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Caelius Vibenna, Etr. Caile Vipina, was a noble Etruscan leader of 8th century BCE and brother of Aulus Vibenna (Avile Vipina). Upon arriving at Rome, Vibenna aided Romulus in his wars against Titus Tatius. He and his brother Aulus also aided King Tarquinius Superbus. Tacitus relates to us that a certain hill in Rome, previously named Querquetulanus (after the trees covering the hill) was renamed "Caelius" after our Vibenna.[1] Caelian Hill is one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome.

A burial urn inscribed Arnth Caule Vipina can be found at Deposito dé Dei at Etruria, Italy. Undoubtedly the ashes inside are of a fellow Etruscan of the same name, but not likely our Caelius Vibenna.[2]

Caelius and Aulus Vibenna seem to have been well-known figures in Etruscan legend. Claudius, in a speech to the Senate referred to the 'adventures' of Caelius Vibenna and his companion 'Mastarna', whom Claudius equates with Servius Tullius. Claudius claimed that Mastarna left Etruria with the remnants of Caelius' army and occupied the Caelian Hill, naming it after Vibenna.[3]

The 'Francois Tomb' at Vulci contains a scene showing Caelius and Aulus Vibenna taking part in one of these adventures. The scene appears to show Caelius and Aulus Vibenna and Mastarna with companions named 'Larth Ulthes', 'Rasce' and 'Marce Camitlnas'. These figures are shown slaughtering foes named as 'Laris Papathnas Velznach', 'Pesna Arcmsnas Sveamach', 'Venthical[...]plsachs' and 'Cneve Tarchunies Rumach' (interpreted as 'Gnaeus Tarquinius of Rome'). It appears that the group of foes had taken Caelius, Aulus, Rasce and Marce prisoner, but while they were sleeping, Larth Ulthes has crept into their camp armed with swords which he has given to his companions. The erstwhile prisoners are shown killing their former captors. Mastarna is shown freeing Caelis Vibenna.[3]


  1. ^ Pais, Ettore; Mario Emilio Cosenza (1906). Ancient Legends of Roman History. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co.. pp. 129–131.  
  2. ^ Dennis, George (1848). The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, Vol. II. London: John Murray. pp. 373.  
  3. ^ a b Cornell, TJ (1995). The Beginnings of Rome. London: Routledge. pp. 133–134.  


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