previous next


TICINUM (Τίκινον: Eth. Ticinensis: Pavia), a city of Gallia Transpadana, situated on the river Ticinus, from which it derived its name, about 5 miles above the junction of that stream with the Padus. According to Pliny it was founded by the two tribes of the Laevi and Marici, at the period of the first Gaulish immigrations into this part of Italy. (Plin. Nat. 3.17. s. 21.) But it is remarkable that no mention is found of any town on the site during the operations of P. Scipio against Hannibal in B.C. 218, though he must have crossed the Ticinus in the immediate neighbourhood of the spot where the city afterwards stood. It is probable, indeed, that in this, as in many other cases, the rise of a town upon the spot was mainly owing to the existence of a convenient passage across the river. There seems no reason to doubt that under the Roman government Ticinum had grown up into a considerable municipal town before the close of the Republic, though its name is not noticed in history. But it is mentioned by all the geographers, and repeatedly figures in history during the Roman Empire. It is included by Ptolemy among the cities of the Insubres, and would naturally be so reckoned, though not of Insubrian origin, as soon as the river Ticinus came to be considered as the boundary of that people. (Strab. v. p.217, Plin. Nat. 3.17. s. 21; Ptol. 3.1.36.)

The earliest mention of Ticinum in history is on occasion of the death of Drusus, the father of Germanicus, when we are told that Augustus advanced as far as Ticinum to meet his funeral procession. (Tac. Ann. 3.5.) Its name is also repeatedly mentioned during the civil wars of A.D. 69, when its position on the great highroad that led from the foot of the Alps to join the Aemilian Way at Placentia, rendered it an important post. It was the scene of a serious sedition among the troops of Vitellius, while that emperor halted there. (Id. Hist. 2.17, 27, 30, 68, 88.) At a later period it was at Ticinum that the emperor Claudius (the second of the name) was saluted with the imperial title, while he was commanding the garrison of the city. (Vict. Caes. 33, Epit. 34.) It was there also that Constantius took leave of his nephew Julian, whom he had just raised to the rank of Caesar. (Amm. Marc. 15.8.18.) From these frequent notices of Ticinum it seems probable that it had already risen under the Roman Empire into a flourishing municipal town, and derived importance from its position, the great highroad which formed the continuation of the Aemilian Way from Placentia to the foot of the Alps passing through Ticinum, until the increasing importance of Mediolanum, which became the second capital of Italy, made it customary to proceed through that city instead of following the direct route. (Itin. Ant. pp. 283, 340, 347.)

But though Ticinum was undoubtedly a considerable town under the Roman Empire, it was not till after the fall of that empire that it rose to the position it subsequently occupied. In A.D. 452, indeed, it had sustained a great calamity, having been taken and devastated by Attila (Jornand. Get. 42); but the Gothic king Theodoric, being struck with the importance of its position, not only raised it from its ruins, but erected a royal palace there, and strengthened the city with fresh fortifications, until it became one of the strongest fortresses in this part of Italy. It consequently bears an important part in the Gothic wars, that people having made it their chief stronghold in the north of Italy (Procop. B. G. 2.12, 25, 3.1, 4.32, &c.), in which the royal treasures and other valuables were deposited. At the time of the Lombard invasion, it offered a prolonged resistance to the arms of Alboin, and was not taken by that monarch till after a siege of more than three years, A.D. 570 (P. Diac. Hist. Lang. 2.26, 27). It thenceforth became the residence of the Lombard kings, and the capital of the kingdom of Italy, and continued to hold this position till A.D. 774, when Desiderius, the last of the Lombard kings, was compelled to surrender the city to Charlemagne, after a blockade of more than 15 months. [p. 2.1206]From this time Ticinum sank again into the condition of an ordinary provincial town, which it has retained ever since. Before the close of the Lombard period we find that it was already designated by the name of Papia, from which its modern appellation of Pavia is derived. Paulus Diaconus calls it “Ticinus quae alio nonmine Papia appellatur” (P. Diac. 2.15); and the anonymous Geographer of Ravenna gives the same double appellation (Geogr. Ravenn. 4.30). The most probable explanation of this change of name is that when Ticinum became admitted to the rights of a Roman municipium its inhabitants were enrolled in the Papian tribe, a fact which we learn from inscriptions (Gruter, Inscr. p. 1093. 7; Murat. Inscr. p. 1087. 1, p. 1119. 4), and that in consequence of this the city came to be known as “Civitas Papia,” in contradistinction to Mediolanum, which belonged to the Ufentine tribe. (Aldini, Antiche Lapidi Ticinesi, pp. 43--60.)

The modern city of Pavia contains no remains of antiquity except a few sarcophagi and inscriptions. These confirm the municipal condition of the city under the Roman Empire, but are not in themselves of much interest.


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.5
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.17
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 15.8.18
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: