regards the spelling of the word, the latter, which accords more nearly with
the etymology, is retained by Madvig, but most modern authorities have
agreed that pomerium
is the more correct (see
Mommsen in Hermes,
10.40). The pomerium was a
space left vacant on the inner side of a city wall (post-moerium
): it did not, however, necessarily run parallel with
the line of fortification; where it did not do so, and preserved only a
religious significance, it was marked by a line of stone pillars (cippi pomerii,
Varro, L. L.
Tac. Ann. 12.24
), which indeed, no doubt,
were placed at intervals over its whole course. The original pomeria, it may
be conjectured, followed the original ring-walls of associated bodies of
citizens: hence if by conquest. or federation new citizens were brought in
and a larger urbs
became necessary, the
ring-wall, and with it the pomerium, was enlarged. It is probable that the
first intention was to leave a clear space immediately within the walls for
military reasons, that the defenders might have freedom of movement: and
that what had become an invariable custom in the builders of walled cities,
became a religion. The custom was common to Latins and Etruscans, and a town
in the earliest times was founded as follows:--a bullock and a heifer were
yoked to a plough, and a furrow was drawn round the place which was to be
occupied by the new town, in such a way that the clods fell inwards: the
furrow marked the ditch, the mound the ring-wall within it, and within that
again was a certain space called the pomerium, its width marked by cippi,
upon which no buildings could be erected. It
is true that Livy (1.44
) states the pomerium to
have been a space left vacant both within and
the wall; but Mommsen has shown good reason for rejecting this
view, which rests on Livy alone, and for imagining that author to have been
misled about a point of antiquarian knowledge (Mommsen in Hermes,
10.40; Röm. Forschung.
i.3 63). The language of
Varro, “qui (orbis) quia erat post
” &c., is decidedly against Livy's view; and
so is the “per totius urbis circuitum pone muros” of Gellius,
: the word itself can be only naturally
explained on the theory that it was something “behind” the
walls, i. e. protected by them (with which postliminium is probably to be
compared); and moreover the fact that the Aventine, though within the
Servian walls, remained outside the pomerium, can hardly allow us to
conceive the pomerium as on the outer side of the fortifications.
Whatever may have been its first intention, the aspect in which the pomerium
comes before us is its religious aspect. The space within it was called
so named, according, to
Varro, 6.53, “because the augurs have declared thereby where the limit
for urban auspices; should be in the direction of the fields without the
city” (such is Mommsen's rendering), i. e. beyond what point the
auspices would no longer be urbana auspicia
(cf. Gel. 13.14
; Varro, 5.143). The distinction
is seen in the auspices for Comitia Curiata being within the pomerium, those
for Comitia Centuriata outside, because this in its origin was a military
levy: the general starting for a campaign must take them within the
pomerium, but the bellica auspicia after
imperium began must be taken outside, in the camp, on the field of battle,
&c. Crossing the pomerium did away with the effect of the military
auspices; hence, if he came back to Rome, he must take the urbana auspicia
over again for his return, and the bellica auspicia after he reached his
army. This explains the obscure expression in Tac.
(see Mommsen, Staatsrecht,
i.3 99; AUSPICIA). The [p. 2.444]
pomerium then included in its circle the dwellings
of the urbs proper, but practically Rome soon went further, and was
expressed technically by “urbs et urbi continentia aedificia.”
The antiquissimum pomerium.
--This ran within the
old walls of the Palatine city, taking therefore a somewhat square form, and
Mommsen is of opinion that this shape belonging to. the templum was to some
extent preserved in the subsequent pomeria, from their connexion with
auspices; so that, when the Servian walls became more circular, the cippi
left wider spaces here and there, even
excluding great portions (such as the-Aventine), and gave a more rectangular
shape to. the ager effatus. Tacitus (Tac. Ann.
) describes the. pomerium of Romulus by four points--Ara
Maxima, Ara Consi, Curiae veteres, and Sacellum Larium: the first three seem
to mark the S.E., S.W., and N.E. corners of the Palatine (O. Richter). There
is some difficulty in the “sulcus” including the Ara Maxima
which seems to be outside the actual walls of the Palatine city; and it is
also strange that if Servius extended the pomerium, he left the old cippi
standing. Mommsen inclines to the opinion in Jordan, Top.
2.26, that the cippi which Tacitus describes were placed later, to show the
boundaries used for the lustration of the Palatine [LUPERCALIA
]. Of the Servian
cippi we have neither remains nor record, except that they did not include
the Aventine, though his walls did: Gellius (13.14
) says that Remus made the Aventine unlucky for auspices: Varro
(5.43), that on this hill stood the temple of Diana common to Latins and
Romans: Mommsen's theory, mentioned above, suggests another cause.
Enlargement of the Pomerium.
belonged to the king who had added
territory to Rome, and, even if this passed theoretically to dictator or
consuls who “auxerunt fines imperil,” it was never exercised
after “Servius until the dictatorship of Sulla (Dionys. A. R. 4.13
; cf. Liv. 1.44
). It is true that some Latin writers
speak as if we might expect it after any conquest (Sen. de brev. vit.
; Gel. 13.14
Tacitus himself in the next chapter mentions Sulla as the only conqueror
under the Republic who did so. What his extension was, we do not know.
Caesar professed to follow his example (Cic.
Att. 12.2. 0
), but, if we believe Tacitus, did not do so,
prevented perhaps by death. Detlefsen (Hermes,
21.513) takes Gell. l.c.
D. C. 43.50
, to show that he carried out his proposal: see,
however, on the other side, Mommsen, Staatsrecht,
11.3 738. The same writer (ii.3
1072) gives good reasons for holding ” that Augustus did not
enlarge the pomerium: if so, it may have been from reluctance to assume the
state; and so he instead constituted the
fourteen regions. Of the emperors:--1. Claudius, after adding Britain and
Commagene to the Empire, proceeded to enlarge the pomerium, including within
it the Aventine, probably with a view of determining afresh the templum
of the city (cf. Hulsen in Hermes,
22.615). Four of his cippi have been
discovered (C. I. L.
6.1231): they seem to bring his line
nearly up to Mons Testaceus, to the inner border of the Campus Martius, and
to the Porta Salaria. An inscription gives his claim “auctis populi
Romani finibus pomerium ampliavit terminavitque.” 2. Nero
21). 3. Vespasian and Titus, two of whose
stones have been found with a similar inscription and numbered xxxi. and
xlvii., one beyond the Pincian gate, the other near the Porta Ostiensis
(C. I. L.
6.1232). Hadrian did not extend the pomerium,
but only marked it afresh (C. I. L.
6.1233); one of his cippi
was found not far from that of Claudius on the edge of the Campus Martins,
and another near the Pantheon: it would appear that the Campus Martins was,
at least till after Hadrian, outside the pomerium. The inscription tells us
that the limits of a pomerium were arranged by the college of augurs, which
agrees with Cic. de Div. 2.3.
, 75. It will be seen that these extended pomeria, from Claudius
onwards, were an ideal unwalled city; their limits were in some places
beyond even the site of the later Aurelian walls, though in others
considerably short of it. (Jordan, Topog.
1.323 ff.; Mommsen
10.40 ff.; Röm.
2.23 ff.; Staatsrecht,
ll. cc.; O.
Richter in Baumeister, Denkmäler,
s. v. Rom.