). A sewer, or drain. Drains for the removal of a
city's sewage are of very great antiquity, since at Nineveh excavations
show a very complete system of sewers; while the same is true of Athens, where the remains of
the ancient drains have been carefully described by Ziller (Mittheil. des
deutsch. Inst. in Athen (1877)
, pp. 117-119).
The sewers of ancient Rome were much admired in ancient times, and were classed by Dionysius
of Halicarnassus with the aqueducts and roads as the best proof of the greatness and
magnificence of the Roman Empire (iii. 67) Many of the Roman cities in northern Italy and in
Gaul still show remains of similar cloacae.
The chief of the ancient Roman sewers still existing is the famous Cloaca Maxima, running
from the valley of the Subura at the foot of the Carinae, across the Forum under the south end
of the Basilica Iulia, where it is exposed to view, and entering the river Tiber, near the
Temple of Hercules in the Forum Boarium, by an arch of peperino shown in the illustration. The
original dimensions of
Present Condition of the Cloaca Maxima.
the arch were 12 ft. 4 in. in height, and 10 ft. 8 in. in width, but one-third of
its height is now choked up by mud.
Another sewer, which like the Cloaca Maxima is still in use, enters the Tiber opposite to
the Insula Tiberina. Its antiquity is very great, and it is constructed of large blocks of
peperino uncemented. In the quay wall not far from the mouth of the Cloaca Maxima may be seen
two smaller arched openings, one of which is now dry, the other discharges the waters of the
M. Agrippa, during his aedileship, in B.C. 36, showed great zeal in the supervision of the
cloacae, traversing them in a boat and cleansing them at his own expense (Dio Cass. xlix. 43).
He constructed a cloaca to drain the Campus Martius, which was connected with the Thermae of
Agrippa and the Aqua Virgo. This was discovered under Urban VIII., and is at present in use
under the name of the Chiavica della Rotonda.
The discoveries made at various times show that the network of smaller drains communicating
with these main cloacae still exists, though in great part choked up. Brick is largely used in
their construction; sometimes they are covered in with a barrel vault, sometimes by two tiles
leaning against each other, sometimes by a single flagstone, but in some cases we find a
primitive arrangement of projecting courses of stone which was observed in the drains of
The expense of cleansing and repairing these cloacae was, of course, very great, and was
defrayed partly by the treasury and partly by an assessment called cloacarium.
Under the Republic the administration of the sewers was intrusted to the
censors and aediles; but under the Empire particular officers were appointed for that purpose,
, mention of whom is found in inscriptions. Under the
Empire condemned criminals were employed in cleansing the cloacae. (Plin. Ep. x. 44
.) Theodoric appointed an official to repair the
drains, a striking instance of the esteem in which the barbarians held Roman civilization.
On the legal obligations relating to the cloacae at Rome, see Schmidt, Interdicta de
, in Zeitschrift f. gesch. Rechtswiss.
xv. 1, pp. 51 foll.; and
for further details as to the Roman sewers, see Burn, Rome and the
Campagna; Middleton, Rome in 1885 (1885)
Remains of Ancient Rome (London, 1892)