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Rivers and Mountains in Northern Italy

Such parts of both slopes of the Alps as are not too
The Alps.
rocky or too precipitous are inhabited by different tribes; those on the north towards the Rhone by the Gauls, called Transalpine; those towards the Italian plains by the Taurisci and Agones and a number of other barbarous tribes. The name Transalpine is not tribal, but local, from the Latin proposition trans, "across." The summits of the Alps, from their rugged character, and the great depth of eternal snow, are entirely uninhabited.
The Apennines.
Both slopes of the Apennines, towards the Tuscan Sea and towards the plains, are inhabited by the Ligurians, from above Marseilles and the Junction with the Alps to Pisae on the cast, the first city on the west of Etruria, and inland to Arretium. Next to them come the Etruscans; and next on both slopes the Umbrians. The distance between the Apennines and the Adriatic averages about five hundred stades; and when it leaves the northern plains the chain verges to the right, and goes entirely through the middle of the rest of Italy, as far as the Sicilian Sea.
The Po.
The remaining portion of this triangle, namely the plain along the sea coast, extends as far as the town of Sena. The Padus, celebrated by the poets under the name of Eridanus, rises in the Alps near the apex of the triangle, and flows down to the plains with a southerly course; but after reaching the plains, it turns to the east, and flowing through them discharges itself by two mouths into the Adriatic. The larger part of the plain is thus cut off by it, and lies between this river and the Alps to the head of the Adriatic.
15th July
In body of water it is second to no river in Italy, because the mountain streams, descending from the Alps and Apennines to the plain, one and all flow into it on both sides; and its stream is at its height and beauty about the time
15th July.
of the rising of the Dog Star, because it is then swollen by the melting snows on those mountains. It is navigable for nearly two thousand stades up stream, the ships entering by the mouth called Olana; for though it is a single main stream to begin with, it branches off into two at the place called Trigoboli, of which streams the northern is called the Padoa, the southern the Olana. At the mouth of the latter there is a harbour affording as safe anchorage as any in the Adriatic. The whole river is called by the country folk the Bodencus. As to the other stories current in Greece about this river,—I mean Phaethon and his fall, and the tears of the poplars and the black clothes of the inhabitants along this stream, which they are said to wear at this day as mourning for Phaethon,—all such tragic incidents I omit for the present, as not being suitable to the kind of work I have in hand; but I shall return to them at some other more fitting opportunity, particularly because Timaeus has shown a strange ignorance of this district.
Gauls expel Etruscans from the valley of the Po.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 95
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 33-34, commentary, 33.4
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