[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]
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.


[image ALT: link to next section]

 p417  Chapter LV


           Sic tempora verti
Cernimus, atque illas adsumere robora gentes,
Concidere has.

— Ovid.

"Can any good come out of Nazareth?" was asked of old. "Can any good come elsewhere than from Arezzo?" one is ready to inquire, on beholding the numerous tablets in the streets of that city, recording the unparalleled virtues and talents of her sons. Here dwelt "the monarch of wisdom," — there "an incomparable pupil of Melpomene," — this was "the stoutest champion of Tuscany, the dread and terror of the Turks," — and that, — the world ne'er saw his like, — for

"Natura il fece, e poi ruppe la stampa" —​1

no unapt metaphor for a city of potters, as this was of old. Verily it may be said, "Parlano in Arezzo ancora i sassi" — the very stones are eloquent of the past glories of Arezzo, and of her maternal pride. Yet some of her children's names have filled the trump, not of Tuscan, but of universal fame; and the city which has produced a Maecenas and a Petrarch may be pardoned for a little vanity.2

 p418  It is not for me to set forth the modern glories of Arezzo — her Cathedral with its choice monuments of sculpture and painting — the quaint-fashioned church of La Pieve — the localities immortalised by Boccaccio — the delightful promenade on the ramparts — the produce of her vineyards, renowned in ancient times,​3 and sung at the present day, as the juice which

Fa superbo l' Aretino.

But I may assure the traveller that nowhere on his journeyings in Etruria will he find better accommodation than at La Posta or Le Armi d'Inghilterra, at Arezzo.4

This large and lively city is the representative of the ancient Arretium or Aretium,​5 a venerable city of Etruria, and one of the Twelve of the Confederation. Of its origin we have no record.​6 The earliest notice of it is, that with Clusium, Volaterrae, Rusellae, and Vetulonia, it engaged to assist the Latins against Tarquinius Priscus.​7 We next hear of it in the year 443 (B.C. 311) as refraining from joining the rest of the Etruscan cities in their attack on the town of Sutrium, town an ally of Rome;​8 yet it must have been drawn into the war, for in the following year, it is said, jointly with Perusia and Cortona, all three among  p419 the chief cities of Etruria, to have sought and obtained a truce for thirty years.9

In the year 453 (B.C. 301) the citizens of Arretium rose against their leading family, the Cilnii, whose great wealth had excited their jealousy, and drove them out of the city. The Romans espoused the cause of the exiles, and Valerius Maximus, the dictator, marched against the Arretines and the other Etruscans who had joined them; but during his absence from the army, in order to reconsult the auspices at Rome, his lieutenant in command fell into an ambuscade, and met with a signal defeat. The Etruscans, however, were eventually overcome in the fields of Rusellae, and their might was broken.10

In the war which the Etruscans, in alliance with the Gauls and Umbrians, waged against Rome in the years 459 and 460, Arretium took part, and with Perusia and Volsinii, the mightiest cities of the land, sustained another defeat in the neighbourhood of Rusellae, and was forced to sue for peace.11

The last mention we find of Arretium, in the time of national independence, is that it was besieged by the Gauls about the year 469, and that the Romans, vainly endeavouring to relieve it, met with a signal defeat under its walls.​12 There is no record of the date or the manner of its final conquest by Rome. It was at Arretium that the consul Flaminius fixed his camp before the fatal overthrow  p420 on the shores of the Thrasymene.​13 The city did not remain faithful during the Punic War, but made several efforts to throw off the yoke, and the Romans were compelled to make hostages of the sons of the senators, and put new keys on the city-gates.​14 Yet towards the close of the war, Arretium furnished her quota of supplies — corn,º weapons, and other munitions of war — for Scipio's fleet.​15 In the civil contests of Sylla and Marius, she sided with the latter, and would have suffered from the victor the loss of her lands and citizen­ship, but for the eloquence of Cicero, who pleaded her cause.​16 Many of the colonists afterwards espoused the cause of Catiline.​17 In the war between Caesar and Pompey, Arretium was one of the first places seized by the former.​18 Her fertile lands were three times partitioned among the soldiers of the Republic, and the colonies established were distinguished by the names of Arretium Vetus, Fidens, and Julium.​19 The former was still one of the chief cities of  p421 Etruria under the Empire.​20 Though said to have been destroyed by Totila, the Vandal, Arretium rose from her ashes, withstood all the vicissitudes of the dark ages, which proved so fatal to many of her fellows, and is still represented by a city, which, though shorn of her ancient pre-eminence, takes ranks among the chief of Tuscany.

The walls of Arretium were renowned for the beauty and peculiarity of their construction, being formed of brick​21 — the only instance on record of such a material being employed in an Etruscan town. It has been asserted that those ancient fortifications still enclose the modern city; but after a careful examination, I am convinced that not a fragment of the existing walls can lay claim to an Etruscan origin.​22 In truth, as will be presently shown, it is extremely questionable if Arezzo occupies the site of the original city.

 p422  In the garden of the Passionist Convent, in the lower part of the town, are some Roman ruins, of opus reticulatum, commonly called the Amphitheatre, but not a seat remains in the cavea to indicate that such was the purpose of the structure. Like the amphitheatre of Volterra, and the theatre of Fiesole, this building was long considered to be Etruscan, but its Roman origin is most manifest.23

Arretium was celebrated of old for her pottery, which was of red ware.​24 Pliny speaks of it in connection with that of Samos, Surrentum, Saguntum, and Pergamos, and says it was used for dry meats as well as liquids, and was sent to various parts of the world.​25 It was much employed for ordinary purposes, and on this account is sneered at by Martial.26

In excavations made at various times within the walls of Arezzo, generally in laying the foundations of buildings, much of this pottery has been brought to light; in one place, indeed, the site of a factory was clearly indicated.​27 It is of very fine clay, of a bright coral hue, adorned with  p423 reliefs, rather of flowers than of figures, and bearing the maker's name at the bottom of the vase. In form, material, decoration, and style of art, it is so totally unlike the produce of any Etruscan necropolis, that it scarcely needs the Latin inscriptions to mark its origin.​28 Moreover, the decorations betray a late period of art — the elegance and finish of Augustan times, not the simplicity and severity of the purely Etruscan style — very unlike the quaint reliefs on the pottery of the neighbouring district of Chiusi. The subjects, too, are not the strange chimeras of the early monuments of Etruria, nor the scenes of Etruscan and Greek mythology on the urns, on the walls of tombs, and on the painted vases; but in general unmeaning arabesques, like those of Pompeii, though a figure or two is occasionally introduced. As far as I can learn, none of this ware has been found with Etruscan inscriptions or devices; nor ever in Etruscan tombs, though often in Roman ones of the early Empire.​29 Therefore, though it were too much to assert that the Etruscans never formed such a ware, it is clear that all hitherto found is of Roman manufacture. It is discovered chiefly, but not exclusively, at Arezzo. Specimens are  p424 occasionally brought to light on other sites in Etruria; and abundance of it at Modena.30

There are two collections of antiquities at Arezzo — the Museo Pubblico, and the Museo Bacci. The latter was once of great renown, but having been reduced by sales, and much neglected of late years, it is shorn of its pristine glory. Yet it still contains a large number of bronzes, chiefly small figures of deities, and lares, with coins;​31 but there are also other articles, among which I notice particularly a sacrificial knife, and a curious urn in the form of a lion; his body holding the fire, his head containing a square pot for the water, to which his crown serves as a lid, and the steam escaping through a pipe in his mouth — just as the water issues from the mouths of the granite lions at the foot of the Capitol, or of those in the Court of the Alhambra. Of pottery there is none worth notice, except a painted amphora, with round figures, representing  p425 a dance of Bacchanals, Theseus overcoming an Amazon, and Hercules slaying a warrior. It was found more than a century since, in the vicinity of Arezzo, and doubtless is a genuinely Etruscan tomb.32

The Museo Pubblico contains a more numerous collection of Etruscan antiquities. a article is labelled with the name of the spot where it was found — an admirable plan, greatly facilitating an acquaintance with these relics, and which ought to be adopted in every other collection. It is due to Dr. Fabroni, the learned director of this Museum.

Here is an abundance of the red ware, mostly in fragments, and the greater part found within the walls of Arezzo. Here is also the pottery of Sarteano, red as well as black, — a canopus from the same place, — a covered pot from Radicofani, with an Etruscan inscription, "Pupli Tarlntia,"​33 which calls to mind the celebrated Ghibelline bishop, Guido Tarlati, whose tomb, so rich in storied reliefs, forms one of the chief ornaments of Arezzo Cathedral, — a tall, painted vase, in the third style, found at Prato Antico, three miles from the city, — another vase, in the same style, representing the departure of a warrior, and his return from the field, discovered at Alberoro, nine miles from Arezzo, on the road to Fojano.34

[image ALT: A woodcut of a curved metal implement of much the same shape as a jai-alai basket. It is an Etruscan strigil, an implement used by the ancients to scrape off perspiration and oil after their bath.]

Etruscan strigil.

Here are also many cinerary urns of travertine, without recumbent figures on their lids, but with Etruscan inscriptions;— among which I noticed the celebrated name of "Spurina."​35 One urn of late date, found in the immediate vicinity of Arezzo, is remarkable for a bilingual  p426 inscription.​36 Here are heads and other articles in terra cotta; and also a few bronzes — idols, mirrors, and strigils.​37 Bronzes seem to have been particularly abundant in the Etruscan tombs of Arretium, Cortona, and Perugia, and bear a much larger proportion to the pottery, than in the cemeteries near the coast.

The celebrated bronze Chimaera of the Florence Gallery was found at Arezzo in 1534, but no record exists of the precise site.​38 And the Minerva in the same Gallery, which is generally thought to be a work of early Greek art, but may well be Etruscan, was also discovered on this site.

 p427  It has been stated that there were three Roman colonies of the name of Arretium, distinguished by the epithets of Vetus, Fidens, and Julium. The first was evidently the Etruscan city, and has always been identified with Arezzo; the other two are supposed to be in the neighbourhood, but their sites are not satisfactorily determined.​39 I am persuaded, however, that Arezzo does not occupy the original site, but merely that of one of the colonies. Its position, for the greater part on the very level of the plain, only rising a little at the northern end,​40 is so unlike that of Etruscan cities in general, as to raise, at the first glance, strong doubts of its antiquity in my mind. Every other Etruscan town in this district is on a lofty height — Fiesole, Volterra, Cortona, Perugia, Chiusi — why should Arretium alone be in the plain? Necessity did not here, as at Pisa, dictate such a site, for there are high grounds suitable for a city in the immediate vicinity.

This view is confirmed by the discovery, within a few years, of the walls of an ancient city in the neighbourhood of Arezzo, — discovery, I say, because though within sight of the town, and familiar, perhaps, for ages to the inhabitants, they were unheeded, and no one had made them known to the world.​41 They lie two or three miles  p428 only to the south-east, on a height called Poggio di San Cornelio, or Castel Secco, a barren eminence of no great elevation, yet much higher than Arezzo, whose level summit is so strewn with fragments of rock and pottery, as scarcely to nourish a weed. On the brow of the hill, to the north-west, is a fragment of ancient walling of regular masonry.​42 More to the west are traces of a gate. Then is another portion of the walls, with narrow buttresses, thirteen feet apart. But on the southern side of the hill the wall rises nearly thirty feet, and extends for two hundred, having eight massive buttresses at short intervals.​43 The masonry is horizontal; and though perhaps originally neatly cut and fitted, it has suffered much from the weather, and the rock is naturally so brittle, that it presents as rude an appearance as the towers in the Cucumella at Vulci, which were not intended to see the light of day.44

I regret that the circumstances under which I visited it, did not permit me to make a plan of this ancient town, or to determine its precise dimensions.45

These walls are very peculiar; as regards the buttresses, unique in Etruria. They have the appearance of great  p429 antiquity. Inghirami took them to be Roman, and to belong to one of the two colonies of Arretium, and thought the rudeness of the masonry might be the result of hasty construction. But he did not form his opinion from ocular inspection. To me this seems an Etruscan town.​46 It were contrary to all analogy to suppose that Arezzo was the original site, and that this, so much stronger by nature, was a Roman colony. This was just the position that would have been chosen by the Etruscans; that, by the Romans. The cities of the former were founded at a time when the inhabitants had to struggle for existence with neighbouring tribes, warlike, restless, ever encroaching — semibarbarians who knew no law but that of sword and lance. It was necessary for them to select sites where nature would add to the strength of their fortifications. But with the Romans, the case was very different. At the time the latter, at least, of the two colonies of Arretium was founded, they were masters not only of all Italy, but of the greater part of the known world. They had nothing to fear from foreign invasion, and it was enough for them to surround their cities with fortifications, without selecting sites which, though adding to their strength, would involve a great sacrifice of convenience. This was their practice much earlier than the establishment of these Arretine colonies, as is shown by the instances of Volsinii and Falerii, whose population, about the time of the First Punic War, was removed from the original city on the  p430 heights to a new one in the plain. This may have been the case also with Arretium.​47 Or at least if the original town were not deserted, there is every ground for concluding that the fresh colony was established on a no less convenient site. However this be, there can be little doubt that the Etruscan city, like all its fellows, stood on an eminence, and was fortified by nature as well as by art.​48 Whether it occupied this Poggio di San Cornelio, or some of the neighbouring heights, I do not determine; but hesitate not to assert that it cannot have stood on the site of modern Arezzo. In fact not only is all evidence of identity wanting, but history is opposed to the current opinion, for it is known that at least on three several occasions have the walls of this city been enlarged;​49 and it is quite impossible that the original site, which must have been the circumscribed height on which the Duomo stands, could have held a first-rate city, like the Arretium of the Etruscans.

In a word, there is every reason to believe that the illustrious city of Arezzo does not occupy the site of the  p431 Etruscan Arretium, but of one of the Roman colonies of the same name;​50 and as all analogy marks the town on the Poggio di San Cornelio to be of earlier date than this in the plain, the question turns upon that town. If it be proved an Etruscan site,​51 Arezzo may be the Arretium Fidens; but if the town on the heights cannot be identified with the original city, it must be the Fidens, and Arezzo the later colony of Arretium Julium; and the site of the Etruscan city has yet to be discovered.

The Author's Notes:

1 This seems the original of those lines of Byron —

"— Nature made but one such man,
And broke the die, in moulding Sheridan."

2 Even Maecenas, who, having found his bard, might well have dispensed with it, has his monument in Arezzo. On the grass-plot by the Duomo is a granite column to his memory. — "C. Cilnio Maecenati Arretino, Concives tanto nomine decorati, P. C. Prid. Idus Mai 1819, L. D. S. C."

3 Arretium had three sorts of grapes — "talpana, et etesiaca, et conseminia" — whose peculiarities are set forth by Pliny, XIV.4, 7.

4 Arrezzoº is 18 miles from Cortona, 31 from Montepulciano, more than 40 from Chiusi, nearly as many from Siena, and 51 from Florence.

5 It is spelt both ways by classic writers; but ancient inscriptions always give Arretium. Cluver. II p571.

6 Cluver considered it to have been prior to the Trojan War, and to have been founded either by the Umbri or Pelasgi. But there is no statement to that effect in ancient writers.

7 Dion. Hal. III p189. This, as already stated with reference to the other four cities, is a proof of the rank Arretium took as one of the Twelve; which is fully confirmed by Livy.

8 Liv. IX.32.

9 Liv. IX.32; Diodor. Sic. XX. p773.

10 Liv. X.3‑5. Some authorities, adds Livy, state that there was no warfare consequent on the insurrection of the Arretines, but that it was peaceably suppressed and the Cilnian family restored to the favour of the people. It was of this "royal" house that Maecenas came.

11 Liv. X.37. — Tres validissimae urbes, Etruriae capita, Volsinii, Perusia, Arretium, pacem petiêre.

12 Polyb. II.19. Orosius (III.22) refers this event to the year 463, but as he says it was in the consulate of Dolabella and Domitius, he must mean 471 (B.C. 283).

13 Liv. XXII.2, 3; Polyb. III. 77, 80; Cicero (de Divin. I.35) tells us that the Consul and his horse here fell suddenly to the ground before a statue of Jupiter Stator, yet he neglected the omen; and when he consulted the auspices, though the holy chickens would not feed propitiously, he refused to regard the warning, and marched out to his own destruction.

14 Liv. XXVII. 21, 22, 24.

15 Liv. XXVIII.45, — Arretini triginta millia scutorum, galeas totidem, pila, gaesa, hastas longas, millium quinquaginta summam pari cujusque generis numero expleturos, secures, rutra, falces, alveolos, molas, quantum in quadraginta longas naves opus esset, tritici centum et viginti milia modiûm, et in viaticum decurionibus remigibusque collaturos.

16 Cicero, pro Caecinâ, 33; ad Attic. I.19.

17 Cicero, pro Murenâ, 24.

18 Cicero, ad Divers. XVI.12; Caesar, Bell. Civ. I.11.

19 Plin. III.8. Repetti (I. p113) refers the colony of Arretium Fidens to Sylla; yet Cicero (ad Attic. I.19) expressly states that though Sylla had confiscated the lands of the Arretini, he was prevented by himself from dividing them among his legions. The Arretium Julium was established under the Triumvirate, as Frontinus (de Coloniis) assures us. Arretium is also mentioned as a colony by Ptolemy (p72, ed. Bert.), and as a municipium by Isidor (Orig. XX.4) and by inscriptions. Dempster, II. p311. Cluver (II p572) thinks it must have been a municipium of the third kind described by Festus (sub voce), of which the inhabitants had the citizen­ship of Rome, together with the internal administration of their own city.

20 Strabo, V.p226. He states that it was the most inland city of Etruria, and a thousand stadia (125 miles) from Rome; which is less than the real distance. The Antonine Itinerary is nearer the truth in making the distance 139 miles. Ut supra, pp327, 413.

21 Vitruv. II.8. — E latere . . . . in Italiâ Aretii vetustum egregie factum murum. cf. Plin. XXXV.49.

22 The assertion is made in the "Sepulchres of Etruria," p503, and copied into Murray's Hand Book. I speak confidently when I state that so far are the walls of Arezzo from being of Etruscan construction, that there is not a fragment of such antiquity in the entire circuit. I paid a third visit to the city in order to satisfy myself on this point. The walls are for the most part of squared stones, not unlike bricks, in size and form, put together with cement; and they are patched here and there with larger masonry also cemented, and of yet more recent date — all undoubtedly the work of the middle ages, and of no remote period. In the walls in the higher part of the town, around the Cathedral, there are fragments of earlier construction, of brick-work, possibly Roman, for it is like that in Roman buildings of Imperial times. The best fragments are near the Porta del Casentino. This brick-work, if it be Roman, cannot be earlier than the close of the Republic, but may be of very much later date, as this style was employed for ages, and is even imitated at the present day. The brick-work of the Etruscans, the preceptors of the Romans in architecture, would resemble the fragments found at Veii (Vol. I pp.15, 16), or the earlier structures of the Romans, rather than any later style of that people.

23 Gori (Mus. Etrus. III. p55, cl. I tab. 7) took it to be Etruscan. Did not remains of seats, steps, and praecinctiones, exist beneath the soil, as Gori affirms, I should take the ruin for a bath, as it bears more resemblance to certain structures of that description, than to an amphitheatre.

24 Isidor. Orig. XX.4.

25 Plin. XXXV.46. — Samia etiamnum in esculetis laudantur. Retinet hanc nobilitatem et Arretium in Italiâ; et calicum tantum, Surrentum, Asta, Pollentia; in Hispania Saguntum, in Asia Pergamum. . . . sic gentes nobilitantur. Haec quoque per maria terrasque ultro citroque portantur, insignibus rotae officinis.

26 Mart. I. epig. 54, 6 —

Sic Aretinae violant crystallina testae.

And again, XIV.98 —

Aretina nimis ne spernas vasa, monemus;

Lautus erat Tuscis Porsena fictilibus.

That the pottery of Arretium was used for ordinary purposes is also proved by Persius (I.13) who speaks of an aedile breaking those pots which were not of just measure.

27 In laying the foundations of the new theatre a quantity of this pottery was found, together with moulds for casting the reliefs, and remains of vitrified earth — marking the site of a pottery. Bull. Inst. 1830, p238.

28 The inscription is generally the maker's name alone, though his business and the site of the manufacture are sometimes added, thus —

A . TITI .

Bull. Inst. 1834, pp102, 150. For the names stampt on these vases, see Fabroni, Vasi Fittili Aretini, tav. XI; Bull. Inst. 1834, pp102, 150. Inghirami remarks that some of these names are Greek; which he regards as a proof that the Etruscans employed Greek artists. Mon. Etrus. V.p11.

29 The only instance I believe, in which this pottery has been found in connection with Etruscan articles, is where a small marble urn with a bilingual inscription was discovered in a niche in a rock, half a mile from Arezzo, surrounded by these red vases. Bull. Inst. 1834, p149. But from this we can only deduce that the Etruscan character had not wholly fallen into disuse at the period of the manufacture of this ware. Müller (Etrusk. IV.3, 1) regarded this pottery as Etruscan; but his opinion seems to be formed rather on the notices of the ancients than on practical acquaintance.

30 In the British Museum is a tazza of this red ware, with the word "LAPI" on it in Roman letters. It was found, with others of the same description, at Toscanella. Bull. Inst. 1839, p28. The same pottery has been discovered in some quantity at Cervetri. Bull. Inst. 1839, p20. And the red ware, found in abundance at Modena, is precisely like this of Arezzo, even to the names and seals of the potters, which are often identical (Bull. Inst. 1837, p14; 1841, p144) — a fact, which as Mutina had also its peculiar pottery (Plin. loc. cit.habent et Tralles opera sua, et Mutina in Italiâ) must be explained by the commerce which existed in such articles.

For an account of the Arretine pottery see Dr. Fabroni's work, "Storia degli antichi vasi fittili aretini, 1841, 8vo. pp78." Inghirami, Mon. Etrus. V.pp1‑12, tav. I. And besides the notices in the publications of the Archaeological Institute, already cited, see Bull. Inst. 1837, p105.

31 One is a quincussis, 4 inches in diameter. The coins which are commonly attributed to Arretium have a wheel on the obverse; and an anchor or the prow of a ship, on the reverse, — both equally inappropriate emblems for a city which was further removed from the sea than any in Etruria. Nor does the legend, in Etruscan letters, "VPN," bear any obvious relation to Arretium. More appropriate are those which, with the wheel on the obverse, have a vase on the reverse, either a crater, or an amphora. Marchi and Tessieri refer those with the former to Arretium Vetus, and those with the latter to the Roman colony of Arretium Fidens. Aes Grave, class. III. tav. V. VI; Bull. Inst. 1839, pp123‑4; Ann. Inst. 1841 p104.

32 Dempster, I. tab. XIX.

33 Micali (Mon. Ined. p386, tav. LV.6) reads it "Pupli Tarchntias," or Publius Tarchuntias. He may be right, for the addition of small stroke would convert the L into CH. Yet the name of "Tarlnia" occurs on an Etruscan urn in one of the tombs of Perugia.

34 Bull. Inst. 1838, p74.

35 This was found at Lucignano, 18 miles distant, in the Val di Chiana. Bull. Inst. 1843, p38.

36 This is the urn which was found with the red vases, as mentioned above. The Etruscan inscription is very imperfect, but it seems to run thus in Roman letters — V . CASZI . C . CLANS . The Latin inscription is —

C . CASIVS . C . F .

Saturninus, being the Latin cognomen, finds no equivalent in the Etruscan. It is singular that the Velus of the Etruscan should be translated by Caius in Latin, but the same occurs in other bilingual inscriptions Ut supra, pp354, 371. See also Lanzi, II. p342; Bull. Inst. 1833, p51; 1834, p149. Caius is sometimes used as an equivalent to Larth.

37 The strigil was a scraper used after bathing to remove the perspiration from the skin; as an ostler would remove the foam from a horse's coat. The curved part of the instrument is hollow like a boat; either to hold oil to soften the effect on the skin, which was far from pleasant if the instrument was too often or violently used, as Augustus experienced (Sueton. Aug. 80); or to allow the grease scraped from the body to run off as by a gutter. See the Scholiast on Juvenal, III.262 — Strigla, unde oleum deteritur. It was generally of bronze, sometimes of iron (Mart. XIV.51. — curvo destringere ferro), and I have seen one of silver. The metal is always very thin; and it is rare to find strigils in a perfect state. I have occasionally seen them with Etruscan inscriptions. Roman strigils were of different forms, but the Etruscan were invariably like that in the above wood-cut.

Thayer's Note: For a more general article on the strigil, see Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, which also links to a photo of an ancient statue of a man using one.

38 Ut supra, p103. The Etruscan inscription on the fore-leg "Tinscvil," is almost identical with the "Tinscil" on the shoulder of a griffon in the Museum of Leyden. See Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. tav. XLII; Inghir. Mon. Etrus. III. tav. XX; Gori, Mus. Etrus. I. tab. CLV.

39 Cluver (II p571) did not attempt to assign a site to either. Holstenius (Annot. ad Cluver, p72), however, placed the Julian colony at Subbiano on the Arno, some ten miles north of Arezzo, and the Fidens at Castiglion Fiorentino, on the road to Cortona. He is followed in this by Cramer, I. p213. Dempster (II. p423) placed the Fidens at Montepulciano.

40 The height of the upper part of the city above the lower is said to be 74 braccia, or 142 feet (Repetti, I. p112); but it does not appear nearly so much.

41 Repetti appears to have been the first to make them known; and that was in 1833 (I. p585). Even Alessi, who in the fifteenth century made diligent search for local antiquities, makes no mention of them in his Cronaca d'Arezzo, a MS. in the Biblioteca Riccardiana, at Florence. Micali, Mon. Ined. p410.

42 In one part this fragment is as high as 12 feet, but in general it scarcely rises above the ground. The blocks are 2 or 3 feet long, by 18 inches high.

43 These buttresses are 7 or 8 feet wide, and project about 3 feet. They might be taken for towers, were it not for the small distance between them — 15 feet. Both walls and buttresses fall back slightly from the perpendicular.

44 The size of the blocks is not extraordinary. One which was 8 ft. 2 in. long, by 1 ft. 8 in. high, was unusually large. But the tendency of the stone to split at right angles, makes it sometimes difficult to determine the size.

45 Repetti (I. p585) says it is only 1240 braccia in circuit; Micali (Mon. Ined. p410) calls it 1300 braccia, or less than half a mile, round; and says it has the form of an irregular ellipse. To me it appeared of much larger size. Indeed this hill may be but a portion of the ancient site, for it is connected with high grounds of considerable extent, apparently capable of holding a city of first-rate importance. But having had no opportunity of examining these heights, I cannot say if they retain vestiges of ancient habitation. For further notices of this site see Bull. Inst. 1837, p96.

46 Müller, who visited these ruins in 1839 at Micali's suggestion, regarded them as Etruscan and the remains of the original city. Micali, however, sets no value on his opinion in the latter particular, and considers them to belong to an advanced or look-out post of Arretium, which he identifies with Arezzo, or to an outwork detached from the city. Yet he admits them to be of Etruscan construction. Mon. Ined. pp411‑413. He gives a plan of the bastions and a view of the masonry (tav. LX). Repetti (I. p585) also hints that this may be the Acropolis of Arretium, but says no excavations have ever been made to determine the fact.

47 In the case of Falerii and Volsinii, the fact is not mentioned by one of the earlier historians of Rome, only by Zonaras, a Byzantine writer of late date. The original town of Arretium, however, was still extant in Pliny's day; but it may have been inhabited, like Falerii and Veii, by a fresh colony.

48 Silius Italicus, a writer of more accuracy than imagination (Plin. epist. III.7 — scribebat carmina majore curâ quam ingenio), in speaking of the Second Punic War, notices "the lofty wall of Arretium" (V.122) — a description which, by hypallage, must refer rather to the site of the city than to the character of the fortifications.

49 Totila, the Vandal, is said to have completely destroyed the ancient walls, but as this rests on tradition, rather than on history, it is subject to doubt. Yet it is certain that the walls of the city were destroyed in the year 111 by the Emperor, Henry V, and were not restored for more than a century, being in 1226 rebuilt with a more ample circuit. These were replaced by a fresh and still more extended line, commenced in 1276, and completed in 1322 by Guido Tarlati, Bishop of Pietramala. And lastly the walls were rebuilt and altered, from 1549 to 1568, by Cosimo I who erected the bastions and curtains which meet the eye at the present day. Repetti, I. p114.

50 That Arezzo occupies a site that was once Roman is abundantly proved by its extant remains. The fragments of brickwork around the higher part of the city, may belong to the Roman walls, which, if this be the site of the Julian colony, are those mentioned by Frontinus, — "Arretium, muro ducta colonia lege Triumvirali."

51 It may be urged as an objection to this being the Etruscan site, that the masonry is of stone, whereas the ancient walls were of brick. But we have no positive assurance that these brick walls​a were of Etruscan construction. If on the capture of the city, a fresh town were built, as was the case with Falerii and Volsinii, it may have been that which had the walls of brick; for as nearly three centuries intervened to the time of Vitruvius, they would have been entitled to his designation of "ancient." Were it even certain that Vitruvius and Pliny refer to the Etruscan walls, it may be that in these ruins we see but a small portion of the ancient fortifications, and just that portion which from the massiveness of the masonry has escaped destruction. If the brickwork were not strongly cemented it would soon be pulled to pieces by the peasantry, for the sake of the materials.

Thayer's Note:

a brick walls: The reader must not get the idea that the ancients equated Etruscan walls with brick, or vice-versa, although Dennis appears to muddy the waters, at least until we read him closely. All that Vitruvius says is that Arretium's very old walls were of brick; and Pliny, that he knows of two city walls of brick: Arretium (which happens to be an Etruscan city) and Mevania (which, that I know of, was not).

What Dennis did at Arezzo in the 1840s, I did at Bevagna in the 1990s, with the same result: I am satisfied that there is no ancient brick in the walls of this city, and very little brick at all, at least on the outside of them, that material being confined to slight repairs in the Middle Ages or later. It thus appears that the passages of Pliny and Vitruvius can no longer be corroborated.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 15 Jan 13