Battle of Saturnia, 83 BC

Battle of Saturnia, 82 BC

The battle of Saturnia (82 BC) was a minor victory for Sulla's forces over a detached part of Carbo's army during a period of campaigning in the area around Clusium (Sulla's Second Civil War).

At the start of 82 BC the two consuls for the year had split up, with Gnaeus Papirius Carbo heading north to deal with Metellus Pius and Marius the Younger going south to try and block Sulla. Marius suffered a defeat at Sacriportus and was besieged in Praeneste. This forced Carbo to abandon his campaign in the north and move back towards Rome, but Sulla was able to reach the city before him. The campaign then moved to the vicinity of Clusium, about 80 miles to the north of Rome. Carbo's main army was at Clusium, on the River Glanis. His lieutenant Carinnas had another force 40 miles to the east at Spoletium. Finally there was a detachment of troops at the spa town of Saturnia, 35 miles to the south-west of Clusium.

Appian reports three battles in quick succession. First Sulla defeated a detachment of cavalry on the River Glanis. Next 'Sulla overcame another detachment of his enemies near Saturnia'. Finally he fought a day long battle with Carbo at Clusium, but this ended inconclusively.

This would have been a rather unusual route for Sulla to take - north from Rome to the Glanis, then west/ south west across difficult terrain, and finally north-west across similar terrain to Clusium. A more likely suggestion is that Sulla himself advanced towards Clusium up the Tiber and Glanis, or the Via Cassia, while a second force was sent up the Via Clodia, which led from Rome to Saturnia.

Much of the war was fought in northern Italy. The Lucanians, the Samnites, and the Gauls fought alongside the Marians. Following defection of the Gauls to the forces of Sulla and the defeat of some of his forces by Metellus (one of Sulla's lieutenants) near Placentia (Piacenza), Carbo, the leader of the Marians, fled to Africa. His lieutenants, Gaius Carrinas, Gaius Marcius Censorinus, and Damasippus tried to force their way through a pass controlled by Sulla's men with all their forces and with the Samnites. This failed and they marched on Rome.

When Sulla found out the Samnites were moving on Rome he sent his cavalry ahead to hinder them while he himself force-marched his army to the capital. The Samnite army arrived first, at daybreak, causing a lot of consternation in the city. After the first shock wore off the Romans sent out a cavalry force to delay the attackers. Unfortunately for the Romans, the battle-hardened Samnites easily dispatched the cavalry attack killing many of them. However, the delay did allow a cavalry detachment sent ahead by Sulla to catch their breath, organize, and begin harassing the enemy. The arrival of Sulla's cavalry proved to the Romans and Samnites alike that Sulla was on his way. Telesinus decided to wait for Sulla's arrival and deployed his army slightly away from the Colline Gate. Sulla's main army arrived at noon and set up camp near to the temple of Venus Erucina, outside the walls of Rome, not far from the Colline Gate. [1]


With Mithridates defeated and Cinna now dead in a mutiny, Sulla was determined to regain control of Rome. In 83 BC he landed uncontested at Brundisium with three veteran legions. As soon as he had set foot in Italy, the outlawed nobles and old Sullan supporters who had survived the Marian regime flocked to his banner. The most prominent was Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius, who had gathered legions in Africa and, with Marcus Licinius Crassus who had raised troops in Spain, joined Sulla soon after his landing in Italy. The consular Lucius Marcius Philippus also joined Sulla and led a force which secured Sardinia for the Sullan cause. Here is also where the young Gnaeus Pompey first comes into the limelight, the son of Pompeius Strabo, he raised three legions in Picenum and, defeating and outmanoeuvering the Marian forces, made his way to Sulla. With these reinforcements Sulla's army swelled to around 50,000 men, and with his loyal legions he began his second march on Rome.

To check his enemies' unresisted advance, Carbo sent his newly elected puppet Consuls, Gaius Norbanus and Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus, both with armies against Sulla. Eager not to appear a war-hungry invader, Sulla sent deputations to Norbanus offering to negotiate, but these were rejected. Norbanus then moved to block Sulla's advance at Canusium and became the first to engage him in the Battle of Mount Tifata. Here Sulla inflicted a crushing defeat on the Marians, with Norbanus losing six thousand of his men to Sulla's seventy. The beaten Norbanus withdrew with the remnants of his army to Capua and Sulla was stopped in his pursuit by the second Consul, Scipio. But Scipio's men were unwilling to fight and when Sulla approached they deserted en masse to him, further swelling his ranks. The Consul and his son were found cowering in their tents and brought to Sulla, who released them after extracting a promise that they would never again fight against him or rejoin Carbo. However, immediately after their release Scipio broke his promise and went straight to Carbo in Rome. Sulla then defeated Norbanus for a second time, who also escaped back to Rome and had Metellus Pius and all other senators marching with Sulla declared enemies of the state.

The new Consuls for the year 82BC were Carbo, for his third term, and Gaius Marius the Younger, who was only twenty-two years old at the time. In the respite from campaigning provided by Winter, the Marians set about replenishing their forces. Quintus Sertorius levied men in Etruria, old veterans of Marius came out of retirement to fight under his son and the Samnites gathered their warriors in support of Carbo, hoping to destroy the man who defeated them in the Social War, Sulla.

As the fresh campaigning season opened, Sulla swept along the Via Latina towards the capital and Metellus led Sullan forces into Upper Italy. Carbo threw himself against Metellus whilst the young Marius defended the city of Rome itself. Marius moved to block Sulla's advance at Signia, falling back to the fortress town of Praeneste, in front of which he drew up for battle. The struggle was long and hard fought but in the end the veteran Sullans won the day. With his lines buckling and mass defections of his troops to Sulla, Marius decided to flee. He and many of his men sought refuge in Praeneste but the terrified townspeople shut the gates, Marius himself had to be hoisted in on a rope, while hundreds of Marians trapped between the walls and the Sullans were massacred. Sulla then left his lieutenant Lucretius Ofella besieging Praeneste and moved on the now undefended Rome.

Upon his defeat Marius sent word to the praetor Brutus Damasippus in Rome, to kill any remaining Sullan sympathisers left before Sulla can take the city. Damasippus called a meeting of the Senate and there, in the Curia itself the marked men were cut down by assassins. Some, such as Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus were killed on the senate steps as they tried to flee, and the Pontifex Maximus, chief priest of Rome, Quintus Mucius Scaevola was murdered in the Temple of Vesta, and the bodies of the murdered were then thrown into the Tiber.

As Sulla surrounded the city with his troops, the gates were opened by the people and he entered unresisted, taking Rome without a fight, the remaining Marians having fled. The city was his but Sulla did not spend long in Rome before he once again set out with his army. Around the same time Sulla was defeating Marius, Metellus was facing an army led by Carbo's general Gaius Carrinas, which he routed, and Carbo, with his superior force, after hearing of the defeat at Praeneste withdrew to Arminium. Sulla then won another victory at Saturnia, followed by his defeat of Carbo at Clusium. Having taken and looted the town of Sena, Pompey and Crassus then slaughtered 3,000 Marians at Spoletium, before ambushing and destroying a force sent by Carbo to relieve Marius in Praeneste. Meanwhile the Samnite Pontius Telesinus and the Lucanian Marcus Lamponius were hurrying with 70,000 men to also break the siege at Praeneste. This force Sulla blocked at a pass and made their route impossible, he also blocked an attempt by Damasippus with two legions to reach Marius. Metellus then defeated an army led by Norbanus at Faventia and Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus won a victory over Carbo's men at Placentia. Carbo had suffered nothing but defeats and setbacks for the entire war, and now he lost heart. Even though he still had armies in the field he decided to flee the scene. With his staff and some men Carbo fled to Sicily, attempting to carry on resistance there. With their leader gone, the remainder of the Marian forces united for one final stand. Damasippus and Carrinas joined their men with the Samnites and Lucanians and marched on Rome. At the boundary of Rome, the last decisive battle of the civil war, the Battle of the Colline Gate, took place Sulla eventually emerged victorious, having left 50,000 dead on the battlefield. Carrinas and Lamponius were brought to Sulla the following day and executed.

Sulla subsequently entered the city as a victorious general. A meeting of the Senate was convened in the Temple of Bellona as Sulla was addressing the senators, the sound of terrified screams drifted in from the Campus Martius. Sulla calmed the senators by attributing the screams to 'some criminals that are receiving correction.' In reality, what the Senate had heard was the sound of 8,000 prisoners who had surrendered the previous day being executed on Sulla's orders none of the captured were spared from execution. Soon afterwards, Sulla had himself declared Dictator, and now held supreme power over Rome.

When the starving people of Praeneste despaired and surrendered to Ofella, Marius hid in the tunnels under the town and tried to escape through them but failed and committed suicide. The people of Praeneste were then mostly massacred by Ofella. Carbo was soon discovered and arrested by Pompey, whom Sulla had sent to track the man down. Pompey had the weeping man brought before him in chains and publicly executed him in Lilybaeum, his head then sent to Sulla and displayed along with Marius' and many others in the Forum.

FULL DAY TRIP FROM ROME 14 Hours Saturnia Bath and two Medieval Villages: Montemerano and Pitigliano

Saturnia is part of the city of Manciano, on the Maremma hills that extend over the province of Grosseto. 2 hours and 15’ minutes from ROME. An ancient Etruscan town, with its medieval walls and remains of an old Roman road, Saturnia is known for its hot springs dating back to Roman times and still working today. The sulphurous water at a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius (98° Fahrenheit) has renowned therapeutic properties, effective for the skin, the respiratory system and themusculoskeletal system. Sulphurous water gushes out of the ground at a rate of 800 liters per second, which guarantees the purity of the water. It is considered one of the best thermal baths in the world and combines luxury with health, relaxation, and pleasure, thanks also to the landscape that thevalley of Saturnia offers to its visitors. Saturnia is famous among tourists especially for the natural falls at approximately 1 km from the Thermal Baths. All year long, even in the winter when the moon is full, access to the hot pool is free. A striking experience, especially if followed by a good dinner in local restaurants, for instance in Montemerano and in Pitigliano, where many pleasant spots can be found. Legend has it that Saturnia’s hilltop thermal springs bubble up at the exact spot where Jupiter’s thunderbolt crashed to Earth in a battle with Saturn, something which has attracted a great deal of curiosity to these natural baths over the centuries. The legend matters little to today’s visitors however and instead they pay more attention to the incredible calming effects bathing the springs has on the mind, not to mention the healing qualities some say they have when it comes to muscle, joint, cardiovascular and respiratory issues. Saturnia truly is a perfect place to relax and soak and after just a short dip the volcanic waters will have done wonders for your body and soul , also for a leisure for your children.

MONTEMERANO : Montemerano is a small fraction of the municipality of Manciano, and is considered one of the best examples of walled village in Italy. Even today, in fact, is surrounded by its ancient city walls, which gives it an antique look so irresistible as to be one of the tipical villages of the Tuscan Maremma. It immediately strikes the sight of its historic center, entirely in stone, and with a sober elegance of the past that emerges from the many streets and squares that make up its oldest core that, even if small, is of great beauty. Montemerano vostruito in the thirteenth century at the behest of the family Aldobrandeschi, who had the intention of making it a city fortress in all respects: a goal that emerges clearly not only from the presence of the walls but also from the position in which it is located. Montemerano, in fact, stands on top of a hill, from which it was easier to spot incoming enemies. Inserted in the circuit of the most beautiful villages in Italy, it preserves monuments of great interest, such as the church of San Giorgio and that of San Lorenzo, both excellent examples of sacred architecture.

PITIGLIANO: Not surprisingly, Pitigliano has been included among the most beautiful villages in Italy. The region surrounding Pitigliano is typical of the Maremma and the territory ranges from the border with the Lazio region up to the Volsini mountain range, a typical tuff area. The city, in fact, borders to the north with the municipality of Sorano, to the south-east with the Lazio region and, in particular, with the municipalities of Farnese, Ischia di Castro, Latera and Valentano, while to the west we find the town of Manciano. The height s.l.m. Pitigliano goes from 300 to more than 600 meters related to the area of Poggio Evangelista, on the eastern border with Lazio. Pitigliano is located along the highway 74, therefore it is located halfway between the connection systems of the Tyrrhenian area and those of central Italy. As far as the history of Pitigliano is concerned, first of all the Etruscans who in the tuff quarries built their houses here and who were present on site from the late Bronze Age, or from the 12th to the 11th centuries BC, were mentioned. The Etruscan presence there was also in the current data center the findings: precisely, we are talking about the remains of walls found in the district known as Capisotto. In an official capacity, however, Pitigliano appears for the first time in a bull that was sent by Pope Nicholas II to the head of the Sovana cathedral in the year 1061. The Orsini family ruled the County of Pitigliano for several centuries, protecting it from Siena , Orvieto and from the Medici Florence. Only in 1574, in fact, Nicholas IV Orsini had to cede Pitigliano, due to some debts, to the Florence of the Medici, so that it became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Pitigliano, in 1737, passed to the Lorraine and began its tiring recovery phase. The economy of Pitigliano is mainly linked to the wine of which there is a large production and which attracts many visitors every year. In fact, wine and olive oil are the two products par excellence of the Tuscany region and of Pitigliano, in particular. Discretion is the development of the mining industry, here mainly fossil flour, pumice and tuff. The most crowded month for events is without a doubt September because it is linked to wine. On the occasion, the Wine Festival, during which the traditional wineries party and you can make tastings, but also dine, immersed in the atmosphere of the characteristic environment where the tuff is the master, surrounded by music typical of the place. Among the typical dishes of the local gastronomy, the bread gnocchi made with Tuscan bread and wild boar meat, as well as eggs, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and milk, with a pinch of pepper stand out. The chicken is also typically curled in Pitigliano and should be prepared, according to the classic recipe, with garlic, rosemary, pepper, salt, lemon, vinegar, white wine, extra virgin olive oil, as well as, of course, with chili. Among the desserts of Pitigliano we find the Sfratti, sweets of Jewish origin prepared with flour, nutmeg, eggs, sugar, white wine, honey, walnuts, orange peel and, strictly, the typical extra virgin olive oil of the place. Again, do not forget to taste the so-called "Tortello dolce" that you can prepare by frying it or bake it in the oven, filled with ricotta and cinnamon and flavored with Alchermes liqueur. Among the curiosities, remember that under the current Pitigliano, is located an underground city with cavities that extend up to 100 meters. Here you will find the characteristic cellars of the city that tourists love so much, where important wines are preserved.

SPECIAL OFFERS: 500 euros Until 7 or 8 pax DURATION 12 hours

7.00 am departure from Rome arrival at Saturnia waterfalls of Gorello at about 9.30 with breakfast stop along the route.

stop at the falls for the whole morning and you can swim. admission is free

at 01.00 pm we continue to Montemerano medieval village which is 20 minutes from Saturnia for lunch in a nice restaurant of Tuscan cuisine and wine tasting and tour in the village

at 3 pm we continue to Pitigliano a very typical and suggestive medieval village for the tour of the village

at 6.00 pm departure for Rome Warnings: lunch not included. you have to bring swimsuit and beach towels if you do not have it we will take care of bringing them for you

How to Prepare For Your Visit

If you are planning on including these hot springs in your itinerary, there are a few things you really must know:

&rArr There are no public changing rooms, so you may want to come dressed in your bathing suit. Most people come prepared with large towels to make it easier to change into dry clothes after they are finished lounging in the warm waters.

&rArr Parking is free but limited. There is one lot practically next door to the waterfalls, though happily enough it is not an eyesore while enjoying the thermal waters. There is a second parking lot not too far off in a large field, it is a short walk and well indicated. During high-season, it can be really hard to find a spot and it is easy to get a parking ticket. So pay attention to where you park!

&rArr The area is virtually unattended by any type of authority that means no lifeguards. You will find however a bar on site with limited bathroom use and typical bar food. Everyone is responsible for their own clean-up.

&rArr The area around the falls and the pools is surrounded by gravel and sand it is very hard on unprotected feet. My suggestion would be to arrive with water shoes or at the very least flip flops or sneakers you don't mind getting wet.

&rArr Bring a towel and suntan lotion. Don't get fooled into thinking that the waters will protect you from an overdose of sun. There is very little shade in the area and during the summer months, it is easy to get ruby red.

&rArr Come prepared with your own drinks and snacks, the on site bar will provide some basics, but it is not the best representation of the yummy Tuscan cuisine.

&rArr Though many places will tell you that these waters are a well kept secret, they really aren't! Many people come to enjoy the waters - so they are very busy. It is fun to find a pool where you can stand under the therapeutic waters that flow down from the source, but if you are looking for a little more privacy, you can follow the water a it leave the main pools for more quiet areas.

What Is There to Know About Saturnia

In the municipality of Manciano in Maremma, you will notice that there is a small town that is situated on a hilltop that overlooks the world famous thermal springs known as Saturnia. The town resembles an Etruscan feel and can be found along the Roman road Clodia which is in the middle of the Cassia and Aurelia roads.

The way how this place came to be is really ancient as it was proven by the wonderful Porta Romana, Roman Gates, which dated way back to the 2nd century BC which is situated inside the medieval walls that have been built by the Aldobrandeschi family. It was under Siena’s possession until the 16th century since it was made as a part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

What makes Saturnia an attractive destination is its famous thermal springs. These thermal baths are made of several springs that stretch from Mount Amiata to the hills of Albenga and Fiora and reaching Roselle and Talamone. Another reason to believe about its glorious past is the Bagno Santo, Holy Bath, wherein it is known as an antediluvian holy place located a couple of kilometers from the center. The medieval Church of Santa Maria Maddalena in Saturnia is a must visit because of its captivating artistic masterpieces. You should also check out the Archeological Museum and the Aldobrandeschi Fortress as well, but the latter is not open to the public.

In Saturnia, there are warm sulphurous waters that are well-known by the Romans and Etruscans. These waters have a temperature of 37.5 °C, and it can provide you with relaxing and therapeutic properties. According to legend, the springs were created because it is the location where the thunderbolt of Jupiter fell in his battle against Saturn.

Apart from Saturnia’s luxurious wellness and spa centers, there are 2 outdoor waterfalls that you should check out namely: Cascate del Gorello and Cascate del Mulino. If you love to visit the most famous natural springs in Tuscany, then Cascate del Mulino is the place to be. The waterfall itself is relaxing and apart from that, it has several natural pools of warm thermal water which will surely add up to the experience. This place is open to the public for the entire year, and the best part is that it’s free! The only thing you have to worry about is the parking. During the peak season, you will have a hard time finding a parking spot, and if you park illegally, then it can be easy for you to get a parking ticket since the police are always patrolling there. So, before you relax, make sure that you park the right way first.

So, when you are in Maremma, don’t forget to drop by Saturnia and its thermal springs. This place truly is a gem because it is where history and wild nature melts together perfectly thus making Tuscany an ideal vacation spot whenever you are visiting Italy!

Mountains, five peaks and the abandoned village of Pentedattilo

A view of Pentedattilo. Photo: Gunold/Dreamstime

Not farfrom Reggio Calabria, deep into the beautiful Aspromonte National Park and at the heart of the Griko-speaking area of the region (Griko is a dialect, vestige of the old presence of the Greeks here), curious travelers will find one of the country’s most famous ghost towns, Pentedattilo.

From North to South, the ghost towns of Italy are many, result of a mix between economic necessities and territorial dangers: Bussana Vecchia, in Liguria, and Apice Vecchia, in Campania, were abandoned because of a earthquake Craco, in Basilicata, because of a landslide and Savogno, in Lombardia, fell victim to its people’s necessity to find work in nearby cities and towns.

And then, there is Pentedattilo. Just another name in this long list of places forgotten, or so it seems, by people, time and history. But is it really like that? In fact Pentedattilo, just like many of Italy’s ghost towns, may no longer be home to many, but has been enjoying a revival in the past few decades. Let’s see how and why.

Pentedattilo is a small hamlet in the municipality of Melito Porto Salvo, built entirely on a cliff of Monte Calvario, some 250 meters above sea level. Monte Calvario has a very peculiar shape, one that gave Pentedattilo its name: its peaks look like five fingers extended into the sky, thus the original Greek name of the settlement, pènta-daktylos, which means just that, “five fingers.” In its heyday, it even had a castle, of which, today, only some ruins remain all around it, the old village developed, in the form and shape it still has.

Pentedattilo is today an abandoned town. Photo: Marcobarone/Dreamstime

As its name tells us, Pentedattilo was first occupied by the Greeks in 640 BC: it was a lively and prosperous center and had also an important military role, that was kept throughout the Greco-Roman period. After the decline of the Western Roman Empire, the area was ruled by the Byzantines and a long time of decadence, marked by poverty and frequent Saracen incursions, began. In the 12th century, Pentedattilo was conquered by the Normans and passed in the hands of a number of noble families: it was, however, two families in particular that associated their name to that of the village, the Alberti family and the Abenavoli family. They are at the heart of a sorrowful and tragic event, the Massacre of the Alberti, which took place in 1686 and that was to shape the history of the village.

The Alberti, marquises of Pentedattilo, had succeeded as rulers in town to the Abenavoli, and the relationship between the two families had never been good. Things did seem to get better though, when Bernardino Abenavoli asked to marry Antonietta, daughter of the Marquis. That wasn’t an uncommon move: we all know that, in the past, many family feuds were sorted through combined marriages. In a typical twist, Antonietta’s brother —unable to mind his business and let dad run the show — decided to give his sister’s hand to Don Petrillo Cortez, son of Naples’ Viceroy. As you may imagine, Bernardino wasn’t impressed and so, on the night of the 16th of April 1686, he broke into the Alberti castle in Pentedattilo and killed everyone, including young Simone Alberti, aged 9. He saved only Antonietta and Petrillo Cortez, to ensure the Viceroy was not going to retaliate. But Cortez, as any good military man and ruler of those times would do, opted for the sword and sent his army to Pentedattilo. Some of the conspirators were captured and killed, but Bernardino managed to escape with Antonietta, whom he first married and, then, abandoned in a convent. Legends say that Bernardino, eventually, enlisted in the Austrian army and died in battle.

While the massacre of the Alberti family is historically real, a large number of legends flourished around it. For instance, it is said that the five, finger-like peaks of Monte Calvario will one day fall upon the village to punish its people for Bernardino’s blood thirst another says that the peaks symbolize the bloody hand of Bernardino Abenavoli himself, and that’s why locals call the mountain the “Hand of the Devil.”

As it happens in any self-respecting ghost story, some swear they can hear the cries of the Albertis still echoing at night, when it’s very windy, among the five rocky fingers of the Hand of the Devil.

A street in Pentedattilo. Photo: Sabine Katzenberger/Dreamstime

Pentedattilo’s history seems to eerily hint that Abenavoli did, in fact, attract evil and negativity on the village because, less than 100 years later, it was severely damaged by a earthquake: the beginning of the end. Its people felt Pentedattilo was no longer safe and sought protection — and better jobs — in nearby Melito Porto Salvo. Because of it, in 1811 Pentedattilo lost its municipality status and became a hamlet of the larger village.

Pentedattilo remained at high seismic risk, and flooded often: this is why in 1968, almost three centuries after the massacre that brought gloom and misfortune upon it, it was declared uninhabitable and finally abandoned in 1971.

Life started smiling again on Pentedattilo in the 1980s, when several associations with members from all over the world decided to redevelop it. And so, local craftsmen and artists returned to its abandoned stone homes, fixed them up and opened ateliers and shops. Local heritage and produce museums have also opened since, including the Museum of Popular Traditions, and the Casa del Bergamotto, dedicated to the ancient cultivation of bergamot in the area.

There is more: every summer, Pentedattilo also hosts two important art festivals, the Paleariza, an itinerant event aimed at keeping alive the heritage of the Greek dialect spoken in the area, and the Pentedattilo Film Festival, dedicated to emerging short movies’ directors.

While living in Pentedattilo is no longer an option, its history and heritage are kept alive and can still be enjoyed, day after day, by all visitors who’d like to know more about them.

Non lontano da Reggio Calabria, nel profondo del bellissimo Parco Nazionale dell’Aspromonte e nel cuore dell’area di lingua grika della regione (il griko è un dialetto, residuo dell’antica presenza dei greci), i viaggiatori curiosi troveranno uno dei paesi fantasma più famosi del Belpaese: Pentedattilo.

Da nord a sud, le città fantasma sono molte, frutto di un mix tra necessità economiche e pericoli territoriali: Bussana Vecchia, in Liguria, e Apice Vecchia, in Campania, sono state abbandonate a causa di un terremoto Craco, in Basilicata, a causa di una frana e Savogno, in Lombardia, ha subito la necessità dei suoi abitanti di trovare lavoro nelle città e nei paesi vicini.

E poi c’è Pentedattilo. Solo un altro nome in questa lunga lista di luoghi dimenticati, così sembra, dalla gente, dal tempo e dalla storia. Ma è davvero così? In realtà Pentedattilo, come molti dei paesi fantasma d’Italia, non è più la casa di molte persone, ma negli ultimi decenni sta vivendo una rinascita. Vediamo come e perché.

Pentedattilo è una piccola frazione del comune di Melito Porto Salvo, costruita interamente su una rupe del Monte Calvario, a circa 250 metri sul livello del mare. Il Monte Calvario ha una forma molto particolare, che ha dato a Pentedattilo il suo nome: le sue cime sembrano cinque dita protese nel cielo, da cui il nome originale greco dell’insediamento, pènta-daktylos, che significa proprio questo, “cinque dita”. Nel suo periodo d’oro, aveva anche un castello, di cui oggi rimangono solo alcune rovine intorno ad esso si sviluppò l’antico villaggio, nella forma che ha tuttora.
Come ci dice il suo nome, Pentedattilo fu occupata per la prima volta dai greci nel 640 a.C.: fu un centro vivace e prospero ed ebbe anche un importante ruolo militare, che fu mantenuto per tutto il periodo greco-romano. Dopo il declino dell’Impero Romano d’Occidente, la zona fu governata dai Bizantini e iniziò un lungo periodo di decadenza, segnato dalla povertà e dalle frequenti incursioni saracene. Nel XII secolo, Pentedattilo fu conquistata dai Normanni e passò nelle mani di alcune famiglie nobili: furono però due famiglie in particolare ad associare il loro nome a quello del paese, gli Alberti e gli Abenavoli. Esse sono al centro di un evento doloroso e tragico, il massacro degli Alberti, che ebbe luogo nel 1686 e che segnò la storia del paese.

Gli Alberti, marchesi di Pentedattilo, erano succeduti agli Abenavoli come governanti della città, e i rapporti tra le due famiglie non erano mai stati buoni. Le cose sembrarono migliorare, quando Bernardino Abenavoli chiese di sposare Antonietta, figlia del marchese. Non era una mossa insolita: sappiamo tutti che, in passato, molte faide familiari venivano risolte attraverso matrimoni combinati. Con un tipico colpo di scena, il fratello di Antonietta – incapace di farsi gli affari suoi e lasciare che fosse il padre a dirigere lo spettacolo – decise di concedere la mano della sorella a Don Petrillo Cortez, figlio del viceré di Napoli. Come potete immaginare, Bernardino non ne fu contento e così, la notte del 16 aprile 1686, irruppe nel castello degli Alberti a Pentedattilo e uccise tutti, compreso il piccolo Simone Alberti, di 9 anni. Salvò solo Antonietta e Petrillo Cortez, per assicurarsi che il viceré non si sarebbe vendicato. Ma Cortez, come avrebbe fatto ogni buon militare e governante di quei tempi, optò per la spada e mandò il suo esercito a Pentedattilo. Alcuni dei cospiratori furono catturati e uccisi, ma Bernardino riuscì a fuggire con Antonietta, che prima sposò e poi abbandonò in un convento. Le leggende dicono che Bernardino, alla fine, si arruolò nell’esercito austriaco e morì in battaglia.
Se il massacro della famiglia Alberti è storicamente avvenuto, un gran numero di leggende è fiorito intorno ad esso. Per esempio, si dice che le cinque cime del Monte Calvario, simili a dita, un giorno cadranno sul villaggio per punire gli abitanti per la sete di sangue di Bernardino si dice anche che le cime simboleggiano la mano sanguinante di Bernardino Abenavoli, ed è per questo che la gente del posto chiama la montagna la “Mano del Diavolo”.

Come accade in ogni storia di fantasmi che si rispetti, alcuni giurano di poter ancora sentire le grida degli Albertini riecheggiare di notte, quando c’è molto vento, tra le cinque dita rocciose della Mano del Diavolo.

La storia di Pentedattilo sembra suggerire in modo inquietante che Abenavoli abbia effettivamente attirato il male e la negatività sul paese perché, meno di 100 anni dopo, fu gravemente danneggiato da un terremoto: l’inizio della fine. La sua gente sentì che Pentedattilo non era più sicura e cercò protezione – e migliori lavori – nella vicina Melito Porto Salvo. A causa di ciò, nel 1811 Pentedattilo perse il suo status di comune e divenne una frazione del villaggio più grande.
Pentedattilo rimase ad alto rischio sismico, e si allagò spesso: per questo nel 1968, quasi tre secoli dopo la strage che portò su di esso tenebre e disgrazie, fu dichiarato inabitabile e infine abbandonato nel 1971.
La vita ha ripreso a sorridere a Pentedattilo negli anni 󈨔, quando diverse associazioni con membri provenienti da tutto il mondo hanno deciso di riqualificarlo. E così, artigiani e artisti locali sono tornati nelle case di pietra abbandonate, le hanno sistemate e hanno aperto atelier e negozi. Da allora sono stati aperti anche musei del patrimonio e dei prodotti locali, tra cui il Museo delle tradizioni popolari e la Casa del Bergamotto, dedicata all’antica coltivazione del bergamotto tipica della zona.
C’è di più: ogni estate, Pentedattilo ospita anche due importanti festival d’arte, Paleariza, una manifestazione itinerante volta a mantenere vivo il patrimonio del dialetto greco parlato nella zona, e il Pentedattilo Film Festival, dedicato ai registi emergenti di cortometraggi.
Anche se vivere a Pentedattilo non è più possibile, la sua storia e il suo patrimonio sono mantenuti vivi e possono ancora essere goduti, giorno dopo giorno, da tutti i visitatori che vogliono saperne di più.

The Crusader Army Crosses into Asia Minor III

The crusader leaders acted quickly. Nicaea fell on 19 June. On 26 June the first contingents left Nicaea, amongst them the Normans of South Italy. Various groups left subsequently, the last being the Provençals on 28 June and the army gathered at a place where there was a bridge, which Anna Comnena identifies as Lefke, about twenty-five kilometres east of Nicaea. A number of crusaders had stayed behind at Nicaea and took service with the emperor, while Anselm of Ribemont was sent to the imperial court by the leaders in order to settle outstanding business. They had already decided to go to Antioch, so necessarily they had to direct their path towards the old Byzantine fortress at Dorylaeum (Eskişehir) which was the gateway to the Anatolian plateau. The sources are quite clear that in the two days of march after the concentration of the army they broke into two groups, a vanguard and a main force. Raymond of Aguilers says that this happened after one day’s march, which suggests that the Provençals had left Nicaea a day later than the first contingents. We know how they divided the vanguard was led by Bohemond, Tancred, Robert of Normandy and Stephen of Blois, probably fewer than 20,000 in all. The second, larger force, comprising the rest of the army was under Robert of Flanders, Hugh of Vermandois, Godfrey de Bouillon and Raymond of Toulouse, – rather more than 30,000 strong. It is more difficult to suggest why this happened. Fulcher, who was in the vanguard, simply confesses that he does not know the Anonymous says there was confusion in the dark as the army left its place of concentration, while Raymond of Aguilers says that it was the fault of Bohemond and his companions who rushed on rashly (temere). Albert of Aix says that it was the result of a deliberate decision of the princes who after two days of marching the army together, now felt the need to divide it for foraging. Ralph of Caen tells us that some thought the division deliberate, and specifically denies this, which suggests that even after the crusade the matter was still being debated. It is likely that sheer size and the lack of any overall commander were the real reasons. The army of Frederick Barbarossa on the Third Crusade was 100,000 strong and seems to have taken three days to pass any single point. The sources for the battle of Dorylaeum make clear that most of the casualties were suffered by stragglers between the two forces, which would suggest that the host became strung out simply as a result of the natural frictions of the march. The disagreements and uncertainty of the three eyewitnesses – Raymond with the main force, Fulcher and the Anonymous with the vanguard, support this view. It also reflects the incoherence of the crusade’s command arrangements. It is worth remembering that the baggage train of Peter the Hermit’s much smaller force straggled a mile along the road and that the crusader army at its maximum strength was well over twice that size. But perhaps the leaders conferred at some point and gave their blessing to a division already becoming apparent. At the time of the battle Raymond of Aguilers says quite clearly that the two parts of the army were two miles apart – over five kilometres.

The crusaders had now begun a march which would result in what is conventionally called the battle of Dorylaeum, for Anna Comnena says that it took place when Kilij Arslan ambushed Bohemond and the vanguard ‘on the plain of Dorylaeum’. In a letter of the leaders to the West on 11 September 1098, they referred to the battle at ‘Dorotilla’ which sounds very like the same place. One manuscript of the chronicle of Raymond of Aguilers refers to the battle ‘in campo florido’. Albert says that the battle took place ‘in vallem Degorganhi’, now called the Orellis, but later has Bohemond’s messenger to the other leaders say that the enemy attacked down the Orellis into the Degorganhi: neither of these place names can be identified and Albert does later use the name Orellis to mean somewhere quite different. However, there are grave difficulties about the idea that the battle was fought at or near Dorylaeum. The Anonymous says that the army marched one day from Nicaea and encamped for two days by a bridge while all the contingents gathered, then marched for two days until the battle on the third day. Raymond of Aguilers says that on the third day after the concentration of the army they met the enemy. Anselm says that after a two day march they encountered the enemy on the morning of the third day which was ‘kal. Iulii’, 1 July Fulcher confirms the date and confirms that the battle began in the morning. Thus the crusade began to leave Nicaea on 26 June and concentrated at a river crossing, from which it departed on 29 June. It then marched for two days and fought the enemy in the morning of 1 July. When we examine the distances and the likely rates of march of the crusader army it is evident that they could not have reached the close vicinity of Dorylaeum in this time. Anna Comnena says that the army concentrated at the bridge of Lefke, which probably means the bridge over the Göksu, a western tributary of the Sakarya Nehri. Nicaea to Lefke on the Roman road is twenty-five kilometres, and Dorylaeum another ninety kilometres. If, as has been suggested, the army marched south to the Göksu and crossed it in the vicinity of Yenişhehir (a distance of thirty kilometres) they still had to cover roughly the same distance to Dorylaeum. A study of the rates of march of the individual armies across Europe to Constantinople suggests that, in the most favourable circumstances, the forces of Godfrey and Peter the Hermit never did more than twenty-nine kilometres per day. The army which left Nicaea was much larger and lacked a clear overall command and is likely to have progressed much more slowly. Barbarossa’s army probably managed about twenty-nine kilometres per day in Europe.86 Even at these rates the army would have been about thirty kilometres short of Dorylaeum after two days of marching, but they were probably moving much more slowly for they were in the presence of the enemy and encumbered with a heavy baggage-train. We can reasonably accurately date the departure of the army from Dorylaeum and its arrival at Antioch as being 4 July to 20 October. In 105 days of marching (with fifteen days of rest) they travelled 1180 kilometres, an average of thirteen kilometres per day which the Chronologie of Hagenmeyer suggests varied between eight and eighteen kilometres. There is no point in seeking comparison with events after Antioch when the army was much smaller. Furthermore, the crusaders knew the enemy were about and this would have restricted their speed, even if the vanguard did push on somewhat. All this suggests that the battle could not have taken place more than forty kilometres, or just conceivably fifty kilometres, south of Lefke or the Göksu crossing. Hagenmeyer recognised the problem and suggested Bozüyük just over fifty kilometres south of Lefke and about the same from Yenişhehir. This is probably as far as the army could conceivably have reached and it certainly could be regarded as being in the valley of Dorylaeum, as suggested by the letter of the leaders. Runciman points out that a Byzantine road runs further north through Sögüt and enters the plain ten kilometres short of Dorylaeum, where he thinks the battle took place. However, as Runciman admits, although this road does cross rivers, the countryside was very steep indeed and this probably rules out any of these crossings. But more simply, this was most certainly further than the army could have reached. What is clear is that the battle took place in a wide valley, for Albert says that Bohemond’s force was well to the right of the main force as well as ahead of it. Moreover, there was a river, for Albert mentions streams and Ralph of Caen, whose description is detailed, says that it was fought after a river crossing. William of Tyre follows Albert for the most part but with some variations. He says that the army followed a river in the valley of Gorgoni, and that the main force was to the right of Bohemond’s, reversing Albert’s statement. Albert’s account of a battle fought where two valleys join, taken together with Raymond’s mention of the ‘flowered field’ and the general description of the battle, suggests that it was fought in open land on the road towards Dorylaeum, and the comments of Albert and Ralph indicate not far from a river crossing or crossings, although these played no role in the major action. In fact to understand the battle we need to understand fully the circumstances in which the army found itself, the country and its road system.

After the capture of Nicaea it is clear from Stephen’s letter that the leaders had decided to march to Antioch, and evidently they had decided not to take the coastal route. They also rejected the ‘Pilgrim Road’ due east from Nicaea via Iuliopolis (near the modern village of Çayirbano) and Ancyra (Ankara) down through the heart of Asia Minor and across the Cilician Gates to Tarsus. Instead they decided to mount the Anatolian plateau towards the Byzantine military station at Dorylaeum (modern Eskişehir) which, at 800 metres commands the obvious point of entry to the plateau via a broad valley the sides of which rise to 1,200 metres and beyond. Because Anna Comnena mentions the bridge at Lefke it has been assumed that the host marched east from Nicaea up the gently sloping plain, over the watershed and into the valley of the Sakarya and then up that of its southern tributary, the Kara Su, to its upper reaches just north of Bozüyük, where the land opens out into the wide valley which leads to Dorylaeum. But it is difficult to believe that the army would have taken this route, for the valley of the Kara Su, even in its lower reaches, is very steep and difficult and at Bilecik enters a spectacular gorge before narrowing even further into a grim steep defile which would have formed a perfect ambush site. The Byzantine road forked at Bilecik providing a road via modern Sögüt to Dorylaeum, but this road too is dangerously scenic and offers no open sites until it is very close to Dorylaeum. It is far more likely that the crusaders marched south from Nicaea. The first stage of this journey over the Avdan Dagi, whose peaks rise to 835 metres would have been quite difficult but thereafter they could cross the Göksu in the vicinity of modern Yenişehehir. From there a Roman road crossed the Ahl Dag, which rise to 1000 metres and emerged into the broad valley above Bozüyük, roughly where the modern Ego road from Bursa meets route 650 from Bilecik, just south of the narrow gorges of the Kara Su and some three to five kilometres north of Bozüyük. While by no means easy this route is no longer and offered a much more open approach to the high plateau. It is very likely that it was at this junction of roads in the plain that the battle of Dorylaeum took place. Albert clearly indicates that the site was where two valleys meet, and the open ground here is about the right distance from the crossing of the Göksu. Moreover, the Anonymous says that when the crusader force came it formed up to the right of Bohemond’s trapped vanguard – it was, therefore, from the right that the attack came. This is also the force of Albert’s insistence on telling us that the vanguard moved to the right of the main force and William of Tyre’s careful correction that they were to the left, which fits with the Anonymous’s account. Both are explaining the subsequent alignment of the battle. This would fit with the suggestion made here that the crusaders approached along the gentle valley from the west and were ambushed by the Turkish army lying in the southern valley to their right. The logic of the battle is clear. Kilij Arslan and his Turks were returning to the fray. This time he had concluded an alliance with the Danishmend Emir and together they were ready to attack the Franks. They chose to do so on the approaches to the high plateau and at a point of maximum advantage where they could lay an ambush and destroy an isolated part of the crusader force before its main weight could be brought to bear. It was the strategy of the Nicaea attack, but this time in less confined ground where Turkish speed of manoeuvre could be maximised. The Turkish army was probably much smaller than the total force of the crusaders and so had to avoid direct conflict with the main force and defeat their enemy in detail. Fulcher’s 360,000, though supported by the Anonymous, is sheer fantasy. In the accounts of the Crusade of 1101 we hear of the 700 knights in the rearguard of the main Lombard army being savaged by 500 Turks, while the army which destroyed the Bavarian and Aquitainian army was only 4,000 in all. The Turkish force was entirely mounted and was probably roughly equal to the knights in the whole crusader host. Therefore, a battle of movement involving the cavalry element would nullify the huge numeric advantage of the western forces and, in the attack on the crusader vanguard, Kilij Arslan would actually outnumber the western knights. If the Franks had marched up the gorge of the Kara Su they would surely have attacked them there, just as they would later destroy the Byzantine army at Myriokephalon in 1176.

On the evening of 30 June Fulcher and Ralph of Caen both say that the vanguard saw Turkish forces, substantiating intelligence which had already suggested that they were in the vicinity this last comment suggests that Tatikios was with the vanguard, although no chronicler mentions him. Clearly at least, the vanguard, more than five kilometres ahead of the main force, were aware of the enemy presence.95 Albert of Aachen places the battle in the evening – starting as the army camped at the ninth hour, late afternoon. However, Albert here seems to be trying to make sense of his sources, hence perhaps his error on which side of the valley the vanguard was following, for his suggestion of an evening battle is connected with the act of making camp. But the Anonymous says that the battle raged from the third to ninth hour, and Fulcher suggests that the vanguard was on its own from the first to sixth hour (6–7am–noon). As these writers were actually with the front force they should be preferred, particularly as Ralph of Caen confirms their story that contact was made with the enemy on the evening before the battle and that the march was resumed the next morning when the crusaders were forced to pitch camp when it became apparent that a large enemy army was present. It was probably making sense of this sequence of events which confused Albert whose account, however, contains much valuable information. Fulcher’s account is peculiarly vivid for he was in the camp where: ‘We were all indeed huddled together like sheep in a fold, trembling and frightened, surrounded on all sides by enemies so that we could not turn in any direction’, while the Anonymous was with the knights of the vanguard who were outside the camp from which the women brought water.97 Ralph says that after an anxious night the army moved on and forced the passage of a river after which the appearance of the enemy compelled them to pitch their camp Fulcher says they camped by a marsh which gave them some protection from the enemy and that later the enemy broke across the marsh. His account of murderous fighting in the camp is supported by Albert, who says that Robert of Paris died there trying to help the rank and file and adds the picturesque detail that young women tried to make themselves look beautiful so that they would be spared the sword. Ralph of Caen shows the knights depressed by their inability to save the others. Crusader sources therefore suggest two distinct actions within the battle. Fulcher speaks of the leaders fighting while those like him in the camp desperately resisted. Albert says that at the sight of the enemy Bohemond and the knights rode forward but were unable to prevent the Turks getting into the camp. Ralph tells us that when the camp was pitched the knights attacked the enemy, but were driven back in disorder and saved only by Robert of Normandy who rallied them with scornful words – subsequently they were involved in heavy fighting in which Tancred’s brother William was killed. The Anonymous says that when the enemy were sighted Bohemond ordered the foot to pitch camp and the knights to attack the enemy, and then makes it clear that the cavalry were driven back on the camp, for he says that in the subsequent fighting the women brought water to them. Raymond of Aguilers suggests that the camp was sacked by the enemy. Ralph says that thereafter the knights fought hard, commanded separately by Bohemond and Robert of Normandy, and appears to show these men imposing solid discipline upon their followers. The Anonymous tells us that from the first the vanguard was surrounded – ‘we are encircled’ he has Bohemond say – yet Fulcher speaks of a marsh on one side of the camp protecting them and the subsequent development of the battle was to the vanguard’s right. This can be explained by reference to the lie of the land. The convergence of the two valleys forms a natural basin against the northern rim of which Bohemond was pinned by the Turkish main force, but smaller troops of the enemy probably menaced from the surrounding hills, for the Anonymous mentions the enemy presence there.

Bohemond is 5 km ahead of the main army in company with Robert of Normandy and the Counts of Blois and Flanders together with the Byzantines having descended from Nicaea to the northwest they enter the main valley leading to Dorylaeum and see the Turks. Bohemond orders his foot to make camp quickly and throws forward his cavalry to protect them.

The Franco-Norman cavalry is driven back on the camp, rallied by its leaders, and forms the outer shell of resistance in a ‘wearing-out fight’. The crusader army is surrounded, though partially protected by a marsh (location conjectural). They cling on, relying on their compact mass hoping for help from the main force.

Godfrey and the Provençals of the main army arrive forcing the Turks to break off their attack and turn to meet the new threat to their left. The new arrivals form up to the RIGHT of Bohemond’s beleaguered force.

The Count of Toulouse enters the main valley through the Drumlins which mark its western shoulder, and his attack on their rear and left forces the Turks to flee leaving victory to the Crusaders.

Throughout the morning there was heavy and unpleasant fighting at close quarters. The western knights seem to have been pinned against the southern side of their camp holding off the Turks who, however, were able to penetrate from other sides despite the difficulties presented by a marsh on one side and the considerable resistance of the crusader footmen. About noon, after five to six hours of this bitter fighting, the knights of the main force came up to relieve their comrades. The Anonymous describes the formation of a battle line, but this is the tidiness of hindsight. The main force was probably well out of sight of the battle in the western valley and, although messages seem to have been sent back early, it was not until about noon that they appeared. This is not surprising, for the main army’s knights had to prepare themselves for battle and then to ride five kilometres along a road which was probably choked with transport and stragglers. It is unlikely that they had much time to form into line. Far to the right, the bishop of Le Puy seems to have charged behind a small hill and come upon the enemy now turning to face the new threat on their left, from the rear. At the convergence of the two valleys there are a number of glacial drumlins and one of these was probably the hill to which reference is made. There is no reason to believe that this was planned rather a pell-mell battle developed in which skirmishes such as that in which Godfrey with 50 sodales attacked what they believed to be Kilij Arslan and his household on a low hill were the rule. A running fight ensued in which the enemy often turned to fight causing casualties like Gerard of Quiersy. The enemy’s camp was sacked and the nomads were pursued along the road so that, for two or three days after, the army passed enemy soldiers and horses fallen by the wayside. Casualties appear to have been heavy although how far we can regard Albert’s 4,000 Christians and 3,000 Turks as precise figures is a different matter. They do, however, sound small enough to be credible and large enough to suggest heavy fighting. Large numbers of the main force, the foot, the non-combatants generally and presumably some knights, were never engaged at all. It is interesting that Fulcher says that most of the casualties were those caught straggling between the two crusader armies, a comment substantiated by Raymond of Aguilers.

Dorylaeum was a nasty experience for the crusaders. They were not caught totally by surprise in that they knew the enemy were near, but it is odd that the leaders in the vanguard did not warn the main force behind them. Presumably, they simply took it for granted that the enemy was around but could not guess that his main force was so close. It is unlikely that Kilij Arslan was ignorant of the whereabouts of the crusader main force. He attempted to destroy their smaller element in favourable circumstances, counting on numeric superiority to bring victory in a mobile battle over the knights in the vanguard. The crusaders were alert and their foot prepared to pitch camp while an element of the knights confronted the enemy and were put to flight, falling back on the camp where their solid formation, and the fact that the site was confined by the edge of the plain and a marsh, enabled them to resist the Turks. The Turks were drawn into close quarter fighting both against the knights and in amongst the tents and baggage. ‘The enemy were helped by numbers’, says Ralph, referring to the knights, ‘we by our armour’, which suggests that the knights adopted a solid formation and refused to be broken up by the enemy’s attacks with arrows and missiles. The stall-fed horses of the western knights may have been larger than the ponies of the Turks, and this weight advantage may have helped to solidify their resistance but, in general it was of no more use to them than it had been to the Byzantines. The western knights in the vanguard must have been quite helpless and the progress of the Turks in the camp would have destroyed their entire position, but relief came. Both sides seem to have been surprised by the enemy. The crusaders were appalled by the enemy tactics which struck the Anonymous as menacing and daring and Fulcher as totally new: ‘to all of us such warfare was unknown’. He was also struck by the fact that the enemy were entirely mounted: ‘All were mounted. On the other hand we had both footmen and bowmen.’ Albert of Aix remarks time after time in his account on Turkish use of the bow which clearly struck the crusaders as novel. But the leaders had been warned by Alexius and Frankish contact with the east, and even those in the vanguard managed to keep control of their forces – though luck played its part in this. Furthermore, they seem to have made sure that all were alert, for although the timing of the attack was a surprise, as probably was its direction, when it came, camp of a sort was made quickly. From the viewpoint of the crusaders, what is striking is that the battle evolved and was never directed. Although only a fraction of the crusader army was engaged, their advantage in numbers had much to do with their victory – just as it had at Nicaea. For Kilij Arslan seems to have repeated the error made at Nicaea he counted on the enemy panicking under a surprise attack. When they resisted he was drawn into a bloody close-quarter battle in which the crusader footsoldiers in the camp made stiff resistance, partly because of their very numbers. As at Nicaea the appearance of a relief force, in this case one part of which under Adhémar came from an unexpected direction, drove his men from the field. That this was a pell-mell affair with no evidence of overall command (which led to the division in the crusader ranks in the first place) should not be allowed to detract from the quality of the crusader leadership. The army was alert and when the surprise attack came managed to establish a camp which subsequently formed a fortress. Robert of Normandy rallied knights alarmed by the novel methods of the enemy and subsequently he and Bohemond imposed a discipline upon them. The enemy broke into the camp and did much destruction, but the foot evidently fought hard, otherwise the camp which anchored the cavalry in their struggle would have been swept away. All of this suggests a formidable coherence in the crusader army and a considerable will to fight. It must be remembered that the terror which they inspired had served the Turks well in their fights with the Byzantines and others who found their missile tactics difficult to counter. Above all, the sense of isolation created by encirclement panicked large forces time after time. At Dorylaeum some of the knights did panic – those under Bohemond – but they were rallied by Robert of Normandy. Once discipline and solidity of formation was reimposed, partly because they simply couldn’t do anything else pinned against their own tents, the knights found that they could resist – though fairly passively. It was a lesson Nicephorous Botaneiates had learned as a general under Constantine IX during a retreat in the presence of the Patzinacks:

[Botaneiates] ordered his men not to spread out as the rest of the men were seen to be doing and not to turn their backs to the enemy making themselves into a target for Pecheneg arrows. … The Pechenegs on seeing a small group which advanced information and in battle order, made a violent sortie against them. … retired when they saw it was impossible to disperse the Byzantines…. They were unable to engage the Byzantines in hand-to-hand combat for having made a trial of close fighting, they had many times lost a great number of men.

In any case, there was a limit to the losses the Turks were prepared to take. The loss of Nicaea was a blow to the Seljuk Kilij Arslan for like his father he aspired to be something more than a ruler of nomads – hence the acquisition of Nicaea as a capital and the effort to seize Antioch under Sulayman. But he was a lord of nomads and for them murderous casualties were simply not worthwhile before an enemy who could be evaded and whose departure would allow them to return to their pasture-lands. If Albert’s figure of 3,000 is in any way to be believed they had suffered badly enough for their leader’s ambitions. Only once again would they stand and fight – at Heraclea where an ambush was attempted and failed but it seems to have been so feeble that most of the sources do not mention it. But if the Turks were now in no position to check the crusaders, they did not know that and Fulcher says that from this time the army proceeded very carefully, while Albert says they resolved not to break up again. The Turks of Anatolia had been defeated, in so far as that means anything when speaking of a nomadic people who had clearly not been driven out of Asia Minor. Their ruling house had suffered a severe blow. They had lost a capital which gave them prestige, access and control over the emirates of western Asia Minor who were now at the mercy of the Byzantines. It opened the way, as we shall see, for a Byzantine reconquest in western Asia Minor. It was a stunning triumph for the crusaders for hitherto the onward march of the Turks had been unstoppable, as they themselves recognised for, as the Anonymous says, ‘the Turks… thought that they would strike terror into the Franks, as they had done the Arabs and Saracens, Armenians, Syrians and Greeks by the menace of their arrows’.

In part they had been defeated by luck. Kilij Arslan had mistaken the People’s Crusade for the totality of the western effort and had to return from Melitene when they besieged Nicaea. His attack on the Provençals at Nicaea was mistimed, as was that against the vanguard near Bozüyük. But the victors made their own luck. It was their solid resistance that Kilij Arslan underestimated, hence their victory and his defeat. This rested on their manner of war in the west, which called for disciplined close-quarter fighting in which heavily armoured men played a key role. Ultimately, however, they differed from earlier enemies of the Turks by their motivation, their religious fanaticism which underpinned their fighting style. In the crisis of the battle at Dorylaeum that zeal showed in their password, ‘Stand fast altogether, trusting in Christ and in the victory of the Holy Cross. Today, please God, you will all gain much booty’. And so of course they did, and their spoils were much more than merely the pickings of the nomad camp. For the defeat at Dorylaeum seems to have sparked off revolts in some of the cities along the crusader line of march. The Anonymous says that as the Sultan fled he had to trick his way into the cities which his forces then looted. By contrast, the Christian army was welcomed in the vicinity of Iconium and this reception would become even warmer in east. These were truly the fruits of victory, for as a later eastern source commented, ‘The land was shaken before them.’

The battle [ edit ]

After a brutal winter, fighting commenced between the two opposing forces in the spring fighting season. The Battle for the Asio River (modern name, Esino) was the first battle of the season, taking place on the banks of the river. Fighting was bloody with the Optimate infantry advancing and successfully breaking the Populares infantry who were obliged to fall back. As this was happening, the Optimate cavalry commanded by Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus attacked the retreating Populares forces inflicting heavy casualties. Ώ] ΐ]

IO SATURNALIA - a story about X-mas

Photo 1: Nativity scene from Napels (photo Howard Hudson)

Our current Christmas of course has everything to do with the birth of Christ 1 . The corresponding expressions of this feast often go much further back and seem based on religions and traditions that even remotely had nothing to do with today's Christianity, not even with the birth of Jesus. The date, December the 25th , would among other things be borrowed from the birthday of the god Mithras, originally from Persian and also born out of a virgin, who, at the time of the birth of Christ was immensely popular in the Roman Empire for already many years (see ' the last Mithras shrine ' ).
The Christmas tree would come from the pagan Mid-winter-festival.

Photo 2: Roman statue of Isis with
Horus (Vatican Museum)

The image of Maria with child is clearly retrieved from the Egyptian goddess Isis with her child the god Horus. The Isis culture was extremely popular in the Roman world. And than we haven't talked about the influences of the topic we like to discuss in this article, the Saturnalia.

How could so many ' pagan ' traditions enter our Christmas experience?
To switch to another religion, in this case to facilitate Christianity, many ' pagan ' customs were not prohibited or eliminated, but implemented with a Christian sauce into the new faith. Temples were not dismantled or destroyed but stripped of pagan symbols and adapted to the new religion, in which many old customs just took place, albeit in a new religious context. This also happened with the Saturnalia, probably the biggest Roman festivals of all. These festivities, originally connected with the Roman god Saturn remained still popular for a very long time in the Christian world. Also from this festival several traditions have survived in our Christmas celebration.

Photo 3: Bust of Janus 2

De Saturnaliën
During the late Kingdom a Festival in honour of the god Saturn was established in Rome, the Saturnalia. The Romans did have some good reasons for honouring this god. Mythological stories told us that Saturn, on the run for Jupiter, had found accommodation in the Kingdom of Janus in Italy. Therefor Janus was punished by Jupiter with two faces. One looking to the past and one watching the future. Janus was also called the god of the passages because every deity had to be called through him.
Saturn learnt the inhabitants of the land of King Janus the art of agriculture, taught them writing and the use of coins. Janus was one and all admiration for Saturn and proposed to govern the Kingdom together. The period under King Saturn was called ' golden years '. Social discrimination, there was not, on the contrary, everyone was equal and people had no private property.

Photo 4: Basrelief of Saturn 3

When Saturn suddenly left Janus took some measures to honour Saturn. So he called the whole country where he was king ‘Saturnia ', built an altar in honour of the god Saturn and made some rituals for the god that he called the Saturnalia.
Janus and Saturn left a great impression on the later population of Italy. The month of January was called after Janus and in the month of December the Saturnalia, the festival in honour of Saturn, took place.
According to Livius 4 the first official Saturnalia coincided with the year in which the Temple of Saturn on the Forum Romanum in Rome was built, December the 17th of the year 497 BC. Henceforth on this day the Saturnalia would be celebrated. From the beginning the temple was used also as an archive for social security legislation and international agreements. Also the Treasury was kept there because it was said that during the reign of King Saturn no theft was committed, because no one had private property.

Photo 5: The remaining columns of the temple of Saturn at the Forum Romanum in Rome 5

In the temple stood a statue of an old man with the head covered. In his hand he held a scythe, the symbol of Saturn (see photo 4). The feet of the statue were tied together with a woollen thread that was loosened during the Saturnalia so that also the god himself could join the festivities. It was a public holiday in which everyone could participate. The schools gave this day off, courts were closed, convictions were delayed and it was also strictly prohibited to start a war during the festival. In other words: the whole public life was quiet. Anyone got the opportunity to celebrate the festival and this made the Saturnalia one of the most popular events among the population. The festivities were originally only on December 17, but later on extended till December 23. Of course it was held to honour Saturn, but also to celebrate the end of the agricultural year.

Photo 6: Statues of the dioscuri wearing a pileus 6

In the morning, the men rose early to go bathing. The dress was also different in comparison with other holidays: the stiff gown remained in the closet and instead the Roman citizens wore loose, easy robes. One wore a pileus on the head, a hat that symbolized freedom the symbol of a freedman. After bathing everyone went in the direction of the forum to the Temple of Saturn, where sacrifices were carried out in honour of the god. During the sacrifice, according to a retrieved Greek use the Romans uncovered their heads. Normally during religious rituals the head was covered with the gown, but on the Saturnalia the Romans believed that no bad omen could interrupt the festivities.

Photo 7: An eightteen century depiction of the Saturnalia by Antoine Callet 7

After the sacrificial ceremonies there was an official banquet outside the temple. After that most people left the forum wishing each other ' Io Saturnalia ' and went home to continue the party. This often resulted in excessive drinking and festive meals, making the word saturnalia in Latin synonymous to ' orgy '. One of the costumes was the election of a ' King of the Saturnalia’, an ordinary man from the street who gave orders to everyone, lord or peasant. Also small gifts, known as sigillaria, were exchanged.

Photo 9: Terracotta gift 9 Photo 8: Terracotta gift 8

Traditionally this were candles, earthen masks or puppets. This was related to a story about Hercules and the population living originally at the foot of the Capitol hill. An oracle had told them to sacrifice each year a number of human heads and meale bodies in honour of Saturn. When Hercules heard what kind of cruelties were committed, he interfered. He suggested to replace the human heads by earthen dolls and human sacrifices by candles. Thus started the tradition of giving presents to the host if one was invited for dinner or to people who, for one reason or another, earned to receive a present.
One of the most striking customs of the Saturnalia was the changin of the roles: slave became master and master became slave. During the meal, the slaves were served by their masters. Also during the game of dice, which was normally prohibited, but for the occasion admitted and lord and servant played on equal footing. This gesture had to remember the “Golden Years” under Saturn in which there was no distinction made between the people. It was a chance for the master to thank their servants for the work done.
Later on, when the Roman Empire accepted Christianity as the only permissible faith, the Saturnalia were adopted by the Christians. And that brings us to Christmas.

Photo 10: David Teniers. The King of Misrule (1634 -1640) 10

The Saturnalia Aad X-mas
The feast of Saturnalia, originally connected with the Roman god Saturn, still remained the most popular folk festival for a long time. Also inside the Christian world. Pope Julius I (337-352) wanted to change this and came up with the following solution:
Although the exact date of the birth of Jesus was unknown, Pope Julius declared that it had to be celebrated officially on December the 25th, around the time of the festival of the Saturnalia. Most likely he wanted to create a Christian alternative for the still huge popular Saturnalia.
A second reason was the fact that the Roman Emperor Aurelian in 274 had declared the 25th of December to the feast of another Roman deity, the Sol Invictus (the invincible Sun). Julius I opined that he, by connecting those events together, could convert more people to Christianity. On top of that, he probably was influenced by the prevalent idea that Jesus had died on the same day as the conception of Mary. Jesus died during the Jewish Passover that was celebrated in the third century on the 25th of March. Therefore, Jesus had to be born, 9 months later on the 25th of December. So from that moment on Christmas fell on December the 25th while maintaining a large part of the customs that came with the Saturnalia celebrations.
During the middle ages Christmas was especially a celebration of drinking, gambling and overeating. The expression io saturnalia continued for many centuries the official Christmas greetings. In France, England and Switzerland the ' King of the Saturnalia ' still lived on for a long time under the name of ' King of the Misrule’. In many countries it was a habit to declare the one who found the bean or coin in a bread or cake to the King of that day. The habit of giving gifts reflects the Roman tradition of sigillaria and lighting of advent or Christmas candles is a reminiscent of the Roman use of torches and wax candles and, as has been said already, both Saturnalia and Christmas are strongly associated with eating, drinking, singing and dancing.

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