1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gabii

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GABII, an ancient city of Latium, between 12 and 13 m. E. of Rome, on the Via Praenestina, which was in early times known as the Via Gabina. The part played by it in the story of the expulsion of the Tarquins is well known; but its importance in the earliest history of Rome rests upon other evidence—the continuance of certain ancient usages which imply a period of hostility between the two cities, such as the adoption of the cinctus Gabinus by the consul when war was to be declared. We hear of a treaty of alliance with Rome in the time of Tarquinius Superbus, the original text of which, written on a bullock’s skin, was said by Dionysius of Halicarnassus to be still extant in his day. Its subsequent history is obscure, and we only hear of it again in the 1st century B.C. as a small and insignificant place, though its desolation is no doubt exaggerated by the poets. From inscriptions we learn that from the time of Augustus or Tiberius onwards it enjoyed a municipal organization. Its baths were well known, and Hadrian, who was responsible for much of the renewed prosperity of the small towns of Latium, appears to have been a very liberal patron, building a senate-house (Curia Aelia Augusta) and an aqueduct. After the 3rd century Gabii practically disappears from history, though its bishops continue to be mentioned in ecclesiastical documents till the close of the 9th. The primitive city occupied the eastern bank of the lake, the citadel being now marked by the ruins of the medieval fortress of Castiglione, while the Roman town extended farther to the south. The most conspicuous relic of the latter is a ruined temple, generally attributed to Juno, which had six columns in the front and six on each side. The plan is interesting, but the style of architecture was apparently mixed. To the east of the temple lay the Forum, where excavations were made by Gavin Hamilton in 1792. All the objects found were placed in the Villa Borghese, but many of them were carried off to Paris by Napoleon, and still remain in the Louvre. The statues and busts are especially numerous and interesting; besides the deities Venus, Diana, Nemesis, &c., they comprise Agrippa, Tiberius, Germanicus, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Trajan and Plotina, Hadrian and Sabina, M. Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Geta, Gordianus Pius and others. The inscriptions relate mainly to local and municipal matters.

See E. Q. Visconti, Monumenti Gabini della Villa Pinciana (Rome, 1797, and Milan, 1835); T. Ashby in Papers of the British School at Rome, i. 180 seq.; G. Pinza in Bull. Com. (1903), 321 seq. (T. As.)