Key to Umbria: Todi

History of Ancient Todi

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History of Todi: Main Page     Ancient History

Pre-Roman Todi

According to tradition, in ca. 2700 BC an eagle seized a tablecloth from a tribe camped in the plain below modern Todi and deposited it at the summit of the hill.  The tribe built a settlement there and the eagle subsequently became its symbol.    While this might not be strictly accurate, it is clear that the area has been inhabited from a very early date.  It is likely that the earliest pattern of settlement was thinly dispersed over the area around modern Todi.  This is evidenced, for example, by:

  1. five ditch tombs (8th - 3rd centuries BC) on a hill near the church of Santa Maria della Pace in modern Massa Martana; and

  2. the presence of huge stones from the base of a temple in nearby Monticastri.

The earliest evidence for the settlement of Todi itself comes from some 200 graves in the San Raffaele and Le Logge necropoles on the southern slopes of the city, which were in use from the 7th century BC.  Grave goods from these provide evidence of a rich noble class that presumably derived its wealth from the imposition of tolls on vessels using the Tiber and/or on traders using the nearby ford in the river.  Their grave goods also show that they were open to Etruscan culture, particularly that of nearby Volsinii (Orvieto).

The urban settlement of modern Todi seems to date from the late 5th century BC, and it is possible that the area that was later occupied by the Rocca was walled at some time thereafter.  The necropoles at Peschiera and San Stefano were in use in the 5th to the 3rd centuries BC.  Grave goods from these necropoles suggest that the city's wealth was now shared by a wider spectrum of society. 

The coining of money in the city began in the early 3rd century BC.  The city is called Tutere on these pre-Roman coins, which used the Etruscan system of weights.  The Etruscans called the city Tular, which, like Tutere signifies its location on the border between the Umbrian and Etruscan territories.  The city was dedicated to a God that the Romans later recognised as Mars.  An ancient temple to this divinity probably stood at Montesanto, the find spot of the famous "Mars of Todi".  Terracotta finds indicate that another temple (in use in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC) might have stood on the present site of Santa Maria in Camuccia.  A large quantify of locally produced votive bronzes and pottery indicates that these were but two of a number of sanctuaries in and around the city.

Roman Conquest to Social War

[Treaty with Rome? Probably in place by the time the town began to mint its own coins.]

Only three Umbrian towns are known to have minted coins in the 3rd century: Ariminum, Iguvium, and Tuder.  The first bronze coins from Tuder, which used the Etruscan pound but followed Roman practice in subdividing it into twelve, carried the legend Tutere.  Guy Bradley (referenced below, at p. 186) suggested that:

  1. “The most likely issue date for these weights is the First Punic War [264 - 41 BC], assuming that they derive from the Roman issues of cast bronze of the early 3rd century”.

Tuder made a second issue, probably during the Second Punic War (218 - 01 BC) that was probably based on the Roman weight standard.

Two Roman roads served Todi:

  1. Via Amerina (below) passed through the city (Porta Fratta in the medieval walls is known alternatively as Porta Amerina); and

  2. the nearby way station Vicus Martis Tudertium was built on the eastern branch of Via Flaminia (ca. 220 BC).  

Via Amerina was extended from Ameria (Amelia) to Perusia (Perugia) at some time in the 3rd century BC.  Simone Sisani (referenced below, at p. 121) pointed out that it must have pre-dated the early 3rd century BC, when Porta Marzia was built to monumentalise its entrance into Perusia.  He suggested that its extension might well have been associated with the conquest of the ager Gallicus by Manius Curius Dentatus in 283 BC: a branch from Perusia to Iguvium would have constituted the most convenient way of reaching the Adriatic from Rome before the construction of Via Flaminia in 220 BC.

Simone Sisani (referenced below, at p. 215) suggested that Manius Curius Dentatus probably settled veterans assigned to the Clustumina tribe in the territories of Ameria, Tuder and Vettona at around the time of the extension of Via Ameria.  This would account for the fact that all three municipia were assigned to this tribe when they received citizenship after the Social War (90 BC), as mentioned below.

The earliest surviving Umbrian inscriptions that use the Latin alphabet are on set of tiles that sealed grave niches (late 2nd century BC) in Todi. These are now in the Museo Oliveriano, Pesaro.

A broadly contemporary bilingual inscription on a funerary stele is in Celtic and Latin.  It will be remembered that the donor of the "Mars of Todi" some three centuries earlier had apparently been a Celt.  This stele is in the Museo Vaticano, Rome.

Social War (90 BC)

A tantalising fragment from the lost book of Cornelius Sisenna reads:

  1. ... tamen Tudertibus senati consulto et populi iusso dat ciuitatem”  (‘Histories’, Book IV).

is translated in the book edited by T. J. Cornell (referenced below, Volume II, p. 643, F 78) as:

  1. “... however, [an unknown magistrate] granted the Tudertes [Roman] citizenship by decree of the Senate and order of the people [of Rome].”

Edward Bispham (referenced below, at p. 184) asserted that this was clearly an extract of a speech, and that it probably related to events of 89 BC.  He reasonably suggested that the word “however” at the start of the fragment suggests that Tuder had been enfranchised despite circumstances of some sort that should have precluded this.  One possibility is that Tuder had revolted in 90 BC and thus had been excluded from the grants of citizenship made in that year: instead it had to await further legislation in the following year.  The city subsequently became a municipium and was enrolled in the Clustumina tribe (probably for the reason suggested above). 

Unfortunately, we have only one indication of  a quattuorvir: the inscription (CIL XI 6726:3) on a now-lost bronze weight in the shape of a wild boar read: GALLVS IIIIVIR.

There is little evidence of any significant urban development of Todi before the Social Wars.  Although some authorities date the earliest set of walls to the late 2nd century BC, the majority date them to the period after municipalisation. 

Strabo referred to Todi as a well-fortified city (“Geographica”, V.2,10).  Despite these walls, Todi suffered in the civil war in 82 BC, when Sulla's forces devastated it.  His general, Crassus reinforced his reputation for avarice by the scale of his confiscations on this occasion. 

Colonia Fida Tuder

In his account of the Augustan Sixth Region , Pliny the Elder noted that:

  1. “... at the present day , we find ... in the interior, [the colonies] of Hispellum [Spello] and Tuder [Todi]” ‘Natural History’ ( 3:19).

Thus the colony here existed in the Augustan period.

Date of Colonisation

An entry in the ‘Book of Colonies’ (reproduced with a translation into English by Brian Campbell, referenced below, at pp. 168-9) might throw light on the date of formation of the colony at Todi:

  1. “[Colonia Fider Tuder was established] under the same lex as applied to the land of Florentia [Florence].” 

Campbell reproduced the associated entry for Florentia (again, at pp. 168-9):

  1. “[Colonia Florentina] was founded by the triumvirs: the land was allocated under a lex Julia: ...”

This suggests that the colony was founded in the triumviral period (42-27 BC).  Corroborating evidence is found from an inscription (CIL XI 4646) from Todi that commemorates an unknown legate of Dalmatia under the Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) as a patron of the colonia Iulia Fida Tude[r]; although this is the only surviving record of Tuder as a colonia Iulia, the use of this epithet (which seems to have been used mainly in the triumviral period) is perhaps significant. 

A further indication of the date of colonisation is provided by the fact that two inscriptions suggest that the colony was established for veterans of legio XXXXI Augusti Caesaris:

  1. The first (CIL XI 4650), which was found in Piazza Garibaldi (the site of the Roman forum) in 1879 but which no longer survives, relates to a tribune of the legion, Quintus Caecilius Atticus:

  2. [Q(uinto)] Caecilio Q(uinti) f(ilio) / Attico tri(buno) mil(itum)

  3. [c]oloni leg(ionis) XXXXI / [ 

  4. Another now-lost inscription (CIL XI 4651) adds that he had been praefectus frumentarium.

  5. The second, which is a funerary inscription (CIL XI 4654) from San Valentino, south of Todi [where is it now?], reads:

  6. C(aius) Edusius Sex(ti) f(ilius) Clu(stumina) / natus Mevaniae

  7. centurio legion(is) XXXXI / Augusti Caesaris / et centurio classicus

  8. ex testamento

  9. The veteran Edusius, who was born in Mevania, had apparently received land at the new colony of Tuder, at which point his tribal assignation had apparently changed from the Aemilia of Mevania to the Clustumina of Todi.

According to Enrico Zuddas (referenced below), the  41st legion had been formed by Julius Caesar, and had not survived the military reorganisation that followed the Battle of Actium (31 BC).  Although Edusius’ inscription named the legion as legio XXXXI Augusti Caesaris (which would suggest a date after 27 BC, when Octavian became the Emperor Augustus), Zuddas suggested that this was an anachronistic ‘updating’ at the time of Edusius’ death.

Lawrence Keppie (referenced below, at p. 176) also discounted a date as late as 27 BC for the formation of the colony.  He pointed (at p. 71) to a passage from Cassius Dio, who recorded that, after the Battle of Naulochus in 36 BC, Octavian gave retirement:

  1. “... first to those who had served under him in the campaign against [Mark] Antony at Mutina [in 43 BC], and next, since the rest [of the soldiers] were also importunate, to all of them who had been ten years in the service” (Roman History’, 49: 14: 1).

Keppie also pointed out (at p. 71) that Edisius, who had been a centurion in the 41st, had also served as a centurion classicus, which meant that he had seen naval service.  He suggested that:

  1. “...on Dio’s testimony, [the first colonists at Tuder] could well have qualified for release [after the naval battle at Naulochus]”; and  

alternatively (at p. 77) that they might  have been settled here after the naval battle at Actium (in 31 BC).

Quintus Caecilius Atticus

As mentioned above, an inscription from the forum of the colony commemorated Quintus Caecilius Atticus, a military tribune of the 41st legion.  He was also commemorated in two inscriptions on a travertine corinthian column that was found in 1835 at Montesanto (together with the so-called Mars of Todi (5th century BC)) [where are the inscriptions now?]:

  1. CIL XI 4652 reads:

  2. Q(uinto) Caecilio Q(uinti) f(ilio) Attico patrono

  3. C(aio) Attio P(ubli) f(ilio) Bucinae

  4. IIvireis(!) quinq(uennales) x d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) 

  5. CIL XI 4653 reads:

  6. [C(aio) At]tio P(ubli) f(ilio) Bucinae //

  7. Q(uinto) Caecil[io] / Attico

  8. [IIvir]eis(!) quin[q(uennales)] 

It seems likely that Atticus had retired with the rank of military tribune and became one of the first duovirs of the new colony (serving as duovir quinquennalis together with Attius Bucina).

According to Maria Carla Spadoni (referenced below, p. 38), while Attius Bucina was of local origin, Atticus came from Praeneste (modern Palestrina) in Campania.  She pointed out that he shared his region of origin with Marcus Granius, a duovir quinquennalis of the slightly earlier colony of Hispellum (discussed on the previous page).  She also suggested (at p. 40) that the Campanians who settled in Umbria at this time had probably been veterans of Caesar who had been recruited in Campania by Octavian in ca. 44 BC.   Enrico Zuddas (referenced below) observed that;

  1. “... it seems extremely significant that the first pairs magistrate of [the colonies of both Tuder and Hispellum] associated themselves with sacred areas and divinities that were extremely dear to soldiers, veterans of Caesar, and Octavian, and relevant Augustan ideology” (my translation).

He was referring to the facts that:

  1. the area of Montesante, where the column with inscriptions commemorating the duoviri of Tuder were found, was probably sacred to Mars; and

  2. Granius and his colleague at Hispellum had dedicated a statue of Venus (and probably the temple that housed it) at the sanctuary at Villa Fidelia.

Extent of the Colony

An entry in the tract by Frontinus entitled  ‘Land Disputes’ (reproduced with a translation into English by Brian Campbell, referenced below, at p. 43) cited Tuder as an example of a colony that had received special privileges from its founder (presumably  Octavian) in relation to its neighbours:

  1. “... some colonies [for example, Tuder] ... through the generosity of their founders, gained the following concession: that the inhabitants who dwelt inside their territory, even if they belonged to another community, should be liable for the performance of all obligations in the colony.”

This implies that some people who belonged to other (presumably neighbouring) municipia lived within the designated territory of the new colony, presumably because  not all of the land that had originally been designated for settlement had been needed for that purpose.  In this case, the owners of this retained land now owed obligations (including presumably tax obligations) to the colony.   However, as we shall see below, Tuder needed all the agricultural land that it could lay its hands on, which meant that it established colonial enclaves in the territories of their neighbours.  I wonder whether Frontinus had slightly misinterpreted Octavian’s privilege, which more probably meant that settlers in these enclaves owed all their obligations to the colony rather than to the municipia in whose erstwhile territory they had been settled.


Enrico Zuddas (referenced below) identified two inscriptions in the area of Perusia that commemorated men who had been inscribed in the Clustumina, which might suggest that the colony extended into what had been Perusian territory:

  1. Two now-lost funerary inscriptions(EDR148134 and EDR148135)) 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 for the colony of Tuder.

  2. A now-lost funerary inscription (CIL XI 1933) from Casalalta (near Deruta, midway between Perugia and Todi), which dates to the second half of the 1st century AD) commemorated Lucius Velius Firmus, who had been born in Tuder and served in the 13th urban cohort.  Zuddas suggested that he might have descended from one of the early colonists who had been settled on land near his hometown that had been confiscated from Perusia for for 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 for only 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).


An entry in the Gromatici Veteres (a record of land appropriated for colonisation by veteran soldiers) records that:

  1. “The land of Ameria was allocated under a lex of the Emeperor Augustus.  It was divided among veterans and, on the basis of an evaluation of the land’s fertility, they followed the lex, where the boundary markers did not allow any ambiguity, round the town itself.  But, beyond the third milestone, a lex Caersariana operated in the land that had not been surveyed” (translated by Brian Campbell, referenced below, at p. 175)

Brian Campbell (at p. 410, note 51) noted that Ameria was:

  1. “... only known as a municipium: [Ettore Pais, referenced below, at p. 185] conjectures distribution of land to individuals.”

I wonder whether this land was distributed to veterans belonging to Tuder ??

Urban Development

The formation of this colony seems to have prompted a major phase of urban development.  Extensive renovations to Via Amerina and the building of the second set of walls probably date to this period.  The four large niches known as the Nicchioni probably formed the supporting terracing of a sanctuary that was built inside the new outer wall at this time.  Other contemporary structures include:

  1. the forum, which was built on a terrace above a complex of cisterns on the site of what is now Piazza del Popolo;

  2. the theatre, scant remains of which survive in Via della Piana; and

  3. [possibly ??] the amphitheatre, the present site of San Nicolò de Criptis, outside Roman the city walls. 

Inscription [4th century AD ?? ]

Lucius Julius Marcianus, a duoviro of the splendidissima colonia Tuder, and his wife Publica feature in the inscriptions (respectively CIL XI 4659 and 4660) embedded in the facade of San Faustino, outside Massa Martana:

L(ucio) Iulio L(uci) f(ilio) / Clu(stumina) Marcia/no

aed(ili) IIvir/o omnibus hono/ribus in splendi/dissima coloni[a] / Tuder

probe / functo ob me/rita eius cives posuerunt

Publiciae / L(uci) f[i](l)[i]a[e] Hone/stae matron(a)e

castissim(a)e et car(a)e / coniugi Iuli Marci / ani(ensi)

ob merita ma/riti cives ex aere / collato l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto) d(ecurionum)

[Recent excavations have revealed the foundations of the Roman villa??]  [A judge called Marcianus appears in the legend of St Brictius, Bishop of Civitas Martana].

Read more:

E. Zuddas, “Dal Quattuorvirato al Duovirato: gli Esiti del Bellum Perusinum e i Cambiamenti Costituzionali in Area Umbra”, in

  1. 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

T. J. Cornell, “The Fragments of the Roman Historians”, (2013) Oxford

M. C. Spadoni, “Perugia Romana, 4: L' Età di Ottaviano Augusto”, Bollettino della Deputazione di Storia Patria per l' Umbria, 107 (2010) 5-55

E. Bispham, “From Asculum to Actium: The Municipalisation of Italy from the Social War to Augustus”, (2008) Oxford

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

B. Campbell, “The Writings of the Roman Land Surveyors: Introduction, Text, Translation and Commentary”, (2000) London

L. Keppie, “Colonisation and Veteran Settlement in Italy, 47–14 BC”, (1983) Rome

E. Pais, “Storia della Colonizzazione di Roma Antica: Volume 1” (1923) Rome

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