Key to Umbria: Perugia

Colonisation of Hispellum (41 BC)

After the triumvirs Mark Antony and Octavian defeated Brutus and Cassius (the murderers of Julius Caesar) at Philippi in late 42 BC, the civil war in Italy was at least temporarily at an end.  They now faced the problem of finding land in Italy for the long-promised settlement of their time-served soldiers.  This difficult task fell to Octavian: as Josiah Osgood (referenced below, at p. 159) observed:

  1. “[Mark] Antony remained to settle affairs in the east, while Octavian hurried to a terrified Italy to distribute the land promised to Caesar’s veterans.”

However, there was little money.  Thus, according to Laurence Keppie (referenced below, at p. 61):

  1. “The method of acquiring land was simple and callous: wholesale confiscation from owners [who were] mostly innocent of any disaffection or disloyalty.  With good reason could the dispossessed complain of the injustice of their plight.”

The triumvirs had already selected 18 towns in Italy for colonisation (which also required the confiscation of surrounding agricultural land that could be centuriated and assigned to the new settlers).  Our surviving sources do not identify all 18, but Laurence Keppie (referenced below, at p. 63) deduced that they included Hispellum (Spello).  Epigraphic evidence identifies Hispellum as a colony in the late 1st century BC.  Keppie’s deduction (see p. 178) that it had been one of the 18 selected for settlement after Philippi was based on this autobiographical passage by the poet Propertius:

  1. “Ancient Umbria gave birth to [me], at a noble hearth ...  Where misty Mevania [Bevagna] wets the open plain, and the summer waters of the Umbrian lake steam, and the wall towers from the summit of climbing Asisium [Assisi], that wall made more famous by [my] genius.  Not of an age to gather them, [I nevertheless] gathered [my] father’s bones, and [was myself] forced to find a meaner home since, though many bullocks ploughed [my] fields, the merciless measuring-rod [of the Roman land surveyors] stole [my] wealth of land” (Book IV, Elegy 1a).

From this passage, it seems that Asisium and perhaps Mevania, had suffered land confiscations, which must have been associated with the deduction of the colony at Hispellum.  Lines from another elegy of Propertius give further details of his family’s suffering, and suggest a date:

  1. “You ask ... Tullus, ... of what people am I?  If our country’s graves at Perusia are known to you, Italy’s graveyard in darkest times, when Rome’s citizens dealt in war - as, to my special sorrow, Etruscan dust ... allowed my kinsman’s limbs to be scattered [and] covered his wretched bones with no scrap of soil - know that Umbria, rich in fertile ground, bore me, where it touches there on the plain below [Perusia]” (Book 1, Elegy 22).

We might reasonably assume that these two tragic episodes in the life of the young Propertius had occurred at about the same time.  Thus, as Laurence Keppie summarised (at p. 178):

  1. “The Propertii of Asisium, recently deprived of the of a substantial part of their property (or under threat of deprivation) are easily envisaged as supporters of Lucius Antonius , rallying to his aid at nearby Perusia [during the Perusine War (see below)].”

Thus he concluded (at pp. 178-9) that:

  1. “... the misfortunes of the Propertii seem best associated with the foundation of the [colony of Hispellum], an event that may [therefore] be confidently placed in 41 BC, [shortly before the start of the war].”

Perusine War (41 - 40 BC)

While Mark Antony remained in the east, his interests in Italy were protected by two members of his family in Rome;

  1. his brother, Lucius Antonius, who held the consulship in 41 BC; and

  2. his wife, the redoubtable and much-maligned Fulvia. 

For whatever reason, they took up the cause of the  dispossessed Italians and, quite possibly without the direct consent of Mark Antony, precipitated a civil war against Octavian.  Lucius Antonius failed in an attempt to take Rome, after which marched north in order to meet up with two of Mark Antony’s legions that had been stationed in Gaul.  However, he was cut off by Octavian’s army, and fatefully took refuge in Perusia.  The detail of these events is set out in my page on the Perusine War.

It is important to stress that this was a war between Romans.  However, Lucius Antonius apparently had the support of the leaders of Perusia and of many dispossessed landowners from nearby towns (as discussed above).  Nevertheless, he was unprepared to withstand a long siege and, although Mark Antony’s generals hovered nearby, they were unable or unwilling to come to his rescue.  Facing starvation, he was eventually forced to seek terms.  He and his soldiers were allowed to withdraw, leaving the starving city of Perusia to its fate at the hands of Octavian.


It seems that Octavian dealt harshly with the civilians who had defended Perusia.  Thus, according to Appian:

  1. “He then commanded the Perusians, who stretched out their hands to him from the walls, to come forward, all except their town council, and, as they presented themselves, he pardoned them; but the councillors were thrown into prison and soon afterwards put to death, except Lucius Aemilius, who had sat as a judge at Rome in the trial of the murderers of [Julius] Caesar and had voted openly for their condemnation, advising all the other [judges] to do the same in order to expiate the guilt” (‘Civil Wars’, 5:48).

However, the suffering of the Perusians did not end with the execution of most their leaders:

  1. “Octavian intended to turn Perusia itself over to the soldiers for plunder, but Cestius, one of the citizens, who was somewhat out of his mind ... set fire to his house and plunged into the flames, and a strong wind fanned the conflagration and drove it over the whole of Perusia, which was entirely consumed, except the temple of Vulcan.  Such was the end of Perusia, a city renowned for its antiquity and importance.  It is said that it was one of the first 12 cities built by the Etruscans in Italy in olden time.  For this reason, the worship of Juno had prevailed there, as among the Etruscans generally.  But, thereafter, those [survivors] who shared among themselves the remains of the city took Vulcan for their tutelary deity instead of Juno” (‘Civil Wars’, 5:49). 

Cassius Dio reported a higher death toll among the Perusians and implied that the fire in that destroyed the city had been the work of Octavian’s army:

  1. “Of the people of Perusia and the others who were captured there, the majority lost their lives, and the city itself, except the temple of Vulcan and the statue of Juno, was entirely destroyed by fire.  This statue, which was preserved by some chance, was brought to Rome, in accordance with a vision that [Octavian] saw in a dream, and it secured for [Perusia] the privilege of being peopled again by any who desired to settle there, though they did not acquire anything of its territory beyond the first mile” (‘Roman History’, 48:14).

This suggests that the cult statue of Juno, the old protector of Perusia, had been ritually ‘called’ to Rome in an ancient ceremony known as ‘evocatio deorum’.  This vindictive act was presumably intended to replicate the evocation of the Etruscan god Voltumna to Rome after the fall of the Volsinii (Orvieto) in 264 BC.  Cassius is our only source for the information that (at Juno’s behest) “any who desired” were allowed to resettle the ruined city (now protected by Vulcan), but that all their territory beyond a mile remained at Octavian’s disposal.

Human Sacrifice ?

Two accounts of the reprisals at Perusia claimed that they had included, not merely executions, but human sacrifices on an altar dedicated to divus Julius:

  1. Cassius Dio:

  2. “...most of the senators and knights [taken prisoner in Perusia] were put to death.  And the story goes that they did not merely suffer death in an ordinary form, but were led to the altar consecrated to [divus Julius] and 300 knights and many senators were sacrificed there.  They included [the Roman] Tiberius Cannutius, [despite the fact that] previously, during his tribuneship, he had assembled the [Roman] populace for [Octavian]” (‘Roman History’, 48:14). 

  3. Suetonius:

  4. “After the capture of Perusia, [Octavian] took vengeance on many, meeting all attempts to beg for pardon or to make excuses with the one reply: ‘You must die’.  Some write that 300 men of both orders were selected from the prisoners of war and sacrificed on the Ides of March, like so many victims, at the altar raised to the deified Julius” (Life of Augustus’ 15:1).

These two accounts differ in some details, which led Dominique Briquel (referenced below, at p. 42) to conclude that their respective authors:

  1. “... had a common source, which they summarised differently” (my translation).

It is noteworthy that neither author had full confidence in this putative source, as evidenced by the phrases: ‘and the story goes that’ (Cassius Dio); and ‘some write that’ (Suetonius).   Scholars have long debated whether the accounts of human sacrifice were true?  Many  have agreed with Ronald Syme (referenced below, at p. 211), who believed that:

  1. “These judicial murders [at Perugia were subsequently] magnified by defamation and credulity into a hecatomb [mass sacrifice] of 300 Roman senators and knights in solemn and religious ceremony on the Ides of March before an altar dedicated to divus Julius.”

However, it is clear that both Octavian and his army considered this war as one of vengeance for the assassination of Caesar: 

  1. Famously, two of the 48 sling shots recovered from the site (EDR125833 and EDR125836) that were fired by legio XI were inscribed: “div(om) Iul(ium)”.  

  2. As noted above, Appian reported that the councillors of Perusia were all executed:

  3. “... except Lucius Aemilius, who had sat as a judge at Rome in the trial [in absentia] of the murderers of [Julius] Caesar, had voted openly for their condemnation, and had advised all the other [judges] to do the same in order to expiate the guilt [presumably with the blood of the convicted assassins, should they be captured]” (‘Civil Wars’, 5:48).

  4. Also as noted above, Cassius Dio recorded that the men who were allegedly sacrificed on the altar of divus Julius included:

  5. “... Tiberius Cannutius, [despite the fact that] previously, during his tribuneship, he had assembled the [Roman] populace for [Octavian against Mark Antony]” (‘Roman History’, 48:14). 

  6. Cannutius’ actions at this assembly had taken place in November 44 BC.  However, one wonders whether, earlier in the year, he had been among the tribunes who had prevented Octavian from exhibiting Caesar’s golden chair and his crown at the theatre (as discussed in my page on divus Julius)?  This is at least possible and, if so, he might have paid for this denial of one of Caesar’s divine honours with his life.

In the light of this atmosphere of vengeance, some scholars have perceived at least an element of truth in the accounts of human sacrifice at the altar of divus Julius.  Thus:

  1. James Smith Reid (referenced below):

  2. “If mock sacrifice [of at least some of the Roman prisoners at Perusia] really took place, it was [probably] the work [of Octavian’s soldiers, as Appian (above) had claimed].  They may have dragged victims before the altar of Caesar.  Their ardent desire to avenge him is attested by some of the sling bullets discovered on the site, ... [which] were ... inscribed ‘divom Iulium’.”

  3. Stefan Weinstock (referenced below, at pp. 398-9):

  4. “After the surrender [at Perusia, Octavian] slaughtered many senators and knights, but certainly not as many as 300, at the altar of divus Julius on 15th March 40 BC”. 

  5. Weinstock then  set out series of  precedents that demonstrated, to his satisfaction,  that:

  6. “... the incident at Perusia was not isolated [in Roman history].”

  7. Jonathan Warner (referenced below, at pp. 8-9):

  8. “In a final assessment, the agreement of Suetonius and Dio, along with the confusion and bias of ... Appian, suggests that some form of human sacrifice took place at the fall of Perusia.  ... Given the likelihood that this extraordinary event happened, it has some important implications for our understanding of Roman culture and history.  The elements of human sacrifice found in Roman myths and rituals suggest, for example, that the practice was not completely alien.  Moreover, the ordeal and stress of civil war makes human sacrifice plausible as an act of vengeance and pietas [i.e. the duty of vengeance owed to the memory of Julius Caesar].  Octavian’s human sacrifice was not simply a barbaric act of impiety.  Rather, it speaks to the complexity of Roman religion, a system that, at times, could rationalise extremely violent acts.”

  9. Zsuzsanna Várhelyi, referenced below, p. 137) observed that:

  10. “Syme [as quoted above] thought that these were primarily judicial murders, which the anti-[Octavian] propaganda enlarged into a sacrificial scene.  While that judicial aspect was likely present as a possible interpretation of events, to my mind the parallel between these post-siege murders and the divine references on the sling bullets [see above] suggests that a religious interpretation of the conflict should also be considered as a context in which to read this horrible event.”

Whatever the truth, the allegation that Octavian had engaged in human sacrifice was certainly widely believed and long-remembered.  Thus, when Seneca the Younger wrote for the young Emperor Nero in ca. 50 AD, he observed that the characteristic clemency of  Octavian/ Augustus had developed:

  1. “ ... only after the sea at Actium had been stained with Roman blood [in 31 BC], only after both his own and his enemy’s fleets had been shattered off Sicily [in 36 BC], only after the arae Perusinae [altars of Perugia in 41 BC] and the proscriptions [of 43 BC]” (‘de Clementia’, 1:11; slightly adapted from the translation by Zsuzsanna Várhelyi, referenced below, p. 137).

Thus, even after a century or more, the horror of Octavian’s reprisals at Perusia could be invoked in only two words: ‘arae Perusinae’.

Perusia after the War (40 - 1 BC)

Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2011, at  p. 287) pointed out that, while Perusia had certainly been enfranchised as a municipium administered by quattuorviri in ca. 90 BC, the epigraphic record of Perusian quattuorviri begins only towards the end of the century (as discussed below).  He suggested that:

  1. “... it would not be hazardous to link this gap [in the epigraphic record] to Octavian’s  severe repression of the local aristocracy after the fall of Perusia in 40 BC: I wonder if the execution of some 300 senators and equestrians of Perusia was followed by a process of damnatio memorie, with the elimination of all the visible testimony (and particularly public inscriptions) that related to those who had colluded with [Lucius Antonius]” (my translation).

Sisani  suggested  (at p. 291) that the city had not completely returned to the good graces of Octavian (who became Augustus in 27 BC) until he restored it as Augusta Perusia, probably in the period 1-14 AD (as discussed in the following page).  He thus observed that the Perusians:

  1. “... had to wait for perhaps 40 years for the [full] recovery of the city and, above all, of its society and institutions, from the ashes of 40 BC” (my translation).

Having lost most of its leading men and all of its extra-urban territory in 40 BC, the human and financial resources needed to repair the damage were unavailable.  Sisani pointed out (at p. 292) that:

  1. “Archeological research seems largely to confirm this picture.  The city could apparently boast of no public buildings built in the decades after 40 BC (a period that, elsewhere, was among the most active periods of urban renewal) and recent excavations under the cathedral of San Lorenzo, an area that had certainly been affected by the fire of 40 BC, has allowed us to date the completion of the rebuilding there to the reign of Tiberius [14 - 37  AD]” (my translation).

Octoviri at Perusia after the War ?

Transcription of CIL XI 1946 , from Elisa Marroni (referenced below, at p. 41, Figure 15)

Elisa Marroni (referenced below, at pp. 42) published a transcription that was made in ca. 1585 of a now-lost inscription (CIL XI 1946) that was found outside Perugia, not far from Ponte San Giovanni.  She noted  there were obvious errors in this transcription that had arisen because of the transcriber’s lack of understanding of Latin, and corrected it as follows:

aqu]am Virgine(m) / [--- Her]culis ad vetere / [--- cum sal]iente in foro fecit de

[HS ---]C(milia) VIIIvir arbitratu / [---]i sternendum curavit

[municipes e]t incolae in statuam HS XXV(milia)

[contulerunt decurionesque titulum ei i]n comitio ponendum censuer(unt)

[ordo decurionum quo die funere pub]lico est elatus

[---]equites Romani [---]equites Romani eum ad rogum

[ut deferrent et qui honor primo ei est h]abitus ei in comitio statua 

[ut poneretur decrev]it

She observed that:

  1. “This very fragmentary inscription commemorates a [now-anonymous] person who was responsible for public works.  It mentions:

  2. an aqueduct ‘Vergine’ that led by the old headquarters, near a [templum? Her]culis to the forum; and

  3. the realisation of a paving project in accordance with a decision of the Octovirate.

  4. The citizens [and incolae] of the municipality [consequently] allocated 25,000 sesterces for the erection of a [commemorative] statue, and the decurions resolved that a dedication should be made ‘in comitio’; ... on the same day , the decurions granted [the deceased] the honour of public funeral; the equites [carried his body] to the funeral pyre, an honour granted for the first time; ... decreed that a statue should be erected ‘in comitio’” (my translation of Elisa Marroni’s translation).

Scholars sometimes doubt that this inscription came from Perusia, for which there is no other evidence for either a comitium (open-air place where public assemblies were held) or an octovirate.  However, Luigi Sensi suggested (at p. 458) that this putative octovirate at Perusia: 

  1. “... was very probably related to a commission of citizens to whom public works were delegated, very like the quinqueviri attested at Asisium [in the 1st century BC].  The public works at Perusia [for which the octoviri were responsible] was probably associated with the reconstruction of the city after the Perusine War of 41-40 BC” (my translation).

Marjeta Šašel Kos (referenced below, at p. 705) pointed out that the recorded quinqueviri at Asisium, who were all free born:

  1. “... had acted together with the IIIIviri i(ure) d(icundo) ... Indeed, these inscriptions [from Asisium] are late Republican and refer to quinqueviri who belonged to an entirely different social class than [for example, most] seviri and Augustales.”

In other words, it is possible that these putative octoviri were eight  men from the surviving aristocracy of Perusia who assumed responsibility for the reconstruction of their devastated city.

Quattuorvirate and the Gens Atilia

As noted above, the earliest surviving epigraphic record of men who served as  quattuorviri at Perusia belong to the period between the Perusine War and the creation of Perusia Augusta.  It is in the form of two inscriptions that the EAGLE database (see the CIL links) dates to some time in the last two decades of the 1st century BC

  1. An inscription (AE 1979 246) on what was probably the base of a statue that was found between  Piazza Matteotti and Via Fani  in 1915 (now in the Museo Archeologico) reads:
  2. A(ulo) Atilio L(uci) f(ilio) Glabrioni / IIIIvir(o)

  3. municipes et incolae

  4. To Aulus Atilius Glabrio, son of Lucius/ quattuorvir

  5. [From the] citizens and other residents of the municipium

  6. A second inscription (CIL XI 1934) on a cinerary urn that was found in the 16th century in località Pastene, outside the Arco Etrusco, (now in the deposit of the Museo Archeologico) reads:

  7. C(aius) Atilius A(uli) f(ilius) Glabrio

  8. IIIIvir quinq(uennalis), praef(ectus) fabr(um)

  9. delat(us) a co(n)s(ule), praef(ectus) [c]ohor(tis)

  10. Tyriorum sagittar(iorem)

  11. Tettia A(uli) f(ilia) Minore natus

  12. Fortunately, this second inscription contains more biographical information than the first.  Caius Atilius Glabrio, son of Aulus and Tettia Minor, had had a varied career, serving as:

  13. a prefect in a cohort of archers known as the Tyriorum Sagittariorum;

  14. praefectus fabrum delatus a consule, which, according to Gian Luca Gregori (referenced below, at p. 124) was:

  15. “... an uncommon expression, but epigraphically attested as indicating an appointment in the administrative, legal and perhaps fiscal service of one of the consuls [at Rome]” (my translation); and

  16. quattuorvir quinquennales of the municipium (one of the the magistrates responsible for the five-yearly census).

  17. In dating this inscription, Maria Carla Spadoni (referenced below, 2010, at p. 36) pointed out that:

  18. “The use of the matronymic seems to have disappeared [in this sort of inscription] at the end of the Augustan age [as discussed further in the following section].  In addition, the name of the deceased in the nominative [and] the presence of cognomens [for Glabrio himself and also for his mother,] Tettia Minor ... are all elements that date the inscription to at least [i.e. no earlier than] the Augustan age” (my translation).

These two quattuorviri were clearly related (as discussed further below).  Their family, the gens Atilia, is otherwise unknown in Perusia.  It is sometimes suggested that the unusual cognomen ‘Glabrio’ indicated a relationship of some kind with the Acilii Glabriones, a prominent plebian family recorded in Rome the 3rd century BC until the 5th century AD.  However, Gian Luca Gregori (referenced below, at pp. 118-20) suggested it was more probably simply an affectation on the part of the gens Atilia, which reflected only the assonance between the two family names. 

According to Maria Carla Spadoni (referenced below, 2010, p. 38), the gens Atilia was from Campania.   She observed that:

  1. “It is not known when this branch of the family moved to Perusia: however, it is not unreasonable to suppose that it followed the fortune of other families from Campania that came to the Valle Umbra at the time of the foundation of the colony [at Hispellum]” (my translation).

She pointed first and foremost to the gens Grania from Campania, who provided Marcus Granius, one of the earliest duoviri at Hispellum.  Members of this family subsequently settled at Tifernum Tiberinum (Città di Castello), Fulginia (Foligno) and, as discussed below, in the erstwhile territory of Perusia.  Other Campanians followed this example, including, for example, the gens Caesia at Asisium: two brothers from this family who were quattuorviri quinquennales of Asisium, built the so-called temple of Minerva there in the triumviral period, and the  family subsequently built up substantial landholdings at Asisium itself and also at Mevania, Forum Flaminii and Spoletium.  We know from Cassius Dio that Octavian had recruited Caesarian veterans in Campania for his private army in 44 BC, as he prepared to confront Mark Antony.  Specifically:

  1. “... he ... went to Campania and collected a large number of men, chiefly from Capua, because the people there had received their land and city from his father [Julius Caesar], whom he said he was avenging.  He made them many promises and gave them on the spot 2,000 sesterces apiece.  From these men was constituted the corps of evocati, which one might translate as the ‘recalled’ because, after having ended their military service, they were recalled to it again” (‘Roman History’, (45:12).

Maria Carla Spadoni concluded (at p. 40):

  1. “In my opinion, [the relative frequency with which men from Campania appeared in the Valle Umbra after the Perusine War] was the result of the activity on behalf of Octavian that Salvidienus Rufus undertook in Campania in 44 BC, ... above all directed at Caesar’s veterans ...  We can reasonably assume that some of these Campanian supporters of Octavian were placed by him in key positions in the new colony at Hispellum and, more generally, became crucial pawns on the Umbrian chessboard in the period after the war” (my translation).

There is nothing to suggest exactly when Octavian placed these two members of the gens Atilia on the “Umbrian chessboard”, but it is unlikely to have been immediately after the war: as noted above, Perusia recovered only slowly from the destruction inflicted at that time.  They probably arrived in the last two decades of the 1st century BC, in an early phase in the slow process of the city’s repopulation and eventual return to favour as Augusta Perusia.  It seems likely that Octavian released some of the land  surrounding Perusia to trusted supporters in order to facilitate this process.

We do not know how these two quattuorviri were related to each other.  According to Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2011, at p. 276), Aulus Atilius, son of Lucius was probably the farther of Caius Atilius, son of Aulus and Tettia Minor.  This is not a foregone conclusion: Aulus was a common praenomen.  However, I think that there is support for the hypothesis in the fact that, as Maria Carla Spadoni (referenced below, 2010, at p. 37) deduced, Tettia Minor was very probably from Perusia.  We might reasonably assume that Aulus Atilius had married into the surviving Perusian aristocracy after he settled here, and that his son was keen to broadcast the Etruscan roots that he could claim through the maternal line as he established his place in local society.  

Publius Volumnius Violens, son of Aulus

Publius Volumnius Violens was buried in this magnificent urn, which can still to be seen in the Ipogeo dei Volumni, some 6km southwest of Perugia.  It is in the form of a Roman temple and carries both a Latin and an Etruscan inscription:
  1. The Latin inscription (CIL XI 1963, 10 BC - 10 AD) on the architrave of the fictive temple identifies the deceased as:


  3. Publius Volumnius Violens,  son of Aulus and Cafatia

  4. The Etruscan inscription (CIE 3763) on the lid of the urn, which uses an Etruscan alphabet, can be transliterated as follows:   

pup[li] velimna au[le] cahatial

  1. Thus the family name ‘velimna’ was Latinised as Volumnius, and the Etruscan  "cahatial" must have had the same meaning as the Latin "Cafatia natus".  

The hypogeum contains another seven earlier urns, each of which is inscribed only in Etruscan.  The people whose remains were placed in these urns belonged to four generations of the same family, whose names can be transliterated as follows:

  1. Thephri Velimnas, son of Tarchis

  2. Aule Velimnas, son of Thephrisa and Nuphrznal;

  3. three brothers, Arnth, Larth and Vel Velimnas, sons of Aule; and

  4. Veilia Velimnas, daughter of Arnth.

Another inscription reveals that Arnth and Larth had commissioned the hypogeum, which Enzo Lippolis (referenced below, at p. 150) dated to the late 2nd or early 1st century BC. 

Unlike all of the other urns in the hypogeum, that of Publius was very Roman indeed.  As Josiah Osgdood (referenced below at p. 180) pointed out:

  1. “Fashioned out of [Luna] marble ..., this monument is constructed in the shape of a Roman temple, with each of its sides giving the viewer an impressionistic glimpse of typical temple rituals ... Both material and decoration [thus] closely copied the inner precinct walls of the Ara Pacis (altar of peace), dedicated in 9BC [in Rome] in celebration of [Augustus’] pacification of the world.”

As Osgdood observe (at p. 181), even in Rome it would have been in the most “modern” style of its day. 

Another indication of Publius’ Roman taste is provided by his cognomen, Violens, which suggests descent from Lucius Volumnius Flamma Violens, who had been the first plebian to become consul (in 307 BC).   However, Maria Carla Spadoni concluded (referenced below, 2014, at p. 706) that there was:

  1. “... no direct link between [the senatorial Roman Volumnii] and the gens Volumnia of Perusia, which did not  reach its peak until the third century BC, when it joined the ranks of the local aristocracy.”

This choice of cognomen therefore suggests Publius’ desire to invent Roman roots alongside his real Etruscan ancestry, which he nevertheless also underlined by: the choice of his burial site; the Etruscan inscription on his urn; and the use of a matronymic even in the Latin form of his name.  (This hybrid naming convention is discussed further below).

The hypogeum comprised a number of chambers that must have been intended for future burials, but none of these was ever used.  Enzo Lippolis (referenced below, at p. 150) suggested that this was the result of the fact that the family had chosen the wrong side in the civil war of 87-79 BC, following which they lost access to the tomb.  It seems to me that they might have lost their land here during the Sullan proscriptions of 82 BC.  This raises a number of questions:

  1. Why did Publius Volumnius choose to be buried in a hypogeum that had not been used for decades?  The most likely reason is that he was a direct descendant, through the paternal line, of Thephri Velimnas, son of Tarchis.

  2. Why, in that case, was  neither his father Aule nor any other members of this generation of the family buried in the hypogeum.   It seems to me that the most likely explanation is that the family had only regained their land here in the closing years of Publius’ life.  In this scenario, his burial here would have represented his family’s reconnection with its ancient property and its Etruscan heritage, celebrated in the anachronistic Etruscan inscription on his urn.  (That still leaves open the question of why Publius had not reburied his father in the recovered hypogeum, but I think that this must remain a matter for speculation.)

  3. How and why did the family suddenly recover their land here?  The answer to this might be indicated by the fact that, as discussed on the following page, Publius’ eponymous son subsequently held the supreme magistracy of Perusia, at the time that the city was ‘restored’ as Augusta Perusia: as Maria Carla Spadoni (referenced below, 2014, at p. 704) pointed out, this was a sure sign that, unlike many Perusian aristocratic families, the Volumnii (including Publius Volumnius) had supported Octavian during the Perusine War.  After the war, thie land outside Perusia on which the hypogeum was located would have been confiscated from its then owner, and it is not difficult to imagine that Octavian would have rewarded the Volumnii by restoring it to them.

Publius had probably enjoyed high social status even before the Perusine War: as Maria Carla Spadoni (referenced below, 2014, at p. 704) observed, his mother, Cafatia was:

  1. “... an exponent of an aristocratic gens whose tomb was in the Palazzone necropolis, not far from that of the Velimna” (my translation).

It is unlikely that Cafatia and Aule would have married unless his family had recovered to an appreciable extent from their earlier misfortunes.  However, Publius‘ recovery of his ancestral hypogeum (and presumably a surrounding estate here) would have added to his prestige at a time when most of his erstwhile peers were facing catastrophe.  His magnificent urn speaks volumes for his wealth by the time of his death, while his position at the apex of Perugian society is demonstrated by the fact that, as mentioned above, his eponymous son subsequently attained the supreme magistracy of the city.  There is no surviving evidence that Publius Volumnius Violens himself ever held public office at Perusia but, in my view, this is entirely likely.


There are two interesting parallels to be drawn from the similarities in the naming conventions adopted by Publius Volumnius Violens, son of Aule and Cafatia and Caius Atilius Glabrio, son of Aulus and Tettia Minor (discussed in the previous section):

  1. As discussed above, both men belonged to families that had invented fictitious Roman descent:

  2. Publius Volumnius (possibly following his father, Aulus) adopted the cognomen of Lucius Volumnius Flamma Violens, the consul of 307 AD.

  3. The gens Atilia adopted the cognomen of the Acilii Glabriones, whose family in Rome could be traced back to the 3rd century BC. 

  4. Maria Carla Spadoni (referenced below, 2010, at p. 36) pointed out that their funerary inscriptions ((CIL XI 1963, 10 BC - 10 AD and CIL XI 1934, 20 - 1BC)represented two of the last three surviving inscriptions from Perugia in which the name of the deceased included a matronymic (redolent of Etruscan practice):

  5. The third (CIL XI 2031, 1 - 14 AD) commemorates a lady, Annia, daughter of Sextus and Cassia, who belonged to a family that produced a consul, L. Annius Largus,  in 109 AD.

  6. She might have added (CIL XI 1943, 1-14 AD, which commemorates Lucius Proculeius, son of Aulus and Titia. 

I think that these naming conventions speak of two thoroughly Romanised individuals who were nevertheless keen to display their Etruscan roots (albeit that those of Caius Atilius Glabrio came through the maternal line).  The reason was presumably that both saw significant benefits in pursuing careers at Perusia, as it emerged from the devastation and disgrace of 40 BC. 

One can well understand that Octavian/ Augustus would wish to harness the energy and ambition of such men in this context: as Maria Carla Spadoni (referenced below, 2010, at p. 123) observed:

  1. “... first and foremost, trusted people drawn from new settlers or their direct relatives were settled at the head of the Umbrian municipalities, in both in colonies and municipalities [after the Perusine War].  Sometimes they were joined by exponents of the old local aristocracies, but only those who had certainly remained faithful to Octavian's cause: thus, in the Augustan age, we find [a number of examples, including] an exponent of the gens Volumnia [i.e. the eponymous son of Publius Volumnius Violens] as a magistrate of [Augusta Perusia]” (my translation).

As I note above, I think that it is entirely likely that Publius Volumnius Violens himself also held public office in Perusia, alongside outsiders such as:

  1. Aulus Atilius Glabrio, who probably married into the local aristocracy; and 

  2. Caius Atilius Glabrio, who was probably his direct descendant.

All three would have been instrumental in beginning the slow process of urban regeneration that culminated in Augusta Perusia,

Veteran Settlement after the War

As noted above, Cassius Dio reported that a statue of Juno that had been taken to Rome in 40 BC, after the fall of Perusia:

  1. “... secured for [Perusia] the privilege of being peopled again by any who desired to settle there, though they did not acquire anything of its territory beyond the first mile” (‘Roman History’, 48:14).

One might therefore expect that Octavian would have used much of the territory beyond this first mile to extend the colony at Hispellum, but there is no hard evidence for this in the period immediately after the war.  It seems likely that the arrangements that had been made before the war were sufficient to provide for the soldiers who were retired after Philippi and that, from that point, Octavian needed to retain his legions essentially in tact.

However, Perusia does seem to have been affected by:

  1. the deduction of a colony at Tuder (at modern Todi), which occurred after either the Battle of Naulochus (36 BC) or the Battle of Actium (31 BC); and

  2. a putative second wave of settlement at Hispellum after Actium (as discussed below). 

As we shall see, both of these waves of settlement seem to have involved the creation of colonial enclaves in what had been Perusine territory.  In this context, Maria Carla Spadoni (referenced below, 2010, at p. 43) pointed out that the ‘incolae’ among the ‘municipes et incolae’ who commissioned the statue of Aulus Atilius Glabrio (above) had a legal status that was distinct from that of the ‘municipes’: they the might have been settlers in the colonial enclaves in Perusian territory. 

Colonia Fida Tuder

Enrico Zuddas (in the forthcoming paper referenced below) identified two inscriptions in the area of Perusia that commemorated men who had been inscribed in the Clustumina, the tribal  assignation of Tuder:

  1. Two now-lost funerary inscriptions (EDR148134 and EDR148135, 1st century BC) from Agello (some 16 km west of Perugia, towards Lake Trasimeno and some 40 km northwest of Todi) commemorated a father and son of the gens Tussania, a family unknown at Perusia but known in the imperial period at Todi.  Zuddas suggested that a member of this family might have been  settled on land here that had been confiscated from Perusia and assigned to the colony of Tuder.

  2. A now-lost funerary inscription (CIL XI 5176) from Casalalta (near Deruta, midway between Perugia and Todi), which dates to the second half of the 1st century AD, commemorated Lucius Velius Firmus, a soldier who had served in the 13th urban cohort had been born in Tuder.  Zuddas suggested that he might have descended from one of the early colonists who had been settled on land  that had been confiscated from Perusia and assigned to the colony of Tuder.

Zuddas suggested the motivation for this pattern of settlement:

  1. “A new colony needed fertile and cultivated land; since the land around the present town of Todi is predominantly hilly and suitable only for forestry or the grazing of animals, agricultural land that could be allocated to veterans had to come from elsewhere in the Tiber valley.  Consequently, it is legitimate to assume that the colony had also been assigned land in the southern and eastern part of Lake Trasimeno, which legally belonged to Perusia and Chiusi” (my translation).

As noted above, a swathe of such land outside Perusia had been at Octavian’s disposal since 40 BC.

Colonia Julia Hispellum

Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2011, at pp. 435-6) suggested that there was a body of evidence for the hypothesis that:

  1. “... the triumviral colony at Hispellum was rebuilt in the early Augustan age [i.e. in ca. 27 BC], probably as a result of a programme of colonial reinforcement to accommodate the mass of disarmed veterans following the Battle of Actium [in 31 BC] and the victorious end of the conflict [between Octavian and Mark Antony]” (my translation).

The evidence comprised:

  1. the fact that the impressive walls of the urban centre of the Hispellum were almost certainly built at about this time;

  2. the related fact that its suburban sanctuary was monumentalised on a significant scale using the same construction techniques; and

  3. epigraphic evidence that places veterans of legio XI and legio XIII assigned to the Lemonia tribe (the tribe of Hispellum) in enclaves that were non-contiguous with the main colonial settlement: men from these legions were unlikely to have been retired until after the Battle of Actium.

There is evidence that Octavian assigned some of the land outside Perusia that was still at his disposal to some of this second wave of settlers.  For example, Gian Luca Gregori (referenced below, at pp. 118-20) identified two inscriptions in the area of Perusia that commemorated men who had been inscribed in the Lemonia (the tribe of Hispellum):

  1. A funerary inscription (CIL XI 1933) that was found in 1765 at località Agliano, south of Perugia (now in the deposit of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Perugia), commemorates:

  2. C(aio) Allio L(uci) f(ilio)/ Lem(onia)/ centurioni/ leg(ionis) XIII

  3. We might reasonably assume that, after he retired from legio XIII (probably after Octavian’s victory at Actium in 31 BC, as mentioned above), Allius had settled here on land that was assigned to the colony at Hispellum. 

  4. A second and much later funerary inscription (CIL XI 1937), which was apparently found a few miles north of Perugia in 1815 (now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Perugia), reads:
  5. D(is) M(anibus)/ [-] Verseni L(uci) f(ili) Leṃ(onia) Graniani

  6. tri[b(uni)]/ coh(ortis) XXXII volun[t(ariorum)]

  7. trib(uni) leg(ionis) XVI Fl(aviae) Firm(ae)

  8. IIvir(i) Hispellatium, patrono municipi/ Arnat(ium);

  9. vixit annis/ XXXII, fratri piìssim[o]/ [-] Versenus Aper

  10. From this, we learn that Versenus Granianus had been a duovir of Hispellum and a patron of Arna (now Civitella d'Arna, some 10 km east of Perugia - see below).  Enrico Zuddas and Maria Carla Spadoni (referenced below, at p. 61) dated this epitaph to the second half of the 2nd century AD: 

  11. Versenus Granianus was probably descended from Marcus Granius, one of the earliest duoviri of Hispellum (discussed above).

  12. His brother is recorded as Versenus Aper Hespello (from Hispellum) in another inscription (AE 1997, 1768) that dates to 157 AD. 

  13. The gens Grania could, of course, have bought land here at any time since they arrived in Hispellum.  However,  it seems to me to be most likely that this land was granted to the family after Actium, when land that had been confiscated from Perusia in 40 BC began to be assigned to facilitate the second wave of veteran settlement there.

Other instances of veteran settlement on what had been Perusine territory for the expansion of Hispellum after Actium are discussed in the following section.

Arna and Vettona

According to Lorena Rosi Bonci and Maria Carla Spadoni (referenced below, at p. 206):

  1. “Arna [now Civitella d’Arna] and Vettona [Bettona] followed the same path as Perusia: when the latter was ‘restored’ by Augustus and converted into a municipality administered by duoviri [probably in the early 1st century AD, as discussed in the following page], ... [Arna and Vettona were also] instituted as autonomous municipalities that ... received ... duoviri.  It must therefore be assumed that, in the previous period, both Vettona and Arna had been administratively dependent on Perusia: such outposts on the left bank of the Tiber [would have given Perusia] full control of the river valley” (my translation).

It seems to me that Perusia is most unlikely to have retained control over either of the centres after the war, albeit that the status of neither of them can be securely established prior to the establishment of the duovirate, probably in the early 1st century AD (see below).

Some of this previously Perusine territory near Arna and Vettona was subsequently used for the settlement of veterans who had been assigned to Hispellum:

  1. A now-lost  inscription (CIL XI 5291), which dates to some time in the last three decades of the 1st century BC and which was apparently was found in ‘the ruins of ancient Arna’ in the 19th century, read:

fin(es) col(oniae) / Hispell(atis).

  1. According to Paola Bonacci and Sabina Guiducci (referenced below, at p. 263), it:

  2. “... marked the boundary of the centuriated territory of Arna that had been annexed to the colonia Hispellum” (my translation).

  3. (See Manconi et al. referenced below, pp. 411-2 for the anomalous centuriation between Arna and Asisium, which also suggests an enclave owned by Hispellum.)

  4. Two inscriptions from Vettona itself or its surrounding area commemorate members of the Lemonia tribe of Hispellum:

  5. CIL XI 5195, from an unknown location, which is now embedded in the Palazzo del Podestà, which reads:

  6. L(ucius) Marius C(ai) f(ilius)/ [Le]monia; and

  7. CIL XI 5551, from Torgiano, which is now in the Monastero di Sant’ Erminio, Perugia, which reads:

  8. Sex(to) Turṛ[eno?]/ Sex(ti) f(ilio) Lem(onia).

  9. According to Enrico Zuddas and Maria Carla Spadoni (referenced below, at p.  61):

  10. “For both inscriptions [from Vettona], which are united by:

  11. -type [they are funerary inscriptions of similar type];

  12. -onomastics [the form used for the names]; and

  13. -paleography [the characteristics of the script];

  14. and therefore both datable to the end of the first century BC, it can be assumed that the deceased was a veteran [settled on land that now belonged to Hispellum]” (my translation).

It seems to me that Octavian assigned this territory, which was still at his disposal, to some of the second wave of settlers assigned to Hispellum after Actium.

The recorded duoviri of the respective centres were:

  1. at Arna: probably Cnaeus Disinius (CIL XI 5802, 30 BC - 30 AD) and ?Lucius Veiedius Crescens (CIL XI 5614, 2nd century AD); and

  2. at Vettona, Sextus Valerius Proculus (CIL XI 7979 and AE 1996, 653b, 1 - 30 AD).

Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2009, at p. 67) suggested that:

  1. “... part of [what had been Perusine] territory - almost entirely confiscated [in 40 BC] - will have been be used to support new municipal entities” (my translation).

It seems likely that these were the last losses of Perusine territory: the land that remained at Octavian’s disposal was probably assigned to Augusta Perusia at the time of its formation.

Read more: 
E. Zuddas, “Dal Quattuorvirato al Duovirato: gli Esiti del Bellum Perusinum e i Cambiamenti Costituzionali in Area Umbra”, in 
S. Evangelisti and C. Ricci  (Eds), “Le Forme Municipali in Italia e nelle Province Occidentali tra o Secoli I AC e III DC: Atti della XXIe Rencontre Franco-Italienne sur l’ Épigraphie du Monde Romain (Campobasso, 24-26 settembre 2015)”, (2017) Bari, at pp. 121-32
M. C. Spadoni, “I Volumni Perugini : Senatori a Roma?”, in 
M. L. Caldelli and G. L. Gregori, “Epigrafia e Ordine Senatorio, 30 Anni Dopo: Atti della XIX Rencontre sur l' Epigraphie du Monde Romain” (2014) Rome, pp 697-708
L. Rosi Bonci and M. C. Spadoni (Eds), “Arna: Supplementa Italica 27”, (2013) Bari 
D. Briquel, “Il Sacrificio dopo la Guerra di Perugia”, in 
G. Bonamenti (Ed.), “Augusta Perusia: Studi Storici e Archeologici sull' Epoca del Bellum Perusinum”, (2012) Perugia, pp. 39-64
G. L. Gregori, “In Cerca di Fortuna? Forestieri a Perusia, Perusini Forestieri”, in: 
G. Bonamente (Ed.), “Augusta Perusia: Studi Storici e Archeologici sull' Epoca del Bellum Perusinum”, (2012) Perusia, pp.117-36
M. Spadoni and L. Benedetti, “Perugia Romana (3): La Guerra del 41-40  AC”, Bollettino della Deputazione di Storia Patria per l’Umbria, 109 (2012) 223-70
J. Warner, “Human Sacrifice at Perusia”, (2012), Sunoikisis Research Symposium
E. Lippolis, “L' Ipogeo dei Velimna-Volumni al Palazzone di Perugia: un Caso di Rappresentazione Familiare e il Problema Interpretativo”, in 
L. Cenciaioli, (Ed.), “L' Ipogeo dei Volumni: 170 anni dalla Scoperta: Atti del Convegno di Studi (Perugia, 10-11 giugno 2010)”, (2011) Città di Castello, pp. 135-166
E. Marroni, “I Taccuini Epigrafici di Jean Fopse, Artista e Viaggiatore Olandese negli 
Anni tra 1581 e 1586”, Symbolae Antiquariae, 4 (2011) 9-48
S. Sisani, “Perusia Restituta”, Bollettino della Deputazione di Storia Patria per l’Umbria, 108:1 (2011)  273-94  
Zs. Várhelyi, “Political Murder and Sacrifice: from Republic to Empire,” in: 
J.W. Knust and Zs. Várhelyi (Eds.), “Sacrifice in the Ancient Mediterranean: Images, Acts, Meanings”, (2011) Oxford, 125-41
M. Spadoni, “Perugia Romana 4: L'età di Ottaviano Augusto”, Bollettino della Deputazione di Storia Patria per l'Umbria, 107 (2010) 5-56
E. Zuddas and M. Spadoni, “La Lemonia nella Valle Umbra”, in 
M. Silvestrini (Ed.), “Le Tribù Romane: Atti della XVIe Rencontre sur l’ Épigraphie (Bari 8-10 ottobre 2009”, (2010) Bari
P. Bonacci and S. Guiducci , “Hispellum: La Città e il Territorio”, (2009) Spello
S. Sisani, “Dirimens Tiberis? I confini tra Etruria e Umbria”, in
F. Coarelli and H. Patterson (Eds) “Mercator Placidissimus: the Tiber valley in Antiquity: New Research in the Upper and Middle River Valley”, (2009) Rome
J. Osgood, “Caesar’s Legacy”, (2006) Cambridge 
V. Katz, “The Complete Elegies of Sextus Propertius” (2004) Princeton 
L. Sensi, “Gli Ottoviri di Plestia”, Bollettino Storico della Città di Foligno, 14 (1990) 455-61
L. Keppie, “Colonisation and Veteran Settlement in Italy, 47–14 BC”, (1983) Rome
S. Weinstock, “Divus Julius”, (1971) Oxford
R. Syme, “The Roman Revolution” (1939, latest edition 2002) Oxford 
J. S. Reid, “Human Sacrifices at Rome and Other Notes on Roman Religion”, Journal of Roman Studies, 2 (1912) 34‑52

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Perusine War (41 - 40 BC)

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