Temple of Angizia

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The “sacred wood” of "Lucus Angitiae" was dedicated to the goddess Angizia and it’s closed to the southern shore of the now-drained Fucino lake, near Luco dei Marsi.
Within the archaeological site are still visible the terracing wall of the sacred area of ​​Angizia, the traces of the wide iron-age wall enclosure, the ruins of the three gateways to the temples and the traces of the forum and the artisan district.Within the sanctuary, archeologists discovered three statues, representing Venus, Cerere and Angizia sitting on a throne.

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Angizia is a goddess of herbs, witchcraft and snake medicine; indeed she was said to heal from snakebites, thanks to the power of some plants present on the territory of the sanctuary. Many of these plants are still there. Nowdays, Fucino lake doesn't exist anymore. However it had a great importance in the past, not only for the vegetation, but also for the population who inhabited its shores,for example Marsi people. Angizia was worshipped by the Marsi. The knowledge they had of the use of healing herbs came from her, as its also recorded by Pliny the Elder in one of his work1. According to him,the Marsi would have originated from Circe's son and their history would be linked to herbarum potentia and to power over snakes. Virgil, in the verses of the Aeneid dedicated to the war between Turno, King of the Rutuli, and Eneas, states that among the Italic peoples there was also a group of Marsi led by Umbrone. He, despite being very strong and expert in the treatment of wounds with magical potions, died in combat and could not see again the clear and sweet waves of Fucino:

"… quin et Marruvia venit de gente sacerdos,
fronte super galeam et felici comptus oliva,
Archippi regis missu fortissimus Umbro,
vipereo generi et graviter spirantibus hydris
spargere qui somnos cantuque manuque solebat
mulcebatque iras et morsus arte levabat.
Sed non Dardaniae medicari cuspidis ictum
evaluit, neque eum iuvere in volnera cantus
somniferi et Marsis qaesitae montibus herbae,
te nemus Angitiae, vitrea te Fucinus unda,
te liquidi flevere lacus
."2

" There came a priest as well, of the Marruvian race,
sent by King Archippus, sporting a frond of fruitful olive
above his helmet, Umbro the most-valiant,
who, by incantation and touch, was able to shed sleep
on the race of vipers and water-snakes with poisonous breath,
soothing their anger, and curing their bites, by his arts.
But he had no power to heal a blow from a Trojan spear-point,
nor did sleep-inducing charms, or herbs found on Marsian hills,
help him against wounds. For you, Angitia’s grove wept:
Fucinus’s glassy wave, for you: for you, the crystal lakes
."

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Footnotes

  • Photos by Gaia Loiacono moc.liamg|aiagonocaiol#| and Giulia Sterpetti moc.liamg|ittepretsailuig#| (November 2017)
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