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This webpage reproduces an article in
Classical Philology
Vol. 32, No. 1 (Jan. 1937), pp44‑58.

The text is in the public domain.

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p44 Angiportum, Platea, and Vicus
Philip W. Harsh

There is great confusion among modern editors and translators concerning the various Greek and Latin words meaning "street." The present paper attempts to determine the precise meaning of the ordinary terms in Latin, though frequent reference is made to the corresponding Greek words.1


Angiportum is usually translated "alley" in English, but such a translation seems altogether misleading in some passages to be considered later, and one may recall that ancient cities did not, in general, have alleys in the current sense of that term as used in America.2 The vast majority of streets in Athens and Rome, however, were very narrow.3

p45 The basic meaning of angiportum is equivalent to that of the Greek στενωπός when used of a thoroughfare although, in translation, angiportum might well have been used for various other Greek words, such as ῥύμη, λαύρα, ἄμφοδον, etc. In Greek New Comedy, as Dalman has shown, the thoroughfare upon which the characters stand is termed sometimes πλατεῖα, sometimes στενωπός, but the latter word seems to have lost its etymological meaning.4 If angiportum is precisely equivalent to στενωπός and was used to translate it, as is doubtless the case,5 then perhaps angiportum, too, may have lost its etymological force and p46become a general word for street, especially in translation Latin. Angiportum in at least one passage in comedy is clearly used of the thoroughfare upon which the characters stand (Plautus Pseud. 960‑61):

Simia.Habui numerum sedulo: hoc est sextum a porta proxumum

angiportum, in id angiportum me deuorti iusserat. . . . .6

Here, then, angiportus does not refer to an alley, but to a normal street upon which houses have their main entrances. Such usage is not uncommon elsewhere. Cicero says (Pro Mil. 64): ". . . . nullum in urbe vicum, ullum angiportum esse dicebant, in quo non Miloni conducta esset domus. . . . ." Here vicus and angiportus are certainly inclusive terms. Vicus may possibly be interpreted as precinct, and in this case angiportus would take in all streets; but perhaps vicus here refers to the most important streets (cf. Vitruvius I.6.8, quoted below), angiportus to the less important ones. In either case the meaning of alley for angiportus is out of the question.

Similar passages, in which the house of someone is said to be located on an angiportum, are found in Rhet. Her. IV.64, Apuleius (Met. I.21, house of the wealthy but miserly Milo), and Festus (142 Lindsay [Teubner] = Glos. Lat., IV.272 [text restored]). It is true that, in Roman comedy, an angiportum is sometimes a more secretive place than the stage itself (cf. As. 741; Persa 444, 678) and is apparently thought of as running behind the houses portrayed on stage. Interesting is the following passage from the Eunuchus (844‑46):

. . . . ubi vidi, ego me in pedes quantum queo

in angiportum quoddam desertum, inde item

in aliud, inde in aliud: . . . .

It is a mistake, of course, to infer from this passage that angiporta are necessarily secretive places. Here they are ordinary streets — obviously not blind streets, and the idea of secretiveness is carried by the adjective desertum. In the following passage, also, an angiportum cannot be a cul-de‑sac. This passage is a fragment from a speech of C. Titius (delivered 161 B.C.), in which he describes the life of certain men, now on their way to the Comitium (Macrobius Sat. III.16.15): "dum eunt, p47nulla est in angiporto amphora quam non impleant, quippe qui vesicam plenam vini habeant." It is well known that jars were placed in the streets by the fullers, who employed urine as a cleaning medium, and one must not suppose that these jars were placed in inconspicuous places.7 Such conveniences in certain modern European cities, though sometimes placed in alleys, are often (especially in Paris) located on the most frequented boulevards. It is certain that, in this passage of Titius, angiportum refers to the thoroughfare, no doubt an important one, upon which the men were making their way to the Comitium. The meaning of alley is quite impossible. It is likewise impossible in the following passage from Cicero (In Ver. II.2.141): ". . . . ut omnibus in angiportis praedonis improbissimi statua ponatur, qua vix tuto transiri posse videatur." Certainly statues were placed in frequented thoroughfares, and, if they might threaten the passer-by, it would be not because the streets were so narrow that the statues would encroach dangerously upon them, but because even the statue of this robber Verres would seem to threaten the populace. Here the phrase omnibus in angiportis embraces all streets of whatever nature.

Passing now to the poets, we find in Catullus (lviii.4‑5):

nunc in quadriviis et angiportis

glubit magnanimi Remi nepotes.

One compares Horace (Carm. I.25.9‑10):

invicem moechos anus arrogantis

flebis in solo levis angiportu, . . . .

In regard to the lines from Catullus, Baehrens thinks that a contrast between frequented places and deserted places is intended. But such a contrast would have no point here. The shame and disgrace are heightened by the fact that the woman practices her arts to publicly. The phrase in quadriviis et angiportis seems to include all public places and all streets. Thus angiportis is here used as in the foregoing passage from Cicero. Kroll cites the rare Greek word σποδησιλαύρα (Hesychius, Eustathius 1921.58; 1033.62; 1082.41), where ‑λαύρα is obviously a general term for street. One may compare Aristophanes Eccl. 693‑96. p48In the lines from Horace, also, angiportu seems to be a general term for street. The adjective solo is noteworthy, although it is probably a transferred epithet — the street is lonely for the despised old woman (cf. Norden on Vergil Aen. VI.268).8 Apuleius uses angiporta (Socr. XIX [165]) as a general word for streets, and he uses the singular apparently for a normal street also,9 although once (Met. IX.2) a mad dog enters a house de proximo angiportu. . . . per posticam.

In Rome there is no instance of angiportum used with a proper name; but two angiporta of Cales were named after temples (CIL X.4650, 4660), which were presumably located on these angiporta.

It is remarkable that angiportum was still current in the fifth century, when it was used in the Codex Iustinianus as a generic term for "street" (VIII.11.20, Edict of Theod. and Val., A.D. 439): "Qui sine auctoritate. . . . angiportus integros vel partes suis domibus incluserint seu porticus usurparint, procul dubio iura pristina sacratissimae reddere civitati iubemus: . . . ." From the same period comes the Catalogue of Constantinople, which is quoted on page 57.

p49 It now becomes plain that, in Roman comedy, the characters may quite naturally refer to the thoroughfare upon which they stand as an angiportum.


Turning now to platea, we may again remark that, in Plautus and Terence, the thoroughfare upon which the characters stand is usually called a platea.10 Interesting also are phrases such as recta platea (Cist. 534) and qua platea (Men. 881), where platea is substituted for the more usual via. Catullus uses platea once (xv.6‑8):

. . . . non dico a populo — nihil veremur

istos qui in platea modo huc modo illuc

in re praetereunt sua occupati . . . . .

Here platea seems to be a general term for "street."

Noteworthy also is a passage in Pliny the Younger (X.98.1): ". . . . civitas . . . . habet . . . . pulcherrimam eandemque longissimam plateam, cuius a latere per spatium omne porrigitur nomine quidem flumen. . . . ." "Boulevard" would be a good translation in this context, preserving in English the foreign flavor which platea has in Latin and denoting an important thoroughfare as the passage suggests. Apparently parallel is the following usage in Aelius Spartianus (Caracalla 9.9): ". . . . Viam Novam munivit . . . . qua pulchrius inter Romanas plateas non facile quicquam invenias." It is possible, however, that platea here is merely a generic term for street. At least this generalized meaning seems clear elsewhere in the Scriptores historiae Augustae, especially in Aelius Lampridius (Heliog. xxxiii.7): ". . . . et occisus est per scutarios et per platea tractus est sordidissime per cloacas ductus et in Tiberim submissus est." One may compare the following passage in Suetonius, who uses vicus as a general term for street but does not employ platea at all and uses angiportum (Galba 10) only once: ". . . . nec ante satiatus est quam membra et artus et viscera hominis tracta per vicos atque ante se congesta vidisset" (Calig. 28). In all the Scriptores historiae Augustae, vicus, meaning "street" or "precinct," occurs only once (in vico Sulpicio p50[Heliog. xvii.8]), and angiportum is not found at all. Platea is used as a general term for street not only in the foregoing passage but also in Julius Capitolinus (Max. et Bal. IX.2). Of course via is also used as a general term for "street," as it is commonly used in all periods. Apuleius uses vicus once (Met. III.29), but here it means "village." He uses angiportum six times and platea, which is a general term for "streets," twelve times (cf. ibid. II.18; III.2; IV.14, etc.).

In general, platea is a rare word in classical Latin as the few examples cited clearly indicate. In late Latin, however, it became very popular, as it has been with Plautus and Terence.11 It does not occur in the letters, speeches, or philosophical writings of Cicero (though it is sometimes restored in De leg. agr. II.96), or in Petronius, Quintilian, Tacitus, Juvenal, or Martial.


The word vicus, cognate with οἶκος, has various meanings, the most common of which is that of "village" (cf. Aetheria VII.7). It is also applied to a precinct or district of a city and to a street of a city.12 The Greek word ἄμφοδον is similarly used both as a street and as a district p51of a city, being extremely frequent in the papyri when used with a proper name.13 The word λαύρα is also used of both street and district.14 To distinguish between these two meanings is often difficult or even impossible in a given context. Sometimes the idea in the author's mind was doubtless vague when he used the word.

As for vicus, it is usually assumed that a whole quarter or precinct was termed vicus (e.g.Vicus Tuscus) and, also, that the chief street of that quarter was called by the same name, while the side streets were called semitae and the blind streets or alleys angiporta.15 It is doubtless true that the name of a quarter often became applied to the chief street of that quarter (cf. Στενωπὸς Κολλυτός at Athens [Judeich, p180]). This accounts for the common use of vicus as an appellative to the apparent exclusion of angiportum, at least at Rome, and somewhat at the expense of via. But we have already seen that this conception of angiporta is incorrect, and the definition of semitae here given is equally so. Platner-Ashby name over one hundred vici, almost invariably identifying them as streets. But most of these names are taken from inscriptions (e.g.CIL VI.975) which give only the names of vicorum magistri by vici. That these vici were precincts is clear from Suetonius Aug. 30, and few of the names cited by Platner-Ashby could be proved to apply to thoroughfares.16 It is well known that only two viae with proper names are recorded from the republican period (cf. Platner-Ashby, p456, s.v. Sacra Via), but it would be rash to conclude from this fact that all the other streets were classed as vici and so named, p52for doubtless many streets had no official names at Rome — at least in the republican period — just as they had no official names at Athens (Judeich, p178). If Rome contained 265 vici or precincts (cf. Plin. H. N. III.66), a vicus could certainly not have been very large, but would have been eleven or twelve acres, approximately equivalent to a modern square block, provided that they were evenly distributed throughout the whole area of the city.

The New Liddell and Scott gives as one meaning of ἄμφοδον, "block of houses surrounded by streets," and, although the passages cited do not appear conclusive for this precise meaning, the formation of the word suggests that this was its original significance (cf. ἀμφίαλος). Festus seems to interpret vicus in a similar manner, ascribing to it three meanings: village, block of houses surrounded by streets, and thoroughfare (502 Lindsay [Teubner] = Glos. Lat. IV.460‑61):

. . . . Altero, cum id genus aedificiorum definitur, quae continentia sunt his oppidis, quae. . . . itineribus regionibusque distributa inter se distant, hominibusque dissimilibus discriminis causa sunt dispartita. Tertio, cum id genus aedificiorum definitur, quae in oppido privi in suo quisque loco proprio ita aedificant, ut in eo aedificio pervium sit, quo itinere habitatores ad suam quisque habitationem habeant accessum.

Varro, however, seems to make the erroneous assumption that vicus originally meant street and introduces a ridiculous etymology (LL V.145 [text emended]):17 "In oppido vici a via, quod ex utraque parte viae sunt aedificia. Fundula a fundo, quod exitum non habet ac pervium non est. Angiportum, si id angustum, ab agendo et portu." Again, Varro names various vici and then remarks (ibid. V.160: cf. V.8): "Quoniam vicus constat ex domibus. . . . ." Doubtless it is mainly from these passages in Varro that editors derive the notion that the basic meaning of the word vicus is "row of houses." Of course, the etymology shows that vicus in its original meaning consists of houses, but this is true both of a village and of a precinct — two meanings distinct in actual usage.

The two passages in Plautus where vicus occurs are ambiguous (Cur. 482; Mer. 665).18 Terence does not use vicus nor does Catullus or Tibullus. Cicero (in his letters, speeches, and philosophical writings) p53uses vicus meaning "street" or "quarter" twice (Pro Mil. 64, already quoted; De off. III.80; cf. Epist. ad Att. 4, 3, 4, 15). The passage from the De officiis is interesting: ". . . . omnibus vicis statuae, ad eas tus, cerei." This passage refers to Marius, and one is here reminded of the passage already quoted referring to Verres (omnibus in angiportis). At first glance, then, vici would seem to be equivalent to angiporta, but it may signify "precinct" here. We know that it was in every precinct, not necessarily every street, that Augustus set up shrines to his Genius (cf. Shuckburgh on Suetonius Aug. 30).

"Street," however, is certainly the meaning of vicus in Horace Epist. I.20.17‑18:

. . . . te . . . .

occupet extremis in vicis balba senectus.

Horace, incidentally, is one of the few authors who uses all three words, angiportus, platea, and vicus, meaning "street" or "precinct" (cf. Plautus and Vitruvius). Livy, who does not use angiportus, frequently cites vici with proper names (cf. Platner-Ashby, s.v. vicus), and explains the irregularity of vici at Rome in the following passage (V.55.4‑5; cf. Diodorus XIV.116):

Festinatio curam exemit vicos dirigendi, dum omisso sui alienique discrimine in vacuo aedificant. Ea est causa ut veteres cloacae, primo per publicum ductae, nunc privata passim subeant tecta, formaque urbis sit occupatae magis quam divisae similis.

Vici is here used clearly as a general term for streets, and the phrase vicos dirigendi is parallel to various phrases in Vitruvius (platearumque et angiportuum. . . . directiones [I.6.1]; directiones vicorum [ibid. 6.8]; directionibus vicorum et platearum [ibid. 6.12 ]). Two passages in Tacitus are also interesting in this connection. They concern streets in Rome and the improvement effected after the fire of Nero: ". . . . obnoxia urbe artis itineribus hucque et illuc flexis atque enormibus vicis, qualis vetus Roma fuit" (Annal. XV.38); ". . . . dimensis vicorum ordinibus et latis viarum spatiis . . . ." (ibid. 43). Nipperdey takes vici in both passages to mean Häuserreihen; but we have seen above that this interpretation, derived from Varro, is suspect, although it must be admitted that the first of these two passages will bear this interpretation. But the meaning, "block of houses surrounded by streets," fits the context equally well if not better. In the second p54passage the interpretation of vici as Häuserreihen is certainly strained. Here Furneaux translates "with rows of streets regularly measured out," comparing Annales I.61.3. In the second passage, if Furneaux's interpretation is correct, vici are contrasted with viae, as we might contrast streets and boulevards (cf. p58).

Noteworthy are the passages where vicus is modified by angustus, thus apparently taking the place of angiportus in its etymological meaning. This usage occurs in Petronius (in vico angusto [lxi.6]) and in Juvenal where, of course, the word angiportus could not be used for metrical reasons (6.78):

. . . . per angustos figamus pulpita vicos . . . .

The narrowness of vici is stressed elsewhere in Juvenal (3.236‑37):

. . . . raedarum transitus arto

vicorum inflexu . . . .

One may compare Martial (VII.61.3‑4):

Iussisti tenuis, Germanice, crescere vicos

Et modo quae fuerat semita, facta via est.

Here vici is used as a broad inclusive term, as it appears to be used in Vitruvius (cf. p55), while viae are contrasted with semitae. The same contrast is found in Cicero (De leg. agr. II.96; see n3). Neither via nor semita is exclusively applied to thoroughfares within cities as are vicus, platea, and angiportus, and this contrast between via and semita — usually road and path — is proverbial (cf. A. Otto, Die Sprichwörter. . . der Römer, s.v. via, Nos. 3, 4, and 5). Suetonius also stresses the narrowness of vici, even though he does not exclude angiportus from his writings: ". . . . catervarios oppidanos, inter angustias vicorum pugnantis . . . ." (Aug. 45); ". . . . quasi offensus deformitate veterum aedificiorum et angustiis flexurisque vicorum . . . ." (Ner. 38). One may compare Tacitus, Hist. III.82: ". . . . in partem sinistram urbis ad Sallustianos hortos, per angusta et lubrica viarum flexerant." Here viae is used instead of vici as a general term for streets.

This use of vicus angustus instead of angiportus is parallel to use of ῥύμη στενή instead of στενωπός in the Κοινή (cf. n4 and text p57).

p55 IV

Various passages are found where two of the three words now under consideration are used together. The most interesting series of such passages is found in Vitruvius:

. . . . sequuntur intra murum arearum divisiones platearumque et angiportuum ad caeli regionem directiones. Dirigentur haec autem recte, si exclusi erunt ex angiportis venti prudenter . . . . sed in angiportis et plateis non possunt consistere. . . . . [I.6.1].

Tum per angulos inter duas ventorum regiones et platearum et angiportorum videntur deberi dirigi descriptiones. His enim rationibus et ea divisione exclusa erit ex habitationibus et vicis ventorum vis molesta. Cum enim plateae contra directos ventos erunt conformatae, ex aperto caeli spatio impetus ac flatus frequens conclusus in faucibus angiportorum vehementioribus viribus pervagabitur. Quas ob res convertendae sunt ab regionibus ventorum directiones vicorum, uti advenientes ad angulos insularum frangantur repulsique dissipentur [ibid. 6.7‑8].

. . . . quemadmodum ab impetu eorum aversis directionibus vicorum et platearum evitentur nocentes flatus [ibid. 6.12].

. . . . angiportuorum divisiones [ibid. 6.13]. Divisis angiportis et plateis constitutis, arearum electio ad opportunitatem et usum communem civitatis est explicanda aedibus sacris foro reliquisque locis communibus [I.7.1].

. . . . Is autem locus est theatri curvaturae similis. Itaque in imo secundum portum forum est constitutum; per mediam autem altitudinis curvaturam praecinctionemque platea ampla latitudine facta, in qua media Mausoleum . . . . [II.8.11, Halicarnassus].

. . . . platearumque et vicorum uti emendate fiant distributiones in moenibus, docui et ita finitionem primo volumine constitui [III Praef. 4].

These passages include every occurrence in Vitruvius of each of the three words which are being considered in this paper. In these passages Morgan is consistent in his translations, using "alley" for angiportum; "street" for platea; and "row (line) of houses" for vicus. Choisy uses "rue" for angiportum; "quartier" for vicus; and "place publique" ("place"), "esplanade" (II.8.11) or "avenue" (III. Praef. 4) for platea. Granger varies his terms even more, using "alley" for angiportum; "street" or "broad street" or "main street" of "quarter of the city" (I.6.12) for platea; and "street" or "side street" (III. Praef. 4) or "quarter" (I.6.12) for vicus. None of these translators, in my opinion, is correct in every instance. Vitruvius is anxious to p56have the winds excluded from the angiporta — doubtless the narrow but numerous streets upon which the majority of the inhabitants would dwell, as we may infer from ex habitationibus et vicis (ibid. 8), which seems to correspond to ex angiportis (ibid. 1). Plateae et angiporta clearly include all streets and might best, perhaps, be translated "boulevards and streets (thus preserving the foreign flavor of plateae) or "main streets and side streets." But "streets and alleys" is not a satisfactory translation in modern English. Platea, of course, developed into "piazza" and "place," etc., but I do not think that Choisy is here justified in translating it "place publique, since in I.7.1, where angiporta and plateae are bracketed in the usual way, areae clearly designates the "places publiques" — a normal and common usage in this period.19 Again, I can find no justification whatever for Granger's translating plateae (I.6.8) "quarters of the city" though he has sed "streets" only a few lines before. Nor has Morgan's translation of plateae et vici (III. Praef. 4), "streets and rows of houses," anything except consistency to recommend it, for this phrase appears to be equivalent to plateae et angiporta. Furthermore, vici in the last sentence of the second quotation (I.6.8) seems to take the place of plateae in the previous sentence, and earlier in the same passage ex habitationibus et vicis seems to be merely an expansion of ex angiportis in the first quotation (ibid. 6.1). It appears, therefore, that vicus is here used as a general term for street, and may be employed in place of either platea or angiportum.20 It should be noted that the main thoroughfares (running from the walls or gates of the city to the forum, according to the conventional interpretation) are usually termed plateae; the cross-streets, angiporta.

Angiportum is bracketed not only with platea, as in Vitruvius, but also with via, as in Cicero (De div. I.69): ". . . . effusumque frumentum vias omnis angiportusque constraverat. . . . ." A similar use is found in the Bellum Alexandrinum (ii.4). On the other hand, Suetonius (Jul. 39) and Trajan (Pliny Epist. X.32.2) bracket or balance p57vici with viae (cf. Tac. Ann. XV.43, quoted p53).21 More frequently vici is bracketed with plateae (Vitruvius I.6.12; III. Praef. 4; Vegetius Epit. rei mil. IV.25; Vulgate Can. Can. iii.2; Ev. s. Luc. xiv.21), and in one passage both terms seem to be included in the following viae (Caesar Bel. civ. I.27.3): ". . . . portas obstruit, vicos plateasque inaedificat, fossas transversas viis praeducit. . . . ." In this last passage viae seems to be a very broad generic term, but in the previous passages, where viae is bracketed with angiporta or vici, it would seem to have taken the place of platea — a word which appears to have been avoided by certain authors.

This use of viae to denote wide or important streets is amply attested by the passages from Cicero and Martial already cited, where there is a contrast between viae and semitae, and by the names of important thoroughfares in Rome, such as Sacra Via, Via Nova (there were two streets with this name), Via Lata, etc. This last street, Via Lata, is interesting since it takes the place of platea in the original meaning (cf. Herondas VI.53), just as vicus angustus takes the place of angiportus. No doubt platea and angiportus had lost their etymological meanings in part, as actual usage indicates, and the phrases of noun plus adjective were more expressive. In the phrases viae et vici and plateae et vici, vici are doubtless the less important streets, like angiporta in similar phrases. Vici and angiporta seem to be equivalent also in the Catalogue of Constantinople (Not. Const.):

Reg. I: vicos sive angiportus viginti novem.

Reg. II: vicos sive angiportus triginta quattuor.

(The oldest manuscript, V, reads angiportos in both passages.) In the other regions vici is used alone. This indicates that in these two passages the phrase sive angiportus is added clearly to designate the vici as streets, not precincts, and that no distinction is being attempted between wide and narrow streets. The phrase includes all streets.

There is ample evidence, then, that angiportum is synonymous with vicus meaning "street" (cf. Vollmer, Thes. L.L., s.v. angiportum) and p58that it is just as incorrect to translate angiportum "alley" as it would be so to translate vicus. They should both be translated "street," with the understanding that the vast number of streets in Athens and in Rome were very narrow. Platea or via, when bracketed with angiportum or vicus, should be termed "avenue" or "boulevard" in order to distinguish between broad avenues and normal streets. Elsewhere platea and via and vicus, when used alone, may be generic terms for "streets." Occasionally angiportum is used in the same inclusive fashion.22 The difference is not one of period (except that vicus meaning "street" may be somewhat later than these other words — the early evidence is ambiguous), but rather one of author. While it is true that vicus does seem to have replace angiportum in most authors of the empire, angiportum is found in the fifth century. Various other words meaning "street" came in, as the Romance languages indicate, such as strata (Eng. "street"; cf. CIL X.4650), ruga (Fr. rue), etc.

University of Oklahoma

The Author's Notes:

1 I wish to thank Professor Prescott for reading this paper and offering numerous helpful suggestions, and Professor W. A. Oldfather and Dr. J. L. Catterall for data from the unpublished index to Cicero's letters.

In this paper the following works are cited merely by the names of the authors: C. O. Dalman, De aedibus scaenicis comoediae novae, "Klass.-phil. Studien," Heft 3 (Leipzig: Harrassowitz, 1929); H. Jordan, Topographie der Stadt Rom im Alterthum (Berlin: Weidmann, 1871 and 1878); W. Judeich, Topographie von Athen (Munich: Beck, 1931); S. B. Platner and T. Ashby, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (Oxford University Press, 1929); F. Preisigke, Wörterbuch der gr. Papyrusurkunden . . . ., (Berlin, 1925‑29); J. Zeller, "Vicus, Platea, Platiodanni," Archiv f. lat. Lex. u. Gram., XIV (1906), 301‑16. Well-known commentaries are also cited merely by the names of their authors.

2 At Pompeii occasionally a house covers a complete square block (Casa del Fauno, Region VI, block xii, house 2), and often houses run through the block, having their main entrances on one street and rear entrances on another. Houses situated on a corner often have two entrances (IX.V.18‑21; Casa del Menandro, I.X.4). One may note, however, that in Region VI, blocks vii‑x, the houses with few exceptions have their front entrances on the Strada di Mercurio and often have rear entrances on parallel streets. These two parallel streets (next to the Strada di Mercurio on the east and on the west) have very few houses facing upon them and sometimes have no sidewalks, thus approaching alleys in their function but still being as wide as many other streets, though not so wide as the Strada di Mercurio. The city of Olynthus, laid out in the second half of the fifth century B.C., regularly had gutters down the middle of each block (the blocks are rectangular). The width of these gutters would have allowed the passage of people on foot, but they were usually blocked by walls (cf. D. M. Robinson, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. XXXVI [1932], Fig. 1, p118).

3 According to the laws of the Twelve Tables, a via must be eight feet in directo, sixteen feet in anfracto; cf. Varro LL VII.15; Gaius Dig. VIII.3.8. The Augustan pavement of the Sacra Via is five meters wide in one section (cf. Platner-Ashby, p458); cf. Cicero (de leg. agr. II.96 [text emended]): "Romam. . . . non optimis viis, angustissimis semitis. . . . ."

4 Dalman, pp66‑70. The words στενωπός (cf. Plutarch Praec. ger. reip. 15 [II 811B]) and πλατεῖα (Plutarch Dio 46 [I 978C]) both became general terms for streets; cf. Hesychius: Στενωπός· ἡ ἀγυία, καὶ πλατεῖα, καὶ ἄμφοδος. The same development is noticeable in λαῦραι (cf. Herodotus I.180; Herondas I.13) and ἄμφοδοι (cf. Harmodius of Lepreum, FHG, IV.411 = Athen. 149C, Hesychius, and Suidas). Judeich (p178) says that στενωποί denoted die Masse der kleinen, engen, krummen Gassen and that ἄμφοδοι denoted not thoroughfares but blind Gässchen. But he draws distinctions that are too fine, just as the writers on Roman topography are inclined to do (cf. n14). The proper terms for blind streets are τυφλὴ ὀδός (cf. Hesychius), τυφλὴ ῥύμη (Pap. Oxyrh., I.99, l. 9), etc. The word στενωπός is not found in the Septuagint or in the New Testament, and it is not listed by Preisigke (but cf. ῥύμη στενή), although it is used by certain late authors (cf. Sophocles Lexicon). Πλατεῖα and ῥύμη seem to have been the usual words in ordinary speech in later Greek (cf. Pollux IX.38), though the other words are also common in the papyri (except στενωπός). How loosely terms for "street" were used may be observed from passages wherein they are interchanged; cf. Herodotus I.180 (λαῦραι and ὀδοί), Clearchus, FHG, II.310 = Athen. 540F (λαύρα and στενωπή — text emended); Pap. Oxyrh., I.99 (λαύρα and ῥύμη). In Oxyrhynchus the same proper names (e.g. Temgenouthis) are used now with ἄμφοδον, now with λαύρα (cf. Preisigke).

5 Angiportum is frequently glossed στενωπός. The gender of στενωπός and of ἄμφοδον varies as does that of angiportum. The narrowness of angiporta is evident in many passages in the commentators, etc.; cf. Varro LL V.145; VI.41; Festus 16 (Lindsay [Teubner] = Glos. Lat., IV.112); Corp. glos., V.439.57 (Glos. lat. V.176, 983, from Festus according to Lindsay on Festus, Glos. Lat., IV.112); Donatus on Terence Ad. 578; Eugraphius on Terence Eu. 845, Ad. 578; Corp. glos., II.XII: "cimiterivm, locus sepulchorum [sic!]. Urbs omnis dividitur in sex partes. Id est templa, domos, vicos, insulas, plateas, et angiportas. . . . . Vici sunt publicae constructiones mansionum. Insulae, qui inter vicos sunt horti. Plateae, viae latae a porta in portam. Angiportas (‑as pro ‑us, corr.) viae angustae inter minores vicos quae exitum ad muros aut nullum aut angustum habent."

On angiportum in general cf. Thes. L.L. (add Plautus Pseud. 1235; Not. Const. reg. II; Donatus on Ter. Eu. 845; Eugraphius on Ter. Ad. 578, Eu. 845); Mau in Pauly-Wissowa, I.2190‑91; Landgraf, Archiv f. L. L., V (1888), 139‑40, 191. In this paper the singular of the word is given as angiportum, the plural as angiporta, merely for convenience in reading. There is constant variation in the forms employed and sometimes in the MSS. readings; cf. Priscian (Keil, II.262; cf. suppl. 127, 30).

6 Cf. Pseud. 971. Possibly Pseud. 1235 and Terence Phor. 891‑92 are parallel (cf. Dalman, pp73‑74).

7 Cf. Martial VI.93.1‑2; XII.48.8 (note that via is here used in both passages); and also H. Blümner, Tech. und Term. der Gewerbe und Künste bei Griechen und Römern (Teubner, 1912), I2.175‑76.

8 The remark of Vollmer (Thes. L. L., II.47, s.v. angiportum) appears to be misleading in its implications: "apud scriptores subest fere notio secreti, ubi sicarii latrones moechi rem habent." Angiportum is frequently glossed loca secreta, and beside the passages quoted in the text a passage in Suetonius carries a somewhat similar connotation (Galba 10): ". . . . per angiportum in balneas transeuntem paene interemerunt." But streets in general had an unsavory reputation; cf. Horace Epod. V.97; Suetonius Aug. 45; Apuleius Met. II.18; Harmodius of Lepreum, FHG, IV.411.

Many modern scholars and some ancient commentators and glosses interpret angiportum as a cul-de‑sac (Donatus on Eu. 845; schol. on Horace Carm. I.25.10; Corp. glos., IV.405.49). Lindsay (commentary on Festus, Glos. Lat., IV.112) interprets Varro LL V.145 in this manner, but this interpretation is impossible in the opinion of the present writer. The clause quod exitum non habet ac pervium non est (on pervium cf. Blase, Archiv f. L.L., IV [1887], 322‑23) clearly goes with fundula, the etymology of which — either according to Varro (fundus) or according to modern authorities (cf. Walde-Hofmann, Ernout-Meillet, s.v. funda) — allows for this meaning. The etymology of angiportum — the true or the false — does not account for such a meaning.

It is clear from many passages quoted above that angiportum frequently refers to an ordinary thoroughfare, and even Terence Adel. 578, the locus classicus for the meaning cul-de‑sac, clearly shows upon a careful reading that angiportum cannot of itself mean cul-de‑sac, but for such a meaning it must be limited by non. . . . pervium; and without this limitation it is presumed to be a normal street (Ad. 576). In Eunuchus 845, angiporta cannot be "blind streets," regardless of the comment of Donatus on this line. Festus 468 (Lindsay [Teubner] = Glos. Lat., IV.434) may presume a blind alley as the meaning of angiportum, but this passage is not altogether clear.

9 Apul. Met. I.21; III.2; IV.20; IX.25. Jordan (I, 523, n49a) says that prima platea (Met. II.32) is equivalent to primus angiportus (ibid. III.2), comparing Met. II.18, 27. But these passages do not seem to refer to the same street.

10 Cf. Plautus Bac. *632; Cap. 795; Cas. 799; Cur. 278; Mil. 609; Tri. 840, 1006; Terence An. 796; Eu. 344, 1064; Phor. 215. Via is also used in a general way for the thoroughfare on which the characters stand (cf. Cas. 856; Stich. 606, etc.). The use of the phrase ultima platea is also noteworthy (cf. Cur. 278; Phor. 215).

11 Additional cases of the occurrence of platea are the following: Plautus Am. 1011, Aul. 407 (see n10); Terence Adel. 574, 582 (see n10); Horace Epist. II.2.70‑71; Liv. XXV.8; Notae Tir. (CNT) 120.77 (cf. 78); Aelius Lampridius Heliog. xxiv.6; Alex. xxv.7; Aelius Spartianus Car. iv.2. For a large number of late examples cf. Zeller, p306, and the Vulgate. Two plateae with proper names are known: the Platea Traiani (Symmachus Epist. VI.37) and the Plateae Antoninianae (Aelius Lampridius Heliog. xxiv.6). The latter should have been included under a separate heading in Platner-Ashby, who mention them under Palatinus Mons (pp378‑79).

Platea is glossed via spatiosa twice (Corp. glos., IV.144.28 = Glos. lat. III.68.8; Corp. glos., IV.268.14 = Glos. lat. V.100.7). Cf. n4; Isidore Etym. XV.2.23; De different. verb. 598. The form of the word is explained in Donatus on Terence An. 796 and in the grammarians (Keil, VII.282, l. 31).

On the original Greek word cf. Hesychius πλατείαις· ῥύμαις, ἀγοραῖς. In the Septuagint the Hebrew word רְחׂב or רְחׂוֹב, which is often translated πλατεῖα, is sometimes translated ῥύμη (e.g., Tob. 13:18). "Piazza" is the common meaning of πλατεῖα in modern Greek, and this is apparently the proper interpretation in many passages in the Septuagint and occasionally in the New Testament; cf. II Chron. 32:6; II Esd. 10:9; Matt. 6:5 (J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed, The Bible: An American Translation [University of Chicago Press, 1931]). The word used in the Vulgate in these passages is platea. One would naturally assume that the meaning "piazza" developed first in Greek, owing to the influence of πλατύς, and that this meaning was then transferred to the Latin word. These passages seem to prove this supposition. The spelling plataea (CIL VIII.51) indicates that the word continued to be associated closely with its Greek original (cf. Zeller, p316).

12 Vicus is frequently glossed κώμη, ῥύμη, and ἄμφοδον (ἄμφοδος), once ἐποικ[ε]ία; cf. esp. Corp. Glos., II.208.19 = Glos. Lat., II.287.22 and Isidore Etym. XV.2.12.

13 Cf. Preisigke, Band III, Absch. 22; Grenfell-Hunt, commentary on Oxy. pap., II.242.12.

14 So Zeller, p301 (cf. Jordan, I.514).

15 Semita is occasionally used as "street" (cf. Cicero De leg. agr. II.96), and a street in Rome was called the Alta Semita. In Plautus semita sometimes means "sidewalk" (Cur. 287; Mer. 115; Tri. 481). Semita is used elsewhere in Plautus with its ordinary meaning of "path."

The word clivus is also a common word for "street" in Latin; some eighteen names with clivus are listed in Platner-Ashby (cf. Forma urbis Romae, ed. H. Jordan [Berlin: Weidmann, 1874], 37).

16 The Vicus Tuscus is mentioned in Plautus Cur. 482. Dionysius of Halicarnassus (AR V.36.4) translates the phrase Τυρρηνῶν Οἴκησις, thus clearly considering it a district, not a street (cf. Liv. II.14.9; Servius on Verg. Aen. V.560). In Liv. XXVII.37.15 one may observe how the names of districts and of the streets running through these districts become indistinguishably merged. Several vici with proper names are translated by στενωπός: Vicus Patricius, Plutarch QR 3 (II 264C); Vicus Longus, Plutarch De for. R. 10 (II 323A); Vicus Cuprius, Dionysius AR III.22.8.

17 Lindsay's interpretation of this passage is impossible; cf. n8.

18 Cf. n16; with Mer. 665 cf. Suetonius Claud. 18.

19 Cf. Horace Carm. I.9.18 (cf. Varro LL V.38); Forma urbis Romae, 3 (cf. n15). Area is used in Plautus only as "fowling ground."

20 This loose use of terms in describing the thoroughfares of a city finds a good literary precedent in the description of Babylon by Herodotus (I.180).

21 In the passage from Pliny the phrase might very naturally be interpreted as meaning "(country) roads and (city) streets." As a rule in English and in Latin, terms applied to roads (via, cf. semita; Eng. "road," "lane," etc.) are occasionally applied to city streets, but terms for streets are not applied to country roads.

22 This usage of any of these three words as a generic term the "streets" is paralleled by the usage of the corresponding Greek words (cf. n4).

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