea into four compartments, or cunei. The spectators faced the W., and thus enjoyed the magnificent prospect over the Alban valley and the plains of Latium, with Rome and the sea in the distance. Abeken (Mittel-Italien, p. 200), considers this theatre to belong to the early times of the Empire. Sir W. Gell, on the other hand, pronounces it to be earlier. (Topogr. of Rome, p. 429.) Near this edifice were discovered in 1818, by Lucien Buonaparte, the beautiful bronze statue of Apollo and those of the two Rutiliae. The last are now in the Vatican, in the corridor of the Museo Chiaramonti. At the back of this structure are vestiges of another theatre, or odeum; and at its side two parallel walls, which bounded the street leading to the citadel, On the W. of the theatre is an ancient road in good preservation, leading to one of the gates of the city, where it is joined by another road. Close to the walls near the piscina is an ancient cistern, and at its side a small fountain with an inscription; a little further is a Roman milestone, recording the distance of 15 miles. Besides these objects, there are also remains of a columbarium and of an amphitheatre, but the latter is small and not of high antiquity. Many fragments of architecture of an extremely ancient style are strewed around. Within the walls of the town, in what appears to have been the principal street, several inscriptions [p. 2.1245]still remain, the chief of which it one on a kind of pedestal, recording that the object to which it belonged was sacred to Jupiter and Liberty. Other inscriptions found at Tusculum are preserved in the Villa Rufinella. One of them relates to M. Fulvius Nobilior, the conqueror of Aetolia; another to the poet Diphilos, mentioned by Cicero in his letters to Atticus (2.19).

Near the hermitage at Camaldoli was discovered in 1667 a very ancient tomb of the Furii, as recorded by Falconieri, in his Inscrr. Athleticae, p. 143, seq. It was cut in the rock, and in the middle of it was a sarcophagus, about 5 feet long, with a pedimentshaped cover. Round it were twelve urns placed in loculi, or coffins. The inscriptions on these urns were in so ancient a character that it bore a great resemblance to the Etruscan and Pelasgic. The form of the P resembled that in the sepulchral inscriptions of the Scipios, as well as that of the L. The diphthong OV was used for V, and P for F. The inscriptions on the urns related to the Furii, that on the sarcophagus to Luc. Turpilius. There were also fragments of fictile vases, commonly, called Etruscan, and of an elegant cornice of terra cotta, painted with various colours. (Nibby, Dintorni, iii. p. 360.)

We shall only add that the ager Tusculanus, though now but scantily supplied with water, formerly contributed to furnish Rome with that element by means of the Aqua Tepula and Aqua Virgo. (Front. Aq. 8, seq.)

Respecting Tusculum the reader may consult Canina, Descrizione dell' antico Tusculo; Nibby, Dintorni di Roma, vol. iii.; Gell, Topography of Rome and its Vicinity, ed. Bunbury; Abeken, Mittel-Italien; Compagnoni, Mem. istoriche dell' antico Tusculo. On Cicero's villa, Cardoni, De Tuscul. M. T. Ciceronis; Zuzzeri, Sopra d'una antica Villa scopertasul Dorso del Tusculo.


hide References (16 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (16):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 9.6
    • Homer, Odyssey, 3.29
    • Cicero, For Plancius, 8
    • Cornelius Nepos, Cato, 1
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 18.7
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 22.6
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 9
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 49
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 15
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 8
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 36
    • Statius, Silvae, 1.3
    • Ovid, Fasti, 3
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 3.4.6
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