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TIMA´VUS (Τίμαυος: Timao), a river of Venetia, flowing into the Adriatic sea between Aquileia and Tergeste, about 12 miles E. of the former city. Notwithstanding its classical celebrity, it is one of the shortest of rivers, being formed by copious sources which burst out from the rock at the foot of a lofty cliff, and immediately constitute a broad and deep river, which has a course of little more than a mile before it discharges itself into the sea. There can be no doubt that these sources are the outlets of some subterranean stream, and that the account of Posidonius (ap. Strab. v. p.215), who says that the river after a course of some length falls into a chasm, and is carried under ground about 130 stadia before it issues out again and falls into the sea, is substantially correct. Such subterranean passages are indeed not uncommon in Carniola, and it is impossible to determine from what particular river or lake the waters of the Timavus derive their origin; but the popular notion still regards them as the outflow of a stream which sinks into the earth near S. Canzian, about 13 miles from the place of their reappearance. (Cluver. Ital. p. 193.) The number of the sources is variously stated: Virgil, in the well-known passage in which he describes them (Aen. 1.245), reckons them nine in number, and this agrees with the statement of Mela; while Strabo speaks of seven; and this would appear from Servius to have been the common belief (Serv. ad Aen. l.c.; Mel. 2.4.3), which is supported also by Martial, while Claudian follows Virgil (Mart. 4.25. 6; Claudian, de VI. Cons. Hon. 198). Cluverius, on the other hand, could find but six, and some modern travellers make them only four. Strabo adds that, according to Polybius, all but one of them were salt, a circumstance which would imply some connection with the sea, and, according to Cluverius, who described them from personal observation, this was distinctly the case in his time; for though at low water the stream issued tranquilly from its rocky sources, and flowed with a still and placid current to the sea, yet at high tides the waters were swollen, so as to rush forth with much greater force and volume, and inundate the neighbouring meadows: and at such times, he adds, the waters of all the sources but one become perceptibly brackish, doubtless from some subterranean communication with the sea. (Cluver. Ital. p. 194.) It appears from this account that Virgil's remarkable expressions-- “Unde per ora novem, vasto cum murmure montis
It mare proruptum, et pelago premit arva sonanti

--are not mere rhetorical exaggerations, but have a foundation in fact. It was doubtless from a reference to the same circumstance that, according to Polybius (ap. Strab. l.c.), the stream was called by the natives “the source and mother of the sea” (μητέρα τῆς θαλάττης.) It is probable that the communication with the sea has been choked up, as no modern traveller alludes to the phenomenon described by Cluverius. The Timao is at present a very still and tranquil stream, but not less than 50 yards broad close to its source, and deep enough to be navigable for vessels of considerable size. Hence it is justly called by Virgil “magnus Timavus” (Ecl. 8.6); and Ausonius speaks of the “aequoreus amnis Timavi” (Clar. Urb. 14.34).

Livy speaks of the “lacum Timavi,” by which he evidently means nothing more than the basin formed by the waters near their source (Liv. 41.1): it was close to this that the Roman consul A. Manlius established his camp, while C. Furius with 10 ships appears to have ascended the river to the same point, where their combined camp was attacked and plundered by the Istrians. According to Strabo there was a temple in honour of Diomed erected near the sources of the Timavus, with a sacred grove attached to it. (Strab. v. p.214). There were also warm springs in the same neighbourhood, which are now known as the Bagni di S. Giovanni.


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