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ARX (ἄκρα signified a height within the walls of a city, but which was never closed by a wall against the city in earlier times, and very seldom in later times. The same city may have had several arces, as was the case at Rome; and hence Virgil says with great propriety (Georg. 2.535):--“Septemque una sibi muro circumdedit arces.”

As, however, there was generally one principal height in the city, the word arx came to be used as equivalent to acropolis [ACROPOLIS]. (Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, vol. iii. note 411.) Where the position of a city was not mainly fixed by commercial considerations (as in the case of Rome itself), a settlement naturally grew around a [p. 1.201]rock well adapted to become an arx. This is especially observable in the ancient cities of Central Italy,--for instance of the Sabines, Volscians, and Hernicans,--which often grew up round an almost inaccessible fastness. At Rome one of the summits of the Capitoline Hill was especially called Arx, but which of them was so called was formerly a subject of great dispute among Roman topographers, the German school for the most part placing the Arx on the north-eastern summit (Ara Caeli), and the Capitolium on the south-western (Palazzo Caffarelli), while the Italians generally transposed their positions. Of late, however, the German view is conclusively established, even in the judgment of the Italians themselves. (See the arguments in Burn, Rome and the Campagna, p. 185 ff.: and compare Middleton, Anc. Rome in 1885, p. 226; Lanciani, in Bull. Comm. Arch. Rom. 1875, iii. p. 165.) Within Rome the Arx was the regular place for taking the auspices (Liv. 1.18, 10.7); outside the walls the auspex turned towards it, if in sight (id. 4.18). The spot in the Arx whence they were taken, probably an elevated platform at the very summit of it, was called auguraculum; it commanded a wide prospect to the east, which was not allowed to be obstructed (Cic. de Off. 3.1. 6, § 66). The gloss of Paulus Diaconus that (auguraculum was an ancient name for the Arx itself is almost certainly a mistake (Fest. p. 18 M.; cf. Burn, l.c. p. 195). The auguraculum appears to have been transferred by Augustus to the Palatine; the Notitia (of the 4th century) mentions it in the Regio Palatina under the name auguratorium (Middleton, pp. 86, 235).

[W.S] [J.H.F]

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 10, 7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 18
    • Cicero, De Officiis, 3.1
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