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Bill Thayer

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p95 Angiportus

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D, F.R.S.E, Rector of the High School of Edinburgh,
on p95 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

ANGIPORTUS, or ANGIPORTUM, a narrow lane between two rows of houses;a such a lane might have no issue at all, or end in a private house, so as to be what the French call a cul-de‑sac, or it might terminate at both ends in some public street. The ancients derived the word from angustus and portus, and explain it as meaning, originally, the narrow entrance to a port (Fest. p17, ed. Müller; Varro, De L. L. V.145, VI.41; Ulpian, in Dig. De Signif. Verb. 59). The number of such narrow courts, closes, or lanes seems to have been considerable in ancient Rome. (Cic. de Div. I.32, p. Mil. 24, ad Heren. IV.51; Plaut. Pseud. IV.2.6, ap. Non. III.1; Ter. Adelph. IV.2.39; Horat. Carm. I.25.10; Catull. 58.4.)

Thayer's Note:

a Etymologically, yes; but very quickly, angiportus became a common word for street. Mind you, most streets were narrow. . . . For a more thorough look at the nomenclature of Roman streets, see "Angiportum, Platea, and Vicus" (Class. Phil. XXXII, p48).

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Page updated: 13 Jun 08