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Pliny the Elder, The Natural History (eds. John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S., H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A.

)
BOOK III. AN ACCOUNT OF COUNTRIES, NATIONS, SEAS, TOWNS, HAVENS,
MOUNTAINS, RIVERS, DISTANCES, AND PEOPLES WHO NOW EXIST OR FORMERLY
EXISTED.
Editions and translations: English (ed. John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S., H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A.) | Latin (ed.
Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff)
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XLVIII.
transpadana appellatur ab eo regio undecima, tota in mediterraneo, cui marina cuncta fructuoso alveo
inportat. oppida vibi forum, segusio, coloniae ab alpium radicibus augusta taurinorum - inde navigabili
pado - antiqua ligurum stirpe, dein salassorum augusta praetoria iuxta geminas alpium fores, graias
atque poeninas - his poenos, grais herculem transisse memorant - , oppidum eporedia sibyllinis a
populo romano conditum iussis. eporedias galli bonos equorum domitores vocant. vercellae libiciorum
ex salluis ortae, novaria ex vertamocoris, vocontiorum hodieque pago, non, ut cato existimat, ligurum,
ex quibus laevi et marici condidere ticinum non procul a pado, sicut boi transalpibus profecti laudem
pompeiam, insubres mediolanum. oromobiorum stirpis esse comum atque bergomum et licini forum
aliquotque circa populos auctor est cato, sed originem gentis ignorare se fatetur, quam docet cornelius
alexander ortam a graecia interpretatione etiam nominis vitam in montibus degentium. in hoc situ
interiit oppidum oromobiorum parra, unde bergomates cato dixit ortos, etiamnum prodente se altius
quam fortunatius situm. interiere et caturiges, insubrum exsules, et spina supra dicta, item melpum
opulentia praecipuum, quod ab insubribus et bois et senonibus deletum eo die, quo camillus veios
ceperit, nepos cornelius tradidit.

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CHAP. 21. (17.)--THE ELEVENTH REGION OF ITALY; ITALIA TRANSPAIDANA.


From the river Padus the eleventh region receives its name of Transpadana; to which, situate as it is
wholly in the interior, the river, by its bounteous channel, conveys the gifts of all the seas. The towns
are Vibî Forum1 and [p. 1247] Segusio; and, at the foot of the Alps, the colony of Augusta Taurinorum2
, at which place the Padus becomes navigable, and which was founded by the ancient race of the
Ligurians, and of Augusta Prætoria3 of the Salassi, near the two passes of the Alps, the Grecian4 and the
Penine (by the latter it is said that the Carthaginians passed into Italy, by the Grecian, Hercules)--the
town of Eporedia5 , the foundation of which by the Roman people was enjoined by the Sibylline books;
the Gauls call tamers of horses by the name of "Epore- diæ"--Vercellæ6 , the town of the Libici, derived
its origin from the Salluvii, and Novaria7 , founded by the Vertacoma- cori, is at the present day a
district of the Vocontii, and not, as Cato supposes, of the Ligurians; of whom two nations, called the
Lævi and the Marici, founded Ticinum8 , not far from the Padus, as the Boii, descended from the
Transalpine nations, have founded Laus Pompeia9 and the Insubres Me- diolanum10 . [p. 1248]
From Cato we also learn that Comum, Bergomum11 , and Licinîforum12 , and some other peoples in the
vicinity, originated with the Orobii, but he admits that he is ignorant as to the origin of that nation.
Cornelius Alexander however informs us that they came from Greece, interpreting their name as
meaning "those who live upon the mountains13 ." In this district, Parra has disappeared, a town of the
Orobii, from whom, according to Cato, the people of Bergomum are descended; its site even yet shows
that it was situate in a position more elevated than fruitful14 . The Caturiges have also perished, an
exiled race of the Insubres, as also Spina previously mentioned; Melpum too, a place distinguished for
its opulence, which, as we are informed by Cornelius Nepos, was destroyed by the Insubres, the Boii,
and the Senones, on the very day on which Camillus took Veii.

1 This place is supposed to have been situate in the vicinity of the modern Saluzzo, on the north bank of
the Po. Segusio occupied the site of the modern Susa.
2 Augusta of the Taurini. The present city of Turin stands on its site. It was made a Roman colony by

Augustus. With the exception of some inscriptions, Turin retains no vestiges of antiquity.
3 The present city of Aosta occupies its site. This was also a Roman colony founded by Augustus, after

he had subdued the Salassi. It was, as Pliny says in C. 5, the extreme point of Italy to the north. The
remains of the ancient city are of extreme magnificence.
4 The Grecian pass of the Alps was that now known as the Little St. Bernard; while the Penine pass was

the present Great St. Bernard. Livy in his History, B. xxi. c. 38, points out the error of taking these
mountains to have derived their name from the Pœni or Carthaginians. There is no doubt that they took
their name from the Celtic word signi fying a mountain, which now forms the "Pen" of the Welsh and
the "Ben" of the Scotch.
5 Now called Ivrea or Lamporeggio, at the entrance of the valley of the Salassi, the present Val d'Aosta.

There are some remains of the ancient town to be seen.


6 The present town of Vercelli stands on its site.
7 Now called Novara, in the Duchy of Milan.
8 It became a Roman municipal town, but owes its greatness to the Lombard kings who made it their

capital, and altered the name to Papia, now Pavia.


9 Pompey's Praises." The present Lodi Vecchio marks its site.
10 It was the capital of the Insubres, a Gallic nation, and was taken by the Romans in B.C. 222, on

which it became a municipium and Roman colony. On the division of the empire by Diocletian, it
became the residence of his colleague Maximianus, and continued to be the abode of the Emperors of
the West till it was plundered by Attila, who transferred the seat of government to Ravenna. It
afterwards became the capital of the kingdom of the Ostro-Goths, and was again sacked by the Goths in
A.D. 539, and its inhabitants put to the sword. The present city, known to us as Milan, contains no
remains of antiquity.
11 The modern Como and Bergamo stand on their sites.
12 From its name, signifying the "market of Licinius," it would appear to be of Roman origin. Its site is

supposed to have been at a place called Incino, near the town of Erba, between Como and Lecco, where
inscriptions and other antiquities have been found.
13 Deriving it from the Greek oros, "a mountain," and bios, "life."
14 Etiamnum prodente se altius quam fortunatius situm." Hardouin seems to think that "se" refers to

Cato, and that he informs us to that effect; but to all appearance, it relates rather to the town, which
even yet, by its ruins, showed that it was perched too high among the mountains to be a fertile spot.

There are a total of 4 comments on and cross references to this page.


Cross references from The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (eds. Richard Stillwell, William
L. MacDonald, Marian Holland McAllister):
iuliobriga [ IULIOBRIGA (Retortillo) Santander, Spain. ]
saguntum [ SAGUNTUM (Sagunto) Valencia, Spain. ]
vardagate [ VARDAGATE (Casale Monferrato) Piedmont, Italy. ]
vercellae [ VERCELLAE (Vercelli) Piedmont, Italy. ]
Padus
Now the Po; the chief river of Italy, identified by the Roman poets with the fabulous Eridănus, from
which amber was obtained. This notion appears to have arisen from the Phœnician vessels receiving at
the mouths of the Padus the amber which had been transported by land from the coasts of the Baltic to
those of the Adriatic. [p. 1154]
The name is said to be derived from the Keltic padi, “pine-tree” (Pliny , Pliny H. N.iii. 122). By the
Ligurians it was called Bodencus. The Padus rises on Mount Vesula (Monte Viso), in the Alps, and
flows in an easterly direction through the great plain of Cisalpine Gaul, which it divides into two parts,
Gallia Cispadana and Gallia Transpadana. It receives numerous affluents, which drain the whole of this
vast plain, descending from the Alps on the north and the Apennines on the south. These affluents,
increased in the summer by the melting of the snow on the mountains, frequently bring down such a
large body of water as to cause the Padus to overflow its banks. The whole course of the river,
including its windings, is about 450 miles. About twenty miles from the sea the river divides itself into
two main branches, and falls into the Adriatic Sea by several mouths (the ancients enumerated seven),
between Ravenna and Altinum. Strabo believed the Padus to be the largest river in Europe after the
Danube, and Vergil calls it fluviorum rex ( Georg.i. 482).
the principal river of Northern Italy, and much the largest river in Italy altogether. Hence Virgil calls it
fluviorum rex (Georg. i. 481), and Strabo even erroneously terms it the greatest river in Europe after
the Danube. (Strab. iv. p. 204.) It has its sources in the Monte Viso, or Mons Vesulus, one of the
highest summits of the Western Alps (Plin. iii. 16. s. 20; Mel. ii. 4. § 4). and from thence to the Adriatic
has a course of above 400 miles. Pliny estimates it at 300 Roman miles without including the windings,
which add about 88 more. (Plin. iii. 16. s. 20.) Both statements are beneath the truth. According to
modern authorities its course, including its windings, is calculated at 380 Italian, or 475 Roman miles.
(Rampoldi, Diz. Topogr. d'Italia, vol. iii. p. 284.) After a very short course through a mountain valley it
descends into the plain a few miles from Saluzzo, and from thence flows without interruption through a
plain or broad level valley all the way to the sea. Its course from Saluzzo, as far as Chi vasso (through
the district of the ancient Vagienni and Taurini), is nearly NE ; but after rounding the hills of the
Monferrat, it turns due E., and pursues this course with but little variation the whole way to the
Adriatic. The great plain or valley of the Po is in fact one of the most important physical features of
Italy. Bounded on the N. by the Alps, and on the S. by the Apennines, both of which ranges have in this
part of their course a general direction from W. to E., it forms a gigantic trough-like basin, which
receives the whole of the waters that flow from the southern slopes of the Alps and the northern ones of
the Apennines. Hence, as Pliny justly observes (l. c.), there is hardly any other river which, within the
same space, receives so many and such important tributaries. Those from the north, on its left bank, are
the most considerable, being fed by the perpetual snows of the Alps; and many of these form extensive
lakes at the points where they first reach the plain; after quitting which they are deep and navigable
rivers, though in some cases still very rapid. Pliny states that the Padus receives in all thirty tributary
rivers, but it is difficult to know which he reckons as such; he himself enumerates only seventeen; but
this number can be increased almost indefinitely, if we include smaller streams. The principal
tributaries will be here enumerated in order, beginning from the source, and proceeding alone the left
bank. They are: 1. the Clusius (Chiusone), not noticed by Pliny, but the name of which is found in the
Tabula; 2. the DURIA commonly called Duria Minor, or Dora Riparia ; 3. the STURA (Stura); 4. the
Orgus (Orco); 5. the DURIA MAJOR, or Bantica (Dora Baltea), one of the greatest of all the
tributaries of the Padus ; 6. the SESITES (Sesia) ; 7. the TICINUS (Ticino), flowing from the Lacus
Verbanus (Lago Maggiore); 8. the LAMBER or LAMBRUS (Lambro), a much less considerable
stream, and which does not rise in the high Alps; 9. the ADDUA (Adda), flowing from the Lacus
Larius or Lago di Como; 10. the OLLIUS (Oglio), which flows from the Lacus Sebinus (Lago d'Iseo),
and brings with it the tributary waters of the Mela (Mella) and Clusius (Chiese); 11. the MINCIUS
(Mincio), flowing from the Lago di Garda, or Lacus Benacus. Below this the Po cannot be said to
receive any regular tributary; for though it communicates at more than one point with the Tartareo and
Adige (Athesis),the channels are all artificial and the bulk of the waters of the Adige are carried out to
the sea by their own separate channel. [ATHESIS]
On the southern or right bank of the Padus its principal tributaries are: 1. the TANARUS (Tanaro), a
large river, which has itself received the important tributary streams of the Stura and Bormida, so that it
brings with it almost all the waters of the Maritime Alps and adjoining tract of the Ligurian Apennines ;
2. the Scrivia, a considerable stream, but the ancient name of which is unknown; 3. the TREBIA
(Trebbia), flowing by Placentia; 4. the Tarus (Taro); 5. the Nicia (Enza); 6. the Gabellus of Pliny,
called also Secia (Secchia); 7. the SCULTENNA now called the Panaro; 8. the RHENUS (Reno),
flowing near Bologna. To these may be added several smaller streams, viz.: the Idex (Idice), Silarus
(Sillaro), Vatrenus (Plin., now Santerno), and Sinnus (Sinno), all of which discharge themselves into
the southern arm of the Po, now called the Po di Primaro, and anciently known as the Spineticum
Ostium, below the point [p. 510] where it separates from the main stream. Several smaller tributaries of
the river in the highest part of its course are noticed in the Tabula or by the Geographer of Ravenna,
which are not mentioned by any ancient author; but their names are for the most part corrupt and
uncertain.
Though flowing for the most part through a great plain, the Padus thus derives the great mass of its
waters directly from two great mountain ranges, and the consequence is that it is always a strong, rapid,
and turbid stream, and has been in all ages subject to violent inundations. (Virg. Georg. i. 481; Plin. l.
c.) The whole soil of the lower valley of the Po is indeed a pure alluvial deposit, and may be
considered, like the valley of the Mississippi or the Delta of the Nile, as formed by the gradual
accumulation of mud, sand, and gravel, brought down by the river itself and its tributary streams. But
this process was for the most part long anterior to the historical period; and there can be no doubt that
this portion of Italy had already acquired very much its present character and configuration as early as
the time of the first Etruscan settlements. The valley of the Padus, as well as the river itself, are well
described by Polybius (the earliest extant author in whom the Roman name of Padus is found), as well
as at a later period by Strabo and Pliny. (Pol. ii. 16; Strab. iv. pp. 203, 204, v. p. 212; Plin. iii. 16. s.
20.) Considerable changes have, however, taken place in the lower part of its course, near the Adriatic
sea. Here the river forms a kind of great delta, analogous in many respects to that of the Nile; and the
phenomenon is complicated, as in that case, by the existence of great lagunes bordering the coast of the
Adriatic, which are bounded by narrow strips or bars of sand, separating them from the sea, though
leaving open occasional channels of communication, so that the lagunes are always salt and affected by
the tides, which are more sensible in this part of the Adriatic than in the Mediterranean. (Strab. v. p.
212.) These lagunes, which are well described by Strabo, extended in his time from Ravenna to
Altinum, both of which cities stood in the lagunes or marshes, and were; built, on piles, in the same
manner as the modern Venice. But the whole of these could not be fairly considered as belonging to the
Delta of the Padus; the more northerly being formed at the mouths of other rivers, the Athesis,
Meduacus, &c., which had no direct or natural communication with the great river. They all, however,
communicated with the Padus, and with one another, by channels or canals more or less artificial; and
as this was already the case in the time of Pliny, that author distinctly reckons the mouths of the Padus
to extend from Ravenna to Altinum. (Plin. l. c.) From the earliest period that this tract was occupied by
a settled people, the necessity must have been felt of embanking the various arms and channels of the
river, for protection against inundation, as well as of constructing artificial cuts and channels, both for
carrying off its superfluous waters and for purposes of communication. The earliest works of this kind
are ascribed to the Etruscans (Plin. l. c.), and from that time to the present day, they have been carried
on with occasional interruptions. But in addition to these artificial changes, the river has from time to
time burst its banks and forced for itself new channels, or diverted the mass of its waters into those
which were previously unimportant. The most remarkable of these changes which is recorded with
certainty, took place in 1152, when the main stream of the Po, which then flowed S. of Feerara,
suddenly changed its course, and has ever since flowed about 3 miles N. of that city. Hence it is
probable that all the principal modern mouths of the Po, front the Po di Goro to the Po di Levante,
were in ancient times comparatively inconsiderable.
Polybius (ii. 16) describes the Padus as having only two principal mouths, which separated at a place
called Trigaboli (the site of which cannot be determined); the one of these is called by him Padoa
(Padoa), and the other, which was the principal channel, and the one commonly navigated, he calls
Olana or Holana (Holana). This; last is in all probability the channel still called Po di Volano, which
until the great inundation of 1152, above noticed, was still the principal mouth. of the Po. The other is
probably the southernmost branch of the river, which separates from the preceding at. Ferrara, and is
carried at the present day by a wholly artificial channel into the sea at Primaro, from whence it derives
the name of Po di Primaro. Its present mouth is about 15 miles N. of Ravenna; but it seems that in the
days of Pliny, and probably in those of Polybius also, it discharged itself into the lagunes which then
surrounded Ravenna on all sides. Pliny terms it Padusa, but gives it also the name of Fossa Augusta,
from its course having been artificially regulated, and perhaps altered, by that emperor. (Plin. iii. 16. s.
20.) The same author gives us a detailed enumeration of the mouths of the Padus as they existed in his
day, but from the causes of change already adverted to, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to identify
them with certainty.
They were, according to him: 1. the PADUSA or Fossa Augusta, which (he adds) was previously called
Messanicus: this has now wholly ceased to exist. 2. The PORTUS VATRENI, evidently deriving its
name from being the mouth of the river Vatrenus, which flowed from Forum Cornelii, just as the Po di
Primaro is at the present day called the mouth of the Reno. This was also known as the Spineticum
Ostium, from the once celebrated city of Spina, which was situated on its banks [SPINA]. It was
probably the same with the modern Po di Primaro. 3. Ostium Caprasiae. 4. Sagis. 5. Volana,
previously called Olane: this is evidently the Olana of Polybius, and the modern Po di Volano; the two
preceding cannot be identified, but must have been openings communicating with the great lagunes of
Comacchio. 6. The Carbonaria, perhaps the Po di Goro. 7. The Fossio Philistina, which seems to have
been an artificial canal, conveying the waters of the TARTARUS still called Tartaro, to the sea. This
cannot be identified, the changes of the mouths of the river in this, part being too considerable. The
whole of the present delta, formed by the actual mouths of the Po (from. the Po di Goro to the Po di
Levante), must have been formed since the great change of 1152; its progress for some centuries back
can be accurately traced; and we know that it has advanced not less than 9 miles in little more than two
centuries and a half, and at least 15 miles since the 12th century. Beyond this the delta belongs rather to
the Adige, and more northern streams, than to the Po; the next mouth being that of the main stream of
the Adige itself, and just. beyond it the Porto. di Brondolo (the Brundulus Portus of Pliny), which at the
present day is the mouth of the Brenta.1 [p. 511]
The changes which have taken place on this lin of coast are due not only to the pushing forward of the
coast-line at the actual mouths of the rivers, but to the filling up of the lagunes. These in ancient times
extended beyond Ravenna on the S.; but that city is now surrounded on all sides by dry land, and the
lagunes only begin to the N. of the Po di Primaro. Here the lagunes of Comacchio extend over a space
of above 20 miles in length, as far as the mouth of the Po di Volano; but from that point to the fort of
Brondolo, where the Venetian lagunes begin, though the whole country is very low and marshy, it is no
longer covered with water, as it obviously was at no distant period. It is now therefore, impossible to
determine what were the particular lagunes designated by Pliny as the SEPTEM MARIA and indeed
the passage in which he alludes to them is not very clear; but as he calls them Atrianorum Paludes, they
would seem to have been in the neighbourhood of Adria, and may probably have been the extensive
lagunes (now converted into marshes) S. of Ariano. At a later period the name seems to have been
differently used. The Itinerary speaks of the navigation per Septem Maria [a Ravenna] Altinum usque,
so that the name seems here to be applied to the whole extent of the lagunes; and it is employed in the
same sense by Herodian (viii. 7); while the Tabula, on the contrary,gives the name to a particular point
or station on the line of route from Ravenna to Altinum. This line, which is given in much detail, must
have been by water, though not so specified, as there never could have been a road along the line in
question; but it is impossible to identify with any certainty the stations or points named. (Itin. Ant. p.
126; Tab. Peut.) [VENETIA]
Polybius speaks of the Padus as navigable for a distance of 2000 stadia, or 250 Roman miles from the
sea. (Pol. ii. 16.) Strabo notices it as navigable from Placentia downwards to Ravenna, without saying
that it was not practicable higher up: and Pliny correctly describes it as beginning to be navigable from
Augusta Taurinorum (Turin), more than 120 miles above Placentia. (Strab. v. p. 217; Plin. iii. 17. s.
21.) Ancient writers already remarked that the stream of the Padus was fuller and more abundant in
summer than in winter or spring, owing to its being fed in great part by the melting of the snows in the
high Alps. (Pol. ii. 16; Plin. iii. 16. s. 20.) It is not till after it has received the waters of the Duria Major
or Dora Baltea, a stream at least as considerable as itself, that the Po becomes a really great river.
Hence, it is about this point (as Pliny observes) that it first attains to. a considerable depth. But at the
present day it is not practicable for vessels of any considerable burden above Casale, about 25 miles
lower down.
The origin of the name of Padus is uncertain. According to Metrodorus of Scepsis (cited by Pliny, l. c.),
it was a Celtic name, derived from the number of pine-trees which grew around its sources. The
etymology seems very doubtful; but the fact that the name was of Celtic origin is rendered probable by
the circumstance that, according both to Polybius and Pliny, the name given it by the Ligurians (the
most ancient inhabitants of its banks) was Bodincus or Bodencus (Bodenkos, Pol. ii. 16; Plin. iii. 16. s.
20), a name said to be derived from its great it depth. It is well known that it was early identified it by
the Greeks with the mythical ERIDANUS and was commonly called by them, as well as by the Latin
poets, by that name, even at a late period. The origin and history of this name have been already given
in the article ERIDANUS It may be added, that the poplar trees which figure in the fable of Phaëton (in
its later form) evidently refer to the tall and graceful trees, still commonly known as Lombardy poplars,
from their growing in abundance on the banks of the Po. [E. H. B.]
Insŭbres
A Gallic people, who crossed the Alps and settled in Gallia Transpadana in the north of Italy. Their
chief town was Mediolanum (Milan). They were conquered by the Romans, shortly before the
commencement of the Second Punic War. See Celtae.
a people both in Gallia Transalpina and Gallia Cisalpina. D'Anville, on the authority of Livy (v. 34),
places the Insubres of Gallia Transalpina in that part of the territory of the Aedui where there was a
town Mediolanum, between Forum Segusianorum [FORUM SEGUSIANORUM] and Lugdunurn
(Lyon). This is the only ground that there is for supposing that there existed a people or a pagus in
Gallia Transalpina named Insubres. Of the Insubres in Gallia Cisalpina, an account is given elsewhere
[Vol I. p. 936]. [G. L.]
COMUM (Como) Lombardy, Italy.
One of the most important Roman cities in Regio XI, it was colonized under Caesar, with the name
Novuin Comum, near the villages that formed the Comum oppidum of Titus Livius. The city had a
orthogonal plan covering an area 445 by 550 m. Imposing city walls in stone from the late Republican
period remain. The insulae, still recognizable in the urban area, were 75 m on each side. The city was
also of military importance in the late antique period. Remains are still visible of the gate called
praetoria on the decumanus maximus, as well as stretches of walls and of a bath building with a library
(CIL V, 5262) erected outside the city walls by Pliny the Younger. He, like his uncle Pliny the Elder,
the naturalist, was born at Comum.
Of interest among the objects in the Archaeological Civic Museum is the Aiaterial from the Ca' Morta
necropoleis, which encompass the Late Bronze Age and the entire Iron Age. The collection includes a
military parade cart, Greek bronze sculpture, sacred and funerary inscriptions, and a figured Early
Christian mosaic.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
C. Albizzati, “Un ritratto di Licinia Eudoxia,” AttiPontAcc 2, 15 (1921) 337ff; id., “Una scultura greca
arcaica del Museo Giovio di Como,” RendPontAcc 3 (1924-25) 317ff; F. Frigerio, “Antiche porte di
città italiche e romane,” Riv. Arch. Comense 108-10 (1934-35) 5-52; G. Caniggia, Lettura di una
crittà: Como (1963); G. Luraschi, “Comum oppidum,” Riv. Arch. Comense 152-54 (1970-72) 7-154;
M. Mirabella Roberti, “L'urbanistica romana di Como e alcune recenti scoperte,” Atti Convegno
centenario Riv. Arch. Comense (1973).

COMUM (Kômon: Eth. Kômitês, Comensis: [p. 653] Como), an important city of Cisalpine Gaul,
situated at the southern extremity of the Lacus Larius, immediately at the foot of the Alps; and distant
28 miles from Milan. (Itin. Ant. p. 278, where we should certainly read xxviii. for xviii. The Tab. Peut.
gives xxxv., which considerably exceeds the truth.) It was included in the territory of the Insubrian
Gauls (Ptol. iii. 1, § 33); though according to Pliny, Cato assigned the foundation of Comum as well as
Bergomum to a people called the Orobii, who are not mentioned by any other author, and would seem
to have been extinct in the time of Pliny himself. (Cato ap. Plin. iii. 17. s. 21.) Justin mentions Comum
among the cities founded by the Gauls after their occupation of this part of Italy, but without indicating
the particular tribe. (Justin. xx. 5.) Its name occurs only once during the wars of the Romans with the
Gauls, in B.C. 196, when the Comenses joined their arms with those of the Insubrians; but their united
forces were defeated by Marcellus, and the town of Comum itself taken. (Liv. xxxiii. 36.) After the
reduction of Cisalpine Gaul, it appears early to have been occupied by a body of Roman settlers; but
these having suffered severely from the incursions of the neighbouring Rhaetians, a more considerable
body of colonists was established there by Pompeius Strabo, to which 3000 more were soon after added
by C. (?) Scipio. A still more important accession to their numbers was made by Julius Caesar, who
settled there 5000 new colonists, of whom 500 were Greeks of distinction. (Strab. v. p. 213.) Whether
the site of the town was changed at this time does not appear, but the new colony assumed the title of
Novum Comum, by which it is designated by Catullus (xxxv. 3): Greek writers term it Neokômon, and
the inhabitants Neokômitai (Appian, B.C. ii. 26; Strab. l. c.; Ptolemy has Wea kômê, but this is
probably erroneous). The new colonists had obtained the Latin franchise; but just before the outbreak
of the civil war, the enemies of Caesar endeavoured to cancel this privilege; and the consul C.
Marcellus even went so far as to order a magistrate of the colony to be scourged, by way of an insult to
Caesar. (Appian, l. c.; Suet. Caes. 28; Plut. Caes. 29; Cic. ad Att. v. 1. 1) But after the victory of the
latter, the citizens of Comum obtained the full Roman civitas, in common with the rest of the
Transpadane Gauls (B.C. 49); and it from this time ceased to be a colony, ranking only as a
municipium, though it was one of the most populous and flourishing towns in this part of Italy. The
name of New Comum seems to have been early laid aside, and it was called simply Comum. It is
probable that it was the birthplace of both the elder and the younger Pliny, though we have no direct
testimony to this effect; the latter certainly made the adjoining lake his favourite place of residence, and
had several villas on its banks, one of which, about five miles from Como, is still known as the
Pliniana. There is little doubt that his native place (patria), to which he repeatedly alludes, and which
he enriched with public works, as well as with a library and other institutions for purposes of education,
is no other than Comum. (Plin. Ep. i. 3, 8, iii. 6, iv. 13; Orell. Inscr. 1172.) With this exception,
however, we hear little of it under the Roman Empire: inscriptions prove that it continued to be a
flourishing municipal town, and one of these, in honour of a grammarian named Septicianus, shows
that the efforts of Pliny to render it a school of learning were not altogether fruitless. (Orell. Inscr.
1197, 3898.) It was, however, more noted for its iron foundries, which were among the most celebrated
in Italy. (Plin. xxxiv. 14. s. 41.) Its position at the southern end of the Lacus Larius, the fertile and
beautiful shores of which were comprised, in great part at least, within its territory, must, in itself, have
secured its prosperity: it was also the point from whence travellers, proceeding across the Rhaetian
Alps, used to embark on the lake; a route which appears to have been one very much frequented during
the latter ages of the Empire. (Itin. Ant. p. 279; Claudian. B. Get. 319; Cassiod. Var. xi. 14.) It appears
to have retained its prosperity down to the close of the Roman Empire, and is still mentioned as a
flourishing city under the Goths and Lombards. In the 4th century we find that a fleet was stationed
there for the protection of the lake; and Cassiodorus speaks of it as one of the bulwarks of Italy in a
military point of view, while he extols the beauty of its situation, and the richness of the villas or
palaces with which the neighbouring shores were adorned. (Not. Dign. ii. p. 118; Cassiod. l. c.; P. Diac.
v. 38.) Comum continued to be a city of importance in the middle ages, and is still a populous and
flourishing place; but contains no remains of antiquity, except numerous inscriptions, several of which
relate to the family of the two Plinies.
The Lacus Larius, now called the Lake of Como, was already under the Roman Empire sometimes
termed Lacus Comacinus. (Itin. Ant. p. 278.) P. Diaconus (v. 38) calls it Comatianus Lacus. [E. H. B.]
LAEVI
LAEVI or LAÏ (Laoi), a tribe of Cisalpine Gauls, who dwelt near the sources of the river Padus. This is
the statement of Polybius (ii. 17), who associates them with the Libicii (Lebekioi), and says that the
two tribes occupied the part of the plains of Cisalpine Gaul nearest to the sources of the Padus, and next
to them came the Insubres. He distinctly reckons them among the Gaulish tribes who had crossed the
Alps and settled in the plains of Northern Italy: on the other hand., both Livy and Pliny call them
Ligurians. (Liv. v. 35; Plin. iii. 17. s. 21.) The reading in the passage of Livy is, indeed, very uncertain;
but he would appear to agree with Pliny in placing them in the neighbourhood of Ticinum. Pliny even
ascribes the foundation of that city to the Laevi, in conjunction with the Marici, a name otherwise
wholly unknown, but apparently also a Ligurian tribe. There can be no doubt that in this part of Italy
tribes of Gaulish and Ligurian origin were very much intermixed, and probably the latter were in many
cases confounded with the Gauls. [LIGURIA]
Laevi
or Levi. A Ligurian people in Gallia Transpadana, on the river Ticinus, who, in conjunction with the
Marici, built the town of Ticinum (Pavia).
BOII
BOII a Celtic people who emigrated from Transalpine Gaul to Italy in company with the Lingones
(Liv. v. 35) by the pass of the Pennine Alps or the Great St. Bernard. Their original abode seems,
therefore, to have been near the territory of the Lingones, who were between the upper Sane and the
highest parts of the Seine and Marne. Those Boii who joined the Helvetii in their march to the country
of the Santones, had crossed the Rhine (B. G. i. 5), and it seems that they came from Germany to join
the Helvetii. After the defeat of the Helvetii Caesar gave them a territory in the country of the Aedui
(B. G. i. 28, vii. 9), which territory D'Anville supposes to be in the angle between the Allier and the
Loire. The Boia of Caesar (vii. 14) may be the country of these Boii; if it is not, it is the name of a town
unknown to us. Walckenaer places these Boii in the modern diocese of Auxerre (Autesiodurum), which
he supposes to be part of their original territory that had been occupied by the Aedui. But this
supposition is directly contradicted by the narrative of Caesar (B. G. vii. 9, 10, 11). The town of the
Boii was Gergovia according to the common texts of Caesar, but the name is corrupt, and the site is
unknown. No conclusion can be derived as to the position of these Boii from the passage of Tacitus
(Hist. ii. 61), except that they were close to the Aedui, which is known already. Pliny's enumeration (iv.
18), under Gallia Lugdunensis, of intus Hedui federati, Carnuti federati, Boii, Senones, Aulerci, places
the Boii between the Carnutes and the Senones, and agrees with Walckenaer's conjecture; but this is not
the position of the Boii of Caesar.
The name Boii also occurs in the Antonine Itin. on the road from Aquae Augustae or Tarbellicae (Dax)
to Bordeaux. The name is placed 16 Gallic leagues or 24 Roman miles from Bordeaux, These Boii are
represented by the Buies of the Pays de Buch, or Bouges, as Walckenaer calls them (Gog. &c. vol. i. p.
303). The name Boii in the Itin. ought to represent a place, and it is supposed by D'Anville that Tte de
Buch, on the Bassin d'Arcachon, may represent it; but he admits that the distance does not agree with
the Itin.: and besides this, the Tte de Buch seems to lie too much out of the road between Dax and
Bordeaux. [G. L.]
BOII a people of Cisalpine Gaul, who migrated from Transalpine Gaul, as mentioned above. They
found the plains N. of the Padus already occupied by the Insubres and Cenomani, in consequence of
which they crossed that river, and established them-selves between it and the Apennines, in the plains
previously occupied by the Umbrians. (Liv. v. 35; Pol. ii. 17; Strab. iv. p. 195.) They are next
mentioned as cooperating with the Insubres and Senones in the destruction of Melpum, an event which
was placed by Cornelius Nepos in the same year with the capture of Veil by Camillus, B.C. 396. (Corn.
Nep. ap. Plin. iii. 17. s. 21.) According to Appian (Celt. 1), the Boii took part in the expedition of the
Gauls into Latium in B.C. 358, when they were defeated by the dictator C. Sulpicius; but Polybius
represents them as taking up arms against the Romans for the first time after the defeat and destruction
of their neighbours the Senones. Alarmed at this event, they united their forces with those of the
Etruscans, in B.C. 283, and were defeated together with them at the Vadimonian Lake.
Notwithstanding this disaster, they took up arms again the next year, but being a second time defeated,
concluded a treaty with Rome, to which they appear to have adhered for 45 years, when the occupation
by the Romans of the territory that had been previously held by the Senones again alarmed them for
their own safety, and led to the great Gallic war of B.C. 225, in which the Boii and Insubres were
supported by the Gaesatae from beyond the Alps. (Pol. ii. 20--31.) Though defeated, together with their
allies, in a great battle near Telamon in Etruria, and compelled soon after to a nominal submission, they
still continued hostile to Rome, and at the commencement of the Second Punic War (B.C. 218) did not
wait for the arrival of Hannibal, but attacked and defeated the Romans who were founding the new
colony of Placentia. (Pol. iii. 40; Liv. xxi. 25 ; Appian, Annib. 5.) The same year they supported
Hannibal with an auxiliary force at the battle of the Trebia; and two years afterwards they suddenly
attacked the consul Postumius as he was marching through their territory with a force of 25,000 men,
and entirely destroyed his whole army. (Pol. iii. 67; Liv. xxiii. 24.) Again, after the close of the Second
Punic War, the Boii took a prominent part in the revolt of [p. 417] the Gauls under Hamilcar, and the
destruction of Placentia, in B.C. 200 (Liv. xxxi. 2, 10), and from this time, during a period of ten years,
notwithstanding repeated defeats, they continued to carry on the contest against Rome, sometimes
single-handed, but more frequently in alliance with the Insubrians and the neighbouring tribes of
Ligurians. At length, in B.C. 191, they were completely reduced to submission by Scipio Nasica, who
put half their population to the sword, and deprived them of nearly half their lands. (Liv. xxxii. 29--31,
xxxiii. 36, 37, xxxiv. 21, 46, 47, xxxv. 4, 5, 22, xxxvi. 38--40.) In order to secure the territory thus
acquired, the Romans soon after established there the colony of Bononia, and a few years later (B.C.
183) those of Mutina and Parma. The construction in B.C. 187 of the great military road from
Ariminum to Placentia, afterwards so celebrated as the Via Aemilia, must have contributed greatly to
the same result. (Liv. xxxvii. 57, xxxix. 2, 55.)
But the conquerors do not appear to have been contented even with these precautions, and ultimately
compelled all the remaining Boians to migrate from their country and recross the Alps, where they
found a refuge with the kindred tribe of the Tauriscans, and established themselves on the frontiers of
Pannonia, in a portion of the modern Bohemia, which derives its name from them. Here they dwelt for
above a century, but were ultimately exterminated by the Dacians. (Strab. v. p. 213, vii. pp. 304, 313.)
Hence both Strabo and Pliny speak of them as a people that had ceased to exist in Italy in their time.
(Strab. v. p. 21 6; Plin. iii. 15. s. 20.) It is therefore almost impossible to determine with any accuracy
the confines of the territory which they occupied. Polybius speaks of the Ananes as bordering on them
on the W., but no other author mentions that nation; and Livy repeatedly speaks of the Boii as if they
were conterminous with the Ligurians on their western frontier. Nor is the exact line of demarcation
between them and the Senones on the E. better marked. Livy expressly speaks of the three colonies of
Parma, Mutina, and Bononia as established in the territory of the Boii, while Ariminum was certainly
in that of the Senones. But the limit between the two is no--where indicated.
The long protracted resistance of the Boii to the Roman arms sufficiently proves that they were a
powerful as well as warlike people; and after so many campaigns, and the repeated devastation of their
lands, they were still able to bring not less than 50,000 men into the field against Scipio Nasica. (Liv.
xxxvi. 40.) Cato even reported that they comprised 112 different tribes (ap. Plin. l. c.). Nor were they
by any means destitute of civilization. Polybius, indeed, speaks of them (in common with the other
Gauls) as inhabiting only unwalled villages, a,.nd ignorant of all arts except pasturage and agriculture
(Pol. ii. 17); but Livy repeatedly alludes to their towns and fortresses (castella), and his account of the
triumph of Scipio Nasica over them proves that they possessed a considerable amount of the precious
metals, and were able to work both in silver and bronze with tolerable skill. (Liv. xxxvi. 40.) A large
portion of their territory seems, however, to have been still occupied by marshes and forests, among
which last one called the LITANA SILVA was the scene of more than one conflict with the Roman
armies. (Liv. xxiii. 24, xxxiv. 22; Frontin. Strat. i. 6. ァ 4.) [E. H. B.]
[LITANA SILVA
LITANA SILVA a forest in the territory of the Boians in Gallia Cispadana, memorable for the defeat to
the Roman consul L. Postumius, in B.C. 216. On this disastrous occasion the consul himself perished,
with his whole army, consisting of two Roman legions, augmented by auxiliaries to the amount of
25,000 men. (Liv. xxiii. 24; Frontin. Strat. i. 6. ァ 4.) At a later period it witnessed, on the other hand, a
defeat of the Boians by the Roman consul L. Valerius Flaccus, B.C. 195. (Liv. xxxiv. 22.) The forest in
question appears to have been situated somewhere between Bononia and Placentia, but its name is
never mentioned after the reduction of Cisalpine Gaul, and its exact site cannot be determined. It is
probable, indeed, that a great part of the tract between the Apennines and the marshy ground on the
banks of the Padus was at this time covered with forest. [E. H. B.]]

One of the most powerful of the Keltic people, said to have dwelt originally in Gallia Transalpina, but
in what part of the country is uncertain. At an early time they migrated in two great swarms, one of
which crossed the Alps and settled in the country between the Po and the Apennines; the other crossed
the Rhine and settled in the part of Germany called Boihemum (Bhmen, Bohemia) after them, and
between the Danube and the Tyrol. The Boii in Italy long carried on a fierce struggle with the Romans,
but they were at length subdued by the consul P. Scipio in B.C. 191, and subsequently incorporated in
the province of Gallia Cisalpina. The Boii in Germany maintained their power longer, but were at
length subdned by the Marcomanni, and expelled from the country.
Polybius
War with Insubres and Boii and Gaesatae
After these defeats the Gauls maintained an unbroken
B. C. 236.
peace with Rome for forty-five years. But when the generation which had witnessed the actual struggle
had passed away, and a younger generation of men had taken their places, filled with unreflecting
hardihood, and who had neither experienced nor seen any suffering or reverse, they began, as was
natural, to disturb the settlement; and on the one hand to let trifling causes exasperate them against
Rome, and on the other to invite the Alpine Gauls to join the fray. At first these intrigues were carried
on by their chiefs without the knowledge of the tribesmen; and accordingly, when an armed host of
Transalpine Gauls arrived at Ariminum, the Boii were suspicious; and forming a conspiracy against
their own leaders, as well as against the new-comers, they put their own two kings Atis and Galatus to
death, and cut each other to pieces in a pitched battle. Just then the Romans, alarmed at the threatened
invasion, had despatched an army; but learning that the Gauls had committed this act of self-
destruction, it returned home again. In the fifth year after this alarm, in the Consulship of Marcus
Aemilius Lepidus, the Romans [p. 119] divided among their citizens the territory of Picenum, from
which they had ejected the Senones when they conquered them: a democratic measure introduced by
Gaius Flaminius, and a policy which we must pronounce to have been the first step in the
demoralisation of the people, as well as the cause of the next Gallic war.
B. C. 232
For many of the Gauls, and especially the Boii whose lands were coterminous with the Roman
territory, entered upon that war from the conviction that the object of Rome in her wars with them was
no longer supremacy and empire over them, but their total expulsion and destruction.
ORO´BII
ORO´BII a tribe of Cisalpine Gauls, mentioned only by Pliny (iii. 17. s. 21), upon the authority of
Cato, who said that Bergomum and Comum had been founded by them, as well as Forum Licinii, by
which he must mean the Gaulish town that preceded the Roman settlement of that name. Their original
abode, according to Cato, was at a place called Barra, situated high up in the mountains; but he
professed himself unable to point out their origin and descent. The statement that they were a Greek
people, advanced by Cornelius Alexander (ap. Plin. l. c.), is evidently a mere inference from the name,
which was probably corrupted or distorted with that very view. [E. H. B.]