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Chapter
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria

by George Dennis

published by John Murray, Albemarle Street
London, 1848.

The text is in the public domain.


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p129 Chapter VII

FALLERI. — FALERII (NOVI).


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PORTA DI GIOVE, FALLERI.
Ebbi improviso un gran sepolcro scorto, . . .

E in brevi note altrui vi si sponea

Il nome e la virtù del guerrier morto.

Io non sapea da tal vista levarmi,

Mirando ora le lettre, ed ora i marmi.

Tasso.

The road from Ponte Terrano leads to Santa Maria di Falleri, or Falari, a ruined convent on another ancient site, about four miles from Civita Castellana. After two p130or three miles over the heath, you reach the Fosso de' Tre Camini, and where you cross the stream are traces of an ancient bridge. Just before coming in sight of Falleri, you reach a tomb, which cannot fail to strike you with admiration as you come suddenly upon it, even should you already have seen every other necropolis in Etruria. A wide recess in the cliff is occupied by a spacious portico of three large arches, hewn out of the rock, but with a bold cornice of masonry above, of massive tufo blocks, now somewhat dislocated, and concealed by the overhanging foliage. A door in the inner wall of the portico, of the usual Etruscan form, slightly narrowing upwards, opens into the sepulchre. Sepulchre! to an unpractised eye the structure looks far more like a habitation; and in truth the antiquary must see in it an imitation of an ancient abode. The portico is surrounded by an elegant cornice, carved in the rock; the door, to which you ascend by steps, is ornamented with mouldings in relief. Within it, is the small antechamber, with the usual chimney or funnel in its ceiling; and then you enter a spacious, gloomy chamber. Its flat ceiling is supported in the midst by a massive square pillar, in the front of which are three long, shallow niches, one over the other; and in the walls of the tomb are smaller niches for urns or votive offerings. Under the portico the rock is cut into benches for sarcophagi, and long holes are sunk in the ground for the reception of bodies, which, with the exception of being covered over with tiles, must have been exposed to the passers-by, as the arches of the portico could hardly have been closed. The cornice around the portico and the mouldings of the door are almost Roman in character; yet that the tomb is of Roman construction I do not believe. In form and arrangement it is too nearly allied to the Etruscan tombs of this district. It is p131probable that the Romans appropriated it to their own dead; and possible that they added these decorations; but, though an architectural adornment be proved to have been used by that people, it by no means follows that they originated it. Had not history informed us that the Corinthian capital was of Greek origin, the frequency of it in the ancient buildings of Rome and Italy, would have led us to a very different conclusion. Now, we know almost nothing of Etruscan architecture from written records; and therefore when we find, in a position which favours an Etruscan origin, architectural decorations analogous to those used by the Romans, it were illogical to pronounce them necessarily to be the work of the latter. On the contrary, it were more reasonable to regard them as Etruscan, knowing that, before the time of the Empire at least, the Romans were mere imitators of the Etruscans and Greeks in the arts, servile enough in that respect — imitatores, servum pecus! — however they may have taken the lead of the world in arms. Nevertheless, should these mouldings be Etruscan, the tomb is probably of a later period.

This is the only instance known of an Etruscan tomb with a cornice of masonry, and it was thought to be unique also as regards the portico; but I was fortunate enough to discover a group of tombs of similar character, very near this, which were before unknown.1

Among them is one which seems also to have had a portico, but the cliff out of which it was hewn is broken away. What now forms its front, has been the inner wall, if not of a portico, of an antechamber or outer tomb, and p132on it, to my astonishment, I found a Latin inscription, in very neatly formed letters, about four or five inches high, graven deep in the tufo:

L. VECILIO. VI. F. E
PO . . AE. ABELES.
LECTV. I. DATV
. . VECILIO. L. F. ET. PLENESTE
. ECTV. I. AMPLVS. NIHIL
INVITEIS. L. C. LEVIEIS. L. F.
ET. QVEI. EOS. PARENTARET
NE. ANTEPONAT

The last line was buried in the earth, and having no instrument at hand, I could not uncover it; but I communicated the discovery to the Archaeological Institute2 of Rome; and my friend, Dr. Henzen, one of the secretaries, proceeded purposely to Falleri to inspect the inscription. To him is due the discovery of the last line, which explains the whole. To him also I am indebted for the correction and the explanation of the inscription.

"To Lucius Vecilius, son of Vibus and of Polla (or Pollia) Abeles, one bed (sepulchral couch) is given — to . . . Vecilius, son of Lucius and of Plenesta, one bed. — Let no one place anything before (these beds) save with the permission of Lucius and Caius Levius, sons of Lucius, or (with the permission) of whoever may perform their obsequies (i. e. their heirs)."

The beds are the long niches in the walls of the tomb, of which there are eleven. The inscription is curious for its ancient Latinity alone; but most interesting as an evidence of the fact that the Romans made use of the tombs of the Etruscans, or else constructed sepulchres precisely similar. No one can doubt the Etruscan character of this particular tomb, and yet it belonged to the Roman p133family of the Levii, who gave it or let out to the Vecilii, as we know to have been frequently the case with the ollae of Roman columbaria. The mention of the mother's name after the father's is a genuine Etruscanism.3 It is general in Etruscan epitaphs, and was retained even under Roman domination, for some sarcophagi bear similar epitaphs in Latin, with "natus" affixed to the mother's name in the genitive or ablative. But those sarcophagi were found in Etruscan tombs, in the midst of others with Etruscan inscriptions, and are only the coffins of the latest members of the same families, belonging to a period when the native language was being superseded by that of the conquerors. This may be the case here also — the Levii may have been an Etruscan family; as indeed seems highly probable.4 If not, we have here a Roman usurpation of an Etruscan sepulchre, or it may be an imitation of the Etruscan mode of burial, and also an instance of the adoption of the customs of that people by the Romans.5

Just beyond these tombs the city of Falleri comes into view. And an imposing sight it is — not from its position, for it is on the very level of the plain by which you approach it — but from its lofty walls and numerous towers, stretching away on either hand to a great distance in an almost unbroken line, and only just dilapidated p134enough to acquire a picturesque effect, which is heightened by overhanging foliage. You approach it from the east, at an angle of the wall where there is an arched gateway on either hand — one still open,6 the other almost buried in the earth.


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THE WALLS OF FALLERI, FROM THE EAST.

The walls here are about seven feet thick, and in thirteen courses, or about twenty-five feet high; they are of red tufo blocks, of the size usual in the emplecton masonry of Etruria, fitted together without cement and with great nicety. In parts the tufo has lost its surface, but in others the masonry looks as sharp and fresh as though it had been just constructed, without a sign of age beyond its weather-given coating of grey. Both walls and towers are p135perpendicular or nearly so; the latter, which are at unequal distances, but generally about one hundred feet apart, are square — about seventeen feet wide, and projecting ten feet. They are external only; the inner surface of the wall, which rises high above the level of the ground within, is unbroken by any projections; it is similar in appearance to the outer surface, but not so neatly smoothed and finished.

Following the northern wall of the city, after passing ten towers, you reach a small arched gate or postern. Outside it are remains of Roman tombs of opus incertum, on mounds by the side of the road which issued from this gate; blocks of basalt, now upturned by the plough, indicate its course. It was the Via Amerina, which ran northward to Horta and Ameria. Passing a breach which Gell takes for a gateway, you next cross a long wall or embankment stretching away at right angles from the city; it is of ancient blocks, probably taken from the city walls. A little beyond is what seems a window, high in the wall and partly blocked up, but it is a mere hole cut in later times.

On turning the corner of the wall you reach the Porta di Giove, a fine gate in excellent preservation, flanked by towers. The arch-stones and encircling moulding are of peperino; and in the centre over the key-stone, is a head in bold relief. Why called Giove I could not understand; it has none of the attributes of Jupiter, but in its beardless youth and gentleness of expression, seems rather to represent Bacchus or Apollo.7 Within the gate is a double p136line of ancient wall, flanking a hollow way or road, which now leads to the ruined convent of Santa Maria di Falleri, the only building standing within the walls.8 This end of the city was probably the Arx.

The wall soon turns again and follows the course of the valley through which flows the Miccino. Here it is based on low tufo cliffs, in which are the mouths of several sewers. On this side it is for the most part greatly dilapidated: sometimes you lose sight of it altogether for a considerable distance, then again trace it by detached portions or by towers only, which jet boldly into the valley on projecting masses of cliff. The rock beneath the walls is in many places hollowed into niches or caves, once evidently tombs; and on the other side of the stream are tall cliffs, full of long sepulchral niches one above the other, where the Falerians of old stored up their dead. On that side also are the remains of several Roman tombs — massive piles of opus incertum, towering high above the light wood that covers that bank of the stream. This necropolis has been little explored, and I regret that I have not been able to give it due examination. Dr. Henzen found one tomb here with a Christian inscription.9

One of the city-towers stands on a projection of the cliff where the wall makes a semi-circular bend inwards. Beneath this tower is a tomb of unusual size, square and lofty. It would seem at first sight to have been formed as a cellar to the tower, but further observation shows that it p137was of prior formation, for its original door-way is blocked up by the masonry of the tower itself. Whence it may be inferred that the city was of subsequent construction, and that the tomb had been profaned by the founders. Near this is another instance of the city-wall blocking up an ancient tomb. Facts of importance, as bearing on the question by whom and in what age the city was built.

A little beyond this you reach another deep recess in the line of cliff, with a magnificent mass of walling rising to the height of twenty-eight courses, or fifty-four feet, and stretching completely across the hollow. In the centre is a gate, the Porta del Bove, fine in itself, but appearing quite insignificant — a mere drain-hole in the vast expanse of wall.10 Towers, bannered with oak-saplings, and battlemented with ivy, crest boldly the projecting cliffs at the angles of the recess. "Desert caves, with wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown," yawn around. Soracte soars bluely in the distance above the wooded glen. The whole scene is one of picturesque grandeur, rendered more impressive by the silence, loneliness, and desolation.11

p138 The southern wall of the city extends but a short way beyond the Porta del Bove. It then turns to the north; and after passing nine towers in excellent preservation, you may observe the site of another gate, now destroyed. Outside it, a Roman tomb rises to a considerable height.12 From this spot, a short distance carries you to the gate at the north-eastern angle, where you complete the tour of the city. According to Gell, the circuit of the walls is 2305 yards, or more than one English mile and a third.13 The form of the city is a right-angled triangle, with the angles truncated. About fifty towers are standing, and eight or nine gates may be traced. "Perhaps," as Sir William Gell remarks, "no place presents a more perfect specimen of ancient military architecture."

Within the walls there are but few remains. On the spot where the theatre was found nothing can now be traced of the seats or arches. A high bank, encircling a hollow, marks the outline. Here, as on the other spots where excavations have been made, are fragments of cornices and columns of travertine and marble, and other traces of the Romans. Several fine statues have been found on this spot.14 Excavations have been made of late years by Sign. Carlo Campanari, but with small success.

The only building now standing within the walls is the convent of Sta. Maria di Falleri, but even this shares in p139the ruin of the spot, and, instead of chaunt and orison, resounds with the bleating of sheep and lowing of oxen. It is of the Lombard style, so common in the ecclesiastical architecture of Italy, but of a more simple character than usual. It is constructed of the materials of the ancient city, and apparently is of the twelfth century.

We have now to consider the origin and ancient name of this city. That an Etruscan population occupied this or a neighbouring site is evident from the multitude of tombs and niches excavated in the cliffs, undoubtedly of that character, and too remote to belong to the necropolis of the city which occupied the site of Civita Castellana. The walls are certainly in the Etruscan style as regards the masonry; but this is not decisive of their origin, for precisely the same sort of masonry is to be seen in Rome itself and other places south and east of the Tiber; in almost every case, however, prior to the Empire. For before her intercourse with Greece, Rome was indebted to Etruria for all her arts, as well as for most of her institutions, religious, political, and social; and either employed Etruscan artists and artisans, or imitated their handiwork. Nibby15 is of opinion that these walls show the Roman method of fortification with quadrilateral towers at equal distances, and that the arching of the gateways is similar to that of Roman archways of fifth and sixth centuries of the City; as are also the sculpture and mouldings; from which, together with the fact that the theatre and other ancient relics within the walls are purely and unequivocally Roman, he infers that the remains now extant belong to a Roman city. Cav. Canina, a superior authority on architectural matters, sees much Etruscan character in the gateways.16 The name of the original p140town, moreover, seems preserved in its modern appellation, which it possessed through the middle ages, and which seems to indicate it as the Falerii of the Etruscans. Let us consider what is said of this town by ancient writers.

At an early period, says tradition, shortly after the Trojan War, a body of Greeks from Argos, led by Halesus, or Haliscus, son of Agamemnon, settled in this part of Italy,17 drove out the Siculi, who then possessed it, and occupied their towns of Falerium and Fescennium.18 Whether they were subsequently conquered by the Tyrrheni or Etruscans, or entered into alliance with them, does not appear, but it is certain that they were incorporated with that people, and under the name of Falisci19 by Rome. Yet they were always in some respects a distinct people; their language was said to differ from the Etruscan;20 and even as late as the time of Augustus, they retained sparks of their origin, in their armour and weapons, and in various customs, especially in what regarded their temples and religious rites. The temple of Juno at Falerii is said to have been the counterpart of one to the same goddess at Argos, i.e. the Heraeum, and p141her worship to have been similar.21 There seems to have been a third city, Faliscum, similar in origin to the other two, and deriving its name from the chief of the original colonists.22

We see that there were three cities, probably not far removed from each other, inhabited by a race, which, though of Greek origin, was, at the period it is mentioned in Roman history, to all intents and purposes, Etruscan; amalgamated, like the inhabitants of Agylla, Cortona, and other Pelasgic cities of Etruria, with the mixed race of the Tyrrhenes, and bearing, from the general testimony of ancient writers, the generic name of Falisci.23

Of these three cities, Falerii, or Falerium as it is indifferently called, was evidently the most important. There is every reason to believe it one of the Twelve cities of the Confederation.24 Plutarch says it was so strong by nature and so admirably prepared to sustain an attack, that the citizens made light of being besieged by the Romans,25 even though led by Camillus; and according to Livy the p142siege bid fair to be as tedious as that of Veii;26 which could not have been the case had not the city occupied a site strong by nature as well as art. Ovid speaks of the steepness of the ascent to the celebrated temple of Juno within the city.27 Zonaras also mentions the natural strength of its position on a lofty height.28 All descriptive of a site widely different from that of Falleri, and perfectly agreeing with that of Civita Castellana, which, in accordance with Cluverius, Holstenius, Cramer, and Nibby, I am fully persuaded is the representative of the Etruscan Falerium.

There it is we must place the scene of the well-known story of the treacherous schoolmaster.

The Falerians, trusting in the strength of their town, regarded with indifference the Roman army encamped about it, even though commanded by Camillus, the conqueror of Veii, and pursued their ordinary avocations. It was the custom of the Falerians, derived probably from their Greek ancestors, to have a public school for the tuition of the male children generally. The schoolmaster during the siege took his boys out of the city for exercise, as usual in time of peace, and to accomplish his treacherous design, led daily further from the walls, till he drew them at length to the Roman camp, and delivered them up to their foes. As among them were the children of the principal citizens, he thought in them to transfer to the Romans the destinies of the city itself, and thus purchase for himself the favour of Camillus. But the Roman general, with that noble generosity and inflexible virtue which characterised many of his countrymen of early times, scorned to profit by such baseness, and sternly replied, — "Not to such wretches as thyself art thou come with thy base offers. With the Falisci we have no common bond p143of human making; but such as nature hath formed, that will we ever respect. War hath its laws as well as peace; and its duties we have learnt to execute, whether they demand our justice or our valour. We are arrayed, not against that tender age which is sacred even in the moment of successful assault, but against those who, though neither injured nor annoyed by us, took up arms and attacked our camp at Veii. Them hast thou surpassed in iniquity; and them will I overcome, as I have the Veientes, by Roman skill, determination, and valour." Then commanding the wretch to be stript, and his hands to be bound behind his back, he delivered him to the boys, who with rods and scourges drove him back to the city. The anxiety and terror of the inhabitants at the loss of their children was turned to joy on their return, and they conceived such admiration of the Roman general that they forthwith surrendered the city into his hands.29

This was in the year of Rome 360; but the Falisci, as a people, are mentioned in Roman history as early as the year 317;30 from which time, to the capture of the city, they several times warred against Rome, in alliance with either the Veientes, Fidenates, or Capenates. The Falisci remained subject to Rome till the year 397, when they revolted, and joined the Tarquinienses, but were subdued by the dictator, Marcius Rutilius.31 In 461 they joined the other Etruscan cities in the final struggle for independence.32 In 513, after the first Punic war, they again revolted; but were soon reduced;33 Zonaras, who has given us an account of this final capture, says that "the ancient p144city situated on a steep and lofty height was destroyed, and another built in a place of easy access."34 The description of the latter, which will not apply at all to the site of Civita Castellana, agrees precisely with that of Falleri, which, as already shown, stands on two sides on the actual level of the plain, and on the third, on cliffs but slightly raised from the valley — such a situation, as, by analogy, we know would never have been chosen by the Etruscans, but is not at all inconsistent with a Roman site.35 Regarding Falleri, then, to be the city rebuilt at this period, all difficulty with regard to its name is removed. It is not necessary to suppose it the Etruscan Falerii; for the name of the original city was transferred with the inhabitants to this site which has retained it, while the ancient site lay desolate, it is probable, for many ages,36 till long after the fall of the Empire, in the eighth or ninth century, the strength of its position attracted a fresh settlement, and it was fortified under the name of Civitas Castellana.

That Civita was the site of the original, and Falleri of the second city of Falleri, is corroborated by the much superior size of the former, and by the fact that no Roman p145remains have been discovered there, while they abound at the latter place.37

This is the opinion regarding Falerii held by most antiquaries of note, and its seems clear and consistent.38 Some few, as Nardini, Müller, and Gell, led astray by the resemblance of the name, view Falleri as the original Falerii,39 and without just grounds regard Civita Castellana as the site of Fescennium.40

Regarding, then, the remains of Falleri as belonging to Roman times, the resemblance of its walls and gates to Etruscan masonry and architecture is explained by the date of their construction, as they belong to a period when the Romans were imitators of the Etruscans in all their arts; besides, the inhabitants were still of the latter nation, though they had received a Roman colony. This may also, to some extent, explain its tombs, which, with a few exceptions, are purely Etruscan. Nevertheless, as already shown, there is ground for believing that such tombs existed here long prior to the erection of the walls of Falleri, and therefore that a genuine Etruscan town occupied a neighbouring site — but where this town may have stood, or what its name may have been, I pretend not to determine. It was probably some small town dependent on Falleri, the name of which has not come down to us.

p146 Falleri was on the Via Amerina which branched from the Via Cassia at Le Sette Vene, and ran northward through Nepi to Todi and Perugia. It is five miles from Nepi, as set down in the Table, and three from Corchiano on the same line of ancient road.41 In this direction, or northwards from Falleri, the road may be traced by fragments more or less perfect almost as far as Orte, on the Tiber.

For my guide to Falleri I took a man from Civita Castellana, named Domenico Mancini, a most obliging, civil fellow, simple but intelligent, and, what is more than can be said for Italian guides in general, satisfied with a just remuneration. Having tended cattle or sheep all his life-time in the neighbourhood, he knows the site of every grotta or tomb, and in fact, pointed out to me those with the porticoes and Latin inscription, which were previously unknown to the world. The antiquity-hunter in Italy can have no better guide than an intelligent shepherd; for these men, passing their days in the open air, and following their flocks over the wilds far from beaten tracks, become familiar with every cave, every fragment of ruined wall, and block of hewn stone; and, though they do not comprehend the antiquity of such relics, yet, if the traveller makes them aware of what he is seeking, they will rarely fail to lead him to the sites of such remains, and often, as in my case, give him good cause to rejoice in his interrogatory, "Gentle shepherd, tell me where?" The visitor to Falleri cannot p147do better than engage the services of the said Domenico, which he may do at a few paoli a day, taking care to ask for "Domenico, detto Figlio del Re," or the King's Son; which is no reflection on any crowned head in Europe, but is a sobriquet belonging to him in right of his father, who was generally called "The King," whether from his dignified bearing, or from out-topping his fellows, like Saul, I know not. These cognomina are general among the lower orders in Italy — a relic, perhaps, of ancient times — and no one seems ashamed of them; nay, a man is best known by his nickname. At Sutri I was guided by a Sorcio, — or "Mouse" — (remember the three great Republican heroes of the same name, P. Decius Mus!); at Narni, I was driven by Mosto, — or "New Wine;" at Chianciano by the "Holy Father" himself; and at Pitigliano I lodged in the house of Il Bimbo, or — "the Baby." I should mention that this son of the shepherd-king of Civita Castellana, will provide the traveller with horses at three paoli each, per diem.

p148 APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VII.

Note I. — The Three Towns of the Falisci.

Nibby doubts the existence of a third town, and thinks that Faliscum is merely another name for Falerium, seeing that Falisci was the name of the people, and Falerii of their city; just as the inhabitants of Rome were called Quirites, and of Ardea, Rutuli. Cluver also (II., p544) is much of the same opinion. Now, though "Falisci" was undoubtedly the name of the race, as shown by most writers, particularly by Livy, and though sometimes employed, in this sense, indifferently with Falerii, and though Faliscum, Falisca, or Falisci, is often confounded with Falerii the town, as by Ovid, Pliny, Diodorus, (XIV., p310), and perhaps by Servius; yet Faliscum is mentioned by Strabo (V., p226),º by Stephanus (v. Φαλίσκος), and Solinus (II., p13), and addition to Falerium. The last-named author speaks of the three cities in the same passage, — ab Haleso Argivo Phaliscam; à Phalerio Argivo Phalerios; Fescennium quoque ab Argivis. See Müller's opinion on this passage (Etrusk. IV.4, 3, n31). Strabo also mentions "Falerium and Faliscum" in the same breath; and as by the former he must mean the second, or Roman Falerii, seeing that the original Etruscan city had ceased to exist long before his time, it is clear that the latter must refer to some other place — probably the Aequum Faliscum which he indicates as lying on the Flaminian Way between Ocriculum and Rome. See Note III.

Note II. — Falerii one of the Twelve.

That Falerii was one of the Twelve Cities of the Etruscan Confederation, there is every reason to believe. Its position, in a portion of Etruria which could scarcely belong to Veii, or to Volsinii, the nearest cities of the League — its size, much superior to any of the known dependent towns, and second only to Caere and Veii, among the cities south of the Ciminian — and the importance ascribed to it by ancient writers — make it highly probable that it was one of the principal cities of Etruria. Cluver (II., p545) thinks the fact may be deduced from the passage of Livy (IV.23) already commented on, in connection with Veii, (ut supra, p41). Müller thinks Falerii has equal claims to this honour p149with Veii and Caere; and it was much too powerful, and acted too independently, to be the colony of another city. Etrusk. II.1, 2. Eutropius (I.18) says it was not inferior to Veii. Dempster (de Etruriâ Regali, II. p52) places Falerii among the Twelve. Niebuhr is not of this opinion; perhaps because he regarded the Falisci as Aequi, rather than as Etruscans. Hist. Rom. I. pp72, 119, Eng. trans.

Note III. — Aequum Faliscum.

Müller (Etrusk. einl. II., 14) is of opinion that the epithet of Aequi, attached by Virgil (Aen. VII.695) and Silius Italicus (VIII.491)42 to the Falisci, refers to the position of the second city of Falerium in the plain, as stated by Zonaras. Servius, however, in his comment on this passage of Virgil, interprets Aequi as "Just, because the Roman people, having got rid of the Decemvirs, received from the Falisci the Fecial laws, and some supplements of the XII Tables which they had had from the Athenians." Cluver (Ital. Ant. II. p538) and Müller (Etrusk. II.3, 6) refute this statement; and the latter will not allow that they were called Aequi Falisci, either from their uprightness, or their origin from the race of the Aequi, as Niebuhr supposes;43 but solely from the situation of their second city. I pretend not to reconcile the variances of such authorities; but merely point out the glaring anachronism of which the Mantuan bard is guilty, provided the opinion of Müller be correct. The same epithet, however, in another case — Aequimaelium — we are expressly told, was significant of the level nature of the ground (Dion. Hal. Excerp. Mai. XII.1). It seems to me more probable, from a comparison with Strabo (V. p226), that Aequum Faliscum was a synonym not of Roman Falerii, but of Faliscum, the third city of the Falisci. See Note I and page 161.

Note IV. — Falleri not the Etruscan Falerii.

The name of most weight in the opposite scale is that of Müller; but though his opinion was "the result of careful consideration," it is, in this case, of no weight, seeing that it is founded on a mistaken view of p150the local characteristics of Falleri, which, it is evident, he had never visited. He has been misled by false statements, and his arguments, on such premises, are of course powerless. He says (Etrusker, einl. II., 14), "the walls of the ancient city of Falerii, built of polygonal blocks of white stone, uncemented, are situated on the heights about three miles to the west of Civita Castellana; and the site is still called Falari." He takes his information, as to the position of the ruins, from Nardini, (Veio Antico, p153), and from Sickler's Plan of the Campagna, a map full of inaccuracies, both in names and sites; though he owns that Cluver, Holstenius, and Mazzocchi state that Falleri is in the plain. But it is on this false notion that he founds his main argument, which is the correspondence of the position of Falari with that ascribed to Falerii, by ancient writers. Again, he says, "it is quite incredible that such massive walls as these are the work of the conquered Falisci, or of a Roman colony." Now, there are no polygonal walls in existence in Southern Etruria, save at Pyrgi on the coast; and the blocks of which those of Falerii are composed are of the comparatively small size, usually employed in Etruscan cities in this part of the land, and precisely accord in dimensions and arrangement with those of the Tabularium on the Capitol, and many other remains in and around Rome. The second town of Falerii — Aequum Faliscum, as he calls it — he places, with Nardini, on some undetermined site in the Plain of Borghetto, near the Tiber, because Strabo says it was near the Via Flaminia. Civita Castellana, he follows Nardini and the early Italian antiquaries, in supposing to be the ancient Fescennium, and contents himself with saying that it cannot be Falerii, as Cluverius and Holstenius supposed.

The early antiquaries of Italy, led away by the similarity of the name, fancied that Monte Fiascone — or Mons Phiscon, as Annio of Viterbo called it — was the site of Falerii.

It should have been stated that Festus offers a singular derivation for the name of this city — Faleri oppidum à sale dictum — which Cluver (II p542), explains as the consequence of a blunder in transcribing from the Greek authors — ἀπὸ τοῦ ἅλος instead of ἀπὸ τοῦ Ἁλήσου. Its obscurity is in some measure relieved by Servius (Aen. VIII.285), who calls Alesus the son of Neptune, and by Silius Italicus (VIII.476), where he refers to Halesus as the founder of Alsium, on the sea-coast.


The Author's Notes:

1 One has two arches in its portico; another has only one standing, though it seems to have had two more; and a third is a mere portico of two arches, without an inner chamber, the portico itself being the tomb, as is shown by the rock-benches within it.

2 See Bull. Inst. 1844, p92.

3 This custom the Etruscans must have derived from the East, as it was not practised by the Greeks or Romans; but the Lycians always traced their descent through the maternal line, to the total exclusion of the paternal — a fact recorded by Herodotus (I.173), and verified by modern researches. Fellows' Lycia, p276. The Etruscans being less purely Oriental, made use of both methods.

4 The name of Levnei, the female termination, occurs twice on the urns in the Museum of Perugia (Vermiglioli Isc. Perug. I. pp284, 290); and a name very similar commences the inscription in the tomb at the Ponte Terrano, mentioned in the last chapter, page 124.

5 Vide Bull. Inst. 1844, pp129, 161 (Henzen), where all the peculiarities of this inscription are eruditely set forth. Dr. Henzen, who is very learned in the archaeology of inscriptions, refers this to a remote period, undoubtedly to the time of the Republic, and considers the tomb as one of the most ancient on this site.

6 This gate, as will be seen in the woodcut, has a tower immediately to the left of him who approaches it, which is contrary to the precepts of Vitruvius (I.5), who recommends that the approach to a city-gate be such, that the right side of the foes, which is unprotected by his shield, be open to attack from the ramparts. The angular form of this city, and of the towers in its walls, is also at variance with the rules laid down by the same author, who denounces angles, as protecting the foe rather than the citizen.

7 The gate is nearly eighteen feet in height, and ten feet eight inches in span. The depth of its door-posts is more than seven feet, which is also the thickness of the city wall. The imposts are also of peperino — above them the arch is blocked up with brickwork.

Cav. Canina is inclined to regard this gate as Etruscan. He says (Archit. Ant. VI. p54), from a comparison of it with those of Paestum and Volterra, that it cannot be otherwise than of early date, and not wholly Roman, as some have supposed; and again (Ann. Inst. 1835, p192), he cites the head on the keystone as a proof of this sort of decoration being Etruscan. It was also extensively used by both Greeks and Romans.

8 Just within the gate, to the right as you enter, is a sewer-like hole, now blocked up, which seems to have been a window. It is not visible from without, because the ancient wall just in that part is faced with mediaeval masonry; but its form is distinguishable.

9 Bull. Inst. 1844, p168.

10 This is perhaps the loftiest relic of ancient city-walls extant in Italy, save the Bastion in the polygonal walls of Norba in Latium, which is about the same height. The wall of the Forum of Augustus at Rome, in the same style of masonry, is, however, considerably higher.

Thayer's Note: On the age of the polygonal walls of Norba, see Pfeiffer & Ashby, Suppl. Papers, Am. Sch. of Class. Studies, Vol. I, pp89‑90; confirming the suspicion some experts, reported by Dennis himself in Ch. 47, that the walls of Norba were Roman.

11 The gate derives its present appellation from something carved in relief on its key-stone, which may once have been a bull's head, but is now quite undistinguishable. Another appellation, Porta della Puttana, is yet more difficult of explanation. Within are traces of a vaulted passage, much wider than the gate itself, leading up to the higher ground of the city. It must have been a very steep ascent, as the gate opens at the bottom of a deep gulley, and the ground within is almost on a level with the top of the wall. A large tree, now reduced to charcoal, lies prostrate on the ramparts, which when it flourished high above the wall, must have greatly increased the picturesque effect from below. The gate is 8 feet in span, and the depth of the arch, or the thickness of the wall in this part, is 9 feet. There are 13 voussoirs in the arch, each 3 feet 9 inches deep, fitted together with great neatness — all are of tufo, and are rusticated in the return facing of the arch. The boucranion or bull's skull was a favourite ornament of gateways among the Romans. I need cite only the Gate of San Lorenzo at Rome.a Ox skulls are in fact a common architectural ornament, but they usually appear on the metopes of friezes, often on tower tombs for example.

12 The lower part is square and of massive masonry, surmounted by a mass of opus incertum, which seems to have been circular. Within is a square chamber, vaulted and with piers or pilasters against its walls, but without niches. The doorway is arched over with blocks of tufo, yet the arch is filled up, as in some Etruscan tombs at Chiusi and Cortona, with masonry of the same massive character.

13 Gell, I. p421.

14 The theatre is said to have been cut in the rock, like the amphitheatre of Sutri (Bull. Inst. 1829, p57). It was excavated in 1829 and 1830. It seems to have been of the time of Augustus, from a fine statue of Livia as Concord, and some mutilated statues of C. and L. Caesar, which were found among its ruins. A fine statue of Juno has also been excavated within the walls of Falleri.

15 II. p27.

16 See note 7, page 135.

17 Dion. Hal. I p17; Ovid. Fast. IV.73, and Amor. III; Eleg. 13, 31; Cato ap. Plin. III.8; Serv. Aen. VII.695; Steph. Byzant. v. Φαλίσκος; Solinus II. p13. All agree as to the Argive origin of the Falisci, save Justin (XX.1), who derives them from the Chalcidenses — an origin which Niebuhr (III. p179) rejects.

18 Dionys. Hal. I. pp16, 17. Neither Dionysius, Cato, nor Stephanus makes mention of Halesus as the founder. Servius (Aen. VII.695) points out the change of the initial H into F, the adoption by the Romans of the Aeolic digamma to express the Greek aspirate — sicut Formiae, quae Hormiae fuerunt ἀπὸ τῆς ὁρμῆς. The Spaniards in most instances have restored the initial F to its original H, dropping, however, the aspirate, as Filiushijo; fabularehablar; facerehacer; feminahembra; focushuego, &c.

19 Dionysius (l.c.) calls this Argive colony Pelasgi, and the similarity, almost amounting to identity, of this word to Falisci is remarkable; in fact it is not improbable that the appellation Falisci was one simply indicative of their Argive (i.e. Pelasgic) descent.

20 Strabo, V.p226.

21 Dion. Hal. l.c.; Ovid. Amor. III.; Eleg. 13, 27, et seq.: see also Fasti, VI.49. This Juno had the epithet of Curitis or Quiritis, as we learn from Tertullian (Apolog. 24) — Faliscorum in honorem patris Curis, unde accepit cognomen, Juno, — and from inscriptions found on the spot (Holsten. ad Cluv. p57; Gruter, p308, 1). In the Sabine tongue Quiris signifies "lance," she was therefore the "lance-Juno," and is represented holding that weapon. Plut. Romul. Minerva also was worshipped at Falerii, Ovid. Fast. III.843. Mars seems to have been another god of the Falisci, as they called the fifth month in their calendar after his name. Ovid. Fast. III.89. A four-faced Janus was also worshipped here, from whom the temple of Janus Quadrifrons at Rome had its rise. Serv. Aen. VII.607. Festus (v. Stroppus) speaks of a festival kept by the Falisci under the name of Strupearia, but in honour of what deity he does not mention.

22 See Note I. in the Appendix to this Chapter.

23 There are certain silver coins with the legend ΦΑΛΕΙΩΗ, sometimes contracted into ΦΑΛ or ΦΑ (Lanzi, Saggio, II. pp25, 66), which were long ascribed to Falerii; but it is now decided by numismatists that they belong to Elis in the Peloponnesus — the initial being but the digamma. See Müller's Etrusker, I. p339, and the authorities he cites.

24 See Note II. in the Appendix to this Chapter.

25 Plut. Camil.: see also Val. Max. VI.5. 1moenia expurgari non poterant.

26 Liv. V.26.

27 Amor. III., Eleg. 13, 6.

28 Zonar. Ann. VII.22; and VIII.18.

29 Liv. V.27; Plut. Camil.; Dion. Hal. Excerp. Mai. XII. c16; Val. Max. VI.5, 1; Florus I.12; Frontin. Strat. IV.4; Zonaras, VII.22.

30 Liv. IV.17.

31 Liv. VI.16, 17; Diod. Sic. XVI p432.

32 Liv. X.45, 46.

33 Polyb. I.65; Val. Max. VI.5; Eutrop. II.28; Zonaras, Ann. VIII.18; Orosius, IV.11.

34 Zonar. loc. cit. Ὕστερον δὲ μὲν ἀρχαία πόλις, εἰς ὄρος ἐρυμνὸν ἱδρυμένη, κατεσκάφη· ἑτέραδ᾽ ὠκοδομήθη εὐέφοδος.

35 See Note III. in the Appendix to this Chapter.

36 The "apple-bearing Falisci" mentioned by Ovid (Amor. III, Eleg. 13), as the birthplace of his wife may have been Falleri; but the temple of Juno continued in his day to occupy the original site, as is proved by his mention of the walls conquered by Camillus, and the steep ascent into town, — difficilis clivis via — there being nothing like a steep to Falleri. The dense and venerable grove, too, around the temple, may perhaps mark the desolation of the site, though a grove generally surrounded every temple. It is possible, however, that there was still some small population on this spot, as usual in the immediate neighbourhood of celebrated shrines, and to that Ovid may have referred under the name of Falisci. The Colonia Junonia, referred to by Frontinus (de colon.) — quae appellatur Faliscos, quae a III viris est assignata — and by an inscription found at Falleri, must apply to the second city.

37 Nibby, II. v. Falerii.

38 See Note IV. in the Appendix to this Chapter.

39 Mannert (Geog. p422) joins them in this opinion.

40 Gell acknowledges that the description left us of Falerii would apply with more truth to the site of Civita Castellana, and sees that the affair of the schoolmaster is not applicable to Falleri; but goes on to state the certainty of the towns of Falerii and Fescennium having been intimately connected, "if it be not even clear that one of them having been destroyed, the ruined town was transferred to the site of the other." That they were inhabited by the same race, and intimately connected, there is little doubt, but for the latter conjecture that Gell hazards, there is no foundation.

41 Its distances are thus marked in the Peutingerian Table: —

Roma  
Ad Sextum VI
Veios VI
Vacanas VIIII
Nepe VIIII
Faleros V
Castello Amerino XII
Ameria VIIII
Tuder  —
 — VI
Vetona X
Pirusio XIIII

42 Elsewhere (V.176) he calls a man born at Soracte, which was in the Faliscan territory, Aequanum.

43 Hist. Rom. I, p72, Eng. trans. Niebuhr thinks they were Aequi or Volsci, and remarks, in the name Falisci, that of Volsci is clearly discernible. Müller (einl. II.14), however, shows that the Etruscan element was predominant at Falerii; nor is the city ever found in political connection with the Sabines, Umbrians, or Aequians, but solely with the Etruscans.


Thayer's Note:

a The boucranion was a favourite ornament of gateways among the Romans: Not really. The Porta Tiburtina cited by Dennis (to give it its proper name) was called Porta Taurina in the Middle Ages precisely because it was the only gate in Rome to have such an ornament: it is an exception. For details, photos of the two bucrania on that gate, etc. see the article in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome and the further links there.

Page updated: 31 Oct 08