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p139 Arx

Unsigned article on p139 of

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

Woodcuts are from Smith's Dictionary; any color photos are mine © William P. Thayer

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Part of the remains of the Etruscan arx of Vetulonia.

ARX (ἄκρα), signified a height within the walls of a city, but which was never closed by a wall against the city in earlier times, and very seldom in later times. The same city may have had several arces, as was the case at Rome; and hence Virgil says with great propriety (Georg. II.535):—

"Septemque una sibi muro circumdedit arces."

As, however, there was generally one principal height in the city, the word arx came to be used as equivalent to acropolis [Acropolis.] (Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, vol. III note 411). At Rome, one of the summits of the Capitoline hill was specially called Arx, but which of them was so called has been a subject of great dispute among Roman topographers. The opinion of the best modern writers is, that the Capitolium was on the northern summit, and the Arx on the southern.a The Arx was the regular place at Rome for taking the auspices, and was hence likewise called auguraculum, according to Paulus Diaconus, though it is more probable that the Auguraculum was a place in the Arx (Liv. I.18, X.7; Paul. Diac. s.v. Auguraculum; Becker, Römisch. Alterth. vol. I p386, &c., vol. II part I. p313).


Thayer's Note:

a The opinion of the best modern writers is, that the Capitolium was on the northern summit, and the Arx on the southern: Writing is one thing and finding stone is another. Though the Arx proper has not been identified, everyone agreed that identifying the Capitolium on one summit would place the Arx on the other. On Nov. 7, 1875, the same year as this edition of our dictionary . . . read all about it in Lanciani, who was there, and who writes much better than I do. Map, too.


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Page updated: 29 Aug 12