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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography


published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. II) Strabo

 p375  Book V Chapter 3

1 (228) The country the Sabini live in is narrow, but taken lengthwise it reaches even a thousand stadia from the Tiber and the little town of Nomentum, as far as the country of the Vestini. They have but few cities and even these have been brought low on account of the continual wars; they are Amiternum, and Reate (near which is the village of Interocrea, and also the cold springs of Cotiliae,​160 where people cure their diseases,​161 not only by drinking from the springs but also by sitting down in them). Foruli​162 too belongs to the Sabini — a rocky elevation naturally suited to the purposes of a revolt rather than habitation. As for Cures, it is now only a small village,​a but it was once a city of significance, since it was the original home of two kings of Rome, Titius Tatius and Numa Pompilius; hence, the title "Curites"​163 by which the public orators address the Romans. Trebula, Eretum, and other such settlements might be ranked as villages rather than cities. As a whole the land of the Sabini is exceptionally well-planted with the olive and the vine, and it also produces acorns in quantities; it is important, also, for its domestic cattle of every kind; and in particular the fame of the Reate-breed of mules is remarkably widespread. In a word, Italy as a whole is an excellent nurse both of young animals and of fruits, although different species in different parts take the first prize. The  p377 Sabini not only are a very ancient race but are also the indigenous inhabitants (and both the Picentini and the Samnitae are colonists from the Sabini,​164 and the Leucani from the Samnitae,​165 and the Brettii​166 from the Leucani).​167 And the old-fashioned ways of the Sabini might be taken as evidence of bravery, and of those other excellent qualities which have enabled them to hold out to the present time.​168 Fabius, the historian, says that the Romans realised their wealth for the first time when they became established as masters of this tribe. As for the roads that have been constructed through their country, there is not only the Via Salaria (though it does not run far) but also the Via Nomentana which unites with it at Eretum​169 (a village of the Sabine country, situated beyond the Tiber), though it begins above the same gate, Porta Collina.170

2 Next comes the Latin country, in which the city of the Romans is situated, though it now comprises also many cities of what was formerly non-Latin  p379 country. For the Aeci,​171 the Volsci, the Hernici, and also the aborigines who lived near Rome itself, the Rutuli who held the old Ardea, 229and other groups, greater or less, who lived near the Romans of that time, were all in existence when the city was first founded; and some of these groups, since they were ranked under no common tribe, used to be allowed to live autonomously in separate villages. It is said that Aeneas, along with his father Anchises and his son Ascanius, after putting in at Laurentum, which was on the shore near Ostia and the Tiber, founded a city a little above the sea, within about twenty-four stadia from it; and Latinus, the king of the aborigines, who lived in this place where Rome now is, on making them a visit, used Aeneas and his people as allies against the neighbouring Rutuli who occupied Ardea (the distance from Ardea to Rome is one hundred and sixty stadia), and after his victory founded a city near by, naming it after his daughter Lavinia; and when the Rutuli joined battle again, Latinus fell, but Aeneas was victorious, became king, and called his subjects "Latini"; and after the death of both Aeneas and his father Anchises, Ascanius founded Alba and Mount Albanus, which Mount is the same distance from Rome as Ardea. Here the Romans in company with the Latini — I mean the joint assembly of all their magistrates — offered sacrifice to Zeus; and the assembly put one of the young nobles in charge of the city as governor for the time of the sacrifice. But it is four hundred  p381 years later that the stories about Amollius​172 and his brother Numitor are placed — stories partly fabulous but partly closer to the truth. In the first place, both brothers succeeded to the rule of Alba (which extended as far as the Tiber) from the descendants of Ascanius; but Amollius, the younger, elbowed the elder out and reigned alone; but since Numitor had a son and a daughter, Amollius treacherously murdered the son while on a hunt, and appointed the daughter, in order that she might remain childless, a priestess of Vesta, so as to keep her a virgin (she is called Rhea Silvia); then, on discovering that she had been ruined (for she gave birth to twins), instead of killing her, he merely incarcerated her, to gratify his brother, and exposed the twins on the banks of the Tiber in accordance with an ancestral custom. In mythology, however, we are told that the boys were begotten by Ares, and that after they were exposed people saw them being suckled by a she-wolf; but Faustulus, one of the swineherds near the place, took them up and reared them (but we must assume that it was some influential man, a subject of Amollius, that took them and reared them), and called one Romulus and the other Romus;​173 and upon reaching manhood they attacked Amollius and his sons, and upon the defeat of the latter and the reversion of the rule to Numitor, they went back home and founded Rome — in a place which was suitable more as a matter  p383 of necessity than of choice;​174 230for neither was the site naturally strong, nor did it have enough land of its own in the surrounding territory to meet the requirements of a city,​175 nor yet, indeed, people to join with the Romans as inhabitants; for the people who lived thereabouts were wont to dwell by themselves (though their territory almost joined the walls of the city that was being founded), not even paying any attention to the Albani themselves. And there was Collatia, and Antemnae, and Fidenae, and Labicum, and other such places — then little cities, but now mere villages, or else estates of private citizens — all at a distance from Rome of thirty stadia, or a little more. At any rate, between the fifth and the sixth of those stones which indicate the miles from Rome there is a place called "Festi," and this, it is declared, is a boundary of what was then the Roman territory; and, further, the priests​176 celebrate sacrificial festivals, called "Ambarvia,"​177 on the same day, both there and at several other places, as being boundaries. Be this as it may, a quarrel arose at the time of the founding of the city, and as a result Remus was slain.​178 After the founding Romulus set about collecting a promiscuous rabble by designating as an asylum a sacred precinct between the Arx and the Capitol,​179 and by declaring citizens all the neighbours who fled  p385 thither for refuge. But since he could not obtain the right of intermarriage for these, he announced one horse-race, sacred to Poseidon, the rite that is still to‑day performed; and when numerous people, but mostly Sabini, had assembled, he bade all who wanted a wife to seize the maidens who had come to the race. Titus Tatius, the king of the Curites, went to avenge​180 the outrage by force of arms, but compromised with Romulus on the basis of partner­ship in the throne and state. But Tatius was treacherously murdered in Lavinium, and then Romulus, with the consent of the Curites, reigned alone. After Romulus, Numa Pompilius, a fellow-citizen of Tatius, succeeded to the throne, receiving it from his subjects by their own choice. This, then, is the best accredited story of the founding of Rome.

3 But there is another one, older and fabulous, in which we are told that Rome was an Arcadian colony and founded by Evander:— When Heracles was driving the cattle of Geryon he was entertained by Evander; and since Evander had learned from his mother Nicostrate (she was skilled in the art of divination, the story goes) that Heracles was destined to become a god after he had finished his labours, he not only told this to Heracles but also consecrated to him a precinct and offered a sacrifice to him after the Greek ritual, which is still to this day kept up in honour of Heracles. And Coelius himself,​181 the Roman historian, puts this down as proof that Rome was founded by Greeks — the fact that at Rome the hereditary sacrifice to Heracles is after the Greek ritual. And the Romans honour also the  p387 mother of Evander, regarding her as one of the nymphs, although her name has been changed to Carmentis.182

4 231Be that as it may, the Latini at the outset were few in number and most of them would pay no attention to the Romans; but later on, struck with amazement at the prowess both of Romulus and of the kings who came after him, they all became subjects. And after the overthrow of the Aequi,​183 of the Volsci, and of the Hernici, and, still before that, of both the Rutuli and the aborigines (and besides these, certain of the Rhaeci,​184 as also of the Argyrusci​185 and the Preferni),​186 the whole country that belonged to these peoples was called Latium. The Pomptine Plain, on the confines of the Latini, and the city of Apiola, which was destroyed by Tarquinius Priscus, used to belong to the Volsci. The Aequi are the nearest neighbours of the Curites; their cities, too, were sacked by Tarquinius Priscus; and his son captured Suessa, the metropolis of the Volsci. The Hernici used to live near Lanuvium, Alba, and Rome itself; and Aricia, also, and Tellenae and Antium were not far away. At the outset the Albani lived in harmony with the Romans, since they spoke the same language and  p389 were Latini, and though they were each, as it happened, ruled by kings, separate and apart, none the less they not only had the right of intermarriage with one another, but also held sacrifices — those at Alba — and other political rights in common; later on, however, war arose between them, with the result that all Alba was destroyed except the temple, and that the Albani were adjudged Roman citizens. As for the other neighbouring cities, some of them too were destroyed, and others humiliated, for their disobedience, while some were made even stronger than they were because of their loyalty. Now at the present time the seaboard is called Latium from Ostia as far as the city of Sinuessa, but in earlier times Latium had extended its seaboard only as far as Circaeum. Further, in earlier times Latium did not include much of the interior, but later on it extended even as far as Campania and the Samnitae and the Peligni and other peoples who inhabit the Apennines.

5 All Latium is blest with fertility and produces everything, except for a few districts that are on the seaboard — I mean all those districts that are marshy and sickly (such as those of the Ardeatae, and those between Antium and Lanuvium as far as the Pomptine Plain, and certain districts in the territory of Setia and the country round about Tarracina and the Circaeum), or any districts that are perhaps mountainous and rocky; and yet even these are not wholly untilled or useless, but afford rich pasture grounds, or timber, or certain fruits that grow in marshy or rocky ground (the Caecuban Plain, although marshy, supports a vine that produces the best of wine, I mean the tree-vine).​187 The seaboard  p391 cities belonging to the Latii are, first, Ostia: it is harbourless on account of the silting up which is caused by the Tiber, since the Tiber is fed by numerous streams. Now although it is with peril that the merchant-ships anchor far out in the surge, still, the prospect of gain prevails; 232and in fact the good supply of the tenders which receive the cargoes and bring back cargoes in exchange makes it possible for the ships to sail away quickly before they touch the river, or else, after being partly relieved of their cargoes, they sail into the Tiber and run inland as far as Rome, one hundred and ninety stadia. Ostia was founded by Ancus Marcius. Such, then, is this city of Ostia. Next comes Antium, it also being a harbourless city. It is situated on masses of rock, and is about two hundred and sixty stadia distant from Ostia. Now at the present time Antium is given over to the rulers for their leisure and relief from the cares of state whenever they get the opportunity, and therefore, for the purposes of such sojourns, many very costly residences have been built in the city; but in earlier times the people of Antium used to possess ships and to take part with the Tyrrheni in their acts of piracy, although at that time they were already subjects of the Romans. It is for this reason that Alexander, in earlier times, sent in complaints, and that Demetrius,​188 later on, when he sent back to the Romans what pirates he had captured, said that, although he was doing the Romans the favour of sending back the captives because of the kinship between the Romans and the Greeks, he did not deem it right for men to be sending out bands of pirates at the same time that they were in command of Italy, or to build in  p393 their Forum a temple in honour of the Dioscuri, and to worship them, whom all call Saviours, and yet at the same time send to Greece people who would plunder the native land of the Dioscuri. And the Romans put a stop to such practices. Midway between these two cities is Lavinium, which has a temple of Aphrodite that is common to all the Latini, though the Ardeatae, through attendants, have the care of it. Then comes Laurentum. And beyond these cities lies Ardea, a settlement of the Rutuli, seventy stadia inland from the sea. Near Ardea too there is a temple of Aphrodite, where the Latini hold religious festivals. But the places were devastated by the Samnitae; and although only traces of cities are left, those traces have become famous because of the sojourn which Aeneas made there and because of those sacred rites which, it is said, have been handed down from those times.

6 After Antium, within a distance of two hundred and ninety stadia, comes Circaeum, a mountain which has the form of an island, because it is surrounded by sea and marshes. They further say that Circaeum is a place that abounds in roots — perhaps because they associate it with the myth about Circe. It has a little city and a temple of Circe and an altar of Athene, and people there show you a sort of bowl which, they say, belonged to Odysseus. Between Antium and Circaeum is the River Storas, and also, near it, an anchoring-place. Then comes a stretch of coast that is exposed to the south-west wind, with no shelter except a little harbour near Circaeum itself. Beyond this coast, in the interior, is the Pomptine Plain. The country that joins this latter was formerly inhabited by the Ausones, who also  p395 held Campania. 233After these come the Osci; they too had a share in Campania; but now everything belongs to the Latini as far as Sinuessa, as I said.​189 A peculiar thing has taken place in the case of the Osci and the tribe of the Ausones. Although the Osci have disappeared, their dialect still remains among the Romans, so much so that, at the time of a certain traditional competition, poems in that dialect are brought on the stage and recited like mimes;​190 again, although the Ausones never once lived on the Sicilian Sea, still the high sea is called "Ausonian." Next, within one hundred stadia of Circaeum, is Tarracina, which was formerly called "Trachine"​191 from its actual character. In front of Tarracina lies a great marsh, formed by two rivers; the larger one is called Aufidus.​192 It is here that the Appian Way first touches the sea; it has been constructed from Rome as far as Brentesium​193 and is the most travelled of all; but of the cities on the sea it touches only these: Tarracina, and those that come next in order after it, Formiae, Minturnae, and Sinuessa, and those at the end — Taras​194 and Brentesium. Near Tarracina, as you go toward Rome, there is a canal which runs alongside the Appian Way, and is fed at numerous places by waters  p397 from the marshes and the rivers. People navigate the canal, preferably by night (so that if they embark in the evening they can disembark early in the morning and go the rest of their journey by the Way), but they also navigate it by day. The boat is towed by a mule.​195 Next after Tarracina comes Formiae, founded by the Laconians, and formerly called "Hormiae" because of its good "hormos."​196 And those people also named the intervening gulf "Caietas,"​197 for the Laconians call all hollow things "Caietas"; but some say the gulf was named after the nurse of Aeneas.​198 It has a length of one hundred stadia, beginning at Tarracina and extending as far as the promontory of like name.​199 There are wide-open caverns of immense size at this place, which have been occupied by large and very costly residences; from here to Formiae the distance is forty stadia. Midway between Formiae and Sinuessa is Minturnae, which is about eighty stadia distant from each. Through Minturnae flows the River Liris, formerly called the "Clanis." It runs from the interior, out of the Apennine Mountains and the country of the Vestini, past Fregellae,º a village (it was formerly a famous city), and empties into a sacred precinct which is much revered by the people in Minturnae; the precinct is situated below the city. In the high sea, off the caverns and visible thence most of the time, are situated two islands,  p399 Pandateria and Pontia,​200 which, though small, are well peopled; they are not far distant from one another, but they are two hundred and fifty stadia from the mainland. The Caecuban Plain borders on the Gulf of Caietas; and next to the plain comes Fundi, situated on the Appian Way. All these places produce exceedingly good wine; 234indeed, the Caecuban and the Fundanian and the Setinian belong to the class of wines that are widely famed, as is the case with the Falernian and the Alban and the Statanian. Sinuessa is situated in the Caietan "Kolpos,"​201 and hence its name; for "Kolpos" means "Sinus";​202 and near Sinuessa are hot baths, which are most efficacious for certain diseases.​203 These, then, are the cities of the Latini on the sea.

7 In the interior, the first city above Ostia is Rome, and it is the only city that is situated on the Tiber. With regard to this city, I have already said that it was founded there as a matter of necessity, not as a matter of choice;​204 and I must add that even those who afterwards added certain districts to the settlement could not as masters take the better course, but as slaves must needs accommodate themselves to what had already been founded. The first founders walled the Capitolium and the Palatium and the Quirinal Hill, which last was so easy for outsiders  p401 to ascend that Titus Tatius took it at the first onset, making his attack at the time when he came to avenge the outrage of the seizure of the maidens.​205 Again, Ancus Marcius took in Mt. Caelium and Mt. Aventine, and the plain between them, which were separated both from one another and from the parts that were already walled, but he did so only from necessity; for, in the first place, it was not a good thing to leave hills that were so well fortified by nature outside the walls for any who wished strongholds against the city, and, secondly, he was unable to fill out the whole circuit of hills as far as the Quirinal. Servius, however, detected the gap, for he filled it out by adding both the Esquiline Hill and the Viminal Hill. But these too are easy for outsiders to attack; and for this reason they dug a deep trench and took the earth to the inner side of the trench, and extended a mound about six stadia on the inner brow of the trench, and built thereon a wall with towers from the Colline Gate to the Esquiline. Below the centre of the mound is a third gate,​206 bearing the same name as the Viminal Hill. Such, then, are the fortifications of the city, though they need a second set of fortifications. And, in my opinion, the first founders took the same course of reasoning both for themselves and for their successors, namely, that it was appropriate for the Romans to depend for their safety and general welfare, not on their fortifications, but on their arms and their own valour, in the belief that it is not walls that protect men but men that protect walls. At the outset, then, since the fertile and extensive country round about them belonged to others,​207 and since the terrain of the  p403 city was so easy to attack, there was nothing fortunate in their position to call for congratulation, but when by their valour and their toil they had made the country their own property, there was obviously a concourse, so to speak, of blessings that surpassed all natural advantages; 235and it is because of this concourse of blessings that the city, although it has grown to such an extent, holds out in the way it does, not only in respect to food, but also in respect to timber and stones for the building of houses, which goes on unceasingly in consequence of the collapses and fires and repeated sales (these last, too, going on unceasingly); and indeed the sales are intentional collapses, as it were, since the purchasers keep on tearing down the houses and build new ones, one after another, to suit their wishes.​208 To meet these requirements, then, the Romans are afforded a wonderful supply of materials by the large number of mines, by the timber, and by the rivers which bring these down: first, the Anio, which flows from Alba, the Latin city next to the Marsi,​209 through the plain that is below Alba to its confluence with the Tiber; and then the Nar and the Teneas,​210 the rivers which run through Ombrica down to the same river, the Tiber; and also the Clanis, which, however, runs down thither through Tyrrhenia and the territory of Clusium. Now Augustus Caesar concerned himself about such impairments of the city, organising for protection against fires a militia composed of freedmen, whose duty it was to render assistance,211  p405 and also to provide against collapses, reducing the heights of the new buildings and forbidding that any structure on the public streets should rise as high as seventy feet; but still his constructive measures would have failed by now were it not that the mines and the timber and the easy means of transportation by water still hold out.

8 So much, then, for the blessings with which nature supplies the city; but the Romans have added still others, which are the result of their foresight; for if the Greeks had the repute of aiming most happily in the founding of cities, in that they aimed at beauty, strength of position, harbours, and productive soil, the Romans had the best foresight in those matters which the Greeks made but little account of, such as the construction of roads and aqueducts, and of sewers that could wash out the filth of the city into the Tiber. Moreover, they have so constructed also the roads which run throughout the country, by adding both cuts through hills and embankments across valleys, that their wagons can carry boat-loads; and the sewers, vaulted with close-fitting stones, have in some places left room enough for wagons loaded with hay to pass through them.​212 And water is brought into the city through the aqueducts in such quantities that veritable rivers flow through the city and the sewers; and almost every house has cisterns, and service-pipes, and copious fountains — with which Marcus Agrippa concerned himself most, though he also adorned the city with  p407 many other structures.​213 236In a word, the early Romans made but little account of the beauty of Rome, because they were occupied with other, greater and more necessary, matters; whereas the later Romans, and particularly those of to‑day and in my time, have not fallen short in this respect either — indeed, they have filled the city with many beautiful structures.​214 In fact, Pompey, the Deified Caesar, Augustus, his sons and friends,​215 and wife and sister, have outdone all others in their zeal for buildings and in the expense incurred. The Campus Martius contains most of these, and thus, in addition to its natural beauty, it has received still further adornment as the result of foresight. Indeed, the size of the Campus is remarkable, since it affords space at the same time and without interference, not only for the chariot-races and every other equestrian exercise, but also for all that multitude of people who exercise themselves by ball-playing, hoop-trundling, and wrestling; and the works of art​216 situated around the Campus Martius, and the ground, which is covered with grass throughout the year, and the crowns of those hills that are above the river and extend as far as its bed, which present to the eye the appearance of a stage-painting — all this, I say, affords a spectacle that one can hardly draw away from. And near this campus is there is another campus,​217 with colonnades round about it in very great numbers, and sacred precincts, and three theatres, and an amphitheatre,  p409 and very costly temples, in close succession to one another, giving you the impression that they are trying, as it were, to declare the rest of the city a mere accessory. For this reason, in the belief that this place was holiest of all, the Romans have erected in it the tombs of their most illustrious men and women. The most noteworthy is what is called the Mausoleum,​218 a great mound near the river on a lofty foundation of white marble, thickly covered with ever-green trees to the very summit. Now on top is a bronze image of Augustus Caesar; beneath the mound are the tombs of himself and his kinsmen and intimates;​219 behind the mound is a large sacred precinct with wonderful promenades; and in the centre of the Campus is the wall (this too of white marble) round his crematorium;​220 the wall is surrounded by a circular iron fence and the space within the wall is planted with black poplars. And again, if, on passing to the old Forum, you saw one forum after another ranged along the old one, and basilicas,​221 and temples, and saw also the Capitolium and the works of art there and those of the Palatium and Livia's Promenade, you would easily become oblivious to everything else outside.​222 Such is Rome.

9 As for the rest of the cities of Latium, their positions may be defined, some by a different set of distinctive marks, and others by the best known roads that have been constructed through Latium; for they  p411 are situated either on these roads, or near them, or between them. The best known of the roads are the Appian Way, the Latin Way, and the Valerian Way. 237The Appian Way marks off, as far as Sinuessa, those parts of Latium that are next to the sea, and the Valerian Way, as far as the Marsi, those parts that are next to the Sabine country; while the Latin Way is between the two — the Way that unites with the Appian Way at Casilinum, a city nineteen stadia distant from Capua. The Latin Way begins, however, at the Appian Way, since near Rome it turns off from it to the left, and then, passing through the Tusculan Mountain, and over it at a point between the city of Tusculum and the Alban Mountain, runs down to the little city of Algidum and the Inns of Pictae;​223 and then it is joined by the Labican Way. This latter begins at the Esquiline Gate, as also does the Praenestine Way, but it leaves both the Praenestine Way and the Esquiline Plain to the left and runs on for more than one hundred and twenty stadia, and, on drawing near to Labicum (a city founded in early times, once situated on an eminence, but now demolished), leaves both it and Tusculum on the right and comes to an end at Pictae and the Latin Way; the distance of this place from Rome is two hundred and ten stadia. Then in order, as you proceed on the Latin Way itself, you come to important settlements and the cities of Ferentinum,​b Frusino (past which the Cosa​224 flows), Fabrateria (past which the Trerus​225 flows), Aquinum (it is a large city, and  p413 past it flows a large river, the Melpis), Interamnium (which is situated at the confluence of two rivers, the Liris and another), and Casinum (this too a noteworthy city), which is the last city of Latium;​226 for what is called Teanum "Sidicinum," which is situated next in order after Casinum, shows clearly from its epithet that it belongs to the Sidicini. These people are Osci, a tribe of Campani that has disappeared; and therefore this city might be called a part of Campania, although it is the largest of the cities on the Latin Way, as also might the city​227 that comes next after it, that of the Caleni (this too a noteworthy city), although its territory joins that of Casilinum.

10 Then take the cities on either side of the Latin Way. On the right are those between it and the Appian Way, namely, Setia and Signia, which produce wine, the former, one of the costly wines, and the latter, the best for checking the bowels (what is called the "Signine" wine). And farther on, beyond Signia, is Privernum, and Cora, and Suessa,​228 and also Trapontium,​229 Velitrae, and Aletrium; and besides these, Fregellae (past which the Liris flows, the river that empties at Minturnae),​230 which is now merely a village, although it was once a noteworthy city​231 and formerly held as dependencies most of the surrounding cities just mentioned (and at the present time the inhabitants of these cities meet at Fregellae both to hold markets and to perform certain sacred rites), but, having revolted, it was  p415 demolished by the Romans. Most of these cities, as also of those on the Latin Way and of those on the far side of it, are situated in the country of the Hernici, the Aeci, and the Volsci, though all were founded by the Romans. Again, on the left of the Latin Way are the cities between it and the Valerian Way: 238first, Gabii, situated on the Praenestine Way, with a rock-quarry that is more serviceable to Rome than any other, and equidistant — about one hundred stadia — from Rome and Praeneste; then Praeneste, about which I shall speak presently; then the cities in those mountains that are above Praeneste: Capitulum, the little city of the Hernici, and Anagnia, a noteworthy city, and Cereate, and Sora (past which the Liris flows as it issues from the mountains and comes to Fregellae and Minturnae);​232 and then certain other places, and Venafrum, whence comes the finest olive-oil. Now the city of Venafrum is situated on an eminence, and past the base of the hill flows the Volturnus River, which runs past Casilinum also and empties into the sea at the city of like name.​233 But when you come to the cities of Aesernia and Allifae you are already in Samnitic territory; the former was destroyed in the Marsic War, while the latter still endures.

11 The Valerian Way has its beginning at Tibur, and leads to the country of the Marsi, and to Corfinium, the metropolis of the Peligni. On the Valerian Way are the following cities of Latium: Varia, Carseoli, and Alba,​234 and also, near by, the city of Cuculum.​235 Tibur, Praeneste, and Tusculum are all visible from Rome. First, Tibur:  p417 it possesses the temple of Heracles, and also the waterfall formed by the Anio, a navigable river​236 which falls down from a great height into a deep, wooded​237 ravine near the city itself. Thence the river flows out through a very fruitful plain past the quarries of the Tiburtine stone,​238 and of the stone of Gabii,​239 what is called "red stone"; so that the delivery from the quarries and the transportation by water are perfectly easy — most of the works of art​240 at Rome being constructed of stone brought thence. In this plain, also, flow what are called the Albula waters​241 — cold waters from many springs, helpful, both as drinking-water and as baths, in the cure of various diseases; and such, also, are the Labana waters,​242 not far from the former, on the Nomentan Way and in the neighbourhood of Eretum. Secondly, Praeneste: here is the temple of Fortuna, noted for its oracles.​243 Both of these cities are situated near the same mountain range, and they are about one hundred stadia distant from one another; but from Rome Praeneste is as much as double that distance, whereas Tibur is less than double. Both are called Greek cities;​244 in any case Praeneste, they say, was formerly called "Polystephanos."245  p419 Now each is well fortified by nature, but Praeneste is much more so, since it has for a citadel​246 a high mountain which not only rises above the city but also in the rear is disjoined from the unbroken mountain range by a neck of land above which it rises as much as two stadia in a perpendicular ascent.​247 239And in addition to its natural strength, subterranean passages have been bored through it from all sides as far as the plains — some for water-supply,​248 others for secret exits (it was in one of these that Marius was put to death when he was being besieged). Now although in the case of all other cities, generally speaking, good defences are accounted a blessing, in the case of the Praenestini they have proved to be a misfortune, because of the seditions among the Romans. For all who have attempted a revolution take refuge in Praeneste; and, if forced by a siege to surrender, the inhabitants, in addition to the damage done to their city, meet with the further misfortune that their territory is alienated, the guilt being transferred to the guiltless.​249 The Verestis​250 River flows through the territory in question. The aforesaid cities are to the east of Rome.

12 But still closer to Rome than the mountainous country​251 where these cities lie, there is another ridge, which leaves a valley (the valley near  p421 Algidum) between them and is high as far as Mt. Albanus.​252 It is on this chain that Tusculum is situated, a city with no mean equipment of buildings; and it is adorned by the plantings and villas encircling it, and particularly by those that extend below the city in the general direction of the city of Rome; for here Tusculum is a fertile and well-watered hill, which in many places rises gently into crests and admits of magnificently devised royal palaces. Adjoining this hill are also the foothills of Mt. Albanus, with the same fertility and the same kind of palaces. Then, next, come the plains, some connecting with Rome and its suburbs, and others with the sea. Now although the plains that connect with the sea are less healthful, the others are both pleasant to dwell in and decked out in similar manner. After Mt. Albanus​253 comes Aricia, a city on the Appian Way; it is one hundred and sixty stadia distant from Rome. Aricia lies in a hollow, but for all that it has a naturally strong citadel.​254 Above Aricia lies, first, on the right hand side of the Appian Way, Lanuvium,​255 a city of the Romans, from which both the sea and Antium are visible, and, secondly, to the left of the Way as you go up from Aricia, the Artemisium, which they call Nemus.​256 The temple of the Arician,​257 they say, is a  p423 copy of that of the Tauropolos.​258 And in fact a barbaric, and Scythian,​259 element predominates in the sacred usages, for the people set up as priest merely a run-away slave who has slain with his own hand the man previously consecrated to that office; accordingly the priest is always armed with a sword, looking around for the attacks, and ready to defend himself. The temple is in a sacred grove, and in front of it is a lake which resembles an open sea, and round about it in a circle lies an unbroken and very high mountain-brow, which encloses both the temple and the water in a place that is hollow and deep. You can see the springs, it is true, from which the lake is fed 240(one of them is "Egeria," as it is called from a certain deity), but the outflows at the lake itself are not apparent, though they are pointed out to you at a distance outside the hollow, where they rise to the surface.260

13 Near these places is also Mt. Albanus, which rises considerably above the Artemisium and the mountain-brows round about it, though they too are high and rather steep. This mountain also has a lake,​261 much larger than the one at the Artemisium. The previously mentioned cities of Latium​262 are farther away​263 than these places. But of all the cities of Latium, Alba​264 is the farthest in the interior, since  p425 it is on the confines of the Marsi; it is situated on a lofty rock, near Lake Fucinus,​265 which in size is like an open sea. The lake is used mostly by the Marsi and all the neighbouring peoples. They say that it not only fills up sometimes as far as the mountainous country, but also lowers again enough to permit the places which have been converted into marshes to get dry and to be tilled — whether it be that changes take place, sporadically and in a way that is not apparent, in the flow of the waters down in the depths,​266 and that they flow back together again, or that the springs completely fail and then by pressure are brought together again — as is said to be the case with the Amenanus, the river that flows through Catana, for it fails for many years and then flows again.​267 It is from Lake Fucinus, the story goes, that the springs of the Aqua Marcia come,​268 which brings drinking-water to Rome and has the highest repute as compared with the other waters. Because of the fact that Alba is situated deep in the interior of the country, and is also well-walled, the Romans often used it for a prison, shutting up therein those who have to be kept under guard.269

The Editor's Notes:

160 The Latin form of the word is Cutiliae.

161 Pliny says these waters are drunk as a purgative (31.32; cp. 31.6)

162 Now Civita Tommasa.

163 In Latin, "Quirites."

164 See 5.4.2.

165 See 6.1.2.

166 Bruttii.

167 See 6.1.4.

168 The old-fashioned simplicity and sternness of the Sabine race was proverbial (see 5.4.12,º Martial's Epigrams 10.32, 11.15, Horace's Odes 3.6.38, Epistles 2.1.25, Ovid's Metamorphoses 14.797). And because of these qualities they were by some writers regarded as having originally come from Laconia (Dionysius Hal., Antiq. Rom., 1.1, Justiniusº 20.1). Others, by emending six words of the text (see critical notes 2 and 3 above) make Strabo say: "And the bravery and those other excellent qualities which have enabled them to hold out to the present time might be taken as an evidence of their antiquity."

The critical notes to the Greek text read:


169 Augustus extended the highway to the Adriatic in 17 B.C. Strabo seems to avoid applying either "Via Salaria" or "Via Nomentana" to the extension of the road, although obviously he has in mind the entire journey, as "through their country" shows. There seems to be no evidence in the ancient writers for the assumption of Kramer that "Via Salaria" applied to the whole journey; and the clause "though it does not run far," which he believes should be placed after "Via Nomentana," denies it. Here, as often, Strabo's conciseness has caused the commentators no little worry.

170 The Porta Collina was the gate of the Servian wall at the north-eastern end of the Quirinal.

Thayer's Note: for full details and sources, see the article in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

171 The proper Latin spelling is "Aequi"; and so Strabo himself spells the word in 5.3.4.

172 The Latin spelling is "Amulius."

173 The best MSS. here read "Romus," not Remus, though the reverse is true in the use of the word later on; yet note that Strabo is now quoting the mythical version of the story.

174 See 5.3.7.

175 See 5.3.7 on this point.

176 Strabo almost certainly means the "Arvales Fratres" ("Field-Brothers"), so‑called, according to Varro (De Ling. Lat. 5.85), from their offering public sacrifices that the fields (arva) may bring forth fruits. The "Arvales Fratres" was a college of twelve priests, which, according to Roman legend (cp. Gellius 7.7), originated with Romulus himself. The college was still in existence in A.D. 325.

Thayer's Note: for full details and sources on the Arval Brethren, see the article in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

177 In Latin, "Ambarvalia"; so called from the leading of the sacrificial victims "round the fields." The festival took place May 27, 29 and 30 (Roman calendar).

Thayer's Note: for full details and sources, see this part of the same article Arvales Fratres in Smith's Dictionary.

178 Cp. Livy 1.7.

179 The northern and southern summits, respectively, of the Capitoline Hill. The depression between the two summits (each in early times covered by a grove) was called "Inter Duos Lucos" (cp. Livy 1.8), and was the traditional site of "The Asylum of Romulus."

Thayer's Note: for full details and sources, see the articles Asylum, Arx, Capitolinus, and Inter duos Lucos, respectively, in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

180 Cp. 5.3.7.

181 Lucius Coelius Antipater.

182 Thus Virgil (8.336) spells her name; but the usual spelling was "Carmenta" (cp. Livy 1.7 and Dionysus, Antiq. Rom. 1.32).

183 The "Aeci" of 5.3.2.

184 "Rhaeci," otherwise unknown, is probably a corruption of "Aricini," the inhabitants of Aricia, the city to which Strabo refers in this paragraph and also in 5.3.12.

185 "Argyrusci," otherwise unknown, is probably a corruption of "Aurunci" (cp. Livy 2.16, 17, 26 and Dionysius, Antiq. Rom. 6.32, 37).

186 By "Preferni" Strabo almost certainly refers to the Privernates, whose city was Privernum, now in ruins near Piperno.

187 That is, the tree-climbing vine.

188 Demetrius Poliorcetes.

189 § 4 above.

190 The "Atellanae Fabulae" of the Romans (Pauly-Wissowa s.v. "Atell. Fab.").

191 Strabo assumed that "Trachine" was derived from the Greek word "trachys" ("rugged"). Cp. Horace, Sat. 1.5.26: "Impositum saxis late candentibus Anxur" (Tarracina).

192 If the MSS. are right, Strabo is in error here. He must have meant the Ufens (now Ufente); the other river was the Amasenus (now Amaseno).

193 One of the old spellings of Brundisium; the other was "Brendesium" (cp. Ptolemaeus, 3.2.12, and Polybius, 21.24).º "In the language of the Messapii the stag's head is called 'brentesium' " (6.3.6); hence the name of the city.

194 The old name of Tarentum.

195 For an amusing account of this canal-journey, see Horace, Sat. 1.5.

196 "Anchoring-place."

197 Strabo does not mention the city of "Caieta" (now Gaëta); the gulf east of it was called by the Romans "Caietanus Sinus." But, as the context shows, "the intervening gulf" means the gulf between Caieta and Tarracina.

198 According to Virgil (Aeneid, 7.2) her name was "Caieta."

199 That is, the promontory on which the city of Caieta was situated.

200 Cp. 2.5.19.

201 The Greek word for "gulf," "vale."

202 Strabo now refers to the Roman "Caietanus Sinus," and not to "the intervening gulf" above-mentioned.

203 According to Pliny (31.4), these baths cured barrenness in women and insanity in men. Whether they have disappeared, or are to be identified with the waters at Torre di Bagni, is not known.

204 5.3.2.

205 Cp. 5.3.2.

206 "Porta Viminalis."

207 Cp. 5.3.2 on this point.

208 Cp. Horace's "diruit, aedificat, mutat" (Epist. 1.1.100).

209 Alba Fucens.

210 In Latin, the "Tinia."

211 The "cohortes vigilum" were a night police and fire brigade combined, consisting of seven thousand men, or seven cohorts. They were distributed throughout the city, one cohort to every two of the fourteen "regiones." See Suetonius, Augustus 25, and Cassius Dio 55.26.

Thayer's Note: for details and sources, see this part of the article Exercitus in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, and the article Cohortium Vigilum Stationes in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

212 Pliny (36.24) uses the same figure in describing the dimensions of the sewers constructed by Tarquinius Priscus: "(Tarquinius Priscus) amplitudinem cavis eam fecisse proditur ut vehem faeni large onustam transmitteret."

213 From the more ancient point of view, as the Greek word here translated "structures" shows, these structures might all have been erected as divine offerings; but in later times the word seems often to have lost this connotation (cp. W. H. D. Rouse, Votive Offerings, p273).

214 See the note above on "structures."

215 For a list of some of these "friends" of Augustus and what they built, see Suetonius, Augustus 29.

216 Cp. "works of art," 5.2.5 and the footnote.

217 According to Hülsen (Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. "Agrippae campus") Strabo refers to the Campus of Agrippa; but Tozer (Selections p154) is in doubt whether Strabo means this campus or the Campus Flaminius. Both campuses, of course, formed a part of the Campus Martius.

218 The remains of this Mausoleum are still to be seen on the Via de' Pontefici.

219 Cassius Dio (69.23) says that the Mausoleum was filled by the time of Hadrian's death (138 A.D.).

220 Cp. Suetonius, Augustus 100.

221 Tozer (Selections, p155) says, "ἄλλην ἐξ ἄλλης refer to βασιλικὰς στοὰς" and translates, "should see, ranged one after another on either side of this, both basilicas and temples." But the Greek hardly admits of his interpretation.

222 For a more detailed account of the public works and buildings at Rome, the reader is referred to Pliny 36.24.

223 "Ad Pictas."

224 The river is still called "Cosa."

225 Now the Sacco.

226 That is, the last on the Latin Way.

227 Cales, now Calvi.

228 Suessa Pometia, of which no traces are left.

229 Trapontium is otherwise unknown, unless it be identified with Tripontio, a place mentioned only in an inscription of Trajan.

230 Cp. 5.3.6.

231 Cp. § 6 above.

232 Cp. 5.3.6.

233 Volturnum.

234 Alba Fucens.

235 Now Cucullo, otherwise called Scutolo.

236 Cp. 5.3.7.

237 The Greek word here translated "wooded" suggests a sacred grove. Strabo obviously refers to the grove that was sacred to Tiburnus, the founder of Tibur. Cp. Horace, Odes 1.7.13.

238 Cp. Pliny 36.48.

239 Cp. § 10 above.

240 Or "works of art," see 5.2.5 and footnote.

241 Now "La Solfatara" ("Sulphur waters").

Thayer's Note: solfatara is merely the modern Italian word for any sulfureous spring; the springs, very near Tivoli (the ancient Tibur) are almost always referred to as the Bagni di Tivoli. For further details and ancient sources, see the Encyclopaedia Britannica article Albulae Aquae.

242 Now called "Bagni di Grotta Marozza."

243 This was probably the largest temple in Italy. "The modern city of Palestrina is almost entirely built on its site and substructions" (Tozer, Selections, p157).

244 Horace (Carmina 2.6.5) speaks of "Tibur, Argeo positum colono."

245 "Many-wreathed," so called, apparently, from the several terraces. But Pliny (3.9) says Praeneste was formerly called "Stephane" (Wreath).

246 Aix Praenestina; now Castel San Pietro.

247 "This hill, which is of considerable elevation (being not less than 2400 feet above the sea, and more than 1200 above its immediate base), projects like a great buttress or bastion from the angle of the Apennines towards the Alban Hills" (Bunbury, Dict. Geogr. II, p665, quoted by Tozer). See Encyc. Brit. s.v. "Praeneste" (J. G. Frazer).

248 On the reservoirs of Praeneste, "hollowed out in the rock of the mountain," and the water-supply in general, see Magoffin, A Study of the Topography of Praeneste, Johns Hopkins University Historical Studies, 1908, p435.

249 For example, in 198 B.C., when there was an uprising of slaves; in 82 B.C., when the younger Marius made Praeneste his headquarters. And in 63 B.C. catiline sought to occupy Praeneste for headquarters but his effort was frustrated by the consul (Cicero, Against Catiline 1.8).

250 The "Verestis" is otherwise unknown.

251 The Volscian Mountains.

252 Mt. Albanus, now Monte Cavo, is the highest summit.

253 That is, on one's way from Tusculum.

254 The ancient Aricia lay in the "Vallis Aricina" (now "Valle Aricciana"), an extinct crater below the modern town of Ariccia, which latter occupies the site of the ancient citadel, a steep hill.

255 "Lavinium," the reading of the MSS., has rightly been emended to "Lanuvium." "Owing to a curious confusion between this place and Lavinium, which dates back to the middle ages, its modern name is 'Civita Lavinia' " (Tozer, Selections, p159).

256 That is "Nemus Dianae."

257 Sc. "Diana," that is, "Artemis."

258 That is, "Artemis Tauropolos" — Artemis in her capacity as goddess of the Tauri.

259 The "Scythian element" referred to is the sacrifice of strangers by the Tauri, as described, for example, in Euripides' Iphigenia among the Tauri.

260 Strabo refers to the Lacus Nemorensis (now Lago di Nemi), an extinct crater three miles in circumference and over three hundred feet deep. It is now drained by an artificial emissarium. According to Servius (note on Virgil, Aeneid 7.515) it was called by the Latini the "Speculum" ("mirror") of Diana.

261 Lacus Albanus, now Lago di Albano.

262 Tibur and Praeneste.

263 That is, from Rome — the same standpoint as at beginning of § 9.

264 Alba Fucens.

265 Lago di Fucino (Celano) was completely drained by Prince Torlonia, 1855‑1869 A.D.

266 That is, the flowing warm waters in the depths of the earth (cp. 3.5.7), as distinguished from the "springs" by which Strabo always means the mouths at the surface of the earth.

267 The result, apparently, of volcanic action in Mt. Aetna from which it flows.

268 The "Aqua Marcia" was one of the Roman aqueducts, and its principal reservoir was near Sublaqueum (now Subiaco). The story was that the River Pitonius (now Pedogna) rose in the mountains of the Peligni, flowed through Lake Fucinus without mingling with its waters, then disappeared in the earth, and finally came forth as the "Marcian Waters" near Sublaqueum. Pliny himself (31.24) believed the story (see Tozer, Selections, p162).

Thayer's Note: for full details and primary sources, see the article Aqua Marcia in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

269 For instance, Syphax, King of Numidia (Livy 30.17), Perseus, King of Macedonia (Livy 45.42), and Bituitus, King of the Arverni (Valerius Max. 9.6, and Livy Epit. 61).

Thayer's Notes:

a See the article Cures in the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, with my annotations and links.

b The Hernican town now in the province of Frosinone to the SE of Rome, not to be confused with the Etruscan town now in the province of Viterbo N of Rome, nor with the Ferentine grove (lucus Ferentina) somewhere close to Rome probably to the SE. For the hornet's nest of places named Ferentum or something similar, see my page on the subject. Strabo unambiguously mentions the Etruscan town at V.2.9.

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