Roman Republic

Latin Cults

Lucus Pisaurensis

Imagined cult site at the lucaus Pisaurensis (1794) by G. Andrea Lazzarini

Palazzo Olivieri, Pesaro (which Lazzarini designed)

The tablet at the lower left is inscribed with a dedication to Apollo

From the website of the Museo Archeologico Oliveriano

In 1737, Annibale degli Abbati Olivieri published a short note in which he described a number of ancient objects that he had discovered on his property at Santa Veneranda, some 5 km southwest of Pesaro, the site of the colony of Pisaurum (founded in 184 BC).   These finds included;

  1. a number of terracotta votive offerings; AND

  2. 14 sandstone altars, each of which had a Latin inscription that identified the deity to which it was dedicated (discussed in detail below). 

The finds from this site are now in the Musei Archeologici Oliveriani at Pesaro (which Olivieri founded).

Olivieri presciently identified the find spot as an ancient sacred grove that he named the ‘lucus Pisaurensis’.  A boundary marker that was subsequently found on the site contained graffiti that was recently republished by Lammert Bouke van der Meer (referenced below, at p. 103), which reads:

Δ luci coiirii CI LX

The delta symbol probably indicated the characteristics of the demarcated land, and the Roman numerals presumably recorded its dimensions.  Bouke van der Meer suggested that:

  1. luci coiirii’ should be translated as ‘of the grove of Coiiriian’; and

  2. the name of the grove was probably of Sabine origin.

As we shall see, the evidence that Olivieri unearthed indicates that this sacred grove was probably established soon after the land on which it stood became part of the Roman ager Gallicus.  It would therefore have been established by the intrepid settlers who had had decided to make their homes on this vulnerable point in the Romans’ new northern border.  Moreover, since it may well have pre-dated any significant level of urbanisation in the area, the way in which it developed is of considerable importance in relation to our understanding of the way in which the the Romans’ established their control over the Adriatic coastal plain of northern and central Italy in the early stages of a process that took more than a century to complete. 

Historical Background

Colonies underlined in blue: Narnia (299 BC); Hadria, Castrum Novum and Sena Galica (280s BC - see below);

Ariminum (268 BC); Firmum Picinum (264 BC); Spoletium (241 BC); Pisaurum (184 BC)

Roman allies underlined in turquoise: Camerinum (310 BC); Ocriculum (308 BC); and the Picenti (299 BC)

Defeated peoples underlined in black: Umbrians (308 BC);

some Etruscans, including Arretium, Perusia and Volsinii (294 BC); Sabines and Praetuttii (290 BC)

Blue road (‘proto-Flaminia’ = most convenient route from Rome to the Adriatic coast in 295 - 220 BC

(see, for example, Federico Uncini , referenced below, at pp. 21-9)

Adapted from the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire

Conquest of the Teritory of the Senones

The series of campaigns that led to the Roman conquest of this coastal plain began in 296 BC, at a crucial moment in the Third Samnite War (298-290 BC), when the future site of the lucus Pisaurensis was still in the hands of the Gallic Senones.  Hostilities had been confined to Samnium prior to this point, but now a Samnite general marched into Etruria and established a winter camp near Perusia.  It soon became clear that he had forged an alliance with the Perusians and some of their Umbrian (and possibly also Sabine) neighbours, which thus opened up a second theatre of war.  The Roman situation deteriorated still further when some of the tribes of Cisalpine Gaul, including the Senones, joined the Samnite alliance.  In 295 BC, a Roman garrison at allied Camerinum came under intense pressure from the from the Gauls to the north and from Samnite, Etruscan and Umbrian armies to the west.  The situation required that the armies of both consuls should come to the defence of Camerinum and its garrison.  Some Roman force had over-wintered near Perusia, but these were almost certainly reinforced by others who marched north from Rome, probably along the so-called proto-Flaminia, via allied Ocriculum and the colony that had recently been founded at Narnia.  This vital supply line was relatively secure, since:

  1. there was no overt opposition from the tribes of the alta Sabina; and

  2. the tribes of Picenum (who had much to fear from the war-like Senones) had already agreed an alliance with Rome. 

The Romans were able to relieve Camerinum and drive the enemy armies north along the syncline valley, which led to a location that Livy placed “in Sentinati agro” (close to the later Roman settlement at Sentinum).  The victory that they secured there removed any further danger from the alliance, and subsequent action in Etruria marked the effective subjugation of the city-states of Clusium, Perusia and Volsinii.  The war continued in Samnium until 290 BC, when Manius Curius Dentatus secured a definitive victory. 

The Sabines of the lower Tiber valley (including those of Cures and Trebula Mutuesca) seem to have been incorporated into the Roman state as civitates sine suffragio at this point, in circumstances that can no longer be discerned.  Shortlu thereafter, Curius defeated the tribes of the alta Sabina and the Praetutti who lived between them and the coast, in what our sources characterise as a short and exceptionally brutal campaign that led to the confiscation of their lands.  From this point, the northern border of Roman territory extended as far west as the Adriatic.  According to the surviving summary of Livy’s now-lost Book 11 (‘Periochae, 11: 7), the Romans founded three colonies at this point:

  1. a Latin colony at Hadria and a citizen colony at Castrum Novum, both on land that they would have confiscated from the Praetutti; and

  2. a citizen colony at Sena Gallica. 

All of our other surviving sources record that the colony at Sena Gallica was founded after the Romans’ definitive defeat of the Senones in 283 BC (see below).  However, this does not mean that Livy was mistaken: it is possible that the Romans had seized a strip of land along the Misa and/or Cesana valleys between Sentinum and the coast after their victory of 295 BC, and that they had taken the decision to found the colony in 290 BC, albeit that this decision was not immediately acted upon.

The surviving sources agree that the Senones came into conflict with the Romans once more when they appeared in Etruria in 284 BC.  Unfortunately, the surviving accounts differ in a number of respects, and the context in which the conflict arose is unclear.  However, the sources agree that the Romans suffered a major defeat at the hands of an army of Etruscans and Gauls in a battle at Arretium, and that legates that they sent to the Senones at that time were murdered.  According to Polybius, when they heard of the murder of the legates in 283 BC:

  1. “... the infuriated Romans sent an expedition against [the Gauls] that was met by the [Gallic] tribe called the Senones.  This [enemy] army was cut to pieces  in a pitched battle, [following which], the rest of the tribe was expelled from [their territory on the Adriatic coast].   The Romans sent the first colony that they ever planted in Gaul [to this territory]: this colony was named Sena [Gallica] for the tribe that had formerly occupied it”, (‘Histories’ 2: 19: 10-12).

Although Polybius recorded that M’ Curius Dentatus, as suffect praetor in command at Arretium, sent the legation to the Senones, he did not identify the Roman commander who subsequently defeated the Senones and confiscated their territory.  All of the surviving sources that identified the commander who defeated the Senone named him as P. Cornelius Dolabella, one of the consuls of 283 BC.  However, some modern scholars argue that this is incorrect and that, in 283 BC, M’ Curius Dentatus commanded the army that finally defeated the Senones.  All of the surviving sources record that the Senones were completely expelled from their territory at this point.  However, this territory would have been extremely vulnerable to Gallic incursion until ca. 268 BC, when the foundation of a Latin colony at Ariminum probably marked the completion of the annexation of what was thereafter the Roman ager Gallicus.   In this year, the Romans also subjugated their erstwhile allies in Picenum and confiscated much of their land, thereby securing total control of the Adriatic coastal plain from Hadria to Ariminum.

In the light of this tumultuous chain of events, it is likely that:

  1. the Senones were  driven from the land destined for the lucus Pisaurensis in 283 BC; but

  2. the sanctuary itself is unlikely to have been established on it until some time after 268 BC.

Settlement of the Ager Gallicus

It was also in this year that the Romans granted full citizenship to the Sabines of the lower Tiber valley and assigned them to the Sergia tribe.  In 264 BC, the they founded yet another colony, this time the Latin colony at Firmum Picenum. 

Thus by 264 BC, the ‘Roman’ presence in this swathe of newly conquered territories relied essentially on three Latin and two citizen colonies that had been founded on coastal sites, together with what was probably a low level of informal settlement by Roman citizens and others from allied communities.  They probably received little attention at Rome during the First Punic War (264-41 BC), which was largely fought in Sicily.  However, in 241 BC, the Romans:

  1. established two new tribes:

  2. the Velina, for citizen settlers in the alta Sabina; and

  3. the Quirina, for citizen settlers in Picenum; and

  4. founded a Latin colony at Spoletium on more land that had been seized for the purpose from the Umbrians.

A new Gallic rising in 236-2 BC threatened the security of the ager Gallicus, but the Romans were able to dispel the threat and to confiscate more land near Ariminum, this time from the Boii.  Then, in 232 BC, the tribune C. Flaminius  introduced a law that facilitated a formal programme of viritane citizen settlement of this territory, in which the new settlers were assigned to the Pollia tribe.  It is difficult to estimate the success of this settlement programme, although it is likely that it was adversely affected by another and more serious Gallic War in 225-2 BC.  On the other hand, once this war was over, the building of the via Flaminia between Rome and Ariminum in 220 BC would have potentially provided further impetus to the settlement of the area and to its urbanisation, at least until 218 BC, when Hannibal crossed the Alps and invaded Italy at the start of the Second Punic War. 

After his initial victories on the Po, Hannibal turned south across the Apennines into Etruria (perhaps deterred from the easier passage south along the Adriatic by the presence of the Roman garrison at Ariminum), and the bulk of the fighting on the peninsular before his withdrawal in 203 BC took place in the south.  Thus, the ager Gallicus escaped relatively lightly, although it was briefly the theatre of war in 207 BC, when the Romans defeated a Carthaginian army led by Hannibal’s brother at Sena Gallica. Furthermore, throughout the war, the Latin colonies at Ariminum, Firmum Picenum, Hadria and Spoletium continued to meet Roman demands for soldiers who were needed in the south, and conscription must have drawn citizen and allied settlers away from the cultivation of their allotments.

Epigraphic Evidence from the Altars

Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at pp. 389-91, citing Filippo Coarelli, referenced below) catalogued the Latin inscriptions that were found on the fourteen altars from the site (as his entries 48-61 inclusive).  On the basis of his palaeographic and linguistic analysis, he placed each of them in one of four groups (at p. 391):

  1. early 3rd century BC

  2. 48 (CIL I² 368), Apolenei

  3. 49 (CIL I² 375), Deiv(eis) [N]o[v]esede/ [P. or T.] Popaio(s) Pop(ai) f(ilius)

  4. 50 (CIL I² 377), Feronia/ Sta(tio) Tetio(s)/ dede

  5. 3rd century BC

  6. 51 (CIL I² 370), Iunone

  7. 52 (CIL I² 371), Iuno(ne) Loucina

  8. 53 (CIL I² 374), Dei(va) Marica

  9. 54 (CIL I² 378), Iunone Re[g(ina)]/ matrona(e)/ Pisaurese/ dono(m) dedrot

  10. 55 (CIL I² 379), Matre/ Matuta/ dono(m) dedro/ matrona/ M(ania) Curia/ Pola Livia/ deda

  11. 56 (CIL I² 380), ------ / Nomec̣ịa/ dede

  12. 57 (CIL I² 381), Lebro

  13. difficult to determine:

  14. 58 (CIL I² 372), Mat(re) Matut(a)

  15. 59 (CIL I² 369), Fide

  16. early 2nd century BC

  17. 60 (CIL I² 376), Cesula/ Atilia/ donu(m)/ ḍa(t) Diane

  18. 61 (CIL I² 373), Salute

Sisani argued (at p, 200) that that most of these inscriptions had probably pre-dated the foundation of the colony at Pisaurum in 184 BC. 

Evidence From the Votive Offerings

Francesco Belfiori (referenced below, 2017, in chapter 2) catalogued 114 surviving terracottas that could be associated with this site with a reasonable degree of confidence.  He pointed out (at p. 31) that the subset of 31 terracotta votive heads (which he catalogued at pp. 23-30) were fundamental in determining the evolution of the cult site over time.  He summarised the likely dating of these terracottas in his Figure 13 (at p. 33):

  1. 7 dated to the first half of the 3rd century BC;

  2. 14 dated to the second half of the 3rd century BC; and

  3. 10 dated to the late 3rd or early 2nd century BC.

He concluded (at p. 53-4) that:

  1. The 7 oldest of these terracottas were broadly contemporary with the three altars that corresponded to Sisani’s entries 48-50 (see his note 11).

  2. There was a clear increase in the number of these terracottas from the second half of the 3rd century BC, which was probably associated with the viritane settlement of the area following Flaminius’ agrarian law of 232 BC.  He added (at note 14) that these terracottas were broadly contemporary with the altars that corresponded to Sisani’s entries 51-7.

  3. The number of these terracottas exhibited a progressive diminution from the start of the 2nd century BC.  He added (at note 15) that:

  4. “The later altars , specifically those dedicated to Salus and Diana [Sisani’s entries 60-1], will have dated to roughly in this period, particularly to the years of the foundation of the colony of Pisaurum [in 184 BC]”, (my translation).

Belfiori also catalogued (at p.50) three small bronze votive figures that testified to the continued cult use of the grove into the 2nd century BC, albeit that the cult practice associated with the terracotta heads apparently ceased.  He identified two of these figures (numbers 112-3) as representations of Apollo and Diana respectively, and confirmed the prior identification of number 114 as a figure of Jupiter.

It is possible that all three of the altars that Simone Sisani (see above) catalogued in his entries 48-50 were established in this period on the site now known as the lucus Pisaurensis.  I now discuss each of these in turn.

Altar Dedicated to Apollo

Inscriptions (3rd-2nd centuries BC) referring to Apollo near colonies between Ariminum and Castrum Novum

Adapted from Francesco Belfiori (referenced below, 2020, Figure 9, at p. 231: nscriptions and dates at pp. 383-4)

As noted above, the inscription (CIL I² 368) on one of the 14 altars found on this site reads:

  1. Apolenei’ (to Apollo)

Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at p. 391) argued that the form of the letter P in this inscription indicated that it was among the oldest of these altars. 

Elements of what seem to have been similar inscriptions were painted before firing on two of 15 black gloss ceramic fragments found during excavations under Palazzo Battiglini at Ariminum (although the letter P survives in neither):

  1. CIL I² 2894: ‘[Ap]olen[i]’; and

  2. CIL I² 2895: ‘[Apol]eni’;

Tesse Stek (referenced below)at pp. 139-40) republished all 15 of the inscriptions in this group.  Five or perhaps six of them identified dedicants, who were always described as pagus/ pagi or vicus/ vici  (local communities or groups of communities acting collectively), and another eight, including the two of interest here, identified the deity to whom the object was dedicated.  Stek suggested (at p. 141) that the fragments came from ‘cups’ that had been used for libations, and (at p. 144) that they local vici and pagi may well have been dedicated them a cult site within the urban area of the colony, perhaps after having carried them round their boundaries  in an act of lustration.  Francesco Belfiori (referenced below, 2020, at p. 214) suggested that the evidence of CIL I² 2894-5 (above) indicated that the cult of Apollo was among the oldest cults of the colony of Ariminum.  He also drew attention to the prevalence of this cult in the coastal plain between Ariminum and Castrum Novum in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC (as illustrated above), at a time when this territory was the subject of intense Roman colonisation and viritane settlement.

Giulio Vallarino (referenced below, 2007, at pp. 365-6 and Figure 7) published an inscription on a black glazed vase from a sanctuary at Trebula Mutuesca in the Tiber valley that he completed (on the basis of the inscriptions from Rimini and Pisaurum) as ‘[---Ap]olen[ei ---] or ‘[---Ap]olen[i ---]’ .  In a more recent paper (referenced below, 2012, at pp. 136-7), he argued that this and other votive objects (including a similar ceramic fragment with a dedication to ‘[Vacu ??]na’ and a bronze figure of Mercury) probably dated to the period 280 - 250 BC and had been ritually deposited under the pavement of a new sanctuary (probably dedicated to Feronia- see below) towards the end of the century.  According to Velleius Paterculus:

  1. “... the citizenship without the right of suffrage was given to the Sabines in the consulship of Manius Curius and Rufinus Cornelius [i.e. in 290 BC. ... In 268 BC,] the right of suffrage was granted to the Sabines”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 14: 6-7).

Lily Ross Taylor (referenced below, at p. 60) argued that these ‘Sabines’ were the people of Cures and Trebula Mutuesca, who were assigned to the Sergia tribe.  Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2013, at p. 10) agreed that:

  1. “... it is very likely that the ‘Sabines’ to whom Velleius alluded are  ... effectively those of the Sabina tiberina ...” (my translation);

and suggested that this was because they represented:

  1. ... the only part of the local population that survived (fiscally and legally) the massacre and enslavement ... [of] 290 BC” (my translation). 

Thus, it seems likely that the cult site evidenced by ritually deposited votive offerings to Apollo, Mercury and (possibly) Vacuna belonged to a period when the people of Trebula Mutuesca were drawing ever closer to Rome.

Altar Dedicated to the Novensides/ Novensiles

As noted above, the inscription (CIL I² 375) on one of the 14 altars found on this site reads:

  1. Deiv(eis) [N]o[v]esede/ [P. or T.] Popaio(s) Pop(ai) f(ilius)

Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at p. 391) argued that, as in the altar to Apollo discussed above, the form of the letter P in this inscription indicated that it was among the oldest of these altars. 

Livy (‘History of Rome’, 8; 9: 6) included the Novensiles among the deities that P. Decius Mus invoked in the prayer that he offered before his devotio (self-sacrifice) during the battle at the Veseris in 340 BC.  Although the prayer. as Livy recorded it,  is likely to be an antiquarian reconstruction, it seems likely that there had been some basis for assuming that the Novensiles could have been evoked in this way  at an early date.  However, it seems unlikely that Livy or his antiquarian source(s) knew much about these deities apart from their antiquity: it is clear from the following passage by Arnobius (late 3rd century AD) that, at least by the time of the annalist L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi (late 2nd century BC), their original significance was long-forgotten:

  1. Piso believes that the Novensiles are nine gods, constitutos (established) among the Sabines at Trebia [probably the ancient Sabine centre at Trebula Mutuesca].  Granius thinks that they are the muses, agreeing with Aelius.  Varro [see below] teaches that they are nine, because ... that number is always reputed most powerful and greatest; Cornificius that they watch over the renewing of things ... ; and Manilius, that they are the nine gods to whom alone Jupiter gave power to wield his thunder.  Cincius declares them to be deities brought from abroad, named from their very newness ...  ” (‘Against the Pagans’, 3: 38).

The scholars that Arnobius cited seem to have relied on etymology to characterise these deities:

  1. Varro suggested that the initial element of the word derived from novem (nine), as did Piso (nine Sabine gods), Granis Flacus and Aelius Stilo (the nine female muses) and Manilius (the nine gods to whom, according to the Etruscans, Jupiter allowed to wield the thunderbolt); while

  2. Cornificius and Cincius  suggested that it derived from novus (new): Cornificius had them as gods of renewal and the antiquarian Cincius had them as ‘new’ gods, in the sense that they had been added to the original Roman pantheon.

All of these passages  are now lost, but a surviving passage by Varro (‘On the Latin Language’, 5: 74) indicates that he agreed with Piso that the Novensiles were of Sabine origin.  It is possible that both Piso and Varro believed that Titus Tatius had introduced the cult of the Novensiles to Rome, albeit that there is no surviving evidence for a cult site dedicated to them in the city.

It is possible that p. popaio(s), who dedicated the altar, belonged to the gens Poppaea, which was known in Rome from 9 AD, when the brothers Q. Poppaeus Sabinus and  C. Poppaeus Secundus served as consul and suffect consul respectively.  Surviving inscriptions (for example CIL I² 1903a) indicate that these brothers (or perhaps their father and his brother) were patrons of Interamnia Praetuttiorum, on the border of Sabine territory.  However, this name is found in various forms across central Italy and, in any case, Varro cannot necessarily be relied on in relation to the putative Sabine origins of the Novensiles.  In short, in view of the paucity of surviving information about the cult of the Novensiles, the reason why popaio(s) dedicated an altar to them in this grove is probably irrecoverable.

The only other surviving epigraphic evidence for the Novensiles (Vetter: 225) is in an Italic language,:

esos novesede pesco pacre

Rex Wallace (referenced below, at p. 63) translated this as:

'(May the) di nouesedes propitiously (accept this) expiatory sacrifice (?)

The inscription was found on the later site of the municipium of Marruvium in the territory of the Marsi.  According to Cesare Letta (referenced below, at p. 513), it was written in the Marsic language, using the Latin alphabet, and dated to the late 2nd century BC.

While most of these deities were venerated in Rome, a significant minority were mainly connected with sacred groves outside the city:

  1. Marica is known primarily in the context of the lucus Maricae, a sacred grove at the mouth of the Liris (modern Garigliano) river, near the later site of the colony of Minturnae (founded in 296 BC) - see Livia Boccali and Cristina Ferrante (referenced below)

  2. Diana had an ancient temple on the Aventine, but she had an even older cult site in a sacred grove on the shores of Lake Nemi, near Aricia, which had been used by many of the tribes of Latium as a locus for military diplomacy and for the formation of alliances against shared enemies. - see Carin Green, referenced below, at pp. 87-109

  3. Feronia was given a temple in Rome at some time in the 3rd century BC, but she had an  older and more important cult site at the lucus Feronia in the ager Capenas, which served as a meeting place for Latins, Etruscans, Faliscans and Sabines as well as the local Capenates from an early date - see Massimiliano Di Fazio, referenced below, at pp. 51-6)

Two later events (both mentioned above) are relevant to the discussion below:

  1. in 232 BC, the tribune C. Flaminius introduced the law that facilitated the viritane settlement of the ager Gallicus; and

  2. in 184 BC, the colony at Pisaurum was founded. Dedicators

Massimiliano Di Fazio (referenced below, at p. 349) noted that some of the dedicators identified on the altars might have been Italic and others (for example, Statios Tetios (50)) might have been Sabine,

The deities mentioned on the cippi are: together with one whose name is now illegible.  Paul Harvey (referenced below at p. 122 ) observed that:

  1. “These deities are a curious lot.  Some are known well from Rome, others are attested in the archaic era at Rome and in the towns of Latium, while a few are known solely from non-Roman contexts.”

He also observed (at p. 126) that:

  1. “... the family names of those dedicating at Pisaurum [similarly] point to no [single] geographic origin. ... As with the divinities appearing on these dedications, those dedicating reflect [the general] population of west central Italy.”

Antonella Trevisiol (referenced below, at pp. 94-101, entries 81-94), who catalogued all 14 inscriptions on the altars, dated:

  1. numbers 81-7 and 94, each of which contained only the name of a deity, to the period of the Second Punic War (218 -203 BC); and

  2. the other six, which each contained (or had originally contained) the name of a deity and of one or more dedicators, to the early 2nd century BC:

  3. numbers 88-9o and 93 to the period immediately prior to the foundation of the colony in 184 BC; and

  4. numbers 91 and 92 to the period immediately following the foundation of the colony in 184 BC.

The reason for the relatively late dating of the last two is that they were dedicated (respectively) by the matrona(e) Pisaure(n)se(s) ((number 91) and by two women who apparently identified themselves as members of this group  (number 92 - see below): as Paul Harvey (referenced below at p. 127) observed:

  1. “These women’s identification of themselves as ‘Pisauran matrons’ surely suggests association with [an urban centre of this name, rather that simply with the local river Pisaurum]: elsewhere in Italy, matrons are identified with their colonia.”

  2. In other words, since there is no secure evidence for urban settlement here before the foundation of the colony in 184 BC, the women who identified themselves as ‘Pisauran matrons’ had almost certainly belonged to the colony.  On the datings proposed by Trevisiol, the other altars could all have been dedicated by people who had been settled in the ager Gallicus  after Flaminius’ agrarian law of 232 BC.  However, Paul Harvey (referenced below, at pp. 128-9) argued that:
    “... in terms of orthography and material, [the dedications] seem to be roughly contemporaneous and the product of one stone-cutter’s workshop. ... Orthography and letter forms ... provide only general chronological indications, [and] rarely, in and of themselves, demonstrate a specific decade.”

Paul Harvey (referenced below, at pp. 127-8) insisted that:

  1. “... neither archaeological nor historical tradition testifies to any sort of organised community [in this area] at this time.”

In particular, he argued (at p. 128 and note 56) that the matronae Pisaurese of CIL XI 6300 (above) must have belonged to the colony, an assertion specifically refuted by Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at p. 201).

Massimiliano Di Fazio (referenced below, at p. 349) observed that:

  1. “... the kind of Latin [found in] the inscriptions, rough and far from classical, seems ... to suggest a [pre-colonial] date.”

Di Fazio cited Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, in a paper I have not been able to consult), who:

  1. “... suggested that the [altars] could have been dedicated by Roman and Latin individuals settled before the colony, perhaps in a conciliabulum to be linked with the [Roman] conquest of the ager Gallicus ... [in 283 BC].  ... Coarelli describes the cults attested [in the inscriptions] as a kind of ‘plebeian pantheon, to be linked with the specific historical situation of Rome in the 3rd century BC.”

Paul Harvey (referenced below at pp. 126-7) also referred to Coarelli’s conclusions, adding that:

  1. “Other modern commentators have dated the Pisauran [altars] to the late 3rd century BC, and thereby assumed evidence of Roman and Latin settlers [nearby]..., [who] would presumably then have been among the recipients of land authorised by [Flaminius’ agrarian] legislation of 232 BC [see below]...”

According to Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at p. 135):

  1. “For [Mania Curia], the absolute rarity of the family name and the coincidence of the praenomen [with that of Manius Curius Dentatus] indicates a direct relationship between a member of the local aristocracy [at this time] and the conqueror of the ager Gallicus.  The name of [Pola Livia] points in the same direction: she perhaps belonged to the gens of. Livius Drusus, whom Suetonoius ` [see below] recorded in relation to the [Gallic] campaign of 284 BC ... ” (my translation).

According to Suetonius, Livius Drusus, an ancestor of the Emperor Tiberius:

  1. “... gained this cognomen ... by slaying Drausus, the leader of the enemy, in single combat.  It is also said that,when propraetor, ... brought back from his province of Gaul the gold that had been paid to the Senones when they had  besieged the Capitol [in the late 4th century BC], and that this had not been wrested from them by Camillus, as tradition has it”, (‘Life of Tiberius’, 3) .

James Luce (referenced below, at p. 292) summarised the various versions of the Gallic sack of Rome that can be found in our surviving sources.  Some of them record that the Romans persuaded the Gauls to end their siege of the Capitol by paying them in gold, and a subset of these record that the gold was subsequently recovered.  He noted that:

  1. When Camillus was introduced into the legend [in the versions that Suetonius rejected], he was reported to have seized the gold from the Gauls as they were withdrawing northward, but the location was identified variously from source to source.”

For example, in Livy’s account, Camillus had recovered the gold as it was being weighed out in the forum.  Luce pointed out (at note 46) that, according to Servius, Camillus had caught up with the Gauls  and seized the gold at a place that became known as Pisaurum, because:

  1. “... in that place, gold was weighed out”, (‘Commentary on the Aenid’, 6: 825, my translation).

Thus, it seems that Suetonius used a version the legend in which the Gauls had escaped with the gold and that Livius Drusus had subsequently recovered it, perhaps at Pisaurum, when he was serving as propraetor in Gaul.  Corey Brennan (referenced below, at p. 78) referred to the plausible hypothesis of Friedrich Münzer, according to which, this first Livius Drusus was:

  1. “... a praetor active in Gaul, in the territory of Pisaurum.  His magistracy will have fallen some time after [the conquest of the Senones] 283 BC, [but] probably before 268 BC, when the establishment of Ariminum [see below] completed Roman control over the territory.”

Tiberius’ family remained associated with Pisaurum as least as late as the late Republic: in a letter that Cicero wrote to Atticus (Letter 27, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, at p. 155), he referred to “Drusus of Pisaurum”, who was probably Tiberius’ maternal grandfather.  It is entirely likely that Suetonius had found his version of the legend of the recovery of the Roman gold in the family archives.


Even if the ancient rural Camilia tribe had first reached the ager Gallicus with the foundation of the citizen colony at Pisaurum in 184 BC, this would have been the earliest known example of its extension away from its original heartland.

According to Lily Ross Taylor (referenced below, at p. 271), there were no other known extensions of the Camilia until after the Social War.

Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at p. 215) argued that:

  1. “... it is clear that the Camilia, the tribe in which we find Pisaurum after the Social War, was not only the tribe assigned to the colonists from 184 BC: it was also that assigned to viritane settlers here in the aftermath of the conquest” (my translation).

According to Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at p. 135), the hypothesis relating to the introduction of the Camilia at Pisaurum soon after the conquest is thus:

  1. “... confirmed by a second occurrence of this tribe ... at Suasa, ... for which we [also] have evidence of viritane settlement in this period” (my translation). 

While earlier scholars have dated them to a slightly later period (see, for example, Antonella Trevisol, referenced below, at pp. 94-101, entries 81-94), and while Paul Harvey (referenced below, at pp. 127-8) argued that all of them post-dated the foundation of the colony, the dating proposed by Coarelli and Sisani is now generally accepted (as discussed further below).

Read more: 

Belfiori F., “Sacra Arimensia: Fondamenti Culturali e Fisonomie Identitarie di una Colonia Latina”, Thiasos, 9:1 (2020) 211-37

Belfiori F., “‘Lucum Conlucare Romano More’: Archeologia e Religione del ‘Lucus" Pisaurensis’”, (2017) Bologna

Letta C., “The Marsi”, in:

  1. Farney, G. and Bradley G. (editors), “The Peoples of Ancient Italy”, (2017) Berlin and Boston. at pp.509-18

Boccali L. and Ferrante C., “Minturno: Garigliano: Foce: Lucus Maricae”, in:

  1. Ferrante C. et al. (editors), “Fana, Templa, Delubra: Corpus dei Luoghi di Culto dell'Italia Antica: Regio 1: Fondi: Formia; Minturno; Ponza”, (2015) Rome online

Bouke van der Meer L., “The Impact of Rome on Luci (Sacred Glades, Clearings and Groves) in Italy”, Babesch, 90 (2015)  99-017

Di Fazio M., “Feronia: Spazi e Templi di una Dea dell'Italia Centrale Antica”, (2013) Rome

Sisani S., “Da Curio Dentato a Vespasio Pollione: Conquista e Romanizzazione del Distretto Nursino”, in:

  1. Sisani S. (editor), “Nursia e l'Ager Nursinus: un Distretto Sabino dalla Praefectura al Municipium”, (2013) Rome, at pp. 9-16

Vallarino G., “Iscrizioni Vascolare dal Santuario Repubblicano di Trebula Mutuesca, in:

  1. Baratta G. and Marengo S, (editors), “Instrumenta Inscripta III: Manufatti Iscritti e Vita dei Santuari in Età Romana”, (2012) Macerata,at pp. 135-42

Green C., “Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia”, (2007) Cambridge and New York

Sisani S., “Fenomenologia della Conquista: La Romanizzazione dell' Umbria tra il IV sec. a. C. e la Guerra Sociale”, (2007) Rome

Stek, T., “Cult Places and Cultural Change in Republican Italy: A Contextual Approach to Religious Aspects of Rural Society after the Roman Conquest”, (2009) Amsterdam

Vallarino G., “Novità Epografiche da Trebula Mutuesca: Quattro Testi Inedite e una Revision di CIL I² 1834”, Epigraphica, 69 (2007) 357-75

Harvey P., “Religion and Memory at Pisaurum”, in:

  1. Schultz C. and Harvey P. (editors), “Religion in Republican Italy”, (2006) Cambridge, at pp. 117-36

Livi V., “Religious Locales in the Territory of Minturnae: Aspects of Romanisation”, in:

  1. Schultz C. and Harvey P. (editors), “Religion in Republican Italy”, (2006) Cambridge, at pp. 89-116

Brennan T. C., “The Praetorship in the Roman Republic”, (2000) Oxford

Coarelli F., “Il Lucus Pisaurensis e la Romanizzazione dell'Ager Gallicus", in:

  1. Bruun C. (editor). “The Roman Middle Republic: Politics Religion and Historiography (ca. 400-133 BC)”, (2000) Rome, at  pp. 195-205

Shackleton Bailey D. R. (translator), “Cicero: Letters to Atticus: Volume I”, (1999) Cambridge MA.

Wallace R.,  “The Sabellian Languages”, (1984) thesis from Ohio State University

Luce T. J., “Design and Structure in Livy, 5: 32-55”, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, 102 (1971) 265-302

Ross Taylor L., “The Voting Districts of the Roman Republic: The 35 Urban and Rural Tribes”, (1960) Rome

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