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AGGER (χῶμα), from ad and gero, was used in general for a heap or mound of any kind which might be made of stones, wood, earth, or, any other substance. It was more particularly applied to a mound, usually composed of earth, which was raised round a besieged town, and which was gradually increased in breadth and height, till it equalled or overtopped the walls. Hence we find the expressions aggere oppidum oppugnare, aggere oppidum cingere; and the making of the agger is expressed by the verbs exstruere, construere, jacere, facere, &c. Some of these aggeres were gigantic works, flanked with [p. 1.44]towers to defend the workmen and soldiers, and surmounted by parapets, behind which the soldiers could discharge missiles upon the besieged towns. At the siege of Avaricum, Caesar raised in twenty-five days an agger 330 feet broad, and 80 feet high. (B. G. 7.24.) As

Agger, from Column of Trajan.

the agger was sometimes made of wood, hurdles, and similar materials, we read of its being set on fire. (Liv. 36.23; Caes. Gal. 7.24, B.C. 2.14, 15.) The word agger was also applied to the earthen wall surrounding a Roman encampment, composed of the earth dug from the ditch (fossa), which was usually nine feet broad and seven feet deep; but if any attack was apprehended, the depth was increased to twelve feet, and the breadth to thirteen feet. Sharp stakes, &c., were usually fixed upon the agger, which was then called vallum. When both words are used (as in Caesar, Caes. Gal. 7.72, agger ac vallum), the agger means the mound of earth; and the vallum the sharp stakes (valli) which were fixed upon the agger.

At Rome, the formidable rampart erected by Servius Tullius to protect the north-eastern side of Rome was called agger. It extended sevenstadia, or about 1400 yards, from the Porta Collina to the Porta Esquilina, at the back of the Esquiline hill, where Rome is least fortified by nature. It was fifty feet broad, and protected by a ditch a hundred feet wide and thirty feet deep; and the Servian wall was carried along the top of it. (Cic. de Rep. 2.6; Dionys. A. R. 9.68.) Pliny (Plin. Nat. 3.67) attributes the erection of this rampart to Tarquinius Superbus, who may have completed the work of his predecessor. Recent excavations have greatly cleared up the subject of this agger, which the older writers sometimes failed to distinguish from the wall itself. (See Burn, Rome, p. 48 ff., and the map facing p. 49.)

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hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 7.24
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 7.72
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 36, 23
    • Cicero, De Republica, 2.6
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