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Umbria Before the Social Wars

Early Latin Inscriptions

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  4.    Literary Sources

(Numbers in square brackets in the headings refer to the entries in the catalogue of the exhibition

“Screhto Est”, edited by L. Agostiniani et al., referenced below)


Cippi of the Lex Spoletina (ca. 240 BC) [75]


These two archaic Latin inscriptions (CIL XI 4766), which were found about 10 km west of the Fonti del Clitunno, bear nearly identical texts: 

Honce loucom/ ne qu<i>s uiolatod/ neque exuehito neque

exferto quod louci/ siet neque cedito/ nesei quo die res deina

anua fiet eod die/ quod rei dinai cau[s]a/ [f]iat, sine dolo cedre

[l]icetod, seiquis/ uiolasit Ioue bouid/ piaclum datod

si quis scies/ uiolasit dolo malo/ Iouei bouid piaclum

datod et a(sses) CCC/ moltai suntod

eius piacli/ moltaique dicator[ei]/ exactio est[od]

Michael Gilleland has posted on line two English translations, one of which is as follows:

  1. “Let no-one violate this grove nor carry out anything that is in the grove nor set foot in it [or possibly 'cut it'] except annually on the day of the rite; on the day when it is done because of the rite, it shall be permitted to enter (cut) it with impunity. Whosoever violates the grove shall give a purificatory offering of an ox to Jupiter; whoever violates it knowingly and maliciously shall give a purificatory offering of an ox to Jupiter and shall be fined 300 asses [a unit of currency].  The dicator (chief magistrate) shall be responsible for the exaction of the offering and fine”.

The inscription are of great interest in relation to both archaic Latin script and to Roman law.  They clearly relate to a wood or grove that was sacred to Jupiter that was presumably located in the area in which the cippi were found.  In fact, Giuseppe Sordini found them on two separate occasions and in two separate locations:

  1. Inscription A was found in 1879 on Colle di San Quirico, between Castel San Giovanni and Castel Ritaldi; and

  2. Inscription B was found in 1913, embedded in the facade of the church of Santo Stefano in Picciche.

Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2012, p. 420) pointed out that Picciche was on a side road off the main Mevania-Spoletium road that crossed the Valle Umbra towards the Fonti del Clitunno.  He suggested that:

  1. “It is likely that [Inscription B] was originally beside this road, alerting travellers to the fact that they were entering an area that was subject to specific religious constraints;  [Inscription A] must have had an analogous function, and its find spot near Castel Ritaldi lends credence to the hypothesis that it was beside the main  Mevania-Spoletium. road” (my translation)

Pertica of Spoletium

Adapted from Camerieri and Manconi (referenced below, Figure 3) 

According to Luca Donnini (in ‘Screhto Est’, referenced below, entry 75):

  1. “Regarding the chronology of the two cippi, based on the script and the language, it certainly seems that both can be securely dated to the years immediately following the deduction of the Latin colony of Spoletium in 241 BC, ...” (my translation)

Paolo Camerieri and Dorica Manconi (referenced below) established the extent of the territory assigned to the colony at this point, as illustrated above: the sacred grove northeast of Castel Ritaldi would have occupied part of the area of public land used for woods and pasture (silva et pascua) across the northwest area of the pertica.   (The northern part of this territory (including the Fonti del Clitunno) had probably belonged to Mevania before colonisation.)

Simone Sisani (referenced below, at p. 416) suggested that the grove was sacred to Clitumnus/Jupiter and that the grove might well have extended as far as the sanctuary dedicated to him at the Fonti del Clitunno:

  1. Vibius Sequester recorded that:

  2. Clitumnus Umbriae, ubi Iuppiter eodem nomine est” (‘De fluminibus’).

  3. Thus it seems that the river god Clitumnus was, in some sense, a manifestation of Jupiter. 

  4. Propertius, speaking of the god Clitumnus, referred to the Clitumnus river as “his wave” and reported that it was covered (or perhaps shrouded) by “his own woods”.

  5. Suetonius recorded a visit by the Emperor Caligula to the “river Clitumnus and its nemus (sacred grove)”.

There is a copy of one of the cippi in the woods on Monteluco (see Walk IV), probably because the name of the mountain derives from the Latin “lucus” (sacred grove). 


Stele of Bovara (late 3rd century BC) [76]

This stone was discovered in the 1950s near the Abbazia di San Pietro in Bovara, beside the line of the Roman road that led to Via Flaminia.  It is now in the Museo della Città e del Territorio, Trevi.

The two-line inscription, written in Latin using an archaic Latin alphabet, cannot be fully deciphered:

------- / [---] Atiete en/ [-]laga dedre

The word Atiete is recognisable and known from the Ikuvine Tablets: it means a college of priests.

The location in which the inscription was found is only about 5 km from Picciche and 10 km from Castel Ritaldi, the places in which the cippi inscribed with the Lex Spoletina (above) were found.  These two inscriptions were also inscribed in archaic Latin, and it seems likely that all three were associated with the nearby Roman colony at Spoletium.


Inscription from San Secondo (2nd century BC) 

This inscription (CIL XI 4348) recorded that Titus Pettius, son of Titus, grandson of Titus had made a gift to “Iove Optumo Maxsumo” (Jove Optimus Maximus, the supreme god of the Roman pantheon).  The archaic language suggests that the inscription dates to the middle of the 2nd century BC, which is early for the use of Latin in Umbria and for the veneration of Jove Optimus Maximus there.  The inscription, which has unfortunately been lost, was documented in San Secondo in a sketch (1564) by the sculptor and antiquarian Giovanni Antonio Dosio that survives in the Staatsbibliothek, Berlin.    Guy Bradley (referenced below, at p. 294) dated it to ca. 150 BC.


Inscription from San Rufino (2nd century BC) [77]

This is a cast of an inscription (CIL XI 5390) is over an arch that leads to a Roman cistern that now forms the foundation for the campanile of San Rufino, Assisi.  It is one of the earliest in Latin to survive in an Umbrian city.  It names six marones:

  1. Post(umus) Mimesius, son of C(aius);

  2. T(itus) Mimesius, son of Sert(orius);

  3. Ner(o) Capidas Rufus, son of C(aius);

  4. Ner(o) Babrius, son of T(itus);

  5. C(aius) Capidas, son of T(itus), grandson of C(aius); and

  6. V(ibius) Volsienus, son of T(itus).

Nero Babrius, son of Titus had the more senior post of uhter  in the Umbrian  inscription on the cippus from Bastia (see Exhibit 2 above), which is therefore probably of a slightly later date.  This demonstrates that both Latin and Umbrian were used in public inscriptions in the late 2nd and early  1st centuries BC.

The rest of the inscription reads:

murum ab fornice ad circum et fornicem cisternamq(ue)

d(e) s(entaus) s(ententia) faciundum coiravere

This records the building (by order of the municipal senate) of the terrace wall that can be seen running under the left side of San Rufino, which apparently originally extended from the arch (fornix) of the cistern to another arch near the circus (which was in modern Piazza Matteotti). 

Nero Babrius, son of Titus appears in the more senior post of uhter  in the (presumably later) Umbrian  inscription on the cippus from Bastia.

Only the left part of it is now visible in situ, but there is a cast of it in the Museo Civico, Assisi.

Inscription from S Maria Maggiore (ca. 100 BC)

This Latin inscription (CIL XI 5473) on the outer surface of the architrave of a narrow opening  in the Roman wall that now serves to terrace the garden of Santa Maria Maggiore, Assisi.  It reads: 

"Iter precar(ium)"

This seems to indicate that passage was granted by prayer or on request.

There is a cast of it in the Museo Civico, Assisi.


Lid of a cinerary urn (late 2nd century BC) 

The deceased reclines on this travertine sarcophagus lid, which was probably made in Perusia (Perugia).  The inscription (CIL XI 5107) is in Latin:

C(aius) Laaro V(ibii) f(ilius) T(iti) n(epos)

Caius Laaro, son of Vibius, grandson of Titus

The urn, which is from an unknown location in Bevagna,  is now embedded in the wall of the Museo della Città.

Bevagna and Otricoli

Popilius Cups (2nd and 1st centuries BC) [80-1]

The so-called Popilius cups, which were inscribed with the Latin name of Caius Popilius (CIL XI 6704, 3), were made in Mevania and Ocriculum and were widely spread throughout Etruria.  It seems likely that Caius Popilius was a Latin-speaking migrant who was attracted by the clay deposits at Mevania and by the transport links offered by Via Flaminia and by the port on the Tiber at Ocriculum.  Two examples are illustrated in the catalogue below:

  1. One from Cerveteri [80], which is now in the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia, Rome, has the inscription:


  3. One from Corchiano (near Viterbo) [81], which is now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (95.59), has the inscription:


Other Popilius signatures are illustrated in the article by André Baudrillart (referenced below).

Massa Martana

Inscribed funerary stele (late 2nd century BC)

This extraordinary epitaph was found in 1839 in the area of the Vicus Martis Tudertium,  near Massa Martana.  There are almost identical bilingual inscriptions on each side of the stone: these are given in Latin and in Gallic (using an Etruscan alphabet).   This stele is in the Museo Vaticano, Rome and the inscriptions are illustrated in the website of L’ Arbre Celtique.

  1. The Latin inscription, which is the fuller of the two, reads:

[ATEGNATI] [DRVT]I[.] F[...]



The tomb of Ategnatus, son of Drutos,

Coisis, son of Drutos,

his younger brother placed and set up

  1. The shorter, Gallic inscriptions read:


Coisis son of Drutios has erected the tomb of Ategnatos, son of Drutios

This is the earliest Latin inscription found in the vicinity of Todi.  The names indicate that this family was of Gallic descent, and it is interesting to note that Ahal Trutitis, the donor of the so-called Mars of Todi (late 5th century BC), seems to have been of Gallic descent.

Perugia, from Bettona

Funerary Inscription (late 2nd century BC) [79]

This inscription from the Ipogeo di Colle, Bettona, which is in archaic Latin and punched on a bronze sheet, commemorates

[-] UOISIUS L F [...]


[?] Voisius, son of Lucius and Aviania.

The name seems to retain the Etruscan formula, in which Avania’s name is apparently not preceded by the Latin “gnatus” (born of).  It is now displayed with other grave goods from the hypogeum in the Museo Archeologico, Perugia

Read more:

S. Sisani, “I Rapporti tra Mevania e Hispellum nel Quadro del Paesaggio Sacro della Valle Umbra, in

  1. G. Della Fina (Ed.), “Il Fanum Voltumnae e i Santuari Comunitari dell’ Italia Antica”, (2012) Orvieto, pp 409-63

L. Agostiniani et al. (Eds), “Screhto Est: Lingua e Scrittura degli Antichi Umbri”, (2011) Città di Castello

P. Cameriere and D. Manconi, “Le Centuriazioni della Valle Umbra da Spoleto a Perugia”, Bollettino di Archeolgic Online, (2010) 15-39

G. Bradley, "Ancient Umbria", (2000) Oxford

A. Baudrillart, “Coupes Signées de Popilius”, Mélanges de l' École Française de Rome, 9 (1889) 288-98

  1. Umbria before the Social Wars: Main page

  2. Umbrian Magistracies      Via Amerina     Via Flaminia     Second Punic War

  3. Umbrian Inscriptions     Etruscan Inscriptions     Latin Inscriptions 

  4.    Literary Sources

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