History Travels with Nancy Padgett: Seeing History
The Etruscans: Notable People 

Maecenas bust
Gaius Cilnius Maecenas (70-8 BCE),confidant and political advisor to Augustus, the first Roman Emperor.
Photo courtesy Cgheyne, Wikipedia.

Etruscan Notable People:

We know the names of some Etruscan generals.

We know the names of families who owned burial tombs.

We know the names of some political leaders.

Beyond names, we are clueless.

We can’t locate the burial place of even a single Etruscan King or ruler.

Lucky for us, Rome was a magnet for the ambitious and welcoming of immigrants.  Two notable Etruscans benefitted:  Tarquin I and Maecenas. Both found fame and fortune in the Eternal City.


Tarquin I, also known as Tarquin Superbus lived around 600 BCE.  He was the fifth of the seven "Kings of Rome." 

He immigrated to Rome from the Etruscan city of
Tarquinia; evidently his hometown did not welcome his Greek wife.

The Etruscans had mastered large drainage problems, devising the cuniculus drainage system. Tarquin I, drawing upon this tradition, tackled the bogs of Rome. His result was the Cloaca Maxima, which drained the marshes of of the Roman Forum.

The Cloaca Maxima also carried sewage; jettisoning it into the Tiber
River, the CM produced a notably healthy and clean-smelling city (unless you lived close to the Tiber). 
  Cloaca Maxima Rome today
Cloaca Maxima, (perhaps) Rome, today. Photographer unknown.
Tarquin I started the largest monument of the Etruscan- Roman era. This was the Temple of Jupiter Optimus (Best and Greatest.)

Placing the Temple on top of the Capitoline Hill, an elevated sacred space,  was meant to produce awe and fear in the surrounding villages and towns. The Temple, larger by far than anything yet built, could be seen for miles, standing out as the destination point for those traveling to Rome.

Part of its shock came from the newness of its design: it showcased Etruscan temple traditions. An Etruscan temple had a high, square podium, widely spaced columns, a broad, overhanging roof made of red clay tile, and elaborate decoration and statuary made of terracotta. Buildings in the city of Rome at the time were modest and wooden, with thatched roofs.

A statue of Jupiter, meant to link Tarquin the King to Jupiter the God, reigned in the middle. Statues of the goddesses Juno and Minerva flanked him.

Who paid for the monumental Temple? The unfortunate towns and cities conquered by Tarquin I and his Roman army.

Today, only a few building blocks exist as part of the Capitoline Museum in Rome.
  Temple of Jupiter Best and greatest (model), Rome
Temple of
Jupiter Optimus (Best and Greatest) Rome. The temple no longer exists.  Model at the Museum of Roman Civilization, EUR, Rome. N

Photo courtesy of  Vroma. http://www.vroma.org/images/
About 500 years after Tarquin I, we have Maecenas, 70 BCE- 8 BCE (photo above).

His ancestors, of whom he was proud, came from the Etruscan city of Arezzo, Arezzo is about 50 miles from Florence.

Maecenas was a political advisor and confidant to Emperor Augustus. He  arranged Augustus’ marriage to Scribonia. It appears Maecenas later fell out of the Emperor's favor, some said because Augustus coveted Maecenas’ own wife, Terentia.

A poet himself, Maecenas provided crucial support to the Roman poets Virgil and Horace.

Maecenas has become a byword for the altruistic, wealthy patron of the arts.

  Maecenas'Gardens: The Banqueting Hall
Maecenas' Gardens: The Banqueting Hall
("Auditorium"). 1st c AD. Rome. Photo courtesy T. Myrup.

In his banqueting hall poetry readings were (perhaps) given, with listeners seated on the steps. Frescoes of garden scenes were inside the niches to bring in the outside gardens. There may even have been a waterfall inside the hall.
Maecenas used his very considerable wealth to establish a luxury garden. The garden was located  on the higher ground of the Esquiline Hill. The Hill was across the old city walls and the burial pits of the poor, which lay just outside the city walls.

Maecenas spent the last 15 years of his life in his garden estate, patronizing the arts.
  Maecenas' Gardens: Greek Woman Garden Statue
Maecenas' Gardens: Greek Woman Garden Statue.
Marble. 1st c AD. Capitoline Museum, Rome. Photo courtesy IMSS.
The Imperial family inherited Maecenas'  property after his death, and loved his garden estate for generations. Emperor Tiberius resided there, and Emperor Nero is said to have watched  the Great Fire of Rome of AD 64 from a tower in Maecenas’ Garden.

Today, the banqueting hall-auditorium remains standing and is open to visitors.

  Maecenas' Gardens: Banqueting Hall or Auditorium exterior
Maecenas' Gardens: Banqueting Hall ("Auditorium"). 1st c AD. Rome. Photo courtesy Lalupa.
You may contact me, Nancy Padgett, at NJPadgett@gmail.com