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AUGUSTA PRAETO´RIA

AUGUSTA PRAETO´RIA (Αὐγούστα, Strab.; Αὐγούστα Πραιτωπία, Ptol.), a city of Cisalpine Gaul, in the territory of the Salassi, situated at the, foot of the Alps, in the valley of the Duria Major: it is now called Aosta, and gives to the whole valley of the Duria the name of Val d'Aosta. It was a Roman colony, founded by Augustus, who, after the complete subjugation of the Salassians by Terentius Varro, established here a body of 3,000 veterans. From the statement of Strabo, that the colony was settled on the site of the camp of Varro, it would appear that there was previously no town on this spot; but the importance of its position at the point of junction of the two passes over the Pennine and Graian Alps (the Great and Little St. Bernard) caused it quickly to rise to great prosperity, and it soon became, what it has ever since continued, the capital of the whole valley and surrounding region. (Strab. iv. p.206; D. C. 53.25; Plin. Nat. 3.17. s. 21; Ptol. 3.1.34.) According to Pliny it was the extreme point of Italy towards the north, so that he reckons the length of that country “ab Alpine fine Praetoriae Augustae” to Rhegium. (H. N. 3.5.6.) The importance of Augusta Praetoria under the Roman empire is sufficiently attested by its existing remains, among which are those of a triumphal arch at the entrance of the town on the E. side, of a very good style of architecture, and probably of the time of Augustus, but which has lost its inscription. Besides this, there is another ancient gate, now half buried by the accumulation of the soil; a fine Roman bridge, and some remains of an amphitheatre; while numerous architectural fragments attest the magnificence of the public buildings with which the city was once adorned. (Millin. Voy. en Piémont, vol. ii. pp. 14--17.)

[E.H.B]

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