), an important town of Cisalpine Gaul, situated at the foot of the Alps, on the river Duria, just at the entrance of the great valley of the Salassi, now called the Val d'Aosta.
It was a Roman colony, founded, as we learn from Velleius, as early as B.C. 100 for the purpose of keeping the Salassi in check, and protecting the plains from their incursions; but it was not till that people had been finally subdued under Augustus that it was able to rise to prosperity. (Vell. 1.15
; Strab. iv. p.205
.) Neither Pliny, nor Ptolemy gives it the title of a colony, but it certainly was a place of wealth and importance, and is mentioned by Tacitus among the most considerable provincial towns of the region north of the Padus ( “firmissima Transpadanae regionis municipia,” Tac. Hist. 1.70
). Pliny tells us that it was founded according to the directions of the Sibylline books, and that its name was derived from a Gaulish word signifying “a tamer of horses.” Velleius is certainly in error in placing it among the Vagienni; Ptolemy correctly assigns it to the Salassi. (Plin. Nat. 3.17. s. 21
; Ptol. 3.1.34
.) We learn from the Itineraries that it was distant 33 miles from Vercellae. (Itin. Ant.
pp. 345, 347.)
The strength of its position at the entrance of the Val d'Aosta,
commanding two of [p. 1.844]
the most frequented passes of the Alps, must always have given it importance in a military point of view. Thus we find that it was for some time occupied by D. Brutus after the battle of Mutina, B.C. 43, before he crossed the Alps with his army. (Cic. Fam. 11.2. 0
It was still a considerable town, and occupied as a military station by a body of troops, as late as the close of the 4th century. (Not. Dign.
ii. p. 121.)
The modern city of Ivrea
is a considerable place, with near 8000 inhabitants: it contains a fine Roman sarcophagus, and some other ancient remains.