Charles Anthon.

A system of ancient and mediæval geography for the use of schools and colleges online

. (page 28 of 89)
Online LibraryCharles AnthonA system of ancient and mediæval geography for the use of schools and colleges → online text (page 28 of 89)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

in this sense that Strabo understands the appellation, namely,
as belonging to the entire neck of land, not merely to a part of
it. This neck of land was formed, in fact, by the ridge of
Mount Garganus, and its modern name is Monte Gargano,
or, as some give it, Monte St. Angela. The ridge itself ter
minates in a bold headland, which was also called Garganum
Promontorium, and is now Punta di Viesti. Mount Garga
nus was covered with thick forests of oak, and is often alluded
to on this account by the Latin poets.



III. Cumerium Promontorium, on the coast of Picenum, now
Monte Comero, or, as it is sometimes called, Monte Guasco.
This promontory has a semicircular shape, and on the declivity
of the hill which formed it stood the city of Ancona.

IV. Polaticum Promontorium, at the southern extremity of
Histria, now Punta di Promontore. Its ancient name was de
rived from the city of Pola, in its immediate vicinity.


I. Pddus, now the Po, rising in Mons Vesulus, now Monte
Viso, and falling into the Hadriaticum Mare or Adriatic Sea.
It flows from two small takes on Monte Viso, the one situated
immediately below the highest peak, the other still higher up,
between that peak and the lesser one called Visoletto. The
waters of this second lake find vent in a great cavern, and this
probably is the source to which Pliny alludes when he speaks
of the origin of the Po as being a remarkable sight. This river
was called by the Greeks the Erlddnus. Its Celtic name was
Bodincus. The whole course of the stream, including its wind
ings, is about four hundred and fifty miles. Its waters are li
able to sudden increase from the melting of the snows and from
heavy falls of rain, the rivers that flow into it being almost all
mountain streams, and in the flat country, in the lower part of
its course, great dikes are erected on both sides of the river to
protect the lands from inundation. The Etrurians are said
to have first applied themselves to the embanking of the Po.
It receives a great number of tributaries, its channel being the
final receptacle of almost every stream which rises on the east
ern and southern declivities of the Alps, and the northern de
clivity of the Apennines. The mouths of the Po were ancient
ly reckoned seven in number, the principal one, which was
the southernmost, being called Padusa, and now Po di Pri-
maro. It was this mouth, also, to which the name of Ostium
Spineticum, or Eridanum, was applied. It sent off a branch
from itself near Trigaboli, which was anciently called Volana
Ostium, but is now denominated Po di Ferrara. Pliny men
tions the following other branches or mouths of the Po : the
Caprasicc Ostium, now Bocca di bel occhio ; the Sagis Os
tium, now Fossa ge ; and the Carbonaria, now the Po d Ariano.
The Fossa Philistina is the Po grande, and the Tartarus, now


Tartaro, which communicated with it, is probably the Hadria
of Stepharms Byzantinus, or the Hatrianus of Ptolemy. The
Fossa Philistina is spoken of as a very considerable canal, hav
ing seven arms or cuts, commonly known by the name of Sep-
tem Maria, drawn off from it to the sea. These works were
undertaken by the Etrurians for the purpose of draining the
marshy lands about Hadria. The Po is rendered famous in
the legends of mythology by the fate of Phaethon, who fell into
it when struck down from heaven by the thunderbolt of Jove.
We will now proceed to name the tributaries of this stream.

(A.) Tributaries of the Padus from the North, beginning at

the West.

1. Duria. There were two rivers of this name, the Duria Major and the Duria
Minor. The Duria Minor was the more western one of the two. It rose in the
Alpes Cottice, on what is now Mont Genevre, and joined the Padus near Augusta
Taurinorum, the modern Turin. It is now the Doria Riparia. The Duria Ma
jor rose on what is now the Col dc la Seignc, where the Alpes Pennince com
menced, and fell into the Padus between Bodincomdgus and Quadrata, at what
is now Crescenlino. Its modern name is the Doria Baltea. 2. Sessites, to the
east of the preceding, now the Sessia or Sesia. It passed by Vercella, now Ver-
celli. 3. Ticvius, now the Tessino, one of the largest of the tributaries of the
Po, rose in the Lepontine Alps, on what is now Mont St. Gothard, passed through
the Lacus Verbanus or Lago Maggiore, ami entered the Po a little distance be
low Ticinum, the modern Pavia. The waters of the Ticinus are celebrated by
the ancient poets for their clearness and beautiful color. On the banks of this
river Hannibal gained his first victory over the Romans. 4. Lambrus, now the
Lambro, rose in the Lacus Euptlis, now Lago di Pusciana, among the mountains
that separate the lower part of the Lacus Larius into two arms, and emptied
into the Po between Ticinum and Placentia. 5. Addua or Aduas (*A<Jouaf ), now
the Adda, rose in the Raetian Alps, formed in its course the Lacus Larius or Lago
di Co-mo, and, emerging from it again, fell into the Po between Placentia and Cre
mona. 6. Ollius, now the Oglio, rose in the Raetian Alps, formed in its course
the Lacus Sebmus, now Lago d Iseo, and fell into the Po a little distance from
Nuceria. It received in its course the Mela, now Mclla, and the Clusius, now
Chiese, which separated the Cenomani from the Insubres. 7. Mincius, now Min-
cio, issued from the Lacus Bcnacus, now Lago di Garda, flowed by Mantua, and,
after a sluggish and winding course, fell into the Po to the west of Hostilia, now

(B.) Tributaries of the Padus from the South, beginning- at

the West.

1. Tanarus, now Tanaro, the largest of all the tributaries of the Po, on the
right or southern bank of the stream. It rose in the Apennines, where they
branched off from the Maritime Alps, and after receiving the Stura, which
still retains its name, and also the Urbis, now the Orba, fell into the Padus,
near Laumcllum, the modern Lomello. 2. Trcbia, which still retains its name,


rose in the Apennines, to the northeast of Genua, and fell into the Padus a
little to the west of Placentia. On the left bank of the Trebia, about eight
miles from Placentia, Hannibal gained his second victory over the Romans.
3. Tarns, now Taro. 4. Parma, still retaining its name, and flowing by the city
of Parma. 5. Nicia, now the Lenza, which the ^Emilian Way crossed a little
before Tanetum. 6. Gabellus or Secia, now the Secchia. 7. Scultenna, now
Panaro. 8. Rhenus, now Reno, celebrated in history for the meeting of the sec
ond triumvirate, which took place in an island formed by its stream.

II. Arnus, now the Arno, rising in the Umbrian Apennines,
and, after flowing through Etraria and passing by Florentia,
now Firenze or Florence, and Pisa, now Pisa, falling into the
Mare Tyrrhenum. At its mouth was the Portus Pisanus.
The Arnus anciently received the Ausar, now the Serchio, from
the north, and the juncture took place where the city of PissB
stood ; now, however, both rivers flow into the sea by separate

III. Tiberis, now the Tiber, on whose banks stood the city
of Rome. It is said to have been originally called Albula, from
the whiteness of its waters, and afterward Tiber is or Tibris
when Tiberinus, a king of Alba, had been drowned in it. It is
probable, however, that Albula was the old Latin name, and
Tiberis or Tibris the Tuscan one. It is often called by the
Greeks Thymbris (b Qv^dptg). The Tiber rose in the Apen
nines above Arretium, and after being joined, during a course
of one hundred and fifty miles, by upward of forty tributary
streams, fell into the lower sea at Ostia. This stream was
also called poetically Tyrrhenus amnis, from its watering Etru-
ria, the country of the Tyrrheni, on one side, in its course, and
also Lydius amnis, on account of the popular tradition which
traced the arts and civilization of Etruria to Lydia in Asia
Minor. The poets, of course, are full of allusions to this cele
brated stream, and another poetic form of the name is Thybris.

(A.) Tributaries of the Tiber on the Eastern Side.

1. Tinia, now the Timia, was formed by several streams which united a lit
tle above Mevdnia, the modern Bevagna, at which latter place it is joined also
$ by the Topino. Of the streams that flowed into and formed the Tinia, the most
celebrated was the Clitumnus, famed for the snow-white herds that pastured on
its banks, and were always selected to adorn the Roman triumphs as victims to
the Capitoline Jove. Pliny the younger has left us a beautiful description of
this sacred river and its little temple, the ruins of which are still to be seen be
tween Foligno and Spoleto. The stream rises close to the temple, and still
bears the name of Clitunno. 2. Nar, now the Nera, rose on Mount Fiscellus, in
the Apennines, above Nursia, and in the northeastern angle of the Sabine ter-


ritory. In the first half of its course it formed the boundary between the Sa-
bines and the Umbrians, and then to the east of Interamna, now Terni, received
the Veiinus, now Velino, and after flowing onward through Umbria, fell into the
Tiber near Ocriculum. The Nar was noted for its sulphureous stream. The
River Veiinus, before it joined the Nar, formed some small lakes, the chief
of which was called the Lacus Veiinus, now Logo di Pie di Luco. The drain
age of the stagnant waters produced by the occasional overflow of these lakes
and of the river was first attempted by Curius Dentatus, the conqueror of the
Sabines. He caused a channel to be made for the Veiinus, through which the
waters of that river were carried into the Nar, over a precipice of several hun
dred feet. This is the celebrated fall of Terni, known in Italy by the name of
Caduta delle Marmore. The valley of the Veiinus, in which stood the city of
Redte, was so delightful as to merit the appellation of Tempe ; and, from theirv
dewy freshness, its meadows obtained the name of Rosei Campi. "*T*

3. Allia, now the Aia, a small but celebrated stream, rose in the Crusturnine J
hills below Nomentum, was crossed by the Via Salaria about four miles beyond
the modern Marciglione, and fell into the Tiber at the distance of eleven miles
from Rome. This river is memorable for having witnessed the disgraceful
overthrow of the Romans by the Gauls under Brennus (July 18, B.C. 390), on
which account the dies Alliensis, or " day on<lhe Allia," was always marked as
a most unlucky one in the Roman calendar. The defeat on the Allia was fol
lowed by the capture of the city. 4. Anio, now the Tevcrone, rose in the Apen
nines near the Sabine town of Treba, and fell into the Tiber about three miles
to the north of Rome. Its earlier name was Anien, whence comes the genitive
Anienis, which is joined in inflection with the later nominative Anio. It is not
so full a stream as the Nar, but was considered, however, by the Romans as
the most important among the tributaries of the Tiber, and hence received also
the appellation of Tiberinus, whence comes, by corruption, the modern name
Teverone. This river, in its course, passed by the town of Tibur, the modern
Tivoli, where it formed some beautiful cascades. 5. Almo, now the Almone or
Aquatacio, a small stream rising near Bovill<z, about ten miles to the southeast
of Rome, and falling into the Tiber a short distance below that city. At the
junction of this stream with the Tiber, the priests of Cybele, every year, on the
25th of March, washed the statue and sacred things of the goddess.

(B.) Tributaries of the Tiber on the Western Side.

1. Clanis, now Chiana, rising near Arretium in Etruria, and falling into the
Tiber northeast of Vulsinii. Near Clusium Vetus it formed a marsh termed
Clusina Palus. It may be seen from Tacitus (Ami., i., 79), that a project was
once agitated for causing the waters of this marsh to discharge themselves into
the Arnus. 2. Cremera, a small river now called the Valca, rising in the neigh
borhood of Baccana, the modern Baccano, and falling into the Tiber a little be
low Prima Porta. It was in the vicinity of the place where this river joined
the Tiber that the Fabii were cut off by the Veientes.

IV. LlriS) now the Garigliano, a river of Campania, rising
in the country of the Marsi, to the west of the Lacus Fucmus y
and falling into the lower sea near Minturnae. It is particular
ly noted by the ancient poets for the sluggishness of its stream.
According to Strabo, its more ancient name was Clanis
vi$ ) ; according to Pliny, however, Glanis.


V. Vulturnus, now the Volturno, a river of Campania, rising
among the Apennines, in the territory of Samnium, and falling
into the lower sea at Vultumum. A magnificent bridge was
thrown over this river by Domitian, when he caused a road to
be constructed from Sinuessa to Puteoli.

VI. Aufldus, now the Ofanto, the largest river of Apulia r
rising in the Apennines, in the territory of the Hirpini, and
flowing into what is now the Gulf of Manfredonia. It was
remarkable for the rapidity of its course. On the banks of this
river the fatal battle of Cannse was fought.

VII. Metaurus, now the Metaro, a river of Umbria, rising
in the Apennines, and falling into the Hadriaticum Mare, 01

Adriatic Sea, above Sena Gallica. It was rendered memora
ble by the defeat of Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, when
on his way with re-enforcements for the latter. The battle is
supposed to have taken place near the modern Fossombrone f
and on the left bank of the stream.

VIII. Rubicon, a small stream falling into the Adriatic a
little to the north of Arimmum, but, though trifling in volume,
yet important as forming, in part, the northern boundary of
Italia Propria. It was on this account that it was forbidden
the Roman commanders to pass the Rubicon with an armed
force, since in violating this injunction they would enter on the
immediate territory of the republic, under the government of
the senate, and would be, in effect, declaring war upon their
country. Csesar crossed this stream with his army at the
commencement of the civil war, and harangued his troops at
Ariminum. When Augustus subsequently included Gallia
Cisalpina within the limits of Italy, the Rubicon sank, of
course, in importance, and in modern times it is difficult, there
fore, to ascertain the position of the true stream. D Anville
makes it correspond with a current called Fiumesino ; popular
tradition, however, is in favor of the Pisatello.

IX. Athesis, now Adige, or, as the Germans call it, the
Etsch, a river of Venetia, rising in the Rsetian Alps, or the
mountains of the Tyrol, and, after a course of nearly two hun
dred miles, discharging its waters into the Adriatic, north of
the mouths of the Po. Next to this last-mentioned river, it
must be looked upon as the most considerable stream of Italy.

X. Meduucus Major and Meduacm Minor, both rising in


the Raetian Alps, in the territory of the Meduaci, from whom
they derive their name, and falling into the Adriatic to the north
of the mouth of the Athesis. The Meduacus Major is now the
Brenta, and the Minor now Bathiglione.

XL Pldvis, now the Piave, further to the northeast. Pliny,
who enumerates many of the most unimportant streams, passes
over this, one of the largest in Venetia, in silence. This was
owing, probably, to there being no place of importance on its
banks. It is first mentioned by Paulus Diaconus.

XII. Timdvus, falling into the Sinus Tergestinus to the east
of Aquileia. It was small of size, but few streams have been
more celebrated in antiquity, or more sung by the poets. Its
numerous sources, its lake and subterranean passage, which
have been the theme of the Latin muse from Virgil to Claudi-
an 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 San Giovanni
di Car so and the castle of Duino, and form a river, which,
after a course of little more than a mile, falls into the Adriatic.
Antenor was fabled to have penetrated to the vicinity of this
river after the capture of Troy.

Some of the minor streams of Italy will be alluded to in the
accounts given of the several divisions of the country.

(A.) Lakes in Gallia Cisalpina, from East to West.

I. Lacus Benacus, on the borders of Venetia, now Lago di
Garda. It receives the small river Sarraca, now Sarca, from
the north, and sends forth from its southern extremity the River
Mincius, now Mincio. Its dimensions, according to modern
computation, are about thirty Italian miles in length and nine
in breadth. The ancient measurement was much larger.
Sirmio, its principal promontory, and on the southwestern
shore of the lake, was celebrated as having been the favorite
residence of Catullus, who commemorates it in some beautiful
lines. It is now called Sirmione. Virgil speaks of this lake
as subject to sudden storms, which circumstance has also been
observed by modern travellers.

II. Lacus Sebinus, to the west of the preceding, now Lago


tflseo. It was formed by the Ollius, now the Oglio. Its
modern name is derived from the town of Iseo, which appears
to occupy the site of a town called Sebum, whence came the an
cient name of the lake.

III. Lacus Ldrius, to the west of the preceding, now Lago
di Como. Servius says that Cato reckoned the length of this
lake at sixty miles, and the real distance, including the Lake
of Chiavenna, is not short of that measurement. This lake
receives, or, more correctly speaking, is formed by the Addua,
now the Adda, which again emerges from it, and pursues its
course to the Po. The modern name is derived from the town
of Como, the ancient Comum. A headland, running boldly into
the lake at its southern end, causes it to branch off into two
arms, and in the mountains connected with this headland the
River Lambrus took its rise.

IV. Lacus Verbdnus, to the west of the preceding, now Lago
Maggiore, formed by the River Ticlnus. It is twenty-seven
miles long, and, on an average, eight broad. In it lie the Borro-
mean islands, which are the admiration of every traveller.

(B.) Lakes in Etruria, from North to South.

I. Lacus Trasimenus, a few miles to the south of Cortona,
now Lago di Perugia, which name it receives from the mod
ern city of Perugia, the ancient Perusia,, lying to the south
east of it. * This lake was famous for the defeat of the Romans
by Hannibal, making his third victory over them. The battle
was fought in a narrow valley along the southern shore of the
lake. Hannibal had taken up his position on the heights, and
as the Romans pressed forward on the narrow path between
the hills and the lake, Hannibal fell upon and defeated them
with great slaughter.

II. Lacus Prilis, called by Cicero Lacus Prelius, and in
the Antonine Itinerary, Aprilis Lacus, on the shore to the
southwest of the preceding, near the city of Rusellce, and just
above the River Umbro. It is now Lago di Castiglione.
which must not be confounded, however, with the Lago di
Castiglione, answering to the ancient Lacus Gabinus, near
Gabii, in Latium.

III. Lacus Volsiniensis, to the southeast of the preceding,
now the Lake of Bolsena, so called from the city of Bolsena.


on the northern shore, the ancient Vulsinii, which last gave its
ancient name to the lake. The hilly banks of this lake were
covered with wood, and its waters abounded with fish. Pliny,
who calls it Lacus Tarquiniensis, mentions that it had two
floating islands.

IV. Lacus Vadimonis, to the southeast of the preceding, and
near the confines of Umbria. It formerly existed close to the
modern Bassano, and used to be called La go di Bassano ; but
it is now filled up with peat and rushes. This lake is cele
brated in the history of Rome for having witnessed the total
defeat of the Etrurians by the Romans, a defeat so decisive
that they never could recover from its effects. Another battle
was again fought here by the Etrurians, in conjunction with
the Gauls, against the Romans, but with the same ill success.

V. Lacus Sabdtinus, to the southwest of the preceding, and
to the northwest of Veii. It derived its name from Sabate, a
city situated not far, probably, from the site of the present
Bracciano, which now giv^s its name to the lake. It was said
that a town had formerl^been swallowed up by the Lacus Sa-
batinus, and it was even asserted that in calm weather its ru
ins might still be seen below the surface of the water.

(C.) Lake in the Country ofthefMarsi.
Lacus Fucinus, now La go di Celano, or, as it is sometimes
called, Lago Fucino. It was of considerable extent, being not
less than forty miles in circumference. A small river, called
Pitonius, now Giovenco, which entered the lake on the north
east side, was said not to mix its waters, the coldest known,
with those of that lake. According to the same popular ac
count, this stream afterward emerged by a subterranean duct
near Tibur, and became, under the name of Aqua Marcia^ the
purest supply which Rome received from its numerous aque
ducts. As this lake was subject to inundation, Caesar, it ap
pears, had intended to find a vent for its waters ; but this de
sign was not carried into effect till the reign of Claudius. Af
ter a continued labor of eleven years, during which thirty thou
sand men were constantly employed, a canal of three miles in
length was carried through a mountain from the lake to the
River Liris. On its completion, the splendid but sanguinary
show of a real naumachia was exhibited on the lake, in the


presence of Claudius and Agrippina and a numerous retinue,
while the surrounding hills were thronged with the population
of the neighboring country. The Emperor Hadrian afterward
repaired this work of Claudius.

(D.) Lakes in Latium, Campania, and Samnium.

I. Lacus Regillus, to the southeast of Rome, between Labi-
cum and Gabii, and now il Laglietto della Colonna. The vi
cinity of this lake was the scene of a great battle between the
Romans and Latins, which Niebuhr assigns to the mythical
history of Rome.

II. Lacus Albanus, at the foot of the Alban Mount, and prob
ably the crater of an extinct volcano. This lake is well known
in history from the prodigious rise of its waters, to such an ex
tent, indeed, as to threaten the whole surrounding country, and
even Rome itself, with an overwhelming inundation. To rem
edy this, a subterranean canal was constructed, the rock being
cut through for that purpose for the space of a mile and a
half. The water discharged by this Channel united with the
Tiber about five miles below Rome. The work still exists, it
is said, in remarkable preservation. The lake is now called
Lago di Castel Gandolfo.

III. Lacus Av9yius, in Campania, near Baise and Puteoli,
now Lago d Averno. It was separated from the Lucrine
Lake, which lay in front of it, by a low and narrow strip of land,
and was surrounded on every side but this by steep hills and
dense forests. Gloom and darkness therefore encompassed the
lake, and accumulated effluvia filled the air with contagion.
The ancients even had a popular belief among them that birds,
on attempting to fly over this sheet of water, became stupefied
by its exhalations and fell into it. Hence the common, though
erroneous derivation of the name (in Greek "Aopvo^), from a
privative, and opvif, " a bird" Here, too, it was believed, were
the subterranean abodes of the Cimmerians, and a descent to
the lower world. The forests and gloom, however, disappeared
when Agrippa opened a communication with the Lucrine Lake,
and constructed the well-known Julian harbor./- /

IV. Lacus Lucrinus, in Campania, and immediately adjacent
to the preceding. Its shores were famed for #fieir oysters and
other shell-sh. In the year 1538, an earthquake formed a



hill, called Monte Nuovo, which displaced the water, and left
no appearance of a lake, but only a morass filled with grass and
rushes, and such is still the state of things at the present day.
The Lucrine Lake formed part of the celebrated Julian harbor
constructed by Agrippa.

OBS. The Julian harbor, or Portus Julius, may here be briefly described. It
was called by this name in honor of Augustus, and was constructed by Agrippa
under his orders. According to Dio Cassius (xlviii., 50), there were three lakes
in this quarter, lying one behind the other. The outermost one, however, or
Lacus Tyrrhenus, was properly only a bay. The middle one was the Lucrine,
and the innermost one the Lake Avernus. The Lucrine was separated from

Online LibraryCharles AnthonA system of ancient and mediæval geography for the use of schools and colleges → online text (page 28 of 89)