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 p579  Vicus Tuscus

Article on pp579‑580 of

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

Vicus Tuscus: the street that issued from the forum between the basilica Iulia and the temple of Castor and running south along the west side of the Palatine formed the principal artery of communication between the forum and the forum Boarium and circus Maximus (Liv. XXVII.37.15; XXXIII.26.9; Dionys. V.36.4), and the eastern boundary of the Velabrum (q.v.). The name is said to have been derived from a settlement of Etruscans, either those who fled to Rome after the repulse of Porsenna at Aricia (Fest. 354, 355; Liv. II.14.9; Dionys. V.36), or who had come to the assistance of the Romans against Titus Tatius (Varro, LL V.46; Serv. ad Aen. V.560; Prop. IV.2.79‑80).º A more plausible explanation is that this settlement was composed of workmen who had come to Rome to build the temple of Iuppiter Capitolinus — an explanation that may perhaps be hinted at in Tacitus (Ann. IV.65). The statue of Vortumnus (q.v.) stood in this street 'quod is deus Etruriae princeps' (Varro, loc. cit.). From its situation it must have been a very busy thoroughfare, and there were shops of various kinds in it1 (Mart. XI.27.11: de Tusco Serica vico; CIL VI.9976, 33923, vestiarius; XIV.2433, purpurarius; cf. Fest. 340: magistro de vico Tusco).

The dealers in incense and perfume (turarii) seem to have become the most important of all, for the later commentators use vicus Turarius for vicus Tuscus (Porphyr. ad Hor. Epist. I.20.1; II.1.269; Comm. Cruq. ad Hor. Epist. I.20.1; Ps. Ascon. ad Cic. in Verr. II.1.154; Or. p200; Jord. I.2.469; Thédenat 174).

This street seems to have borne an unsavoury reputation (Plaut. Curc. 482: in Tusco vico ibi sunt homines qui ipsi sese venditant; Hor. Sat. II.3.228: Tusci turba impia vici). In 1899 the removal of the late classical or mediaeval pavement of this street between the basilica Iulia and the temple of Castor exposed to view for a while about 15 metres  p580 of a pavement of small cubes of brick, which antedated the rebuilding of the temple by Tiberius and probably belonged to its earlier precinct; but this has been covered up again (BC 1899, 253; CR 1899, 466; JRS 1922, 16‑17). See Jord. I.1.273‑274, 295; 2.469; Gilb. II.101‑118; III.416; Thédenat 174, 213; DR 509, 510.

The Authors' Note:

1 These included book shops (CP 1914, 78).

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Page updated: 22 Jan 09