Tusculum, an ancient city of Latium, situated in a commanding position on the north edge of the outer crater ring of the Alban volcano, 18 km (11 miles) north-east of the modern Frascati.
The highest point is 670 m (2198) feet above sea level. It has a very extensive view of the Campagna, with Rome lying 25 km (15 mi) to the north-west. Rome was approached by the Via Latina (from which a branch road ascended to Tusculum, while the main road passed through the valley to the south of it), or by the Via Tusculana (though the antiquity of the latter road is doubtful).
According to tradition, the city was founded by Telegonus, the son of Ulysses and Circe. When Tarquinius Superbus was expelled from Rome his cause was espoused by the chief of Tusculum, Octavius Manilius, who took a leading part in the formation of the Latin League, composed of the thirty principal cities of Latium, banded together against Rome. Mamilius commanded the Latin army at the battle of Lake Regillus (497 BC), but was killed, and the predominance of Rome among the Latin cities was practically established. According to some accounts Tusculum became from that time an ally of Rome, and on that account frequently incurred the hostility of the other Latin cities.
In 381 BC, after an expression of complete submission to Rome, the people of Tusculum received the Roman franchise, but without the vote, and thenceforth the city continued to hold the rank of a municipium. Other accounts, however, speak of Tusculum as often allied with Rome's enemies last of all with the Samnites in 323 BC. Several of the chief Roman families were of Tusculan origin, e.g. the gentes Mamilia, I Fulvia, Fonteia, Juventia and Porcia; to the last-named the celebrated Catos belonged.
The town council kept the name of senate, but the title of dictator gave place to that of aedile. Notwithstanding this, and the fact that a special college of Roman equites was formed to take charge of the cults of the gods at Tusculum, and especially of the Dioscuri, the citizens resident there were neither numerous nor men of distinction. The villas of the neighborhood had indeed acquired greater importance than the not easily accessible town itself, and by the end of the Republic, and still more during the imperial period, the territory of Tusculum was one of the favorite places of residence of the wealthy Romans.
The number and extent of the remains almost defy description, and can only be made clear by a map. Even in the time of Cicero we hear of eighteen owners of villas there. Much of the territory (including Cicero's villa), but not the town itself, which lies far too high, was supplied with water by the Aqua Crabra. On the hill of Tusculum itself are remains of a small theatre (excavated in 1839).
This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica.