previous next

GAURUS MONS

GAURUS MONS a mountain of Campania, now called Monte Barbaro, in the immediate neighbourhood of Puteoli, and about 3 miles NE. of Cumae. It is in fact the central and most elevated summit of a range of volcanic hills which extend from the promontory of Misenum to Neapolis [CAMPANIA p. 491], and is itself unquestionably an extinct volcano, presenting a distinct and tolerably regular crater. (Daubeny on Volcanoes, p. 200.) Its sloping sides, composed of volcanic sand and ashes, were very favourable to the growth of vines: hence the wines which it produced were in ancient times among the most celebrated in Italy, and were considered to vie with those of the Falernian and Massican hills. (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9, 14.6. s. 8; Flor. 1.16.5; Athen. 1.26 Stat. Silv. 4.3. 64; Sil. Ital. 12.160.) The position of Mt. Gaurus, towering over the lower hills which encircled the lakes Avernus and Lucrinus, is distinctly pointed out by Lucan (2.667) and by Sidonius Apollinaris (Carm. 5.345), and is implied also by Silius Italicus (l. c), who places it in the immediate neighbourhood of Puteoli. Aurelius Symmachus also, in a poetic description of Bauli (Anthol. Lat. 268, ed. Meyer),distinctly points to the vine-covered flanks of Mt. Gaurus as rising above the hot springs of Puteoli and the lovely bay of Baiae; but there is a confusion in the passage of Pliny where he speaks of the wines of Mt. Gaurus and Massicus, which has led some writers to assume that the two hills must have been near together, and has thus given rise to much confusion. The Mons Gaurus was celebrated in Roman history as the scene of a great victory gained by the Romans under M Valerius Corvus over the Samnites, B.C. 340. (Liv. 7.32, 33.) This was the first in the long series of conflicts between those two nations, and on that account (as Niebuhr remarks) “is one of the most memorable in the history of the world: it decided, like the praerogativa, upon the great contest which bad now begun between the Sabellians and the Latins for the sovereignty of the world” (vol. iii. p. 119). The exact scene of the battle is not indicated; we are only told that it was fought at the foot of Mt. Gaurus. At a later period Cicero mentions this hill among the fertile districts of Campania which the agrarian law of Rullus proposed to sell for the benefit of the Roman people (de Leg. Agr. 2.14).

[E.H.B]

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