previous next


CREMO´NA (Κρεμώνη, Pol. et Strab.; Κρέμωνα, Ptol.; Κρεμών, App.: Eth. Cremonensis: Cremona), a city of Cisalpine Gaul, situated on the left bank of the Padus, about 6 miles below the confluence of the Addua. Both Pliny and Ptolemy reckon it among the cities of the Cenomani (Plin. Nat. 3.19. s. 23; Ptol. 3.1.31), but it would seem from the expression of Livy (coloniae deductae in agro de Gallis capto, Epit. xx.) that it was originally included in the territory of the Insubres. We have no account of its existence previous to the Roman conquest, but after the great Gaulish war in B.C. 225, the Romans, being desirous to establish a firmer footing in this part of Italy, settled two colonies of 6000 men each at Cremona and Placentia, the one on the left and the other on the right bank of the Padus, B.C. 219. (Liv. Epit. xx.; Vell. 1.14; Pol. 3.40; Tac. Hist. 3.34.) The new colonies were, however, scarcely established when the news of the approach of Hannibal led the Boians and Insubrians to take up arms afresh; but though they ravaged the newly occupied lands, and even drove the settlers to take refuge at Mutina, it is certain [p. 1.702]that they did not take either of the two cities, which are mentioned in the following year as affording a shelter and winter-quarters to the army of Scipio after the battle of the Trebia. (Liv. 21.25, 56; Pol. l.c.; Appian, App. Hann. 7.) At a later period of the Second Punic War Cremona was one of the colonies which remained faithful, when twelve of them refused any further supplies. (Liv. 27.10.) Its territory suffered severely from the ravages of the Gauls, and after the close of the war, the city itself had a narrow escape, being closely besieged by the insurgent Gauls under Hamilcar, who had already taken and destroyed the neighbouring colony of Placentia. Cremona, however, was able to hold out till the arrival of the praetor L. Furius, who defeated the Gauls in a great battle under its walls, B.C. 200. The city had, nevertheless, suffered so much from the repeated wars in this part of Gaul, that in B.C. 190, a fresh body of colonists was sent thither, and 6000 new families were divided between it and Placentia. (Liv. 28.11, 31.10, 21, 37.46.) From this time till near the end of the Republic, we hear nothing more of Cremona,--but we learn that it became a populous and flourishing colony, and rose to be one of the most considerable cities in this part of Italy. The fertility of its territory and the advantages of its situation in connection with the great rivers were the sources of its prosperity. (Tac. Hist. 3.34.)

During the civil wars after the death of Caesar, Cremona espoused the cause of Brutus, and was in consequence one of the cities of which the territory was confiscated and assigned to his veterans by Octavian. It is to this event that Virgil alludes in the well-known line, “Mantua vae miserae nimium vicina Cremonae,”

a part of the territory of Mantua having shared the same fate with that of the neighbouring city. (Verg. Ecl. 9.28, and Serv. ad loc.) But this change of proprietors did not injure the prosperity of the city itself, which is described by Strabo (v. p.216) as one of the chief places in this part of Italy, and appears from Tacitus to have been a flourishing and wealthy city when the civil wars of A.D. 69 inflicted a fatal blow on its prosperity. During the contest between Otho and Vitellius, Cremona was one of the first places occupied by the generals of the latter. Caecina, when repulsed from Placentia, made it his head-quarters, and the first battle of Bedriacum, which led to the defeat and death of Otho, was fought between that town and Cremona. To celebrate this victory Caecina shortly after exhibited a show, of gladiators at Cremona, at which Vitellius himself was present; and an amphitheatre was expressly constructed for the occasion. (Tac. Hist. 2.17, 22, 23, 67, 70; D. C. 55.1.) A few months after, Cremona again became the headquarters of the Vitellian forces, which were opposed to Antonius Primus, the general of Vespasian: and these after their defeat in the second battle of Bedriacum (which was fought only a few miles from Cremona), fell back upon the city, immediately adjoining to which they had a fortified camp. But the troops of Antonius, following up their advantage, successively took by storm both the camp, and the city itself, notwithstanding that the latter was strongly fortified with walls and towers. The troops of Caecina were admitted to terms of capitulation, but the whole city was given up to plunder, and after having been exposed for four days to the fury of the soldiery was ultimately burnt to the ground. Neither temples nor public buildings were spared, and only one of the former survived the catastrophe. (Tac. Hist. 2.100, 3.15-33.) So great a calamity falling upon one of the most flourishing cities of Italy, necessarily brought great odium upon Vespasian, who, after he had established his power, sought as far as possible to repair the mischief, and encouraged the rebuilding of the city, which soon rose again from its ashes. (Tac. l.c. 34.) But though its public buildings were restored, and it retained its colonial rank, it appears never to have recovered its former prosperity. Its continued existence under the Roman Empire is attested by the Itineraries as well as by inscriptions: it is noticed by Zosimus as a considerable place under the reign of Honorius, and we learn from the Notitia that it was regarded as a military post of importance (Zosim. 5.37; Itin. Ant. p. 283; Tab. Peut.; Not. Dign. p. 121; Orell. Inscr. 1765, 3750, 3843.) But in A.D. 605 it was taken, and for the second time utterly destroyed by the Lombard king Agilulfus. (P. Diac. Hist. Lang. 4.29.) In the Middle Ages, however, it again rose to great prosperity, and became a large and populous city: though much decayed since then, it still contains near 30,000 inhabitants. No remains of antiquity are now visible there, except a few Roman inscriptions, one of which is interesting as referring to the worship of the goddess Mefitis, whose temple, according to Tacitus, was the only one that escaped in the conflagration of the city. (Tac. Hist. 3.33; Orell. Inscr. 1795.) The mention of this deity shows that the low and marshy lands in the neighbourhood of Cremona were unhealthy, in ancient as well as modern times. We learn from Donatus that Virgil, though born in the neighbourhood of Mantua, spent the earliest years of his life, and received the first rudiments of his education at Cremona. (Donat. Vit. Virg.)


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: