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THE augurs of the Roman people who wrote books On the Auspices have defined the meaning of pomerium in the following terms: “The pomerium is the space within the rural district designated by the augurs along the whole circuit of the city without the walls, marked off by fixed bounds and forming the limit of the city auspices.” 1 Now, the most ancient pomerium, which was established by Romulus, was bounded by the foot of the Palatine hill. But that pomerium, as the republic grew, was extended several times and included many lofty hills. Moreover, whoever had increased the domain of the Roman people by land taken from an enemy had the right to enlarge the pomerium.

Therefore it has been, and even now continues to be, inquired why it is that when the other six of the seven hills of the city are within the pomerium, the Aventine alone, which is neither a remote nor an unfrequented district, should be outside the pomerium; and why neither king Servius Tullius nor Sulla, who demanded the honour of extending the pomerium, nor later the deified Julius, when he enlarged the pomerium, included this within the designated limits of the city.

Messala wrote 2 that there seemed to be several reasons for this, but above them all he himself approved one, namely, because on that hill Remus took the auspices with regard to founding the city, but found the birds unpropitious and was less [p. 451] successful in his augury than Romulus. “Therefore,” says he, “all those who extended the pomerium excluded that hill, on the ground that it was made ill-omened by inauspicious birds.”

But speaking of the Aventine hill, I thought I ought not to omit something which I ran across recently in the Commentary of Elys, 3 an early grammarian. In this it was written that in earlier times the Aventine was, as we have said, excluded from the pomerium, but afterwards by the authority of the deified Claudius it was admitted and honoured with a place within the limits of the pomerium.

1 That is to say, the pomerium separated the ager Romanus, or country district, from the city. The auspices could be taken only within the pomerium. When a furrow was drawn and the earth turned inward to mark the line of the city walls, the furrow represented the pomerium. On the derivation of the word see T.A.P.A. xliv. 19 ff.

2 Fr. 3, Huschke; id., Bremer (ii, p. 265).

3 The name is obviously corrupt; see critical note.

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