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AQUI´NUM (Ἀκούινον: Eth. Aquinas,--ātis : Aquino).


One of the most important cities of the Volscians, was situated on the Via Latina between Fabrateria and Casinum, about 4 miles from the left bank of the Liris. Strabo erroneously describes it as situated on the river Melpis (Melfi), from which it is in fact distant above 4 miles. In common with the other Volscian cities it was included in Latium in the more extended use of that term: hence it is mentioned by Ptolemy as a Latin city, and is included by Pliny in the First Region of Italy, according to the division of Augustus. (Ptol. 3.1.63; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9; Strab. v. p.237; Itin. Ant. p. 303.) Its name is not mentioned in history during the wars of the Romans with the Volscians, or those with the Samnites; and, is first found during the Second Punic War on occasion of the march of Hannibal upon Rome by the Via Latina. (Liv. 26.9; Sil. Ital. xii.) But all writers agree in describing it as a populous and flourishing place during the latter period of the Roman Republic. Cicero, who had a villa there, and on account of its neighbour-hood to Arpinum, repeatedly alludes to it, terms it “frequens municipium,” and Silius Italicus “ingens Aquinum.” Strabo also calls it “a large city.” (Cic. Clu. 68, Phil. 2.41, pro Planc. 9, ad Att. 5.1, ad Fam. 9.24, &c.; Sil. Ital. 8.405; Strab. v. p.237.) We learn from the Liber Coloniarum that it received a Roman colony under the Second Triumvirate, and both Pliny and Tacitus mention it as a place of colonial rank under the Empire. Numerous inscriptions also prove that it continued a flourishing city throughout that period. (Lib. Colon. p. 229; Tac. Hist. 1.88, 2.63; Plin. l.c.) It was the birthplace of the poet Juvenal, as he himself tells us (3.319): as well as of the Emperor Pescennius Niger. (Ael. Spartian. Pesc. i.) Horace speaks of it as noted for a kind of purple dye, but of inferior quality to the finer sorts. (Ep. 1.10, 27.)

The modern city of Aquino is a very poor place, with little more than 1000 inhabitants, but still retains its episcopal see, which it preserved throughout the middle ages. It still occupies a part of the site of the ancient city, in a broad fertile plain, which extends from the foot of the Apennines to the river Liris on one side and the Melpis on the other. It was completely traversed by the Via Latina, considerable portions of which are still preserved, as well as a part of the ancient walls, built of large stones without cement. An old church called the Vescovado is built out of the ruins of an ancient temple, and considerable remains of two others are still visible, which are commonly regarded, but without any real authority, as those of Ceres Helvina and Diana, alluded to by Juvenal (3.320). Besides these there exist on the site of the ancient city the ruins of an amphitheatre, a theatre, a triumphal arch, and various other edifices, mostly constructed of brickwork in the style called opus reticulatum. The numerous inscriptions which have been discovered here mention the existence of various temples and colleges of priests, as well as companies of artisans: all proving the importance of Aquinum under the Roman Empire. (Hoare's Classical Tour, vol. i. pp.279--283; Romanelli, vol. iii. pp. 384--388; Cayro, Storia di A quino, 4to. Nap. 1808, where all the inscriptions relating to Aquinum will be found collected, vol. i. p. 360, &c., but including many spurious ones.) There exist coins of Aquinum with the head of Minerva on one side and a cock on the other, precisely similar to those of the neighbouring cities of Cales and Suessa. (Millingen, Numism. de l'Italie, p. 220.)



Among the obscure names enumerated by Pliny (3.15. s. 20) in the Eighth Region (Gallia Cispadana) are “Saltus Galliani qui cognominantur Aquinates,” but their position and the origin of the name are wholly unknown. [E.H.B] [p. 1.173]

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