TIBUR (mod. Tivoli, ?..), an ancient town of Latium, 18 m. E.N.E. of Rome by the Via Tiburtina (see TIBURTINA, VIA). It is finely situated at the point where the Anio forms its celebrated falls; it is protected on the E., N., and N.W. by the river and it commands the entrance to its upper course, with an extensive view over the Campagna below. The modern town is in part built upon the terraces of a large temple of Hercules Victor, the chief deity of Tibur, of which some remains exist: many small votive objects in terra-cotta were found in the gorge of the Anio below the town on the north-west in 1898. Below it, on the cliffs above the Anio, is a large building round a colonnaded courtyard in opus reticulatum built over the Via Tiburtina (which passes under it in an arched passage), generally known as the villa of Maecenas, but shown by the discovery of inscriptions to have been in reality the meeting place of the Herculanei Augustales, connected probably with the temple.
In an ancient hall at one side of the modern cathedral two mensae ponderariae marble tables with holes in them for measuring solids erected by one M. Varenus Diphilus, a freedman, a magister herculaneus, were found in situ in 1883, and in 1902 two vases of statues erected by Diphilus, as inscriptions showed, in honour of his patron, and a bas-relief of a bearded Hercules entirely draped in a long tunic with a lion's skin on his shoulders.
Remains of two small temples one circular, with Corinthian columns, the other rectangular with Ionic columns stand at the north-east extremity of the town, above the waterfalls. They are traditionally, but without foundation, attributed to Vesta and the Sibyl of Tibur (Varro adds Albunea, the water goddess worshipped on the banks of the Anio as a tenth Sibyl to the nine mentioned by the Greek writers.
The so-called Tempio della Tosse, an octagonal domed structure just below the town, is probably a tomb of the 4th century A.D. Two Roman bridges and several tombs were found above the falls in 1826.
Tibur was a favourite place of resort in Roman times, and both Augustus and Maecenas had villas here, and possibly Horace also. It is certain that a house was shown as being his in the time of Suetonius; and this has been identified with a villa of the Augustan period, the site of which is now occupied by the monastery of S. Antonio. In his poems he frequently mentions Tibur with enthusiasm. Catullus and Statius, too, have rendered it famous by their poems. The abundance of water from aqueducts and springs and the falls of the Anio were among its chief attractions. The remains of villas in the district are numerous and important (see T. Ashby in Papers of the British School at Rome, iii.). The largest is that of Hadrian, situated in the low ground about 2 m. to the south-west of Tibur, and occupying an area of some 160 acres. The remains are extensive and well preserved, though the identifications of the existing buildings with those mentioned by Spartianus who records that Hadrian gave to them the names of various well-known edifices at Athens and elsewhere, cannot in most cases be treated as certain. A large number of statues have been found in the villa, and costly foreign marbles and fine mosaic pavements, some of the last being preserved in situ, while among others may be named the mosaic of the doves in the Capitol and that of the masks in the Vatican. Of the fresco and stucco decorations of the walls and ceilings, less is naturally preserved. Excavations have gone on since the 16th century, the last having been carried on by the Italian government to which the greater part of the site now belongs: but little has been done since I884. 1 The ancient Tibur was founded, according to tradition, by Tiburtus, Corax and Catillus, grandsons of Amphiaraus. Though on the edge of the Sabine mountains, it was a member of the Latin League. There are remains of ancient roads and outlying forts in its territory dating from the period of its independence. It allied itself with the Gauls in 361 B.C., and in the war which followed the towns of Empulum and Saxula were destroyed (their sites are unknown) and triumphs over Tibur were celebrated in 360 and 354 B.C., and again in 338, when its forces were defeated, with those of Praeneste. It did not, however, lose its independence, but became an ally of Rome, as is shown by an inscription, probably of the and century B.C., in which it is recorded that the ambassadors of Tibur successfully cleared themselves before the Roman senate of a suspicion that they were acting contrary to their treaty with Rome. It acquired Roman citizenship in 90 B.C., though some of its citizens gained the franchise previously. Syphax, king of Numidia, died in the territory of Tibur as a captive in 201 B.C. ; and in A.D. 273 Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, was assigned a residence here by Aurelian. Its prosperity during the imperial period was mainly due to the favour in which it stood as a summer resort. During the siege of Rome by Narses, Belisarius occupied Tibur : it was afterwards treacherously surrendered to Totila, whose troops plundered it, but who rebuilt it in A.D. 547.
See H. Dessau in Corp. inscript. latin, xiv. 365 sqq. and reff. (Berlin, 1887); Notizie degli scavi, passim. (T. As.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)