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Regiones Quattuordecim

 p444  Article on pp444‑447 of

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

Regiones Quattuordecim: * the fourteen regions, or wards, into which Augustus divided the city when he reformed the municipal administration in 7 B.C. (Suet. Aug. 30; Cass. Dio LV.8). Thereafter Rome was often designated as urbs regionum xiv or urbs sacra regionum xiv (text fig. 4). These regions were divided into vici, and a new set of magistrates, magistri vicorum, drawn from the common citizens, was instituted, originally four from each vicus, but afterwards forty-eight from each region regardless of the number of vici, and two curatores. These magistrates had to do mainly with the religious ceremonies of the regions, while the regular municipal administration was still in the hands of higher officials. (For the administrative organisation of the regions, see  p445 Marquardt, Staatsverwaltung III.203‑207; Mommsen, Staatsrecht II.1035‑1037; III.119‑122; BC 1906, 198‑208; CIL VI.975.) The regions were fourteen in number, twice as many as the traditional hills of Rome, and were known originally only by number (cf. Tac. Ann. XV.40; Plin. NH III.66‑67; Hist. Aug. Heliog. 20; Frontinus 79; Suet. Dom. 1; CIL VI pass.), but the names found in the Regionary Catalogue became current at various later periods, doubtless as a result of popular usage​1 (cf. Regio Palatii, Regio Campi Martii, Suet. Caes. 39, Aug. 5, Nero 12, de gramm. 2; and Templum Pacis for Region IV, which could not have been used at all until after that building was erected by Vespasian.) This division into fourteen regions continued in force until the seventh century when an ecclesiastical division into seven regions was introduced and opened the way for the entirely different organisation of the Middle Ages.

From the Regionary Catalogue it is possible to determine with some precision, in most cases, the limits of these regions in the fourth century, but it is a different matter to do this for the Augustan division, inasmuch as it is certain that the outer boundaries at least had been extended at some points during the intervening three hundred years, and our additional information concerning earlier conditions is extremely scanty. What little there is must be derived from (1) the evidence of terminal cippi that have been found as to successive extensions of the Pomerium (q.v.) under Claudius, Vespasian and Hadrian; (2) Pliny's description (NH III.66‑67) of the area of the city in his day — a passage full of difficulty and uncertainty; (3) the customs boundary of the city, marked by cippi, of which five have been found, dating from the time of Commodus (CIL VI.1016a, b, c, 8594, 31227);​2 (4) the list of vici on the so‑called Capitoline Base, inscribed in 136 A.D. (CIL VI.975; Jord. II.585‑598). The line of the Servian wall was not always a boundary between adjacent regions, for while III, IV, VIII, XI appear to have always been limited by that line on the inside, and the same was true of V, VII, IX on the outside, I, II, VI, XII, XIII embraced ground on both sides. Nor did the wall of Aurelian and the Augustan or later outer boundaries everywhere coincide.

The following short description of the regions is based on the latest and most generally accepted view of their boundaries, as drawn by Hülsen (KH II.).

I, Porta Capena, so called from the gate in the Servian wall, an irregularly shaped district, beginning at the east corner of the Palatine, bounded on the west by that hill, and running south to some distance  p446 beyond the porta Capena between two lines not more than 150 metres apart on the average. Beyond the Aventine it widened considerably and extended to the bank of the Almo, some distance beyond the Aurelian wall. It is possible that Regions I, II, III, IV and X all met at one point near the Meta Sudans.

II, Caelimontium, including most of the Caelian, and bounded by Region I, the Aurelian wall, and the straight street that ran from the Colosseum to the porta Caelimontana and the porta Asinaria.

III, Isis et Serapis, so called because of the temples to these two Egyptian deities erected within its area. It included the Colosseum valley and the Oppius, and was bounded by Region II, the Servian wall, the clivus Suburanus from the porta Esquilina west, and the prolongation of its line westward to a point north of the Colosseum, where it turned south to the Meta Sudans. This line from the porta Esquilina was the southern limit of Region IV.

IV, Templum Pacis (see above), including the Sacra via from its beginning to the atrium Vestae, the Subura, and the Cispius. Its boundaries were that just described, the Servian wall, the vicus Patricius from the porta Viminalis to a point near the Subura, where it seems to have curved to the north, then passed between the forum of Nerva and that of Vespasian, and embraced the northern part of the forum.

V, Esquiliae, the eastern district of the city, lying outside the Servian wall and north of the via Asinaria. In the time of Augustus the campus Viminalis, and probably all the district between the via Tiburtina and the via Salaria, lay outside the city (Plin. loc. cit.), and none of it was included in Region V until after the time of Vespasian. The boundary was about 300‑400 metres beyond the Aurelian wall on the south (Mitt. 1896, 122‑130), but in the fourth century coincided with it from a point south of the via Labicana to the south side of the castra Praetoria.

VI, Alta Semita, so called from a street that followed the ridge of the Quirinal, like the present Via Venti Settembre. Bounded on the south and south-west by Region IV it originally included the Quirinal from the imperial fora to the Servian wall between the porta Viminalis and the porta Collina, and extended far enough west to take in the horti Sallustiani, and north beyond the line of the Aurelian wall. In the fourth century, after the castra Praetoria had been made a part of the city, the boundary of this region coincided with the Aurelian wall from the porta Salaria south round the castra. From a point a little west of the porta Pinciana, the boundary ran almost due south to the forum of Trajan.

VII, Via Lata, so called from the name given to the southern end of the via Flaminia, between which and the western boundary of VI this region lay.

VIII, Forum Romanum vel Magnum, an irregular region, including the forum, though not the whole of the Sacra via, the imperial fora, the Capitol, and the district south of it, extending to a line drawn north  p447 of the forum Boarium through the Velabrum and to the east end of the atrium Vestae.

IX, Circus Flaminius, including all the territory between the Servian wall, the via Flaminia and the Tiber.

X, Palatium, the Palatine, within the lines described by Tacitus (Ann. XII.24) as those of the first Pomerium (q.v.).

XI, Circus Maximus, a very irregular region, containing the circus Maximus, and bounded by the Tiber, and Regions IX, VIII, X, XII and XIII.

XII, Piscina Publica, so called from a district within its limits that had formerly contained a public reservoir or swimming bath. This region included the eastern part of the Aventine, and was bounded by the via Appia and Region I, the Aurelian wall, and the vicus portae Raudusculanae and the vicus Piscinae Publicae.

XIII, Aventinus, the Aventine and the district south of it, between the boundaries of XII and XI, the Aurelian wall, and the Tiber.

XIV, Trans Tiberim (Trastevere), all the city on the right bank of the Tiber, together with the insula Tiberina. The limits of this region cannot be determined, but it included much more than the territory within the Aurelian wall. It extended south as far as the temple of Fors Fortuna (q.v.) and north far enough to include the Vatican district.

(For a full discussion of the fourteen regions, and necessarily of the Regionary Catalogues, see Pr. Reg., Jena, 1846; Jord. I.1.296‑339; ii.1‑236; De Rossi, Piante icnografiche 25‑63; Homo, Aurélien 231‑234; BC 1890, 115‑137; 1892, 93‑101; RhM 1894, 416‑423; Mitt. 1892, 269‑270; 1897, 148‑160; Arch. Zeit. 1856, 147; RE I. A. 482‑485.)

The Authors' Notes:

1 Hülsen notes that these names occur in no ancient writer, in no official document or inscription, and not even in any sepulchral inscription: and he is therefore inclined to believe that they were simply the first names in each region in the original list, from which the Notitia and Curiosum were taken, and then were placed by careless editing at the head of the list of buildings in each region. It is further to be noted that, even when they are those of buildings, they are not repeated in these lists.

2 Four of them are marked ABCD in text fig. 4 (p394).

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Page updated: 12 May 20