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FERENTINUM (Ferentino) Latium, Italy.

A Hernican hill town on the Via Latina (modern Casilina) about 75 km SE of Rome. It was taken by the Romans in 361 B.C., remained faithful to Rome in the Hernican revolt, and defied Hannibal in the second Punic war, for which he laid it waste (Livy 7.9.1; 9.42.11; 26.9.11). It is famous for its fortifications and its monumental acropolis.

The walls are of local limestone, large polygonal blocks approaching rectangles with much coursing, the two surviving gates, Porta Stupa and Porta Sanguinaria, capped with arches of regularly cut voussoirs. The walls, much rebuilt in mediaeval times, can be followed around a winding circuit that avoids acute angles and sites the gates with some sophistication, but is towerless.

The acropolis had its own fortifications, which come tangent to the city walls at the N corner and probably joined them there, but the NE side cannot be traced. The most important front is the SW, overlooking the town, where a bold rectangular outwork juts forward at the S corner. At its base this is of roughly trapezoidal blocks of limestone in rough coursing set in a deep footing trench cut into the stone of the hill. There is some effect of bossing and a marked batter, and this work is carried as coigning part way up the superstructure, which is of travertine cut in long thin blocks laid in regular courses of unequal height. The superstructure houses a system of concrete vaults, an interior substructure of well-developed plan and ingenious fenestration that carried at the level of the top of the acropolis a rectangular building raised a meter above a surrounding terrace, perhaps a temple. It is known only that it faced NE, away from the town, and had walls of, or faced with, travertine, files of Ionic or Corinthian columns on a raised pliath down either side of a central nave, and curious small windows evenly spaced just above the plinth. The approach and pronaos, if there was one, are completely lost. Some have thought the whole might have been roofed with a vault. A number of advanced building techniques were employed: concrete vaulting, relieving arches over lintels, a segmental arch where there was not room for a full semicircle. The whole structure is adorned with four building inscriptions of the censors A. Hirtius and M. Lollius (CIL X, 5837-40). The date is much debated, but the architectural sophistication inclines the majority to the early 1st c. B.C. The whole complex is of a build with the rest of the acropolis fortifications, though variations in masonry appear in other stretches.

Just NE of the supposed boundary of the acropolis is a well-preserved market building of Republican date, a vaulted hall along one side of which open five vaulted shops, an important predecessor of the basilica of the Mercati di Traiano in Rome. There are poor remains of a theater, and at nearby Terme Pompeo are cold sulphur baths that were used in antiquity.

Ferentinum has yielded a great many inscriptions, some of which are housed in the Raccolta d'Arte Coinunale, but the most famous is the will of Aulus Quintilius of the time of Trajan, carved in the rock outside Porta Maggiore, in which he left income from lands to the community (CIL x, 5853).


T. Ashby in RömMitt 24 (1909) 28-48; A. Bartoli in BdA 34 (1949) 293-306MPI; G. Gullini in ArchCl 6 (1954) 185-216 & pls. 44-63; L. Benevolo & F. Fasolo in Istituto di Storia dell'Architettura 10 (1955) 8-11PI.


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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 7, 9
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