previous next


BOVILLAE (Βοΐλλαι: Eth. Βοϊλλανός, Eth. Bovillanus), an ancient city of Latium, situated on the Appian Way about 12 miles from Rome. It is one of the towns whose foundation is expressly assigned to a colony from Alba Longa (Orig. Gentis Ronm. 17; Comp. Diod. vii. ap. Euseb. Arm. p. 185): and the inhabitants appear indeed to have claimed a special relation with that city, whence we find them assuming in inscriptions, of Imperial date, the titles “Albani Longani Bovillenses” (Orell. Inscr. 119, 2252). After the fall of Alba, Bovillae became an independent city, and was one of the thirty which in B.C. 493 composed the Latin League. (Dionys. A. R. 5.61, where we should certainly read Βοϊλλανῶν, and not Βωλανῶν. Niebuhr, in his discussion of this important passage, has accidentally omitted the name.) Hence we find it long afterwards noticed as partaking in the sacrifices on the Alban Mount. (Cic. pro Planc. 9) It is mentioned both by Dionysius and Plutarch among the cities taken by the Volscians under Coriolanus (Dionys. A. R. 8.20; Plut. Cor. 29, where we should read Βο̈́λλαι for Βόλλαι): the former calls it at this time one of the most considerable cities of Latium, but its name is not again mentioned during the wars of Rome with the Volscians. Florus indeed speaks of the Romans as having celebrated a triumph over Bovillae (1.11.6), but this is probably a mistake, or a rhetorical inaccuracy. Like many other Latin towns it seems to have fallen into decay in the later ages of the Republic, and though Sulla established a military colony there (Lib. Colon. p. 231), Cicero speaks of it in his time as a poor decayed place, though still retaining its municipal privileges. (Pro Planc. 9.)

It was on the Appian Way, close to Bovillae, that Clodius was killed by Milo, whence Cicero alludes to that event by the phrase of “pugna Bovillana” (Appian. B.C. 2.21; Cic. Att. 5.1. 3); and it was here that the body of Augustus rested on its way to Rome, and where it was met by the funeral convoy of Roman knights who conducted it from thence to the city. (Suet. Aug. 100.) The Julian family appears to have had previous to this some peculiar sacred rites or privileges at Bovillae, probably owing to their Alban origin: and after this event, Tiberius erected there a chapel or “sacrarium” of the Julia gens; and instituted Circensian games in its honour, which continued to be celebrated for some time. (Tac. Ann. 2.41, 15.23.) Owing to the favours thus bestowed on it, as well as to its favourable situation close to the Appian Way, and at so short a distance from Rome (whence it is called “suburbanae Bovillae” by Propertius and Ovid), it appears to have recovered from its declining condition, and became under the Roman empire a tolerably flourishing municipal town. (Propert. 4.1. 33; Ovid. Fast. 3.667; Martial, 2.6. 15; Tac. Hist. 4.2, 46; Orell. Inscr. 2625, 3701.) The name (corruptly written ‘Bobellas’) is found for the last time in the Tabula: the period of its destruction is unknown, but it appears to have completely ceased to exist in the middle ages, so that its very site was forgotten. Holstenius placed it at a spot called the Osteria delle Fratocchie, rather too near Rome: the actual town, as proved by the ruins lately discovered, lay a short distance to the right of the Appian Way, and a cross road or diverticulum, which led to it, branched off from the high road at the 12th mile-stone. The station given in the Tabula must have been at this point, and it is therefore clear that the distance should be xii. instead of x. Recent excavations have brought to light the remains of the Circus, in which the games noticed by Tacitus were celebrated, and which are in unusually good preservation: also those of a small theatre and the ruins of an edifice, supposed with much plausibility to be the sanctuary of the Julian gens. A curious altar of very ancient style, with the inscription “Vedioveï Patrei Gentiles Julieti,” confirms the fact of the early connexion of this gens with Bovillae. (Nibby, Dintorni di Roma, vol. i. pp. 302--312; Gell's Top. of [p. 1.427]Rome, pp. 123--125; Orell. Inscr. 1287; Klausen, Aeneas und die Penaten, vol. ii. p. 1083.


hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.1.3
    • Cicero, For Plancius, 9
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 100
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.41
    • Tacitus, Annales, 15.23
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 4.46
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 4.2
    • Plutarch, Caius Marcius Coriolanus, 29
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: