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Subura

p500 Article on pp500‑501 of

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


Subura: the valley between the southern end of the Viminal and the western end of the Esquiline, or Oppius, which was connected with the p501forum by the Argiletum (q.v.), and continued eastward between the Oppius and the Cispius by the Clivus Suburanus (q.v.), ending at the Porta Esquilina. This district is now traversed by the Via Cavour and the Via dello Statuto. Another depression extended from the Subura northward between the Viminal and the Quirinal, and a third north-east between the Cispius and the Viminal that was marked by the vicus Patricius. The beginning of the Subura was called primae fauces (Mart. II.17.1) and was perhaps situated near the Praefectura Urbana (q.v.) cruenta pendent qua flagella tortorum (so HJ 329, n15).

Two ancient theories of the derivation of Subura must be rejected (Varro, LL V.48: Suburam Iunius scribit ab eo quod fuerit sub antiqua urbe; Comm. Cruq. Hor. Epod. 5.58: a suburendo quod in ea regione Romae aliquando subustionibus paludeta siccata sunt); a third connected it with pagus Succusanus, Suc(c)usa (Varro, loc. cit.; Fest. 302, 309; Quint. I.7.29). The Sucusa was on the Caelian, but it is probable that Subura was a corrupt form of the same word, which for some reason had been transferred, and in historical times was given to this valley and used as an adjective in 'regio Suburana' (see Sucusa and Regiones Quattuor, and literature there cited). Subura is found on a fragment of the Marble Plan (8), in late literature (Sid. Apollin. Carm. 23.236; Prud. Peristeph. XI.45), and continued in use during the Middle Ages in the names of several churches situated between the Tor di Conti and S. Pietro in Vincoli (Arm. 201, 203,a 206, 219‑223; HJ 332; HCh 166, 193, 205, 207, 420, 454, 459). Cf. also S. Agata dei Goti (by Hülsen and others), Rome 1924, 7‑9. S. Lucia in Orfea or in Silice is also called in capite Suburae (HCh 306, 595).

References to the character of this district are frequent in Latin literature and inscriptions. It was fervens (Iuv. XI.51, and schol. frequentissima regio), clamosa (Mart. XII.18.2), dirty and wet (ib. V.22.5‑9), a resort of harlots (Pers. 5.32; Mart. II.17; VI.66.1‑2; XI.61.3; 78.11; Priap. 40.1), of dealers in provisions and delicacies (Iuv. XI.141; Mart. VII.31; X.94.5‑6) and finery (Mart. IX.37), and of tradesmen of various sorts (praeco, CIL VI.1953; crepidarius, ib. 9284; ferrarius, 9399; lanarius, 9491; inpilarius, 33862; lintearius, 9526). That there were also dwellings of more distinguished persons is shown by the fact that Caesar once lived here (Suet. Caes. 46) and L. Arruntius Stella, consul in 101 A.D. (Mart. XII.3.9; cf. XII.21.5). Of a probable late division into Subura maior and Subura minor, to be inferred from the reading of one inscription (CIL VI.9526: Sebura maiore ad ninfas), nothing further is known. See also Jord. I.1.185‑186; HJ 330‑332. For rulers and scribes of the Jewish synagogue of the Subura (ἄρχων and γραμματεὺς Σιβοθρησίων), see CIG 6447; Mitt. 1886, 56; NS 1920, 147‑151, 154; BC 1922, 208‑212.


Thayer's Note:

a No variant of the name Subura is found between p201 and p206 of Armellini's text. Platner's reference to p203 appears to mean that he interprets Torre Secura (p203) as *Turris Suburae.


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Page updated: 21 Aug 12