Sir William Smith William Latham Bevan.

The student's manual of ancient geography online

. (page 56 of 82)
Online LibrarySir William Smith William Latham BevanThe student's manual of ancient geography → online text (page 56 of 82)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


vancing spur of the Maritime Alps formed a natural division, but
by Augustus it was advanced westward to the river Yams, and thus
included Nicaea; in the former direction the boundary originally
stood at the river Formic, but was afterwards carried on to the
Julian Alps and the river Arsia. The general direction of the pe*
ninsula is towards the S.E. ; its extreme length, from the foot of
the Alps to Prom. Leucopetra is about 700 miles ; its width varies
considerably, the northern portion spreading out into a broad ex-
panse about 350 miles across, while the southern portion has an
average width of about 100 miles; its area is estipiated at 90,000
square miles.

Y 2



Digitized



by Google



484 ITALIA, Book IV.

Name, — The etymology of the name Italia is quite uncertain: the
Greeks and Romans derived it from an eponymus hero, Italus:^ others
have connected it with an old Tyrrhenian word allied to vittiXMS,
meaning " oz/' in which case Italia would signify " the land of oxen."
The name was originally applied onlyto the S. point of the peninsula,
as far N. as the Scylletian Qulf. Thence it was extended, even in
early times, to the whole tract along the shores of the Tarentine Gulf
as high as Metapontum. and on the W. shore as high as the Gulf of Pses-
turn, and in this sense it was co-extensive with (£iotria. At that time
(about the 5th century, h.o.) the remaining portions of Italy were
known by the names of Opioa and l^prrlienia. In the time of Pyrrhus
it was extended northwards to the S. frontiers of Cisalpine Gaul and
Liguria. In the later days of the Republic, when those countries were
subjected to the arms of Rome, the name was extended in ordinary
language to the foot of the Alps, though in official language the dis-
tinction between Italia and Cisalpine Gaul was still observed. Under
the Emperors this distinction ceased, and Italy was carried to the
natural limits of the peninsula, viz. the Alps. In the last ages of the
Western £mpire the name was applied exclusively to the northern
provinces. We have further to notice the poetical names of Heapeiia,*
AuMnia,' and SAtnxnia.*

§ 2. llie general features of the peninsula are the results of its
physical structure. It consists of two great divisions: (i.) the
alluvial plains of the Po in the N., lying between the Alps and the
Apennines ; and (ii.) the southern extension formed by the central
ridge of the Apennines, which penetrates through the whole length
of the peninsula, and reappears in the island of Sicily. Down to the
head of the Bay of Tarentum this ridge is a single one : there it
bifurcates, one of the branches continuing to the E. and forming
the promontory of lapygia, while the other descends first towards
the S. and afterwards towards the S.W : hence arises the striking
resemblance which the southern portion of the peninsula bears to a
boot. The lateral ridges of the Apennines are generally of bw
elevation, and seldom reach the sea : hence the line of coast is gene-
rally regular. The rivers, with the exception of the Po, are neces-
sarily of short course, the central chain forming an unbroken barrier
throughout its whole length. The climate of Italy has in all ages
been regarded as remarkably fine.^ The peninsula lies between the



1 OSnotri ooloere viri ; nunc funa, minores
Italiam dixiase duei$ de nomine gentem.— .^fin. i. 5S2.

* Eat locus, Hesperiam Oraii oognomine dieont,

Terrs antiqua, potens armia, atque nbere glebe. — .Xn. L 5S0.

* Hnlti iUam magno e Latio totaque pete1>ant

AuBonia. jBn, vii. 54.

PertoUe Ansonias ad nrbet. — ^Hor. Carm. ir. 4, 56.

* Salve, magna parent ftruglim, Satomia telhis

Magna viram. Georp. U. 17S.

> The fine poMage from Virgil {Oeorg. IL 186, teq.) on this theme has been
already quoted (above, p. 888).



Digitized



by Google



Chap. XXIV. CLIMATE — PRODUCTIONS — MOUNTAINS. 485

[larallels of 38^ and 46*^ N. lat., in the most favonred region of the
temperate zone, the natural heat due to its position being tempered
by tiie seas that bathe its coasts, and by the high ground of the
Apennines in the interior. It was probably somewhat colder in
early times than at present.' We have also reason to believe that
it was more healthy, the modem malaria being attributable in great
measure to want of population and cultivation J The soil was in
many parts very productive : Campania yielded com in abundance,
while the olives of Messapia, Daunia, and the Sabines, and the vine-
yards of Etruria, the Falemian, and the Alban hills, were famed
throughout the ancient world. The highlands of the Apennines
and the plains of Apulia afforded excellent pasturage for sheep,
horses, and cattle. The plains of Lombardy, then covered with
forests, supported vast herds of swine. ITie slopes of the Apennines
Were clothed with magnificent forests. Mineral productions were
not numerous :" gold was at one time found in the Alpine streams ;
copper was tolerably" abundant ; the island of II va yielded iron;
fine marble was found at Luna ; and among the special productions
cinnabar and calamine are tioticed.

§ 3. The mountains of Italy belong either to the chain of the Alps
or to that of the Apennines. The general course of the former of
th^ chains has been already traced (p. 319). It remains for us to
describe the divisions and principal heights known to the ancients,
which are as follows from W. to £. : — Alpes XaritibnsBt from the



* Horace speakB of Soracte as -white with, snow, the Alban hills as covered
with it on the first approach of winter, and the rivers ttozen : —

Tides ut alta stet nlve candidum
Boraote, neo Jam snstineant onus
Silvn laborantes, geluque
Flumina constiterint acnto. Carm, L 9, 1.

Quod si bnuna nives Albania illinet agris. — Ep. i. 7, 10.
Juvenal alludes to the Tiber being fh>zen, as if it were an ordinary occur-
rence : —

Hibemum firaota glade descendet in amnem,
Ter matutino Tiberi mergetur. Sat, vi. 522.

' Certain portions of the peninsula appear to have been unhealthy in early
times — the Maremma of Tuscany, for instance, and the neighbourhood of Ardea.
Even Rome itself was unhealthy in the summer and autumn, as the subjoined
lines from Horace show : —

Frustra per antumnos nocentem

Corporibus metuemus Austrum. Carm. ii. 14, 15.

Auctunmusque gravis, LibitinsB queastus acerbce. — Sat. ii. 6, 19.

* The assertion of Virgil in the following lines partakes of poetical license : —

HsBC eadem argenti rivos oBrisque metalla
Ostendit venis, atque auro pludma fluxit. — Georg. ii. 165.
The gold mines were worked out in his day, and we have no specific statement

of the production of silver : the fktct that the old coinage was of copper proves

that it was not abundant.



Digitized



by Google



486 ITALIA. Book IV.

coast of Liguria to X. Yesiilai,* Monte Viso, containing the sources
of the Po, A. CottiflBy northwards to Mont Cents, including X. ][»-
trfina* Mont Qenhre ; they were named after a chieftain of emi-
nence in these parts in the time of Augustus. A. QnisB, from Mont
Cents to Mont Blanc, including Oremonii Jiigiim» Cramont, and the
A. CentronXesBt about the Little St. Bernard, A. PennliUD* from
Mont Blanc to Monte Bosa, including the Great St. Bernard : the
name is derived from the Celtic Pen or Ben, " simmiit." A. Bbfli-
tiMB, in the Orisons and Tyrol, including X. AdUa, St. Oothard,
A. CamioaB or YemitSB, from the Atagis eastward, so named from the
tribes of the Cami and Veneti. And, lastly, A. JnluBt extending
down to the coast of the Adriatic, and named after Julius Gassar,
who reduced the mountain tribes to submission. The ApennXniii
Xons^ emanates from the Maritime Alps in the N.W. of Italy. At
first it runs parallel to the sea, and in close proximity to it, sweeping
round the head of the Ligurian Bay ; it then almost crosses the pen-
insula to the Adriatic, in the neighbourhood of Ariminum ; from
this point it turns to the S.S.E., and assumes a directicm parallel to
the Adriatic down to the borders of Lucahia. In the central por-
tion of the peninsula the main range approaches nearer to the j^dri-
atic than to the Tyrrhenian Sea, and leiives on the W. the plains of
Etruria and Latiimi ; as it descends to the 8., however, it approaches
the western coast, and leaves the plains of Apulia on the E. In ihe
S. of Samnium the chain presents the appearance of a confused knot
of mountains. More to the S. it resolves itself into a central range,
with numerous offshoots ramifying throughout the whole of Lucania.
In the N. of Bruttium there is a remarkable subsidence of the chain
between the Scylletian and Terinaean bays ; in the S. it rises again
into a lofty and rugged mass to the height of about 7000 feet. The
highest simimits of the Apennines are covered with snow during the
winter.* The sides were far more extensively covered with forests
formerly than they now are.'

§ 4. The line of coast coptains the following bays and promon-
tories from W. to E. : — ^Ugnstitoni Sinus, G. qf Genoa, extending
along the coast of Liguria. Luub Prom., on the borders of Liguria



* Ac velnt ille canom morsa de mantibiu altis
Actus aper, multoe Yesulas quein pinifer annos
Defendit. ,«». x. 707.

> Lucan (U. 396, 9eq.) gives a correct deeoription of the poeitioii which the
Apennines hold in the Italian peninsola.
< Hence the expression is strictly true : —

Gaudctqne nivali
Yertice se attollens pater Apenninus ad auras. — Jin. xii. 70S.
* The pine grows only on the loftier summits, as implied in the following
lines : —

Horrebat glacie saxa inter lubrica, summo

Piniferum coelo miscens caput, Apenninus.— 8il. Ital. {t. 748.



Digitized



by Google



Chap. XXIV. BAYS — PROMONTORIES. 487

and Etruria. Popoloninm FroiiL» opposite the isle of Ilva. CiieBBxaaa,**
Monte Circeo, in Latium, a told and abrupt mass rising precipitously
from the sea. KisSnnm,' C, di Miseno^ in Campania, forming the
northern limit of the Sinus Cnmftnus* Bay of Naples. PronL Mi-
]ierv», Funta deRa CampaneUa, a bold rocky headland, forming the
southern boundary of the Bay of Naples, and deriving its name from
a temple of Minerva on its summit. Fttttftant Sm.» O, of Salerno,
commencing at Prom. Minervae in the N., and extending to the
headland of Poiidiiim> Punta di Licosa, in the S. Palinllri Prom.»^
C, Palinuroy in Lucania, named after Palinurus, the pilot of ^Eneas,
who is said to have been buried there ; more to the S. a bay in
Bruttiimi, known by the various names of Sbms Hipponi&tei, Lame-
tXiiiis, Terin»iis» "^bonexiiii* and HapetXAus* after towns of similar
names on its shore, and now the Odfo di Santa Eu/emia, Prom.
BeyUmnmt SciUa, a projecting rocky headland jutting out boldly
into the sea, at the entrance of the Sicilian Straits. Lenoopetra*
O. deEC Armi, the extreme S.W. point of Italy, and the termination
of the Apennine range ; its name refers to the white colour of the
clifis. Prom. Henmlis, C, Spartivento, at the S.E. point of the pen-
insula. Prom. Zephyrinm, C. di Bruzzano, a low headland on the
coast of Bruttium, whence the Locrians were named Epizephyrii«
Sin. SoylletionSf G, of Squillace, named after the town of Scylletium.
Prom. Ladxdnm, C. deUe Cdonne, a bold and rocky headland about
6 miles S. of Crotona, crowned in ancient times by a celebrated
temple of Lacinian Juno.? Sin. Tarentlnus* Qolfo di Taranto, an
extensive gulf between the two great peninsulas of Southern Italy,
commencing at the Lacinian promontory in the W., and extending
to the lapygian in the E., named after the city of Tarentum. Prom,
lapygium or SalentXnnm* C, di Leuca, the extreme S.E. point of the
Jheel of Italy, forming the E. boundary of the Tarentine Gulf. Prom.
Garg&ni, the N. point of the large projection occupied by Mt. Gar-



* The name was connected with the legend of Circe, though it does not appear
why this promontory should be identified with the island of the Homeric myth
{Od. xi. 135). Either the legend itself was of Italian origin, or perhaps the
Cumeean Greeks identified some local deity with their own Circe. The popular
belief is expressed by Virgil in the JEnHdf rii. 10, $eq.

* So named after Misenos, the trumpeter of iBneas, who was buried there : —

Monte sub a^rio : qui nunc Misenus^b illo

Dicitur, asternumque tenet per scecula nomen. — J?n. tI. 284.

Qua Jacet et Trojie tubicen Misenus arena. — Paopkkt. iii. 18, 3.

* So named after the pilot of .Sneas, who was buried at this spot : —

£t statuent tumulom, et tumulo soUemnia mittent ;
£temumque locus Palinuri nomen habebit. — ^n. vi. 880.
' Hinc sinus Herculei, si vera est fama, Tarenti
Cemitur. AttoUit se Diva Ladnia confra.— ^«in. iii. 551.
Exten^tque suas in templa Ladnia rapes. — Lvc. ii. 484.



Digitized



by Google



488 ITALIA. Book IV.

ganusy and, lastly, Sin. Ttogeftliiiis* G. of Trieste^ at the N. end <^
the Adriatic Sea.

§ 5. The rivers of Italy derive their importance rather from his-
torical and geographical associations than from their size. From
this description we must however except the Padns*" Po^ which de-
serves to be ranked among the chief rivers of Europe." Rising in
the Western Alps, it drains the wide basin of Northern Italy, re-
ceiving numerous tributaries from the Alps^ on the N. and the
Apennines on the S., and discharging itself into the Adriatic through
several channels, the ])oeition and number of which has altered from
time to time. Of these there were two principal ones, named
Padoa and Olana, and five lesser ones : some of them were artificial ;
in others extensive embankments were raised to restrain the stream.
The next important river in Northern Italy is the AthMs,' Adig^^
which in the lower part of its course flows parallel to the Po^ and
discharges itself into the Adriatic somewhat N. of it. In Central
Italy we may notice the Anasi Amo^ which, rising on the western
slopes of the Apennines, drains the northern portion of Etruria;
and the TibSris,' Tiber ^ which has its sources not far from the Amus,
and flows with a general southerly direction until it approaches the
9ea, when it turns towards the W. ; its importance in the politioU
geography of Italy is great, not only as being the river on which
Rome itself stood, but as forming the boundary between Etruria on
the W.,^ and Umbria, the Sabini, and Sanmium on the E. S. of



> The origin of the name Padtu is nnoertain ; it eomes probably fh>m a Celtic
root. The native ligarian name was Bodencns. The Greeks identified it with
the mythical Eridanos, and the Latin poets adopted the title ttom them.

* Vii^ designates It very properly the " king ** of the Italian rivers : —

Proluit insano contorqaens vortioe silvas
Flwciorum rex Eridanns, camposqoe per (mmes
Cum stabnlis armenta tolit. Owrg, L 481.

1 As these streams were fed with the melted snow, the rirer has been at all
times liable to heavy floods ; hence we read in 'Mrgil : —
Eridanos, quo non alias per pingoia eulta
In mare pnrpureum violentior effloit amnis. — Owrg. iv. 372.

* Virgil couples it with the Po, and gives it the epithet of ** pleasant :** —

Quales aSrin liquentia flumina drcum

Sive Padi ripis, Athesim sen propter amamun,

Consurgunt geminie quercus. ^n, ix. 679.

* The name was connected with that of a Tuscan prince, Tiberis or Thybris,
who was said to have been drowned in it ; its earlier name was Albula : —

Turn reges, asperque immanl oorpore Tibris ;

A quo post Itidi fluvium cognomine Tibrim

Diximns : amisit venim vetus Albula nomen. — JSn. viU. S80.

Albula, quem Tiberim mersos Tiberinus in undis

Reddidit. Ov. Fa$t. U. 889.

* Hence it is termed " Tuscan " by Virgil :—

Di patrii Indigetes, et Romule, Vestaque mater,

Qu» Tttscum Tiberim, et lUunana palatia servas.— O'mt^. i. 498.



Digitized



by Google



Chap. XXIV. RIVERS — LAKES. 489

the Tiber are Che Lirii» Oarigliano, which has its sources in the
Central Apennines near the lake Fuciniis,*and flows through the S.E.
of Latium,^ joining the sea at Mintumse ; and the Yvltaniiis, Voltuifio,
which brings with it the collected waters of almost the whole of
Samnium/ and in its lower course traverses the plain of Campania
to the sea. Between Campania and Lucania is the Sil&niSt^ Sele,
which rises in the N.E. of Lucania, and flows into the Gulf of
Paastum. On the E. of the Apennines the only noticeable river is
the Anf Idns, 0/anto, which rises in the S. of Samnium, and descends
to the plains of Apulia, across which it flows with a gentle stream ^
to the Adriatic.

f 6. llie lakes of Italy form a conspicuous feature in that country.
They may be arranged into three groups : (i.) those of Northern
Italy, which are fed by the Alpine streams, and lie as it were in
long, deep valleys ; (ii.) those of Central Italy, which, with few ex-
ceptions, occupy the craters of extinct volcanoes, and are thus gene-
rally of circular or oval form, and of small size ; (iii.) those few
which do not fall under this description, but are simply basins sur-
rounded by hills, whence the water has no natural outlet. 1. In the
first of these classes we may enumerate — the laons Yerbftniis* Lago
Maygiorey formed by the Ticinus; L. Larius,* L, di Como, hy the

* Lnoan is xniBtaken in placing its Bonroes in the country of the Yestini : —

UmbroMD Liris per regna Maric9
Yestinis impulsns aquis. ii. 424.

* Its lower coarse crosses, the plain of Campania with a slow gentle stream : —

Non rara, quad Liiis quieta

Mordet aqua tacitwmua amnis. Hon. Carm, i. 31, 7.

' Hence the Yultomos is a rapid and turbid stream :—

Delabitur inde
Yultomusqne ceUr. ' Lrc. ii. 422.

Multamque trahens sub gurgite arenam
Yultumus. Ov. JTce. XT. 714.

Yirgil characterises it as vadotu$t referring apparently to the inequality of its
stream: —

Amnisque vadosi
Acoola YultomL ^n. tU. 728.

* The Silarus is said to hare possessed the quality of (bssilising : —

Nunc Silarus quos nutrit aquis, quo gurgite tradunt

Duritiem lapidum mersis inoltscere ramis.^-8iL. Ital. viii. 583.

* The passages describing the rapidity of its stream apply only* to its upiier
course, near which Horace lired (at Yenusia), and to the period of the year when
it was swollen, by the mountain rains : —

Sic taurifbnnis voMtur Aufldus
Qui r^na Dauni prs^fluit Appall,
Cum sevit, horrendamqae culds

DiluTiem meditatur agris. Cttrm, ir. 14, 25.

> Yirgil describes Larins as the greatest of fhe Italian lakes. Yerbanus really
holds this position, a« its modem name implies ; but he singularly omits all
notioe of this : —

Anne lacus tantos T te, Lari maxime, teque ^

Fluctibus et firemitu assurgens, Benace, marino. — (7sory. ii. 159.

Y 3



Digitized



by Google



490 ITALU. Book IV.

Addua ; L. SeMnnt, L, (f lieo^ by the Ollius ; and L. BenAens* L. di
Garda^ by the Mincius. The L, di Lugano, between the two first
lakes, though of large size, is not noticed by any writer earlier than
the 6th century of our era. 2. In the second class are — ^L. Vul-
^f^iimfifj L, di Bolsena, in Southern Etruria, a basin of about 30
miles in circumference ; L. BabatlnnSf L, di Braccvano, and L. dml.
niiSi L. di VicOf in the same district ; L. Albftnus* L, d^AVbano, and
L. KemoreiLiif, L. di Nemi, in Latium; and L. Avernns' in Cam-
pania. 3. In the third class are the two most important lakes of
Central Italy — L. TraaimSnnSf L. di Perugia, in Etruria ; and L.
Fndnnf ,' L. Fucino, in the territory of the Marsi.

§ 7. The ethnography of Italy is still involved in much obscurity.
The inhabitants may be divided into two classes : (L) the occupants
of the southern portion of the peninsula, who may be grouped under
the following five heads— (1.) Pelasgians, (2.) Oscans, (3.) Sabel-
lians, (4.) Umbrians, (5.) Etruscans ; and (II.) the inhabitants of
Northern Italy, who were either Celts — as the Gauls and the Cami,
or of uncertain origin — ^as the Ligurians, Veneti, and Euganei.
The former class alone call for detailed notice : (1.) The Pelasgi
were in historical tirnes confined to the S., where they existed under
the following names : — the Messapians and Salentines in the lapy-
gian peninsula, and the Peucetians and Daunians in Apulia. The
Siculi, who afterwards crossed into Sicily, belonged to the same
stock ; and at an early period a Tyrrhenian race prevailed in Cam-
pania and in Latium. Probably the inhabitants of Southern Etru-
ria may be referred to the same class. (2.) The Oscans — whcnn we
may identify with the Opicans and Ausonians of Greek writers, and
with the Auruncans of Roman writers — were reputed the earliest
inhabitants of Campania, and held Samitium before its occupation
by the Sabines. The Yolscians and ^Equians belonged to this stock,
and it also furnished an important element in the Latin nation.



^ The mephitic exhalations arising from the lake and its neighbourhood sog-
gested the idea that there was an entrance to the infernal regions here. To this
circumstance iu name was also referred, the Greek form 'A«piw being derired
from a and 6^c. »« the birdless lake :»' the line in Virgil, howerer, in which this
is expresticd, 4s probably interpolated : —

Spelunca alta ftiit, vastoque immanis hiatu,

Scrupea, tuta locu nigro nemorumque tenebris ;

Quam super baud ulUe poterant impune volantea

Tendere iter pennis : talis sese halitus atris

Faucibus efltindens supcra ad oonvexa ferebat.

[Unde locum Graii dixerunt nomine Aomon].— J5&». Ti. 287.
» The ** glassy ** waters of thi84ake arc noticed by the poets : —

Te nemos Anguitlce, ritrea te Fucinus unda,

Te liquid! flevere lacus. ^n, tU. 759.

Vitreo qucm Fucinus antro

Nutrierat, dcderatquc lacum transmittere nando.— Su.. Ital. iv. 846.



Digitized



by Google



Chap. XXIV. INHABITANTS — DIVISIONS. 491

(3.) The Sabellians are said to have originally lived in the central
Apennines and the upland valleys about Amitemum. Thence they
spread southwards in a series of emigrations, defeating the Oscans,
and occupying their territories as conquerors. To this class
belonged the well-known nations of the Sabipes and the Samnites ;
the Picfinr, Peligni, Vestini, and Marrucini ; probably the Marsi ;
the Frentani and Hirpini ; the Lucanians and a portion of the
Bruttians ; and, lastly, the later masters of Campania, which
country they seized between b.c. 440 and 420. The Sabellians in
each case probably coalesced with the earlier Oscans, with whom
they may have been allied in race and language. (4.) The Um-
brians were regarded as the most ancient of the Italian races. At
an early period they occupied not only the district which after-
wards bore their name, but also Etruria and the plains on the
Adriatic from Ravenna to Ancona: they were also allied to the
Oscans and Sabellians. (5.) Of the Etruscans, or Tuscans proper,
we can say nothing more than that they were entirely distinct from
the surrounding nations, and that they were probably of Indo-
European origin.

§ 8. The geographical divisions of Italy usually recognized had
their origin in the names which the Romans found attached to the
countries or their inhabitants at the period when they conquered
them. No formal division of the country took place imtil the time
of Augustus, who divided it into 11 regions, the limits of which
were not in all instances coincident with that of the old provinces.
The regions included the following countries : 1. Latium and Cam-
pania. 2. The Hirpini, Apulia and Calabria. 3. Lucania and
Bruttium. 4. "the Frentani, Marrucini, Peligni, Marsi, Vestini,
Sabini and Samnium. 5. Picenum. 6. Umbria. 7. Etruria.
8. Gallia Cispadana. 9. Liguria. 10. The E. part of Gallia
Transpadana, Venetia, and Istria. 11. The W. part of Gallia Trana-
padana. This division continued with but slight alteration to the
time of Constantine, who added to Italy the provinces of Rhoetia
and Vindelicia, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, and
arranged the whole into 17 provinces, — the northern being placed
under the Vicarius Italiae, and the southern imder the Vicarius
Urbis RomsB. This division survived into the Middle ^ges.

I. Istria and Venetia.

§ 9. The small district named Iitria,* or Histria* lay in the ex-
treme N.E. of Italy, on the borders of lUyricum, and consisted of tin*



* The name is derired both by Greek and Latin authors trom the notion that a
branch of the Ister or Danabe flowed into the Adriatic. That notion, however,
probably originated in the resemblance of the names Ister and Istri.



Digitized



by Google



Online LibrarySir William Smith William Latham BevanThe student's manual of ancient geography → online text (page 56 of 82)