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Roman Period

A Geographical and Historical Description of Venetia and Histria

Origin and history of the Veneti — Description of the coast — Mouths of the Po — Interior of the country — Euganei, Tridentini, Carni, and other Alpine nations — Sources of the Timavus — The Histri — Description of Histria.

[Source: J. A. Cramer. A Geographical and Historical Description of Ancient Italy; with a Map and a Plan of Rome. 2 Vols., Clrendon Press (Oxford, 1826), Vol. 1, "Section IV. Venetia and Histria", p. 111-142.]

We are now arrived at the north-east angle of Italy, formed by the Alps and the head of the Adriatic gulf; to which the name of Venetia was assigned, from the Heneti, or Veneti, an ancient people respecting whose origin considerable uncertainty seems to have existed even among the best informed writers of antiquity. The poetical as well as popular opinion identified them with the Heneto-Paphlagones, enumerated by Homer in the catalogue of the allies of Priam. (B. 852.) It was affirmed, that this people, having lost their leader during the Trojan war, had crossed over into Europe under the command of Antenor, and in the course of their subsequent wanderings had arrived at the head of the Adriatic, where they finally settled, after having expelled the Euganei, the original inhabitants of the country. (Liv. I. c. 1. Cato. ap. Plin. III. 19. Corn. Nep. ap. Plin. VI. 2. Justin. XX. 1. Scymn. Ch. Perieg. 388. Soph. (Greek text) ap. Strab. XIII. 608. Mæandr. ap. eund. XII. 552. Virg. Æn.1.242. Ovid. Fast. IV. 78. Sii. Ital. VIII. 604.) Strabo, who mentions more than once this tradition, was himself inclined to believe the Veneti [112] to be Gauls, (V. 212.) as there was a tribe of the same name in that country (1). (Caes. Bell. Gall. III. 9.) But Strabo is singular in this opinion, which we ought, to be the less inclined to receive as it is at variance with the testimony of Polybius. (II. 17.) This historian assures us, that the Veneti differed in language (2) from the Gauls, though in manners and customs they bore a great resemblance to that nation. Herodotus, who was well acquainted with the Veneti, designates them by the generic appellation of Illyrians. (I. 196. and V. 10.) And we ought perhaps to content ourselves with this indication of their origin, without attempting to trace it to a remoter source. I would leave it to more able and inquisitive antiquaries, to speculate on the probability of the Asiatic origin of the Veneti (3). But if the fact of their having crossed the Bosphorus be admitted, we might easily conceive their subsequent progress across the plains of Thrace, and along the banks of the Danube and the Save into Croatia, and finally their arrival on the north-western shore of the Adriatic. One thing at least, with regard to the Venetian migration, may be safely asserted; that they were the last people who penetrated into Italy by that frontier. This fact is sufficiently evident from the extreme position which they took up, and from [113] their having retained possession of it undisturbed, as far as history informs us, till they became subject to the Roman power.

The history of the Veneti contains little that is worthy of notice, if we except the remarkable feature of their being the sole people of Italy, who not only offered no resistance to the ambitious projects of Rome, but even at a very early period rendered that power an essential service; if it be true, as Polybius reports, that the Gauls who had taken Rome were suddenly called away from that city by an irruption of the Veneti into their territory. (II. 18.) The same author elsewhere expressly states, that an alliance was afterwards formed between the Romans and Veneti, (II. 23.) a fact which is confirmed by Strabo. (V. 216.)

This state of security and peace would seem to have been very favourable to the prosperity of the Venetian nation. According to an old geographer, they counted within their territory fifty cities, and a population of a million and half. The soil and climate were excellent, and their cattle were reported to breed twice in the year. (Scymn. Ch. Perieg.) Their horses were especially noted .for their fleetness, and are known to have often gained prizes in the games of Greece. (Eur. Hipp. v. 231. ubi vid. Schol. Hesych. voc. (illegible Greek text.) And Strabo affirms, that Dionysius, tyrant of Sicily, kept a stud of racehorses in their country. (V. 212.) The same writer affirms, that even in his day there was an annual sacrifice of a white horse to Diomed (4).

[114] When the Gauls had been subjugated, and their country had been reduced to a state of dependence, the Veneti do not appear to have manifested any unwillingness to constitute part of the new province, an event which we may suppose to have happened not long after the second Punic war (5). Their territory from that time was included under the general denomination of Cisalpine Gaul, and they were admitted to all the privileges which that province, successively obtained (6).

In the reign of Augustus, Venetia was considered as a separate district, constituting the tenth region in the division made by that emperor. (Plin. III. 18.)

Its boundaries, if for the sake of simplification we include within them the Tridentini, Meduaci, Carni, and other smaller nations, may be considered to be the Athesis, and a line drawn from that river to the Po, to the west: the Alps to the north: the Adriatic, as far as the river Formio, Risano, to the east; and the main branch of the Po to the south.

The Spinetic branch of this river, which has been already mentioned, is more commonly known among Latin writers by the name of Padusa.

Haud secus, atque alto in luco quum forte catervæ
Consedere avium, piscosove amne Padusæ
Dant soni turn raucr per stagna loquacia cycni.

Æn. XI. 466.

Eridani ripas, et raucæ stagna Padusæ
Diffugiens nudavit olor.

Claud. Eptth. Pal. et Cel.

Et plackkm fosse qua jungunt ora Padusam,
Navigat Alpini flumina magna Padi.

Valg. Eleg. ap. Serv. ad Æn. XI. 456..

The canal alluded to in the last passage is that which Augustus cut from the Padusa to Ravenna.

Polybius describes the Po as dividing itself into two streams, which he calls Olana and Padoa, at a place named Trigaboli, probably somewhere near Ferrara. (II. 16.) The former of these branches is easily recognised in the present Po di Volano; the other, which is evidently the same as the Padusa, must therefore answer to the Po di Primaro. In addition to the appellations already noticed, it would seem from Pliny, that the latter stream was sometimes known by the name of Messanicus. (III. 16.) The other branches of the Po mentioned by this writer are the Caprasiæ Ostium, now Bocca di bel occhio; Sagis, Fossage; Carbonaria, Po d'Arano. The Fossa Philistina is the Po grande, and the Tartarus, now Tartaro, which communicated with it, is probably the Hadria of Steph. Byz. or the Hatrianus of Ptolemy, (p. 63.)

The Fossa Philistina is spoken of as a very considerable canal, having seven arms or cuts, commonly known by the name of Septem Maria, drawn off from it to the sea. These works were undertaken by the Tuscans, for the purpose of draining the marshy lands about Hadria (7).

[116] This ancient city, which must have been once powerful and great, since it was enabled to transmit its name to the sea on which it stood, is known to have been possessed by the Tuscans at the time of their greatest prosperity, and when their dominion in Italy had been extended from sea to sea. (Liv. V. 33. Varr. de Ling. Lat. IV. 32. Fest. v. Atrium. Plin. III. 16.) Some obscure traditions, however, represent it as being in its origin a Greek city. (Steph. Byz. v. 'Arpia. Justin. XX.) These accounts, considered by themselves, would, as far as regards Hadria, be little entitled to attention ; but coupled with what we know touching the origin of the neighbouring cities of Spina (8) and Ravenna, they acquire a considerable degree of probability, and lead to the conclusion, that these three towns were at a remote period founded by the people who are sometimes called Thessalians, and at other times Pelasgi; but whose real name, as I have elsewhere endeavoured to prove, was that of Tyrrhenians (9). When the Tuscan nation had extended its conquests into the north of Italy, it is most probable that Hadria and Spina fell into their hands; Ravenna, as we learn from Strabo, was occupied by the Umbri.

The oldest writer who has recorded Hadria is Hecataeus, quoted by Steph. Byz. (Greek text.) According to this ancient historian, it was situated near a river and bay of the same name. The river is the Tartaro, but the bay into which it discharged itself has been long since filled up. The once capacious port noticed by Pliny (III. 16.) is perhaps the [117] Hadrianum of the Itineraries, situated, as was usual with ancient maritime cities, at some distance from the town of which it was the haven. The prosperity of Hadria does not seem to have survived the decline of the Tuscan power north of the Apennines; and though from its defensible situation it might have been retained by that nation for some time after the loss of their other possessions in Upper Italy, it is probable that they deserted it for their southern settlements on the Adriatic, towards the middle of the fourth century from the foundation of Rome. (Dion. Hal. VII. 3.) Hadria still existed when Strabo wrote, but as an insignificant place. (V. 214. Tacit. Hist. III. 12. Ptol. p. 63.) At present it is but a small town, though an episcopal see, and is distant from the coast upwards of eighteen miles (10).

The whole of the Venetian coast appears to have been anciently as full of creeks and harbours, made by the mouths of rivers and canals, as it is at present. Strabo observes, that from the number of dikes and embankments formed by the inhabitants, this district bore a great resemblance to Lower Egypt: the same writer affirms, that the rise and fall of the tide was perceptible in the canals, or lagunes, which communicated with the sea. (V. 212.)

[118] Of the harbours above mentioned, the Portus Brundulus. now Porto Brondolo, was formed by the Athesis and Togisonus. (Plin. III. 16.) The first of Athens these rivers has been already spoken of as the Adige. It rises in the mountains of the Tyrol, and after a course of nearly two hundred miles, discharges its waters into the Adriatic. Next to the Po, it must be looked upon as the most considerable stream of Italy. Virgil has introduced the mention of these two great rivers in one of his most beautiful comparisons.

Quales aëriæ liquentia flumina circum,
Sive Padi ripis, Athesim seu propter amœnum,
Consurgunt geminae quercus, intonsaque cœlo
Attollunt capita, et sublimi vertice nutant.

Æn. IX. 679. *

The Togisonus, a river noticed only by Pliny, (III. 16|.) is thought by Cluverius to be the Fossa Paltana, a stream which he says rises below Monte Selice, and falls into the sea near Brondolo. But D'Anville is perhaps more correct in supposing it to be the same as the Canal Bianco (11), which communicates with l'Agno, the ancient Eretenus. This small river, which was formerly noted for its eels, (Ælian. XIV. 8.) has been thought by a modern critic (12) to be the real Eridanus, which, as Strabo seems to suppose, may have been a different river from the Po, 9 though near it. (v- 215) The Portus Edro, which follows, and according to Pliny was formed by the Fossa Clodia and different branches [119] of the Meduacus Major and Minor, the Brenta, and Bachiglione, is probably Chiozza. (III. 16.)

Further north, and close to the sea, was Altinum, the precise site of which, according to Cluverius, seems uncertain; but D'Anville (13) asserts, that its place is yet marked by the name of Altino, on the right bank of the river Silis, Sile, and near its mouth. (Plin. III. 18.) According to Strabo, the situation of Altinum bore much resemblance to that of Ravenna. (V. 214. Cf. Vitruv. I. 4. Tacit. Hist. III. 6. Mel. II. 4. Ptol. p. 63.) The earliest mention of it is in Vell. Pater. (II. 76.) At a later period of the Roman empire it must have become of considerable note, since Martial compares the appearance of its shore, lined with villas, to that of Baiæ.

Æmula Baianis Altini littora villis.

IV. Ep. 25.

(Cf. Cassiod. XII. Ep. 22.) It was also celebrated for its wool.

Velleribus primis Apulia, Parma secundis
Nobilis ; Altinum tertia audai ovis.

Mart. XIV. Ep. 153.

L. Antoninus Verus died of apoplexy near Altinum. (Eutrop. VIII. Jul. Capitòl. L. Ver.)

Beyond this town we find the river Plavis, la Piave, (Paul. Diacon. R. Lang. II. 12.) and farther still, the Liquentia, now la Livenza, with a harbour at its mouth. (Plin. III. 18.) Next follows the Romatinus, Lemene, and on its right bank, a few miles J from the coast, the city of Concordia, which yet [120] retains both its position and name. Strabo speaks of this town as an inconsiderable place; (V. 214.) but other writers mention it as a Roman colony, (Mel. II. 4. Plin. III. 18. Ptol. p. 68.) and this is confirmed by ancient inscriptions, which give it the title of Julia Concordia. (Cf. Cassiod. XII. 26.Eutrop. VIII. Zosim. V.) The Portus Romatinus of Pliny is now Porto Lemetino. (III. 16.)

The next river is the Tilavemptus, now Tagliamento, which Cluverius considers as separating the Veneti from the Carni (14). His opinion is founded on a passage in Strabo ; (V. 214.) and though the point may be contested, he has been followed, I believe, by the best and latest writers on the ancient topography of this part of Italy (15).

We must now retrace our steps towards the southern border of Venetia, in order to examine the interior and remaining part of that province. North of the Adige, and on the Eretenus, was Ateste, a Roman colony of some note. (Plin. Ill; 18. XVII. 17. Tacit, Hist. III. 6. Ptol. p. 63.)

Perfer Atestinæ, nondum vulgata Sabinæ
Carmina, purpurea sed modo culta toga.

Mart. X. Er. 93.

It is now Este, a name well known in modern his* tory as the title of one of the most ancient and illustrious families in Europe (16).

Somewhat to the east of Este is Monselice, anciently Mons Silicis. (Paul. Diacon. IV. 26.)

Patavium, in Italian Padova, situated between the Meduacus Major and Minor, rivers already [121] noticed as the Brenta and Bachiglione, from its celebrity and importance may justly be considered as the capital of ancient Venetia. The story of its foundation by Antenor is one which will scarcely be believed in the present day, though so universally accredited by the writers of antiquity.

Antenor potuit, mediis elapsus Achivis,
Illyricos penetrare sinus, atque intima tutus
Regna Liburnorum, et fontes superare Timavi.

* * *

Hie tamen ille urbem Fatavi, sedesque locavit
Teucrorum, et genti nomen dedit; armaque fixit

 Æn. I. 242.

(Cf. Pomp. Mel. II. 4. Solin.VIII. Senec. ConsoL ad Helv. 7. Ælian. Hist. Anim. XIV. 8.) It seems as difficult to refute as to prove a fact of so remote an era; but granting the origin of Padua, as far as regards the Trojan prince (17), to be an invention of a later period, it does not follow that the tradition should he wholly destitute of foundation: perhaps a similarity of name between the Antenor of Homer and the chief of the Heneti, might not unreasonably be fixed upon as accounting in some measure for this otherwise improbable story. An interesting event in the subsequent history of Patavium is recorded at some length by Livy, who naturally dwells on it as honourable to his native city. (X. 2.) A Spartan fleet under the command of Cleonymus, son of Cleomenes, king of Lacedemon, being driven by contrary winds from the neighbourhood of Tarentum, to the aid of which city he had been summoned [122] against a threatened attack on the part of the Romans, (Diod. Sicul. XX. 104. Strab. VI. 208.) arrived unexpectedly in the Adriatic, and anchored at the mouth of the Meduacus Major, or Brenta, and near the present villages of Chiozza and Fusina. A party of these adventurers, having advanced tip the river in some light vessels, effected a landing, and proceeded to burn and plunder the defenceless villages on its banks. The alarm of this unexpected attack soon reached Padua, whose inhabitants were kept continually on the alert and in arms, from fear of the neighbouring Gauls. A force was instantly despatched to repel the invaders, and such was the skill and promptitude with which this service waà performed, that the marauders were surprised, and their vessels taken, before the news of this reverse could reach the fleet at the mouth of the river. Attacked at his moorings, it was not without great loss, both in ships and men, that the Spartan commander effected his escape. The shields of the Greeks and the beaks of their galleys were suspended in the temple of Juno, and an annual mock-fight on the river Brenta served to perpetuate the memory of so proud a day in the annals of Padua. This event is placed by the Roman historian in the 450th year of Rome.

Strabo speaks of Patavium as the greatest and most flourishing city in the north of Italy; and states, that it counted in his time 500 Roman knights among its citizens, and could at one period send 20,000 men into the field (18). Its manufactures of cloth and woollen stuffs were renowned throughout [123] Italy, and, together with its traffic in various commodities, sufficiently attested the great wealth and prosperity of its inhabitants. (V. 213.) (Cf. Mart. XIV. Ep. 141.)

Vellera cum sumant Patavinae multa trilices,
Et pingues tunicas serra secare potest.

Vessels could come up to Padua from the sea, a distance of two hundred and fifty stadia, by the Meduacus, which river had a capacious harbour of the same name at its mouth (19). (Strab. V. 218.) Thrasea Paetus, one of the victims of Nero's cruelty, and of whom Tacitus says, that virtue perished along with him, was a native of Padua, and is reported by the same historian to have incurred the tyrant's hatred, among other reasons, for his performance in a tragedy at Padua during the celebration of certain games, said to have been instituted by Antenor. (Ann. XVI. 21. Dio Cass. LXII. (20)) The history of Padua may be further illustrated from Cic. Phil. XII. 4. Tacit. Hist. III. 6. Ptol. p. 63. About six miles to the south of this city were the celebrated Patavinæ Aquæ. (Plin. II. 103. and XXXI. 6.) The prin-J cipal source was distinguished by the name of Aponus Fons, from whence that of Bagni d'Abano, by which these waters are at present known, has evidently been formed. [124]

Euganeo, si vera fides memorantibus, augur
Colle sedens, Aponus terris ubi fumifer exit.

Lucan. VII. 193.

Etrusci nisi thermulis lavaris,
Illotus morieris, Oppiane.
Nullæ sic tibi blandientur undæ.
Nec fontes Aponi rudes puellis.

Mart. VI. Er. 42.

Huic pater Eridanus, Venetæque ex ordine gentes,
Atque Apono gaudens populus, seu bella cieret,
Seu Musas placidus doctaeque silentia vitæ
Mallet, et Aonios plectro mulcere labores,
Non ullum duxere parem.

Sil. Ital. XII. 217.

But Claudian has described it most fully in the little poem beginning with,

Fons, Antenoreæ vitam qui porrigis urbi,
Fataque vicinis noxia pellis aquis.

*   *   *   *   *

Felices, proprium qui te meruere, coloni,
Fas quibus est Aponon juris habere sui.

Claud. Id. 6.

(See also Cassiodor. II. 38.) There was an oracle of Geryon near these springs, which was consulted by the throwing of dice. (Suet. Tib. 14.)

Between Patavium and Verona we find Vicentia, or, as it is sometimes written, Vicetia, (Strab. V. 214. Ælian. XIV. 8.) now Vicenza. Tacitus speaks of it as a municipal town of little importance. (Hist. III. 8. Plin. III. 19. Ptol. 63. Plin. Ep. V. 4. and 14.)

The mountainous tract of country north of Verona and Vicenza appears to have been inhabited by various petty tribes of Euganean, or Tuscan origin. [125] Among these may be noticed the Arusnati, known only from some ancient inscriptions quoted by Maffei (21), and placed by him in the Val Pullicella above Verona. The Dripsinati are recognised by the same antiquary (22) as the people of Tressino, a town situated among the Vicentine hills.

The Symbri, mentioned by Strabo as being north of the Veneti (V. 216.) are unknown (23), unless we adopt the opinion of those antiquaries who contend, that under this name the geographer meant to designate a particular tribe, supposed to be a remnant of the Cimbrian invasion, which has long been pointed out as existing in the hills above Verona and Vicenza (24). The Medoaci are another people noticed only by Strabo. (1. cit.) From the affinity which their name bears to the Meduacus, so often mentioned as being the Brenta, it seems reasonable to place them near the source of that river, and in the district of Bassano. In that direction we find Acelum, now Asolo; (Plin. III. 19. Ptol. p. 63.) and somewhat lower, on the left bank of the river Silis, Tarvisium, Treviso, [126] a municipium according to some inscriptions. (Cf. Cassiodor. X. 27. Procop. Ret. Got. II.) On the right bank of the Plavis is Opitergium, Oderzo, a town of some consequence. (Strab. V. 214. Plin. III. 19. Tacit. Hist. III. 6. Ptol. p. 63. Ammian. Marcell. XXIX.)

A remarkable trait is related by Lucan of a cohort of Opitergium, which manned a ship attached to Caesar's party in the civil war against Pompey. Being surrounded by the fleet of the latter, these soldiers fought for a whole day, and perished by each other's hands rather than surrender to the enemy. (Phars. IV. 462. Cf. Flor. IV. 2. Liv. Epit. CX.)

As we advance towards the central Alpine ridge, which skirts the northern side of Venetia, we find the valleys occupied by a people of Rhaetian origin. These possessed Tridentum, well known as Trento on the Adige, and on the great road which leads, now, as formerly, from Italy into Germany, by the pass of the Brenner, a mountain to which, with the adjacent Alps, the Tridentini communicated their name. (Dio Cass. LIV. Cf. Strab. IV. 204. Plin. III. 19. Ptol. p. 63. Amm. Marceli. XVI.) The Brixentes, who were inscribed on the trophy of Augustus, (Plin. III. 20. Cf. PtoL p. 56.) are the people of Brixen. Between this place and Trent we find on the Adige Balzanum, Botzen, (Paul. Diacon. V. 36.) and a little lower, Salurnum, Salorno. (Id. III. 9.) A place named Alsuga by the same historian, and placed by the Itinerary of Antoninus between Tridentum and Opitergium, is probably to be traced in the name of Valsugana, a district situated near the source of the Brenta. Feltria, on the same road, is certainly Feltre, a town of some consequence, as would [127] appear from inscriptions. (Cf. Plin. III. 19. Cassiod. V. 9.) A little lower on the same bank of the Piave is a place called Quer, the ancient name of which Cluverius supposes to have been Ad Quercum. Pliny speaks of the Querquani. (III. 19.)

Belunum, or Berunum, is Belluno, somewhat higher up on the same river. (Plin. III. 19. Ptol. p. 63.)

Ceneta is Ceneda, near Oderzo. (Paul. Diacon. V. c 28. Agath. de Reb. Goth. II.) Celina, mentioned by Pliny as no longer existing in his time, (III. 19.) may be supposed to have stood on a little river which still preserves its name, and falls into the Livenza. A little higher up we find Topium, Topo, Flamonia, Flagogna, and Vannia, Fanna. (Plin. III. 19.) i

To the north-east of the Veneti were the Carni, an Alpine nation, who occupied a considerable extent of territory, and whose existence is still to be traced in the modern appellation of Carniola.

In a fragment of the Fasti Capitolini the Carni are called Gauls; but though of Celtic origin, it is more probable that they were descended from the Taurisci. (Polyb. Fragm. ap. Strab. IV. 208.) We hear of some Gauls settling among them. (Liv. XXXIX. 54.)

Beyond the Tilavemptus, which has been considered as separating this nation from the Veneti, we find the rivers Varamus, Stella, Anassus, Revonchi, and Alsa, now Ausa, mentioned in their order by Pliny. (III. 18.) The latter also by Sex. Aur. Vict. (Epit. de Cæs.) Its port has taken the modern name of the river. That of the Anassus is now called Porto dì Lignano.

[128] Between the Alsa and Natiso, now Natisone, and about seven miles from the sea, stood the celebrated city of Aquileia, near the ruins of which the modern city of the same name has been built. It appears to have been first founded by some Transalpine Gauls about 187 B. C.; but being soon after taken possession of by the Romans, it was made a Latin colony five years after its first establishment. (Liv. XXXIX, 22, 45, 54. and XL. 54. Cf. Vell. Pater. 1.15.) The earliest author who mentions Aquileia is Polybius; who, in a fragment preserved by Strabo, speaks of it as having some valuable gold mines in its neighbourhood. (Strab. IV. 208.) Eustathius in his Commentary on Dionys. Perieg. asserts, that its name was derived from the Latin word Aquila.

Aquileia soon became the chief bulwark of Italy on its north-eastern frontier. It was already an important military post in the time of Cæsar, (Bell. Gall. I. 2. Cf. Cic. Orat. in Vat.) and continued to increase in prosperity and consequence till the fall of the Roman empire. In Strabo's time it had become the great emporium of all the trade of Italy with the nations of Illyria and Pannonia; these were furnished with wine, oil, and salt provisions, in exchange for slaves, cattle, and hides. The passage of Mount Ocra, the lowest point of the Julian or Carnic Alps, was easy for land carriage; and at Nauportus, on the other side, a navigable stream conveyed vessels to the Save, and from that river into the Danube. (V. 214. and IV. 207. Cf. Mel. II. 4. Herodian. VIII. Suet. Aug. 20. Tib. 7. Vesp. 6. Appian. Illyr. 18. Tacit. Hist. II. 46. and 85. III. 6. and 8. Plin. III. 18. Ptol. p. 63.) Ausonius [129] assigns to Aquileia the ninth place among the great cities of the empire.

Nona inter claras, Aquileia cieberis urbes,
Itala ad Illyricos objecta colonia montes,
Mœnibus et portu celeberrima.

It withstood successfully a severe siege against Maximum, who, being unable to take the place, was slain by his own soldiers: (Herodian. VIII.) but it could not hold out against the fury of Attila: its resistance only served to increase the savage ferocity of the conqueror, who caused it to be sacked and rased to the ground. (Cassiod. Chron. Procop. Vand. Rer. I. Freculf. Chron.) The port of Aquileia was situated at the mouth of the Natiso, (Plin. III. 18.) and is now called Porto di Grado. The same writer mentions a stream of the name of Turrus, as flowing into the Natìso; it is now called Torre. It is a point disputed by modern critics, whether the Natiso, which Strabo and other ancient writers place close to Aquileia, is the river at present called Natisone, as this stream is now some miles distant from the rums of that city. The most probable supposition is, that some change has taken place in the bed of the river (25).

The next river is the Sontius, l'Isonzo. (Cassiod. I. Ep.18. Herodian.VIII. Jul. Capitol, vit. Maxim.) It receives the Frigidus, now Vipao, on its left bank. The latter river is noticed by Claudian, when alluding [130] to a battle fought close to it between the emperor Theodosius and the rebel Eugenius.

Alpinæ rubuere nives, et Frigidus amnis
Mutatis fumavit aquis; turbaque cadentum
Staret, ni rapidus jùvisset flumina

III. Cons. Honqr. 99.

Few streams have been more celebrated in antiquity, or more sung by the poets, than the Timavus, to which we have now arrived. Its numerous sources, its lake and subterraneous passage, which have been the theme of the Latin muse from Virgil to Claudian and Ausonius, are now so little known, that their existence has even been questioned, and ascribed to poetical invention. It has been however well ascertained, that the name of Timao is still preserved by some springs which rise near S. Giovanni di Carso and the castle of Duino, and form a river, which, after a course of little more than a mile, falls into the Adriatic. The number of these sources seems to vary according to the difference of seasons (26), which circumstance will account for the various statements which ancient writers have made respecting them. Strabo, who appears to derive his information from Polybius, reckoned seven, all of which, with the exception of one, were salt. According to Posidonius, the river really rose in the mountains at some distance from the sea, and disappeared under ground for the space of fourteen miles, when it issued forth again near àthe sea at the springs [131] above mentioned. (Strab. V. 215. Cf. Plin. II. 106.) This account seems also verified by actual observation (27).

The Timavus is indebted to the poetry of Virgil for the greater part of its fame.

Antenor potuit, mediis elapsus Achivis,
Illyricos penetrare sinus, atque intima tutus
Regna Liburnorum, et fontem superare Timavi;
Unde per ora novem, vasto cum murmure montis
It mare proruptum, et pelago premit arva sonanti.

Æn. 1.244.

Tu mihi, seu magni superas jam saxa Timavi,
Sive oram Illyrici legis æquoris; en erit umquam
Ille dies, mihi cum liceat tua dicere facta?

Ecl. VIII. 6.

Tum sciat, aerias Alpes, et Norica siquis
Castella in tumulis, et Iapidis arva Timavi.

Georg. III. 474.

Some other poetical citations have been already brought forward under the article of Aponus, which have reference also to this stream: we may notice, besides, two from Claudian.

Nunc, nunc o socii, temeratæ sumite tandem
Italiæpaenas, obsessi principis armis
Excusate nefas: deploratumque Timavo
Vulnus, et Alpinum gladiis abolete pudorem.

Bell. Get. 560.

Illyrici legitur plaga litoris: arva teruntur
Dalmatiæ: Phrygii numerantur stagna Timavi.
Gaudent Italiæ sublimibus opida muris
Adventu sacrata tuo.

III. Cons. Hon. 119.

[132] And Martial.

Et tu, Ledæo felix, Aquileia Timavo,
Hic ubi septenas Cyllarus hausit aquas.

IV. Ep.25.

Laneus Euganei lupus excipit ora Timavi,
Æquoreo dulces cum sale pastus aquas.

XIII. Ep. 86.

An tua multifidum numeravit lana Timavum,
Quem pius astrifero Cyllarus ore bibit?

VIII. Ep. 27.

Ausonius, when celebrating a fountain near Bourdeaux, his native city, compares its waters to the Timavus.

Salve, fons ignote ortu, sacer, alme, perennis,
Vitree, glauce, profonde, sonore, illimis, opace;
Non Aponus potu, vitrea non luce Nemausus
Purior, æquoreo non plenior amne Timavus.

De Clae. Urb.

The lake of the Timavus, mentioned by Livy in his account of the Histrian war, (XLI. 1.) is now called Lago della Pietra Rossa. Pliny speaks of some warm springs near the mouth of the river, (II. 103.) now Bagni di Monte Falcone. The temple and grove of Diomed (28), noticed by Strabo under the name of Timavum, may be supposed to have stood on the site of S. Giov. del Carso. (V. 214.)

Castel Duino is the ancient Pucinum Castellum, celebrated for its wine, of which Julia Augusta used to declare, that it had prolonged her life to the advanced age of eighty-two. (PKn. III. 18. and XIV. 6. Ptol. p. 63.) The" last town on the coast which is to be placed among the Carni is Tergeste, Trieste, [133] a Roman colony, which gave its name to the gulf on which it stands. (Plin. III. 18. Vell. Pater. II. 110. Mel. II. 4.) In Strabo we find it sometimes called Tergesta, or Tergeste, in the plural (VII. 314. and V. 215.) The Greeks knew it by the name of Tergestrum. (Artemid. ap. Steph. Byz. Dionys. Perieg. 382. Ptol. p. 63.) We are not informed at what period this city received a Roman colony, but we learn from Caesar that it suffered severely on one occasion from a sudden incursion of barbarians. (Bell. Gall. VIII. 24.) These, according to Appian, (Illyr. 18.) were the Iapydes, an Ulyrian nation, whom Augustus had some difficulty in subduing. (Strab. IV. 207. and VII. 214.)

In the interior of the Carnic territory we have yet to notice Iulium Carnicum, now Zuglio, an important place, probably erected by Julius Caesar to guard the frontier against the depredations of the Gauls and Illyrians. (Plin. III. 19. Ptol. p. 63.) It must be distinguished from Forum Julium, or Julii, Cividad di Friuli, whence the district of which it is the chief town now receives its name. This city is also said to have been founded by Caesar; (Paul. Diacon. II. 14.) but it appears to have been of no great consequence (Plin. III. 19.) till the time of Ptolemy, who styles it a Roman colony, p. 63. (Cf. Cassiod. XII. 26.) Recent discoveries have proved, that at the time of its fall, which is uncertain, it was no mean city, since it possessed a circus, campus Martius, several temples, and other public buildings (29).

[134] Vedinum is better known as the modern Udine. (Plin. III. 19.)

On the left bank of the Tagliamento are a number of little obscure places, which retain some vestiges of their ancient names, as we find them recorded by Paul. Diacon. (IV. 38.) Reunia, Osopum, Artenia, Glemona, Nemasum, now Rean, Osopo, Artegna, Gemona, Mazo; Cormones is Cormons, near Gradisca. (Id. loc. cit.)

The position of Noreia, a town belonging to the Norici, remains uncertain (30), as the passage in Strabo which refers to it is confessedly corrupt. (V. 214.) Cluverius places it on the left bank of the Tagliamento, near Venzone (31). Strabo speaks of its gold mines, and further mentions that Cn. Garbo had an unsuccessful action with the Cimbri in its vicinity, (loc. cit.) Pliny informs us, that Noreia no longer existed in his time. (III. 23.)

The Greeks, whose imaginations delighted to rove amidst the most barbarous countries and the wildest tribes in search of any thing that was strange or marvellous, had in early times laid in Histria the scene of one of those fabulous actions, which afforded indeed a brilliant field to, the poet, and dazzled the eyes of the vulgar, but by perpetuating error, served to check the sober progress of truth and knowledge. Connecting by a vague and confused association their notion of Histria with that of the great river from which they supposed it to have derived its name, they conveyed the Argonauts in their heaven-sent bark from the Euxine into the Hister, and then, by an unheard-of communication between this river [135] and the Adriatic, launched their heroes into the waters of the latter. (Scylax in. Perip. p. 6. Diod. IV. Strab. I. 46. and 57. Aristot. Hist. Anim. VIII. 13. Plin. III. 18.)

Not satisfied with these wonders, they affirmed that a band of Colchians, sent in pursuit of the ravisher of Medea, followed the same course, and, wearied by a fruitless search, rested in Histria, and finally settled on its shores. (Pomp. Mel. II. 3. Justin. XXXII.) This strange error, arising probably from a confusion of names, no longer prevailed when Histria became known to the Romans, and formed part of their vast empire. We then find its circuit and shape accurately described and defined by Strabo (VII. 814.) and Pliny. (III. 19.) Little is known respecting the origin of the Histrians; but an old geographer describes them as a nation of Thracian race, (Scymn. Chius. Perieg.) and this opinion seems at least to have probability in its favour. There is little to interest in the account of the wars waged by the Romans against this insignificant people; it is to be found in Livy: (XLI. 1-10.) they were completely subjugated A. U. C. 575.

The river Formio, Risano, had been considered, before the reign of Augustus, as the boundary of Italy towards its north-eastern extremity ; but when Histria was included in Cisalpine Gaul, this limit was removed to the little river Arsia. (Plin. III. 18.)

The first town which presents itself on the coast, after crossing the Formio, is Ægida, (Plin. III. 19.) now Capo d'Istria, situated in a small island named Ægidis, at the mouth of this river. According to [136] an inscription quoted by Cluverius (32), Ægida was afterwards called Justinopolis.

Parentium, with a sea-port, (Plin. III. 19. Ptol.  p. 63. Steph. Byz.) nearly retains its original name as Parenzo.

But the town of Pola, which next follows on the coast, and still preserves its name unchanged, was much the most ancient and important city of Histria. Tradition reported it to have been founded by the Colchians, whom Æetes had sent in pursuit ef the Argonauts. Without stopping to examine what circumstance gave rise to so improbable a fiction, it will be sufficient to observe, that the antiquity of Pola is attested by Lycophron (v, 1022.) and Callimachus (33). (Ap. Strab. V. 215.) It became afterwards a Roman colony, and took the name of Pietas Julia. (Plin. III. 19. Mel. II 4. Ptol. p. 68- Amm. Marcell. XIV. Steph. Byz.)

From the splendid remains of antiquity which are yet to be seen at Pola, it is evident that it was a city of no little note: The Promontorium Potaticum is at present known as the Punta di Promontore. (Strab. VII. 314.) Castel Nuovo, at the mouth of the Arsia, probably occupies the site of .Nesactium, mentioned by Liivy (XLI. 11.) as the capital of a small principality. (Plin. Ill. 10. Ptol. p. 63.) Mutila and Faveria, noticed by Livy in the same passage with the former town, are perhaps Medolino and Peara. These, with Piquentum, (Ptol. p. 63.) now Piguento, are all the ancient [137] cities known to have existed in the interior of Histria.

Some small islands, nearly opposite Pola, which Pliny calls Insulæ Pullariæ, (III. 26.) and Strabo mentions as fertile, and affording good shelter for vessels, are known at present by the names of Isola di Brioni, Conversara, and S. Nicolo. (Strab. V. 215.)

But the most noted islands on this coast are those named Absyrtidea, as tradition reported, from Absyrtus, the brother of Medea. (Hygin. Myth. Fab. 23. Strab. VII. 315. Mel. II. 7. Plin. III. 26.) Apollonius gives them the name of Brigeides, but seems to imply that they changed it afterwards to that which was first mentioned. (Argon. IV. 515.) The principal one was called Absorus, with a town, of the same name. (Ptol. p. 63.) These islands, four in number, are known in modern geography as Cherso, Osero, Ferosina, and Chao.

The gulf which lay between Histria and Liburnia, the neighbouring district of Illyria, was termed Polaticus Sinus, (Mel. II. 3.) or sometimes Flanaticus Sinus, (Plin. III. 19.) from Flano, a town on the Illyiian side of it. (Artemid. ap. Steph. Byz.) The modern name is Golfo di Quarnaro. [138]


Aquileia was the central point to which all the roads that traversed Venetia tended, and from which others diverged to pass into the neighbouring provinces of Illyria and Pannonia.

The principal and most important of these was that branch of the Via Æmilia which has been described from Milan to Verona in the preceding section; from the latter city to Aquileia we have a great detail of stations in the Jerusalem Itinerary.

Ancient names. Modern names. Distances in
Roman miles.
Verona Verona -
Cadianum Caldiero X.
Aureos Montebello X.
Vicentiam Vicenza XI.
ad Finem Arlesega XI.
Patavium Padova X.
ad Duodecimum - XII.
ad Nonum - XI.
Altinum Altino IX.
Sanos - X.
Concordiam (34) Concordia IX.
Apiciliam Latisana IX.
ad Undecimum - X.
Aquileiam Aquileia XI.

At Verona, this road was joined by another, which crossed the Tridentine Alps, and terminated in Germany at Augusta Vindelicorum, Augsburg; following precisely the same direction as the modern [139] chaussée, which traverses the Tyrol, and descends into Italy by Trent and the valley of the Adige. The stations on this route from Veldidena, Wilten, near Inspruck, are thus stated in the Itinerary of Antoninus and the Table.

Ancient names. Modern names. Distances in
Roman miles.
Vipitenum Sterzing XXXVI.
Sublavionem Clausen XXXII.
Pontem Drusi Castel Drud XIII.
Endidas Egna XI.
Tridentum Trento XVI.
ad Palatium Ala XXIV.
Veronam Verona XXXVI.

From this road again we find two others branching off at different points, through the most mountainous parts of the Carnic territory, and joining the Via Æmilia, the one at Aquileia, the other at Concordia. The distances of the former, as they are marked in the Itinerary of Antoninus, are

Ancient names. Modern names. Distances in
Roman miles.
Sebatum Sabs near Brixen -
Littamum - XXIII
Aguntum Innichen XXIII
Loncium Luccau XVIII.
Julium Carnicum Zuglio XXII.
ad Tricesimum Trigesimo XXX.
Aquileiam Aquileia XXX.

The stations of the latter, according to the same Itinerary, are as follows:

Ancient names. Modern names. Distances in
Roman miles.
Tridentum Trento -
Ausugum Alsugana XXIIII.
 Feltriam Feltre XXX.
ad Cepasias Oderzo XXVIII.
Opitergium - XXVIII.
Concordiam Concordia  XV.

[140] When describing the Via Æmilia in the last section, I mentioned that there was another branch of it, which, according to Strabo, (V. 217.) communicated with Aquileia in a more direct manner. Striking off at Modena, it crossed the Po to the west of Ferrara, and rejoined the main road at Padua. This road is laid down in the Antonine Itinerary as the way from Bononia to Aquileia.

Ancient names. Modern names. Distances in Roman miles.
Bononia Bologna
Mutinam Modena XXV.
Vicum Serninum - XXIII.
Vicum Varianum Bariano XX.
Anneianum Legnano XVIII.
Ateste Este XX.
Patavium Padova XV.
Altinum Altino XXXII.
Concordiam Concordia XXXI.
Aquileiam Aquileia XXXI.

There was also a communication between Ravenna and Aquileia along the shore of the Adriatic, which is marked in the Table in the following manner.

Ancient names. Modern names. Distances in
Roman miles.
Ravenna Ravenna VI.
Dutrium - -
Augustam Agosta VI.
Sagim ad Padum Fiscaglia XII.
Neroniam Codigoro IV.
Corniculariam Mezzagoro -
Hadrianum Ariano VI.
VII. Maria Marozzo VI.
Fossam - VI.
Ebronem Chiozza XVIII
Minorem Meduacum - VI.
Majorem Meduacum Malamocco VI.
ad PcHtum Fusina III.
Altinum Altino XVI.

From Aquileia, two roads led into Pannonia and Histria. The first of these, as was stated elsewhere, crossed the Julian Alps, or the Mons Ocra of Strabo, a passage apparently frequented from the earliest period. Its stations are thus laid down in the Jerusalem Itinerary.

Ancient names. Modern names. Distances in
Roman miles.
Aquileìa Aquileia -
ad Undecimum - XI.
ad Fornulos Verloza XII.
Castra Gemunde XII.
ad Summas Alpes (Julias) Adelsberg VIII.

We learn from this Itinerary, and from Herodian, (VIII. 1.) that the confines of Italy ware, at a late period of the Roman empire, extended beyond the Julian Alps to the Save. Æmona, now Laybach, was then considered as the last town of Italy.

A road is marked in the Table, as branching off from the last towards the province of Noricum, along the banks of the Sontius, l'Isonzo.

Ancient names. Modern names. Distances in
Roman miles.
Aquileia Aquileia -
ad Silanos Sella XXXV.
Tasinemetum (35) Tarvis -
Salocam Selch VIIII.
Virunum Volkmark  XI.

The road leading from Aquileia into Histria followed the coast round the whole peninsula as far as [142] Tarsatica, now Tarsatsh, in Liburnia. The stations are thus marked in the Antonine Itinerary.

Ancient names. Modern names. Distances in
Roman miles.




Fontem Timavi Timao XII.
Tergeste Trieste XII.
 Ningum  -


Parentium Parenzo


Polam Pola XXI. (36)

 From Trieste, there was a shorter cut across the peninsula, by

Ancient names. Modern names. Distances in
Roman miles.
Anesicam Senasetsch - XII.
ad Malum Jablonovitz - XVIII
ad Titulos - - XVII.
Tarsaticam Tarsatsh - XVII.


  1. They occupied the district of Vannes in Brittany. D'Anville, Not. de l'Anc. Gaule, Art. Veneti.
  2. Some peculiarities of their language are mentioned by Pliny. (XXVI. 7.) Modern researches seem to establish that this language was different from the Etruscan, having a still greater affinity to archaic Greek, than that dialect, both in the form of the letters and the character of the idiom. Orsato. Monum. Patav. Maffei Osserv. Letter, t. v. Lanzi. Saggio di Lingua Etrusca, P. iii. p. 649. et seq.
  3. Filiasi Saggio dei Veneti primi, P. ii. p. 11°. Id. Mem. Stor. dei Veneti primi, t. ii. e. 31.
  4. A modern writer is of opinion, that this Diomet was the Thracian king whose horses were celebrated in fable. Filiasi Mem. Saggio. dei Ven. pr. p. 2.
  5. Carli Antich. Ital. II. 5.
  6. Micali l'Italia avanti il dominio dei Romani, vol. iv. p. 319.
  7. The above account of the several branches and canals of the Po is that which Cluverius gives. But it is right to observe, that the passage of Pliny, from which it is derived, is very obscure, if not corrupt: besides, where the face of a country has probably undergone great change, it is difficult tò form an accurate notion of its comparative topography. Silvestri Palude Atriane. Amati del Rubicone Append. 7.
  8. Hadria, as well as Spina, is said to have been founded by Diomed. Steph. Byz. v. (Greek text). Plin. III. 16.
  9. See the following section.
  10. Filiasi Corogr. dell Ant. Vènet. Mark, t. in. p. 109. Silvestri Palude Atriane. Few remains of any moment have hitherto been discovered on the site of Hadria, and of these a very small number can be referred to the Tuscans prior to the Roman dominion. It may be remarked, however, that it is a matter of great dispute among numismatic writers, whether the coins with the retrograde legend TAH ought to be ascribe ed to the Venetian Had ria, or to the Hadria in Picenum, supposed to be its colony. From these and other coins it appears that the real name of this city was Hatri, which the Greeks changed to (Greek text). Mazocchi in Tab. Heracl p. 529. Bocchi Dissert. Acad. Cort. t. iii. p. 76. Lanzi, t. iii. p. 643.
  11. See his map of Ancient Italy.
  12. Bardetti della lingua dei prim. abit. dell' Ital. c. v. p. 209.
  13. Anal. Geogr. de l'Ital. p. 84.
  14. Ital. Ant. I. p. 177.
  15. See the French Strabo. Eclairciss. N°. 12. p. 24.
  16. Muratori Antichità Estense.
  17. In the Iliad, Antenor is represented as of the same age with Priam, (I. 148.) a circumstance with renders the account here considered very incredible.
  18. Some MSS. read 120,000; but the lesser number seems the most probable.
  19. It is not clear which harbour the geographer speaks of in this passage; Malamocco at the mouth of the Brenta, as Cluverius imagined, or that of Chiozza, formed by the Bachiglione. The distance specified f might seem to favour the latter supposition.
  20. See Orsato Monumenta Patarina, p. 155.
  21. Maffei Veron. Illustrat. 1. Lanzi conceives, that the name of this people bears some trace of Etruscan origin. P. iii. p. 627.
  22. Id. 1. cit.
  23. Many respectable critics, and among them the editor of the French Strabo, have thought, that the Insubres were meant to be spoken of here, as they doubtless are a few words below, where the editions read (Greek text). But here the geographer is enumerating some smaller tribes, situated above the Veneti, from whom the Insubres were far removed. Geogr. de Strab. Eclairciss. N°. 15. p. 30.
  24. Marco Pezzo dei Cimbri Veronesi e Vicentini. Veron. 1763. This author gives a complete vocabulary of the language used by this singular colony; which is so like modern German, that one might be led to doubt, whether this people did not belong to some more recent migration. Panvinius is the earliest author who notices the tradition respecting these Italian Cimbri. Ant. Ver. II. 18.
  25. Feder. Altan. Saggio del Ant. Stor. del Friuli. Rag. I, p. 49. Nuov. Raccolt. d'Opusc. t. xxii. and Gravisi Lett. Nuov. Raccolt. d'Opusc. t. xxiii.
  26. Heyne ad Virg. Æneìd. I. 244. Houldsworth's Travels, p. 600. Griselini Lett, nell Giorn. d'Italia, t. ii. p. 118. Filiasi c. 28.1.2.
  27. Valvasor. Crainia, t. i. p. 172.
  28. See note, p. 113.
  29. For an account of the interesting discoveries made relating to the site and remains of this ancient town in 1817, see the Giorn. Arcadico di Roma, or an extract from it in the Literary Gazette, Lond. Jan. 1824.
  30. See the French Strabo, Eclairciss. N°. XIII. p. 24.
  31. ltal. Antiq. I. p. 203.
  32. Ital. Ant. I. 210.
  33. It is to be questioned, however, whether these citations do not apply to another city of the same name on the coast of Epirus.
  34. D'Anville justly observes, that some other station is omitted between Altinum and Concordia, as the real distance is upwards of thirty miles, according to the Itinerary of Antoninus. Anal. Geog. p. 85.
  35. Probably Tarvisium, or Tarvisetum.
  36. According to the Table, this number should be XXX. In the same Itinerary there is an intermediate place named Silvium, between Parentium and Pola, probably Tilcovich.

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