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Bill Thayer

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 p12  Anio Vetus

Article on pp12‑13 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.

Anio Vetus: * an aqueduct commenced in 272 B.C.1, which took its supply from the river Anio, at a point opposite Vicovaro, the ancient Varia, 8 miles from Tibur (Plin. NH XXXVI.121; Frontinus, de aquis I.4, 6, 7, 9, 13, 18, 21; II.66, 67, 80, 90‑92, 125; Stat. Silv. I.5.25, which may refer to the Anio Novus; Auct. de vir. ill. 33.9). The meaning of the phrase in Frontinus I.6, concipitur . . . supra Tibur vicesimo miliario extra portam . . . R Ra . . .nam (so the MSS.)a, is therefore quite uncertain. He gives it a length of 43,000 paces, for all of which (except 221) it ran underground, no doubt for strategic reasons; and it is sixth in order of  p13 level. But the cippi of Augustus seem to make the length even greater (8º kilometres against 63.7),2 and the line may have been shortened in Frontinus' day (I.18). It was repaired by Q. Marcius Rex (see Aqua Marcia), by Agrippa in 33 B.C., and by Augustus in 11‑4 B.C. It acquired the name of Vetus when the Anio Novus was built. Frontinusº found the amount of water at the intake to be 4398 quinariae, or 182,517 cubic metres in 24 hours.

We have several cippi of Augustus, some of which, together with a long stretch of its channel going northwards from the porta Esquilina, have been found within the city (LF 17, 23, 32. See also NS 1877, 86; 1879, 140); the reckoning, as usual, beginning from Rome (CIL VI.1243; cf. 31558; XIV.4079, 4080, 4083, 4084; BC 1899, 38 = EE IX.968, 969; and No. 733, near Ponte Lupo, unpublished); and also the inscription of an aquarius aquae Anionis veteris castelli viae Latinae contra dracones (CIL VI.2345, cf. 2344 - 8493; LA 260).

The original subterranean channel has been found and destroyed just inside the Porta Maggiore; the intrados was at 46.15 m above sea-level, (BC 1912, 228‑232; NS 1913, 7, 441). Less than two miles from the city, a part of it was turned into the specus Octavianus (PBS IV.15), which reached the district of the Via Nova (q.v.) near the Horti Asiniani (q.v.) (Frontinus, I.21). The channel is believed to have been identified at various points; but the site of the via Nova is unfortunately quite uncertain. Lanciani believes that it crossed the via Appia by the real (not the so‑called) Arch of Drusus, near the vicus Drusianus (see Aqua Drusia).

As a result of Frontinus' reforms the turbid water of the Anio Vetus was largely used for watering gardens and for the meaner uses of the city.

See LR 49; LA 255‑270; BC 1888, 77; RE I.2215; and Builder and Livellazione, cited on Anio Novus, especially for its course inside Rome.

The Authors' Notes:

1 From a new fragment of the Fasti consulares (NS 1923, 376‑381) we learn that the name of the colleague of M'. Curius Dentatus (who made the contract for the building of the aqueduct) in the censorship of 272 B.C. was (. . .) Papirius Praetextatus (and not L. Papirius Cursor, as he is wrongly called in Frontinus) and that he died during his term of office. As the work was not finished post biennium, Curius and one Fulvius Flaccus were appointed as duumviri to complete it. Within five days Curius died — no doubt late in 270 or 269 B.C., for fresh censors were appointed in the latter year, and the work was completed by Fulvius alone. Cf. also BC 1925, 250‑252.

2 It is also possible that the correct reading is 53,000 paces, which is not far from the other figure (78.7 kilometres); though 63.7 kilometres is far nearer to the actual length, as far as can be determined on the spot.

Thayer's Note:

a There do indeed exist several manuscripts of the de Aquis; but it is as nearly certain as things can be, that the manuscript tradition at one point had narrowed down to a single manuscript, cod. Monscassinensis 361 (probably 13c) from which all the others derive, starting with copies made by the great humanist Poggio Bracciolini in the early 15c.

Here is a facsimile of the Monscassinensis at the point discussed by Platner:

[image ALT: A grainy photograph of four lines of a manuscript in Gothic script, in the second line of which 'RRA', in capitals, is set off from the rest of the (lower-case) text by wide spaces. It is a passage in the manuscript of Frontinus\' De Aquis.]

Clemens Herschel's complete photostatic reproduction (1897) of the original manuscript is — or will be — online in 1‑paragraph chunks linked on the de Aquis Latin text page.

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Page updated: 21 Aug 12