1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Faesulae

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23126641911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 10 — FaesulaeThomas Ashby

FAESULAE (mod. Fiesole, q.v.), an ancient city of Etruria, on the height 3 m. to the N.E. of Florentia, 970 ft. above sea-level. Remains of its walls are preserved on all sides, especially on the N.E., in one place to a height of 12 to 14 courses. The blocks are often not quite rectangular, and the courses sometimes change; but the general tendency is horizontal and the walls are not of remote antiquity, the irregularities in them being rather due to the hardness of the material employed, the rock of the hill itself. The courses vary in height from 1 to 3 ft., and some blocks are as long as 121/2 ft. In this portion of the wall are two drains, below one of which is a phallus. The site of an ancient gate, and the road below it, can be traced; a little farther E. was an archway, conjectured by Dennis to be a gate of the Roman period, destroyed in 1848. The whole circuit of the walls extended for about 12/3 m. The Franciscan monastery (1130 ft.) occupies the site of the acropolis, once encircled by a triple wall, of which no traces are now visible. Here was also the Capitolium of Roman times, as an inscription found here in 1879 records (Corpus Inscr. Lat. xi., Berlin, 1888, No. 1545). The Roman theatre, below the cathedral to the N.E., has 19 tiers of stone seats and is 37 yds. in diameter. Above it is an embanking wall of irregular masonry, and below it some remains of Roman baths, including five parallel vaults of concrete. Just outside the town on the E. a reservoir, roofed by the convergence of its sides, which were of large regular blocks, was discovered in 1832, but filled in again. Over 1000 silver denarii, all coined before 63 B.C., were found at Faesulae in 1829. A small museum contains the objects found in the excavations of the theatre.

Though Faesulae was an Etruscan city, we have no record of it in history until 215 B.C., when the Gauls passed near it in their march on Rome. Twelve years later Hannibal seems to have taken this route in his march south after the victory of the Trebia. It appears to have suffered at the hands of Rome in the Social War, and Sulla expelled some of the inhabitants from their lands to make room for his veterans, but some of the latter were soon driven out in their turn by the former occupiers. Both the veterans, who soon wasted what they had acquired, and the dispossessed cultivators joined the partisans of Catiline, and Manlius, one of his supporters, made his headquarters at Faesulae. Under the empire we hear practically nothing of it; in A.D. 405 Radagaisus was crushed in the neighbouring hills, and Belisarius besieged and took it in A.D. 539.

See L. A. Milani, Rendiconti dei Lincei, ser. vi. vol. ix. (1900), 289 seq., on the discovery of an archaic altar of the Locus sacer of Florence, belonging to Ancharia (Angerona), the goddess of Fiesole.  (T. As.)