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This webpage reproduces an article in the
American Journal of Philology
Vol. 64, No. 4 (1943), pp440‑444.

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

p440 Pliny, Historia Naturalis, XXXI, 41

All the ancient sources, with one exception, refer to Rome's third aqueduct built by Q. Marcius Rex, as the Aqua Marcia.1 The exception to this otherwise unanimous agreement is Pliny's p441statement2 that the Aqua Marcia was once called Aufeia. The earliest reference to this aqueduct by the name of Aqua Marcia occurs in the legend AQUAº MAR that appears on the reverse of the denarius struck ca. 56 B.C. by Marcius Philippus.3 Thus, at least as early as ca. 56 B.C. the most famous Roman aqueduct went by the name of Marcia. Why, then, should it ever have been known as the Aqua Aufeia?

Of the fifteen MSS of Pliny's Natural History listed by Mayhoff in his praefatio, only two offer divergent readings.4 These seem to be the result of carelessness rather than of any effort to clarify the meaning of the word. The MS tradition can, therefore, be considered absolutely sound. And yet the adjective Aufeius, which is uncommon at best, occurs nowhere else in Latin literature as a modifier of aqua.5

Hardouin seems to have been the only editor who was ever troubled by this fact.6 He emends Aufeia to Saufeia with the comment that Saufeia is at least the name of a Roman gens.7 But there is nothing in the recorded history of the construction of the Aqua Marcia to connect it with an otherwise unknown Saufeius. The same holds true for Otto's suggested derivation8 of Aufeia from an equally unknown Aufeius. His alternative proposal9 that the name might have resulted from the fact that the sources of the Marcia lay in the vicinity of Aufinum, a town in the territory of the Vestini, is of no assistance either. The adjective form of Aufinum is Aufinas, -tis, not Aufeius, -a, -um, as is attested by another passage of Pliny.10

p442 Kubitschek connects11 Pliny's statement about the name Aufeia with his further statement below that Ancus Marcius was the first to project the building of an aqueduct which was the forerunner of the Aqua Marcia.12 He believes that the aqueduct of Ancus Marcius was called the Aqua Aufeia. But, granting the historicity of the aqueduct of Ancus Marcius, which is at best legendary, such an aqueduct should have been named after the king or after the source from which it was taken.13 Such a source named Aufeius, Aufeia, or Aufeium may have existed, but there is no trace of it in the sources.14

Under these circumstances, the errors of fact which Pliny makes in his two references to the Aqua Marcia15 might well suggest that Pliny is also in error in saying that the Aqua Marcia was once called Aqua Aufeia, or that it was ever called by any other name than Aqua Marcia.

There is, however, solid ground for believing16 that Q. Marcius p443Rex merely completed an aqueduct projected and in part constructed by the censors of 179 B.C., M. Aemilius Lepidus and M. Fulvius Nobilior.17 The arches of this uncompleted aqueduct stood dry and useless but conspicuously visible to the traveller in the Campagna for about thirty years before Marcius Rex completed the Aemilio-Fulvian project in 143 B.C.18 When reference was made to these arches by the inhabitants of Latium p444or Rome, it must have been by the names of the censors Aemilius and Fulvius, just as their famous basilica was known as the Aemilia-Fulvia until, in the end, with the dying out of the Fulvian gens and the repeated Aemilian restorations, it came to be called the basilica Aemilia or Paulli.19 Thus, long before the completion of the aqueduct of Aemilius and Fulvius by Q. Marcius Rex, the most conspicuous portions of the later Aqua Marcia were familiar to the Romans as fornices or opus Aemilii-Fulvii or Aemilium-Fulvium. This appellation undoubtedly clung to the completed structure long after Marcius used the arches to bring the celebrated water of his aqueduct of that city. Ultimately, the name of Marcius displaced that of Aemilius and Fulvius. The same process of displacement of the older by the newer may be seen at work in the late empire when Polemius Silvius20 solemnly asserts that the Aqua Marcia was built by Marcus Agrippa, who did restore it in 33 B.C.21

It is the belief, therefore, of the writer that Pliny is correct in saying that the Aqua Marcia was once known by another name. But the earlier name was not Aufeia, as the MSS read, but Aemilia-Fulvia. The corruption of Aemilia-Fulvia is in all probability not the work of later copyists of Pliny's work. It is more likely that it derives either from Pliny's initial error or from an abbreviation of the double name made by Pliny himself or a secretary at the time he excerpted this information for later incorporation in his work.22 The abbreviation was later misunderstood when it was copied into the published version of the Historia Naturalis. But, whatever the origin of the error, the present reading of the MSS, Aufeia, does not accord with the facts known about the construction of the Aqua Marcia. The emendation Aemilia-Fulvia does.

Meriwether Stuart.

Hunter College.


The Author's Notes:

1 For the ancient references to the Aqua Marcia see Platner-Ashby, Topographical Dictionary, s.v. "Aqua Marcia," pp24‑7 and Ashby, Aqueducts of Ancient Rome, pp88‑94.

2 H. N., XXXI.41: clarissima aquarum omnium in toto orbe frigoris salubritatisque palma praeconio urbis Marcia est, inter reliqua deum munera urbi tributa. vocabatur haec quondam Aufeia, fons autem ipse Pitonia. The text is that of Mayhoff (Teubner, 1897).

3 Grueber, Coins of the Roman Republic in the British Museum, I, p485, nos. 3890‑3985, Pl. 48, 17‑18.

4 V reads aut foeta, and d has aufeta.

5 See Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, s.v. "Aufeia."

6 Johannes Harduinus, Caii Plinii Secundi Historiae Naturalis libri XXXVII (Paris, 1723, 17412), II, p553, note 1: Aufeia] Mallem Saufeia. Id enim gentis Romanae nomen.

7 There is slight evidence that Aufeius was also a gentile name (see T. L. L., s.v. "Aufius"); but in the only passage that can be connected with a date earlier than the empire (Gellius, XI.10.2) the text is far from sound.

8 T. L. L., s.v. "Aufeia."

9 Ibid.

10 H. N.III.107: Vestinorum Angulani, Pennienses, Peltuinates, quibus iunguntur Aufinates Cismontani.

11 Wien. Sitzb., CLXVII.6 (1911), p6.

12 H. N.XXXI.41: primus eam in urbem ducere auspicatus est Ancus Marcius, unus e regibus, postea Q. Marcius Rex in praetura, rursus restituit M. Agrippa.

13 Cf. the Aquae Appia, Anio Vetus and Novus, Marcia, Iulia, Alsietina (also called Augusta), Claudia, Traiana, and Alexandrina. Two exceptions are the Virgo, whose name is connected with the circumstances surrounding its discovery (Frontinus, De Aquis, I.10), and the Tepula, so named, apparently, because of the temperature of its water.

14 See T.L.L., s.v. "Aufius."

15 H. N., XXXI.41, XXXVI.121. For their appraisal see Ashby, Aqueducts of Ancient Rome, p90.

16 The evidence of this and of the connection of the Aemilii with the construction of aqueducts is the following: 1) Livy's statement (XL.51.7) that M. Aemilius and M. Fulvius Nobilior, the censors of 179 B.C., let contracts for the building of a third aqueduct, including contracts for its supporting arches; 2) the leadership assumed by M. Aemilius Lepidus Porcius in the fight to extend the Marcia to the Capitoline in 143 B.C. (Frontinus, I.7) and, again, as the writer has sought to show in an article to appear in Class. Phil., in 140 B.C. (P. Oxy., no. 668, 188‑190: M. Porcinae devota est aqua Anio, aqua Marcia in Capitolium contra Sibyllae carmina perducta.); and 3) the representation of an aqueduct on a denarius of M'. Aemilius Lepidus struck ca. 90‑89 B.C. (Grueber, op. cit., II, p291, Pl. 94, 11; for the identification of the three arches represented on the denarius as an aqueduct, which the writer has discussed in an article entitled "The Denarius of M'. Aemilius Lepidus and the Aqua Marcia" to appear in A. J. A., see Urlichs, Sitzb. München, 1870, pp482‑3; Jordan, Topographie der Stadt Rom, I, p414, note 27; and Kubitschek, loc. cit., p5). Besides the passage under discussion, which shows that the Marcia was not always known by that name, whether the proposed emendation is accepted or not, is the reference by Canina to one of the putative sources of the Aqua Marcia, the Sorgente di S. Maria di Arsoli, by its local name at that time of Fosso dell' Acqua Amelia (Lanciani, "Le Acque e gli Acquedotti," R. Accademia dei Lincei, Memorie, IV [1880], p64).

17 Livy, XL.51.5: habuere et in promiscuo praeterea pecuniam. ex ea locarunt aquam adducendam fornicesque faciendos. impedimento operi fuit M. Licinius Crassus, qui per fundum suum duci non est passus. For evidence that these arches were actually constructed cf. Livy's (XXXIV.53.3‑7) long list of buildings dedicated in 194 B.C., several years after contracts had been let for them by persons who were not the awarders of the original contracts.

18 The writer believes that this was the date of the completion of the Marcia as far as its terminal castellum in the city and that the aqueduct's extension to the Capitoline in 140 B.C. was a separate and later enterprise that was delayed till that year by political obstruction on the part of the opponents of Q. Marcius Rex and M. Aemilius Lepidus Porcina. The victory in 143 B.C. was purely parliamentary (see the article to appear in A. J. A. referred to in note 16 supra). The grounds for this belief are the following: 1) the availability of the unfinished portions of the Aemilio-Fulvian aqueduct begun in 179 B.C.; 2) the specific statement of Frontinus (I.7) that the authority of Q. Marcius Rex was of but two years' duration (Pliny, H. N., XXXI.41 says one year); 3) the insufficiency of time two years would allow for the construction as an entirely new structure of Rome's longest aqueduct, which the Marcia was (Frontinus, I.5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15; see the article to appear in A. J. A. referred to above for the comparative lengths and periods of construction of Rome's chief aqueducts); 4) the election of new censors in 142 B.C., of whom P. Scipio Africanus Minor was one (Fasti Capit., CIL I2, p26), whose political faction was bitterly hostile to the Aemilii-Marcii-Claudii at this time (see Münzer, Römische Adeslparteien, pp238‑45); 5) the unfailing association of the aqueduct with the name of Marcius, which would not have been the case if some one other than he had finished it; and 6) in 140 B.C. the censors of 142 B.C. had resigned office and Scipio was on his trip through the East (see Münzer, R.-E., IV, col. 1552).

19 Livy (XL.51.5) says that Fulvius alone built the basilica in 179 B.C. But this seems to be wrong. See the discussion of the name of the basilica in Platner-Ashby, op. cit., s.v. "Basilica Aemilia," p72. For the dying out of the Fulvian gens see Münzer, R.-E., VII, vol. 267.

20 Mommsen, Chronica Minora, I, p546: Martia inventa est a Marco Agrippa.

21 Frontinus, I.9; H. N., XXXI.41.

22 For his uncle's habit of excerpting everything that he read see the Younger Pliny's letter to Baebius Macer (Epistulae, III.5.10).


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