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An article from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, now in the public domain.
Any color photos are mine, © William P. Thayer.


Sutri (anc. Sutrium), a town and episcopal see of Italy, in the province of Rome,​a 4 m. WNW of the railway station of Capranica, which is 36 m. from Rome; 955 ft. above sea-level. Pop. (1901), 2701. The town is picturesquely situated on a narrow hill, surrounded by ravines, a narrow neck on the west alone connecting it with the surrounding country. There are some remains of the ancient city walls of rectangular blocks of tufa on the southern side of the town, and some rock-cut sewers in the cliffs below them. The cathedral is modern, but the crypt, with twenty columns, is old, and the campanile dates from the 13th century. In the cliffs opposite the town on the south is the rock-cut church of the Madonna del Parto, developed, no doubt, out of an Etruscan tomb, of which there are many here; and close by is a rock-hewn amphitheatre of the Roman period, with axes of 55 and 44 yds., now most picturesque.

The position of Sutri was important, commanding as it did the road into Etruria, the later Via Cassia; and it is spoken of by Livy as one of the keys of Etruria, Nepet being the other.​b It came into the hands of Rome after the fall of Veii, and a Latin colony was founded there; it was lost again in 386, but was recovered and recolonized in 383 (?). It was besieged by the Etruscans in 311‑10 B.C., but not taken. With Nepet and ten other Latin colonies it refused further help in the Hannibalic War in 209 B.C. Its importance as a fortress explains, according to Festus, the proverb Sutrium ire, of one who goes on important business, as it occurs in Plautus.​c It is mentioned in the war of 41 B.C.,​d and received a colony of veterans under the triumviri (Colonia coniuncta Iulia Sutrina). Inscriptions show that it was a place of some importance under the empire, and it is mentioned as occupied by the Lombards.

See G. Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, i.62 (London, 1883).

[T. As.]

Thayer's Notes:

a in the province of Rome: not any more; currently (2003) in the province of Viterbo, with 5086 inhabitants as of the 2000 census.

b spoken of by Livy as one of the keys of Etruria: VI.9, ad fin.

c Sutrium ire in Plautus: Casina, Act II, ad fin.

d mentioned in the war of 41 B.C.: Appian, B. C. V.31.

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Page updated: 18 Nov 17