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GABII (CASTIGLIONE) AND ZAGAEOLO
Gabii, 11 miles from Rome, is a pleasant short day's excursion in motor or carriage (which, with two horses, ought not to cost more than 15 lire). On horseback or cycle, Gabii, Collatia, and Lunghezza, may be visited in the same day.
THE road which leads to Gabii is the Via Prenestina, sometimes called Via Qabina, which emerges from the Porta Maggiore, and turns to the left (the central road of three). On the left, about half a mile from the walls, we pass a tomb said, without good ground by Canina, to be that of T. Quintus Atta A.y.C. 678. Then, crossing a small streamlet, the Marranella, in a hollow, believed to be the Aqua Bollicante, which marked the limits of ancient Rome, where the Arvales sang their hymn, we reach the ruins of the Torre degli Schiavi, the villa and temple of the Gordian Emperors, which, in their richness of colour and noble situation, backed by the paountains of the Sabina, present one of the most beautiful scenes in the entire Campagna. The Porticus is related to have had two hundred columns of marble.
At the foot of the little hill upon which the ruins stand, the road to Lunghezza (Collatia) turns off on the left. The Campagna now becomes wild and open. Here and there a tomb or a tower breaks the wide expanse. Far on the left is the castle of Cervaretto, and beyond it Cervara and Rustica; further still is seen the Tor dei Pazzi. To the left the valley opens toward the hills, between the historic sites of Palestrina and Colonna. All is beautiful, yet unutterably desolate :—
'The very sepulchres lie tenantless
Now, on the left, rises, on a broad basement, the (xiii. c.) tower called Tor Tre Teste, from three stone heads (from a tomb) built into its walls. Beyond, also on the left, is the Tor Sapienza, with a square embattled base.
The eighth mile from Rome is interesting as the spot where Roman self-deceptive legend, as narrated by Livy,1 tells that Camillus overtook the army of the Gauls laden with the spoils of Rome, and defeated them so totally, that he left not a single man alive to carry the news home to their countrymen.
'Among the fictions attached to Roman history, this was one of the first to be rejected.'—Niebuhr.
'Such a falsification, scarcely to be paralleled in the annals of any other people, justifies the strongest suspicion of all those accounts of victories and triumphs which appear to rest in any degree on the authority of the family memorials of the Roman aristocracy.'—Arnold.
At the ninth mile the road passes over the lofty and magnificent viaduct called Ponte di Nona, consisting of seven arches, built of the gloomy stone called ' lapis gabinus' (sperone). The pavement of the bridge, and even part of the parapet, exist, suggesting what it must have been when entire. Moreover, beneath one arch may be noticed a part of an earlier (Syllan) Viaduct.
More and more desolate becomes the country, until at the Osteria del Osa, 11 miles from Rome, we turn aside and make for the high mediaeval tower (on ancient foundations) of Castiglione (which is mentioned in a deed of 1225) occupying the highest point of a ridge. Beyond this are remains of the walls of Gabii on a natural ridge of volcanic rock — exceedingly striking and picturesque. In other days visitors used to look across the grey-green water of the lake; but this has been drained by Prince Torlonia, to whom it belongs, to the destruction of its beauty, but to the great improvement of his property. In the fields beyond (accessible by a rough carriage road which leaves the Via Prenestina at the Osteria del Osa) is a low massive ruin, which might easily pass overlooked, but which is a fine fragment—the cella—of the Ionic Temple of Juno, celebrated by Virgil:—
* . . . quique arva Gabinae Junonis, gelidumque Aniencm, et roscida rivis Hernica saxa, colunt,'
—Aen. vii. 682.
and by Silius Italicus :—
*. . . nec amoena retentant Alglda, nec juxta Junonis tecta Gabinae.'
—' Punic,' xii. 536.
'The temple (the cell of which remains almost entire, but rent in certain parts apparently by lightning) is built of rectangular blocks of peperino. It has the same aspect as that of Diana at Aricia; that is, the wall of the posticum is prolonged beyond the cella, to the width of the portico on each side; "Columnis adjectis dextra et sinistra ad humeros pronai." 1 The number of columns could scarcely be less than six in front; those of the flanks have not been decided. The columns were fluted, and of peperino, like the rest of the building; but it might perhaps be hazardous to assign them to a very remote period. The pavement is a mosaic of large white tesserae.'—Sir W. Gell.
'The form of this temple was almost identical with that at Aricia. The interior of the cella was twenty-seven feet wide, and forty-five feet long. It had columns of the Doric order in front and at the sides, but none at the back. The surrounding area was about fifty-four feet at the sides, but in front a space of only eight feet was left open, in consequence of the position of the theatre, which abutted closely upon the temple. On the eastern side of the cella are traces of the rooms in which the priest in charge of the temple lived.'—Burn, 'Rome and the Campagna.'
From hence we look across the crater, once occupied by the lake,
to Castiglione. There occurs no mention of the Lake of Gabii until the fifth century, when S. Primitivo| was beheaded and thrown into it, and S. Exuperantius dragged out his body and buried it in a catacomb. Near the temple remains of semi-circular seats, perhaps indicating a Theatre, have been discovered, and nearer the high road it has become possible to trace the plan of the Forum, a work of imperial times, surrounded on three sides by porticoes, and adorned with statues.
These fragments, ill-defined and scattered at long intervals in the corn or rank weeds with which the Campagna is overgrown, are all that remains of Gabii. Above these stand out the remains of the Church of S. Primitivo with a separate Campanile. The church is built on earlier foundations. In the Apse is seen very late opus reticulatum, and within it traces of fresco.
Virgil and Dionysius say that Gabii was a Latin colony of Alba. Solinus asserts that it was founded by two Siculian brothers, Galatios and Bios, from whose united names that of the city was formed. Dionysius says that it was one of the largest and most populous of Latin cities. It seems to have been a sort of university of Latium, and Plutarch and Strabo narrate that Romulus and Remus were sent there to learn Greek and the use of arms. In the Papa Giulio Museum at Rome is to be seen a coffin made of the base of an oak-tree precisely similar to some found in 1903 in the Forum Sepulcretum, which was discovered at Gabii in 1888. In the reign of Tarquinius Superbus, Gabii gave refuge to exiles from Rome and other cities of Latium, and so aroused the hostility of the King.
'Ultima Tarquinius Bomanae gentis habebat
—Ovid, ' Fast.' ii. 687.
'The primeval greatness of Gabii is still apparent in the walls of the cell of the temple of Juno. Dionysius saw it yet more conspicuous in the ruins of the extensive walls, by which the city, standing in the plain, had been surrounded, and which had been demolished by a destroying conqueror, as well as in those of several buildings. It was one of the thirty Latin cities: but it scorned the determination of the confederacy—in which cities far from equal in power were equal in votes—to degrade themselves. Hence it began an obstinate war with Rome. The contending cities were only twelve miles apart; and the country betwixt them endured all the evils of military ravages for years, no end of which was to be foreseen: for within their walls they were invincible.
'But Sextus, the son of Tarquinius Superbus, pretended to rebel. The king, whose anger appeared to have been provoked by his wanton insolence, condemned him to a disgraceful punishment, as if he had been the meanest of his subjects. He came to the Gabines under the mask of a fugitive. The bloody marks of his stripes, and still more the infatuation which comes over men doomed to perish, gained him belief and goodwill. At first he led a body of volunteers: then troops were trusted to his charge. Every enterprise succeeded; for booty and soldiers were thrown in his way at certain appointed places; and the deluded citizens raised the man, under whose command they promised themselves the pleasures of a successful war, to the dictatorship. The last step of his treachery was yet to come. None of the troops being hirelings, it was a hazardous venture to open a gate. Sextus sent to ask his father in what way he should deliver Gabii into his hands.
Tarquinius was In his garden when he received the messenger: he walked along in silence, striking off the heads of the tallest poppies with his stick, and dismissed the man without an answer. On this hint, Sextus pnt to death, or by means of false charges banished, such of the Gabines as were able to oppose him. By distributing their fortunes he purchased partisans among the lowest class; and, acquiring the uncontested rule, brought the city to submit to his father.'—Niebuhr, 'History of Rome,' i. 491.
The treaty concluded at this time between Rome and Gabii was preserved on a wooden shield covered with ox-hide, in the temple of Jupiter Fidius at Rome. It is evidently one of those alluded to by Horace as the—
'f oedera regum
and which Dionysius tells us he had read in archaic language.
After the expulsion of the kings, Sextus Tarquinius took refuge at Gabii, where, according to Livy, he was murdered. But Gabii was one of the cities which combined in behalf of the Tarquins at the Lake Regillus. After that battle it became subject to Rome, and almost disappears from history for several centuries. It was so ruined and reduced after the Syllan wars that—
'. . . Gabios, Veiosque, Coramque Pulvere vix tectae poterunt monstrare rninae.'
—Lucan, vii. 392.
'Scis Lebedus quid sit; Gabiis desertior atque
—hot. 'Ep.' I.11,7.
'Quippe suburbanae parva minus urbo Bovillae;
—Propert. 'El.' iv. 1.
* Hujus qui trahitur praetextam sumere mavis;
—Juvenal,' Sat.' x. 99.
'Quis timet, aut timuit gelida Praeneste ruinam;
—Juvenal, 'Sat.' iii. 190.
*. . . cum jam celebres notique poetae Balneolum Gabiis, Romae conducere furnos Temptarent.'
—Juvenal, 'Sat.' vii. 8.
Cicero in the Oration, Pro. Plancio IX., mentions Gabii with Labicum and Bovillae as being so depopulated as scarcely to be able to send any deputy to the Latin Festivals.
The Gabini had a peculiar mode of girding the toga, which gave more freedom to the limbs, and which was found useful when hurrying to battle from a sacrifice. Virgil alludes to it:—
'Ipse, Quirinali trabea cinctuque Gabino
—Aen. vii. 612.
Under Tiberius the town knew a slight revival, which was increased under Hadrian, who adorned it with handsome public buildings, colleges, and an aqueduct. In the first ages of Christianity it became the seat of a bishopric (a list of its bishops from A.D. 465 to 879 is given in Ughelli's Italia Sacra), but it was finally ruined when Astolphus ravaged the Campagna, at the head of 6000 Lombards. In A.D. 741 Cencio Camerarius mentions it as 'fandani Gabiis cum lacu' as church property. Gregory VII. gave it to the Monastery of S. Paolo fuori le Mura. It is only a mile's walk or ride from the Osteria del Osa (turning left) to the Castello del Osa or Collatia. Ponte Lucano can also easily be reached. The Lapis Gabinus, or local volcanic stone, was always prized as building material. It is a grey peperino composed of ashe's and bits of lava, mica, and lime. It resists the action of fire.
Continuing along the Via Prenestina, long tracts of the ancient pavement become visible. This is most perfect at Cavamonte (seven miles beyond Gabii), where the road passes through a deep cutting in the rocks which guard the valley of Gallicano. The cliffs on either side of the road reach a height of 70 feet, and are picturesquely overhung with shrubs and ivy. After passing through Cavamonte, the Via Prenestina ascends toward Palestrina by the Convent of Buon Pastore.
On the left of the road (six kilometres from Zagarolo) is the village of Gallicano (Locanda Angelo Minelli), supposed to occupy the site of the ancient Pedum, whose name is familiar to readers of Horace from the epistle to Albius Tibullus, the Poet, who possessed a good property there.
'Albi, nostrorum sermonum candide judex,
—Mp. i. iv.
Here may be traced remains of an amphitheatre.
The present name is derived from Ovinius Gallicanus, Prefect of Rome in the time of Constantine, who was afterwards canonised for his charities, and in whose honour the Hospital in the Trastevere was dedicated. The place was formerly a fief of the Colonna, and now gives a title to the Rospigliosi.
* The towns of Scaptia, Ortona, and Querquetula lay somewhere in this neighbourhood. Scaptia was one of the cities which conspired to restore the Tarquins to the Ro man throne. It gave a name to one of the tribes at Rome, but in Pliny's time had fallen entirely into ruins. The site of Passerano has been fixed upon as the representative of Scaptia by most modern topographers. But this opinion rests upon a false reading in Festus, and must be rejected. Ortona lay on the frontier, between the Latins and Aequians, but belonged to the Latins. It seems to have been near Corbio, and on the further side of Mount Algidus. The site of Querquetula is entirely unknown. Gell and Nibby place it at Corcolle, arguing from the similarity of the name. Corcolle is four miles from Gallicano, and six from Zagarolo, at a point where there is an artificial dyke separating a small hill from the neighbouring plateau. There are traces of ancient roads converging to this spot from Praeneste, Castellaccio, and Gallicano.'—Burn, 'Rome and the Campagna.'
Three kilometres NE. toward S. Vittorino, crossing a deep Fossa, into which we descend opposite S. Gregorio, is found Ponte Lupo, a magnificent construction of Claudius, which carried the Claudia,