previous next

GRAVISCAE

GRAVISCAE (Γραουΐσκαι, Ptol.; Γραουΐσκοι,. Strab.), a town on the coast of Etruria, between Cosa and Castrum Novum. We have no account of its existence previous to the establishment there of a Roman colony in B.C. 181 (Liv. 40.29; Vell. 1.15), and we know that its site had originally formed part of the territory of Tarquinii. It is not impossible, indeed, that Graviscae may, during the independence of that city, have served as its port, just as Pyrgi did to the neighbouring Caere, but we have no authority for the fact. The mention of Graviscae, by Virgil (Aen. 10.184), in conjunction with Pyrgi, among the places supposed to have taken part in the wars of Aeneas, is the only argument in favour of its remote antiquity; for the authority of Silius Italicus, who calls it “veteres Graviscae” (8.475), is on such a point of no value. The colony sent thither was a “colonia maritima civium,” but seems, like most settlements of a similar class established on the coast of Etruria, to have enjoyed but little prosperity; which--in the case of Graviscae at least--may be ascribed to the extreme unhealthiness of its situation, alluded to both by Virgil and Rutilius. ( “Intempestaeque Graviscae,” Virg. Aen. l.c.; Rutil. Itin. 1.282.) It is, however, noticed as a subsisting town by Strabo, Pliny, and Ptolemy, as well as in the Itineraries; but in the time of Rutilius (A.D. 416) it had sunk into complete decay, and retained only a few scattered houses. (Strab. v. p.225; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 8; Ptol. 3.1.4; Rutil. l.c.; Itin. Marit. p. 498; Tab. Pat.

The exact site of Graviscae has been a subject of much discussion, though the data afforded by ancient authorities would appear sufficiently precise. Strabo says it was 300 stadia from Cossa, and rather less than 180 from Pyrgi: but the former distance is certainly too great, as it would carry us to a point beyond the river Minio; and it is certain, from Rutilius, as well as the Itineraries, that Graviscae lay to the N. of that river. On the other hand, the distance from Pyrgi would coincide with a position at or near the mouth of the river Marta, and there seems on the whole to be little doubt that Graviscae was situated in the neighbourhood of that stream. Two localities have been pointed out as its exact site, at both of which there are some ancient remains: the one on the right bank of the Marta, about a mile from its mouth, which is adopted by Westphal and Dennis; the other on the sea-coast, at a spot called S. Clementino or Le Saline, about a mile S. from the mouth of the Marta. The latter must, according to Dennis's own admission, have certainly been a Roman station, and seems to have the best [p. 1.1019]claim to represent the Roman colony of Graviscae. If there ever existed an Etruscan town of the name, it is highly probable that it may have occupied a somewhat different site. (Dennis, Etruria, vol. i. pp. 387--395.)

The annexed coin, with the Greek legend ΓΠΑ, is commonly assigned to Graviscae; but this attribution, though admitted by Eckhel (vol. i. p. 92), is certainly erroneous. It belongs to some town of Apulia or Calabria, but its correct attribution has not yet been determined. (Millingen, Numismatique de l'Italie, pp. 148, 172.)

COIN ASSIGNED TO GRAVISCAE.

[E.H.B]

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