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Lanuvium (more frequently Lanivium in Imperial Roman times, later Civita Lavinia, modern Lanuvio) is an ancient city of Latium (Latin: Lānŭuĭum or Lānĭuĭum), some 32 km southeast of Rome, a little southwest of the Via Appia.
Lanuvium was situated on an isolated hill projecting south from the main mass of the Alban Hills, and commanding an extensive view over the low country between it and the sea. According to the legend, it was founded by Diomedes, or by one Lanoios, an exiled from Troy. The first documented traces of the settlement dates however from the 9th century BC. In the 6th century BC it was part of Latin League.
It warred against Rome at the battle of Aricia (504 BC) and Lake Regillus (496 BC) and again in 383 and 341 BC, mostly with negative outcomes. In 338 BC it was conquered by Rome. At first it did not enjoy the right of Roman citizenship, but acquired it later; and even in imperial times its chief magistrate and municipal council kept the titles of dictator and senatus respectively.
It was especially famous for its rich and much venerated temple of Juno Sospes, from which Octavian borrowed money in 31 BC, and the possessions of which extended as far as the seacoast. It possessed many other temples, repaired by Antoninus Pius, who was born close by, as was also Commodus. Other people who sojourned in Lanuvium include Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, Marcus Iunius Brutus and Marcus Aurelius. One prominent native of Lanuvium was Lucius Licinius Murena (consul of 62 BC) whom Cicero defended in late 63 BC.
The edict of Theodosius I (391 AD), which made Christianity the sole religion of the Roman Empire, caused the decay of the city, which was later abandoned.
Remains of the ancient theatre and of the city walls exist in the modern town, and above it is an area surrounded by a portico, in opus reticulatum, upon the north side of which is a rectangular building in opus quadratum, probably connected with the temple of Juno. Here archaic decorative terracottas were discovered. The acropolis of the primitive city was probably on the highest point above the temple to the north. The neighborhood, which is now covered with vineyards, contains remains of many Roman villas, one of which is traditionally attributed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press