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PONS MI´LVIUS

PONS MI´LVIUS or MU´LVIUS (Ponte Molle), a bridge on the Via Flaminia, by which that road crossed the Tiber just about 2 miles from the gate of Rome called the Porta Flaminia. It is probable that a bridge existed on the spot at an early period, and there must certainly have been one from the time when the Via Flaminia was constructed. The first [p. 2.657] mention of the name in history occurs in the Second Punic War, when Livy tells us that the Roman people poured out in a continuous stream as far as the Milvian Bridge to meet the messengers who brought the tidings of the defeat of Hasdrubal, B.C. 207. (Liv. 27.51). Hence, when Aurelius Victor reckons it among the works constructed by Aemilius Scaurus in his censorship (B.C. 110), it is evident that this can refer only to its rebuilding or restoration. (Vict. de Vir. Illustr. 72.) It is very possible that there was no stone bridge before that time. At the time of the conspiracy of Catiline, the Milvian Bridge was selected as the place where the ambassadors of the Allobroges were arrested by the orders of Cicero. (Sal. Cat. 45 ; Cic. in Cat. 3.5) It is probable that under the Empire, if not earlier, a suburb extended along the Via Flaminia as far as the Milvian Bridge. Hence we are told that it was the point from which Caesar (among his other gigantic schemes) proposed to divert the course of the Tiber, so as to carry it further from the city (Cic. Att. 13.3. 3): and again, the emperor Gallienus is said to have proposed to extend the Flaminian portico as far as the Milvian Bridge. (Treb. Poll. Gallien. 18.) In the reign of Nero the neighbourhood of the bridge was occupied by low taverns, which were much resorted to for purposes of debauchery. (Tac. Ann. 13.47.) Its proximity to Rome, to which it was the principal approach from the N., rendered the Milvian Bridge a point of importance during civil wars. Hence it is repeatedly mentioned by Tacitus during those which followed the death of Nero (Tac. Hist. 1.87, 2.89, 3.82): and again, in A.D. 193, it was there that Didius Julianus was defeated by Severus (Eutrop. 8.17; Vict. Caes. 19). At a later period, also, it witnessed the defeat of Maxentius by Constantine (A.D. 312), when the usurper himself perished in the Tiber. (Vict. Caes. 40 ; Eutrop. 10.4; Zosim. ii, 16.) Its military importance was recognised also in the Gothic Wars, when it was occupied by Vitiges during the siege of Rome, in A.D. 537; and again, in 547, when Totila destroyed all the other bridges in the neighbourhood of Rome, he spared the Milvian alone. (Procop. B. G. 1.19, 3.24.) The present bridge is in great part of modern construction, but the foundations and principal piers are ancient.

[E.H.B]

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