Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 5.3.1 Str. 5.3.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 5.3.6


Beyond Sabina is Latium, wherein the city of Rome is situated. It comprises many places which formed no part of ancient Latium. For the æqui, the Volsci, the Hernici, the aborigines around Rome, the Rutuli who possessed ancient Ardea, and many other nations, some larger, some smaller, formed so many separate states around Rome, when that city was first built. Some of these nations, who dwelt in villages, were governed by their own laws, and subjected to no common tribe. They say [Note] that æneas, with his father Anchises and his child Ascanius, arrived at Laurentum, [Note] near to Ostia and the bank of the Tiber, where he built a city about 24 stadia above the sea. That Latinus, the king of the aborigines who then dwelt on the site where Rome now stands, employed his forces to aid æneas against the neighbouring Rutuli who inhabited Ardea, (now from Ardea to Rome is a distance of 160 stadia,) and having gained a victory, he built near to the spot a city, to which he gave the name of his daughter Lavinia. However, in a second battle, commenced by the Rutuli, Latinus fell, and æneas, being conqueror, suc-

-- 340 --

ceeded this prince on the throne, and conferred on his subjects the name of Latini. After the death both of himself and his father, Ascanius founded Alba, [Note] on Mount Albanus, [Note] situated about the same distance from Rome as Ardea. Here the Romans and Latini conjointly offer sacrifice to Jupiter. The magistracy all assemble, and during the period of the solemnity the government of the city is intrusted to some distinguished youth. The facts related of Amulius and his brother Numitor, some of which are fictitious, while others approach nearer the truth, occurred four hundred years later. These two brothers, who were descended from Ascanius, succeeded conjointly to the government of Alba, which extended as far as the Tiber. However, Amulius the younger, having expelled the elder, governed [alone]. Numitor had a son and a daughter; the former Amulius treacherously murdered in the chase; the latter, that she might remain childless, he made a priestess of Vesta, thus imposing virginity upon her. This [daughter] they name Rhea Silvia. Afterwards he discovered that she was pregnant, and when she had given birth to twins, he, out of respect to his brother, placed her in confinement, instead of putting her to death, and exposed the boys by the Tiber according to a national usage. According to the mythology, Mars was the father of these children, and when they were exposed they were discovered and suckled by a she-wolf. Faustulus, one of the swine-herds of the place, took and reared them up, and named one Romulus, the other Remus. (We must understand that Faustulus, who took them up and nourished them, was an influential man, and a subject of Amulius.) Having arrived at man's estate, they waged war upon Amulius and his sons; and having slain them, restored the government to Numitor. They then returned home and founded Rome, in a locality selected rather through necessity than choice, as the site was neither fortified by nature, nor sufficiently large for a city of importance. In addition to this, the neighbourhood supplied no inhabitants; for those who dwelt around, even though touching the very walls of the newly founded city, kept to themselves, and

-- 341 --

would have nothing at all to do with the Albani. Collatia, Antemnæ, Fidenæ, Labicum, [Note] and similar places are here alluded to, which then were small cities, but are now villages possessed by private individuals; they are distant from Rome 30 or 40 [Note] stadia, or rather more. Between the fifth and sixth mile-stone which marks the distance from Rome there is a place named Festi; this they say was at that time the limit of the Roman territory, and at the present day, both here and in numerous other places which they consider to have been boundaries, the priests offer the sacrifice denominated Ambarvia. [Note]

They say that, at the time of the foundation [of the

-- 342 --

city], a dispute arose in which Remus lost his life. The city being built, Romulus assembled men from every quarter, and instituted for an asylum a grove between the citadel and the Capitol, to which whoever fled from the neighbouring states, he proclaimed as Roman citizens. Not having wives for these men, he appointed a horse-race in honour of Neptune, which is celebrated to this day. Numbers [of spectators] having assembled, particularly of the Sabini, he commanded that each of those who were in want of a wife, should carry off one of the assembled maidens. Titus Tatius, king of the Quirites, took up arms to avenge the insult, but made peace with Romulus on condition that their kingdoms should be united, and that they should divide the sovereignty between

-- 343 --

them. Tatius, however, was treacherously assassinated in Lavinium, upon which Romulus, with the consent of the Quirites, reigned alone. After him Numa Pompilius, formerly a subject of Tatius, assumed the government, by the general desire of the people. Such is the most authentic account of the foundation of Rome. 5.3.3

However, there also exists another more ancient and mythical account, to the effect that Rome was an Arcadian colony planted by Evander. He entertained Hercules when driving the oxen of Geryon, and being informed by his mother Nicostrata, (who was skilled in the art of prophecy,) that when Hercules should have completed his labours it was fore-ordained that he should be enrolled amongst the gods; he informed him of the matter, consecrated to him a grove, and offered sacrifice to him after the Grecian mode; a sacrifice which is continued in honour of Hercules to this day. The Roman historian Cœlius is of opinion that this is a proof that Rome is a Grecian colony, the sacrifice to Hercules after the Grecian mode having been brought over from their fatherland. The Romans also worship the mother of Evander under the name of Carmentis, [Note] considering her one of the nymphs. 5.3.4

Thus then the Latini originally were few in number, and for the most part under no subjection to the Romans; but afterwards, being struck by the valour of Romulus and the kings who succeeded him, they all submitted. But the æqui, [Note] the Volsci, the Hernici; and before them the Rutuli, the aborigines, the Rhæci, together with certain of the

-- 344 --

Argyrusci and the Preferni, [Note] being subdued, the whole of their different countries were included under the name of Latium. To the Volsci pertained the pomentine plain, bordering on the territory of the Latini, and the city of Apiola, levelled to the ground [Note] by Tarquinius Priscus. The æqui principally were neighbours to the Quirites, whose cities Tarquinius Priscus likewise devastated. His son took Suessa, [Note] the metropolis of the Volsci. The Hernici dwelt near to Lanuvium, Alba, and to Rome itself; neither were Aricia, [Note] the Tellenæ, and Antium [Note] at any great distance. The Albani were at first friendly with the Romans, speaking as they did the same language, and being likewise of the Latin stock; and though they were under separate governments, this did not prevent them from marrying together, nor from performing in common the sacred ceremonies at Alba, and other civil rites. In after-time, however, war having sprung up, Alba was entirely destroyed with the exception of the temple, and the Albani were declared citizens of Rome. Of the other surrounding cities, those which resisted were either destroyed or enfeebled, while others, which were friendly to the Romans, flourished. At the present day the coast from Ostia to the city of Sinuessa [Note] is denominated the Latin coast; formerly the country thus designated extended only so far as Circæum. [Note] The interior also [of Latium] was formerly small; but it afterwards extended to Campania, the Samnitæ, the Peligni, [Note] and other nations dwelling around the Apennines.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 5.3.1 Str. 5.3.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 5.3.6

Powered by PhiloLogic