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Pliny the Elder
Relevant Non-Istrians
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Pliny's Natural History, Book 3
(C. Plinii Secundi Naturalis Historiæ, Liber III)

CHAP. 23. (19.) - ISTRIA, ITS PEOPLE AND LOCALITY.

129 Histria ut paeninsula excurrit. latitudinem eius XL, circuitum CXXV prodidere quidam, item adhaerentis Liburniae et Flanatici sinus, alii CCXXV, alii Liburniae CLXXX. nonnulli in Flanaticum sinum Iapudiam promovere a tergo Histriae CXXX, dein Liburniam CL fecere. Tuditanus, qui domuit Histros, in statua sua ibi inscripsit: AN AQVILEIA AD TITIVM FLVMEN STADIA MM. oppida

Istria projects in the form of a peninsula. Some writers have stated its length to be forty miles, and its circumference 125; and the same as to Liburnia which adjoins it, and the Flanatic Gulf1, while others make it 2252; others again make the circumference of Liburnia 180 miles. Some persons too extend Iapydia, at the back of Istria, as far as the Flanatic Gulf, a distance of 130 miles, thus making Liburnia but 150 miles. Tuditanus3, who subdued the Istri, had this inscription on his statue which was erected there: "From Aquileia to the river Titus is a distance of 1000 stadia."
Histriae civium Romanorum Agida, Parentium, colonia Pola, quae nunc Pietas Iulia, quondam a Colchis condita; abest a Tergeste CV. mox oppidum Nesactium et — nunc finis Italiae — fluvius Arsia. ad Polam ab Ancona traiectus CXX p. est.

The towns of Istria with the rights of Roman citizens are Ægida4, Parentium, and the colony of Pola5, now Pietas Julia, formerly founded by the Colchians, and distant from Tergeste 100 miles: after which we come to the town of Nesactium6, and the river Arsia, now7 the boundary of Italy. The distance across from Ancona to Pola is 120 miles.

130 In mediterraneo regionis decimae coloniae Cremona, Brixia Cenomanorum agro, Venetorum autem Ateste et oppida Acelum, Patavium, Opitergium, Belunum, Vicetia. Mantua Tuscorum trans Padum sola reliqua. Venetos Troiana stirpe ortos auctor est Cato, Cenomanos iuxta Massiliam habitasse in Volcis. Feltrini et Tridentini et Beruenses Raetica oppida, Raetorum et Euganeorum Verona, Iulienses Carnorum. dein, quos scrupulosius dicere non attineat, Alutrenses, Asseriates, Flamonienses Vanienses et alii cognomine Carici, Foroiulienses cognomine Transpadani, Foretani, Nedinates, Quarqueni, Tarvisani, Togienses, Varvari. In [p. 1252] the interior of the tenth region are the colonies of Cremona, Brixia in the territory of the Cenomanni8, Ateste9 belonging to the Veneti, and the towns of Acelum10, Patavium11, Opitergium, Belunum12, and Vicetia; with Mantua13, the only city of the Tuscans now left beyond the Padus. Cato informs us that the Veneti are descendants of the Trojans14, and that the Cenomanni15 dwelt among the Volcæ in the vicinity of Massilia. There are also the towns of the Fertini16, the Tridentini17, and the Beruenses, belonging to the Rhæti, Verona18, belonging to the Rhæti and the Euganei, and Ju- [p. 1253] lienses19 to the Carni. We then have the following peoples, whom there is no necessity to particularize with any degree of exactness, the Alutrenses, the Asseriates, the Flamonienses20 with those surnamed Vanienses, and the others called Culici, the Forojulienses21 surnamed Transpadani, the Foretani, the Nedinates22, the Quarqueni23, the Taurisani24, the Togienses, and the Varvari.
131  in hoc situ interiere per oram Irmene, Pellaon, Palsicium, ex Venetis Atina et Caelina, Carnis Segesta et Ocra, Tauriscis Noreia. et ab Aquileia ad XII lapidem deletum oppidum etiam invito senatu a M. Claudio Marcello L. Piso auctor est. In hac regione et undecuma lacus incluti sunt amnesque eorum partus aut alumni, si modo acceptos reddunt, ut Adduam Larius, Ticinum Verbannus, Mincium Benacus, Ollium Sebinnus, Lambrum Eupilis, omnes incolas Padi. In this district there have disappeared--upon the coast--Iramene, Pellaon, and Palsatium, Atina and Cælina belonging to the Veneti, Segeste and Ocra to the Carni, and Noreia to the Taurisci. L. Piso also informs us that although the senate disapproved of his so doing, M. Claudius Marcellus25 razed to the ground a tower situate at the twelfth mile-stone from AquileiaIn this region also and the eleventh there are some celebrated lakes26, and several rivers that either take their rise in them or else are fed by their waters, in those cases in which they again emerge from them. These are the Addua27, fed by the Lake Larius, the Ticinus by Lake Verbannus, the Mincius by Lake Benacus, the Ollius by Lake Sebinnus, and the Lambrus by Lake Eupilis--all of them flowing into the Padus. [p. 1254]
132 Alpis in longitudinem |X| p. patere a Supero mari ad Inferum Caelius tradit, Timagenes XXV p. deductis, in latitudinem autem Cornelius Nepos C, T. Livius III stadiorum, uterque diversis in locis. namque et centum milia excedunt aliquando, ubi Germaniam ab Italia summovent, nec LXX inplent reliqua sui parte graciles, veluti naturae providentia. latitudo Italiae subter radices earum a Varo per Vada Sabatia, Taurinos, Comum, Brixiam, Veronam, Vicetiam, Opitergium, Aquileiam, Tergeste, Polam, Arsiam DCCXLV p. colligit.

Cælius states that the length of the Alps from the Upper Sea to the Lower is 1000 miles, a distance which Timagenes shortens by twenty-two. Cornelius Nepos assigns to them a breadth of 100 miles, and T. Livius of 3000 stadia; but then in different places. For in some localities they exceed 100 miles; where they divide Germany, for instance, from Italy; while in other parts they do not reach seventy, being thus narrowed by the providential dispensation of nature as it were. The breadth of Italy, taken from the river Var at the foot of these mountains, and passing along by the Vada28 Sabatia, the Taurini, Comum, Brixia, Verona, Vicetia, Opitergium, Aquileia, Tergeste, Pola, and Arsia, is 745 miles.

Editors' notes:

  1. Now the Golfo di Quarnaro [Kvarner Gulf]. Liburnia was separated from Istria on the north-west by the river Arsia, and from Dalnatia on the south by the river Titus or Kerka, corresponding to the western part of modern Croatia, and the northern part of modern Dalmatia. Iapydia was situate to the north of Dalmatia and east of Liburnia, or the present military frontier of Croatia, between the rivers Kulpa and Korana to the north and east, and the Velebich mountains to the south. Istria consisted of the peninsula which still bears the same appellation.
  2. This passage, "while others make it 225," is omitted in many of the MSS. and most of the editions. If it is retained, it is not improbable that his meaning is, "and the circumference of Liburnia which joins it, with the Flanatic Gulf, some make 225, while others make the compass of Liburnia to be 180 miles." It depends on the punctuation and the force of "item," and the question whether the passage is not in a corrupt state; and it is not at all clear what his meaning really is.
  3. He alludes to C. Sempronius Tuditanus, Consul B.C. 129. He gained his victory over the lapydes chiefly through the skill of his legatus, D. Junius Brutus. He was a distinguished orator and historian. He was the maternal grandfather of the orator Hortensius.
  4. This place is only mentioned by Pliny, but from an inscription found, it appears that the emperor Justin II. conferred on it the title of Justinopolis. It is thought that it occupied the site of the present town of Capo d'Istria.--Parentium stood on the site of the present Parenzo.
  5. It still retains its name.
  6. Supposed to have occupied the site of the modern Castel Nuovo, past which the Arsia, now the Arsa, flows.
  7. Since Istria had been added to it by Augustus.
  8. Livy seems to imply that Cremona was originally included in the territory of the Insubres. A Roman colony being established there it became a powerful city. It was destroyed by Antonius the general of Vespasian, and again by the Lombard king Agilulfus in A.D. 605. No remains of antiquity, except a few inscriptions, are to be seen in the modern city.
  9. The modern city of Este stands on the site of Ateste. Beyond inscriptions there are no remains of this Roman colony.
  10. Asolo stands on its site.
  11. It was said to have been founded by the Trojan Antenor. Under the Romans it was the most important city in the north of Italy, and by its commerce and manufactures attained great opulence. It was plundered by Attila, and, by Agilulfus, king of the Lombards, was razed to the ground. It was celebrated as being the birth-place of Livy. Modern Padua stands on its site, but has no remains of antiquity.
  12. Now called Belluno. Vicetia has been succeeded by the modem Vicenza.
  13. Mantua was not a place of importance, but was famous as being the birth-place of Virgil; at least, the poet, who was born at the village of Andes, in its vicinity, regarded it as such. It was said to have had its name from Manto, the daughter of Tiresias. Virgil, in the Æneid, B. x., alludes to its supposed Tuscan origin.
  14. Led by Antenor, as Livy says, B. i.
  15. The Cenomanni, a tribe of the Cisalpine Gauls, seem to have occupied the country north of the Padus, between the Insubres on the west and the Veneti on the east. From Polybius and Livy we learn that they had crossed the Alps within historical memory, and had expelled the Etruscans and occupied their territory. They were signalized for their amicable feelings towards the Roman state.
  16. Their town was Fertria or Feltria, the modern Feltre.
  17. The modern city of Trento or Trent occupies the site of Tridentum, their town. It is situate on the Athesis or Adige. It became famous in the middle ages, and the great ecclesiastical council met here in 1545.
  18. It was a Roman colony under the name of Colonia Augusta, having originally been the capital of the Euganei, and then of the Cenomanni. It was the birth-place of Catullus, and according to some accounts, of our author, Pliny. Modern Verona exhibits many remains of antiquity.
  19. D'Anville says that the ruins of this town are to be seen at the modern Zuglio.
  20. Hardouin thinks that their town, Flamonia, stood on the site of the modern Flagogna.
  21. Their town, Forum Julii, a Roman colony, stood on the site of the modern Friuli. Paulus Diaconus ascribes its foundation to Julius Cæsar.
  22. Supposed by Miller to have inhabited the town now called Nadin or Susied.
  23. Their town was probably on the site of the modern Quero, on the river Piave, below Feltre.
  24. Probably the same as the Tarvisani, whose town was Tarvisium, now Treviso.
  25. The conqueror of Syracuse. The fact here related probably took place in the Gallic war.
  26. This must be the meaning; and we must not, as Holland does, employ the number as signifying that of the lakes and rivers; for the Ticinus is in the eleventh region.
  27. Now the Adda, running through Lago di Como, the Tesino through Lago Maggiore, the Mincio through Lago di Garda, the Seo through Lago di Seo, and the Lambro now communicating with the two small lakes called Lago di Pusiano and Lago d'Alserio, which in Pliny's time probably formed one large lake.
  28. Now Vado in Liguria, the harbour of Sabbata or Savo. Using the modern names, the line thus drawn runs past Vado, Turin, Como, Brescia, Verona, Vicenza, Oderzo, Aquileia, Trieste, Pola, and the Arsa.

The above English text is based on The Natural History. Pliny the Elder. John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S. H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A. London. Taylor and Francis, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street. 1855.

Sources:

  • English translation - http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Plin.+Nat.+toc
  • Latin - http://www.biblio-net.com/lett_cla/testi/nathist_liber_iii.htm & http://www.gmu.edu/departments/fld/CLASSICS/pliny.nh3.html

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