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POME´RIUM or POMOE´RIUM. As regards the spelling of the word, the latter, which accords more nearly with the etymology, is retained by Madvig, but most modern authorities have agreed that pomerium is the more correct (see Mommsen in Hermes, 10.40). The pomerium was a space left vacant on the inner side of a city wall (post-moerium): it did not, however, necessarily run parallel with the line of fortification; where it did not do so, and preserved only a religious significance, it was marked by a line of stone pillars (cippi pomerii, Varro, L. L. 5.143; lapides, Tac. Ann. 12.24), which indeed, no doubt, were placed at intervals over its whole course. The original pomeria, it may be conjectured, followed the original ring-walls of associated bodies of citizens: hence if by conquest. or federation new citizens were brought in and a larger urbs became necessary, the ring-wall, and with it the pomerium, was enlarged. It is probable that the first intention was to leave a clear space immediately within the walls for military reasons, that the defenders might have freedom of movement: and that what had become an invariable custom in the builders of walled cities, became a religion. The custom was common to Latins and Etruscans, and a town in the earliest times was founded as follows:--a bullock and a heifer were yoked to a plough, and a furrow was drawn round the place which was to be occupied by the new town, in such a way that the clods fell inwards: the furrow marked the ditch, the mound the ring-wall within it, and within that again was a certain space called the pomerium, its width marked by cippi, upon which no buildings could be erected. It is true that Livy (1.44) states the pomerium to have been a space left vacant both within and without the wall; but Mommsen has shown good reason for rejecting this view, which rests on Livy alone, and for imagining that author to have been misled about a point of antiquarian knowledge (Mommsen in Hermes, 10.40; Röm. Forschung. 2.23; Staatsrecht, i.3 63). The language of Varro, “qui (orbis) quia erat post murum,” &c., is decidedly against Livy's view; and so is the “per totius urbis circuitum pone muros” of Gellius, 13.14: the word itself can be only naturally explained on the theory that it was something “behind” the walls, i. e. protected by them (with which postliminium is probably to be compared); and moreover the fact that the Aventine, though within the Servian walls, remained outside the pomerium, can hardly allow us to conceive the pomerium as on the outer side of the fortifications.

Whatever may have been its first intention, the aspect in which the pomerium comes before us is its religious aspect. The space within it was called ager effatus, so named, according, to Varro, 6.53, “because the augurs have declared thereby where the limit for urban auspices; should be in the direction of the fields without the city” (such is Mommsen's rendering), i. e. beyond what point the auspices would no longer be urbana auspicia (cf. Gel. 13.14; Varro, 5.143). The distinction is seen in the auspices for Comitia Curiata being within the pomerium, those for Comitia Centuriata outside, because this in its origin was a military levy: the general starting for a campaign must take them within the pomerium, but the bellica auspicia after his imperium began must be taken outside, in the camp, on the field of battle, &c. Crossing the pomerium did away with the effect of the military auspices; hence, if he came back to Rome, he must take the urbana auspicia over again for his return, and the bellica auspicia after he reached his army. This explains the obscure expression in Tac. Ann. 3.19 (see Mommsen, Staatsrecht, i.3 99; AUSPICIA). The [p. 2.444]pomerium then included in its circle the dwellings of the urbs proper, but practically Rome soon went further, and was expressed technically by “urbs et urbi continentia aedificia.”

The antiquissimum pomerium.--This ran within the old walls of the Palatine city, taking therefore a somewhat square form, and Mommsen is of opinion that this shape belonging to. the templum was to some extent preserved in the subsequent pomeria, from their connexion with auspices; so that, when the Servian walls became more circular, the cippi left wider spaces here and there, even excluding great portions (such as the-Aventine), and gave a more rectangular shape to. the ager effatus. Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 12.24) describes the. pomerium of Romulus by four points--Ara Maxima, Ara Consi, Curiae veteres, and Sacellum Larium: the first three seem to mark the S.E., S.W., and N.E. corners of the Palatine (O. Richter). There is some difficulty in the “sulcus” including the Ara Maxima which seems to be outside the actual walls of the Palatine city; and it is also strange that if Servius extended the pomerium, he left the old cippi standing. Mommsen inclines to the opinion in Jordan, Top. 2.26, that the cippi which Tacitus describes were placed later, to show the boundaries used for the lustration of the Palatine [LUPERCALIA]. Of the Servian cippi we have neither remains nor record, except that they did not include the Aventine, though his walls did: Gellius (13.14) says that Remus made the Aventine unlucky for auspices: Varro (5.43), that on this hill stood the temple of Diana common to Latins and Romans: Mommsen's theory, mentioned above, suggests another cause.

Enlargement of the Pomerium.--The jus proferendi pomerii belonged to the king who had added territory to Rome, and, even if this passed theoretically to dictator or consuls who “auxerunt fines imperil,” it was never exercised after “Servius until the dictatorship of Sulla (Dionys. A. R. 4.13; cf. Liv. 1.44). It is true that some Latin writers speak as if we might expect it after any conquest (Sen. de brev. vit. 3; Tac. Ann. 12.23; Gel. 13.14): but Tacitus himself in the next chapter mentions Sulla as the only conqueror under the Republic who did so. What his extension was, we do not know. Caesar professed to follow his example (Cic. Att. 12.2. 0), but, if we believe Tacitus, did not do so, prevented perhaps by death. Detlefsen (Hermes, 21.513) takes Gell. l.c. and D. C. 43.50, 44.49, to show that he carried out his proposal: see, however, on the other side, Mommsen, Staatsrecht, 11.3 738. The same writer (ii.3 1072) gives good reasons for holding ” that Augustus did not enlarge the pomerium: if so, it may have been from reluctance to assume the kingly state; and so he instead constituted the fourteen regions. Of the emperors:--1. Claudius, after adding Britain and Commagene to the Empire, proceeded to enlarge the pomerium, including within it the Aventine, probably with a view of determining afresh the templum of the city (cf. Hulsen in Hermes, 22.615). Four of his cippi have been discovered (C. I. L. 6.1231): they seem to bring his line nearly up to Mons Testaceus, to the inner border of the Campus Martius, and to the Porta Salaria. An inscription gives his claim “auctis populi Romani finibus pomerium ampliavit terminavitque.” 2. Nero (Vopisc. Aurel. 21). 3. Vespasian and Titus, two of whose stones have been found with a similar inscription and numbered xxxi. and xlvii., one beyond the Pincian gate, the other near the Porta Ostiensis (C. I. L. 6.1232). Hadrian did not extend the pomerium, but only marked it afresh (C. I. L. 6.1233); one of his cippi was found not far from that of Claudius on the edge of the Campus Martins, and another near the Pantheon: it would appear that the Campus Martins was, at least till after Hadrian, outside the pomerium. The inscription tells us that the limits of a pomerium were arranged by the college of augurs, which agrees with Cic. de Div. 2.3. 5, 75. It will be seen that these extended pomeria, from Claudius onwards, were an ideal unwalled city; their limits were in some places beyond even the site of the later Aurelian walls, though in others considerably short of it. (Jordan, Topog. 1.323 ff.; Mommsen in Hermes, 10.40 ff.; Röm. Forsch. 2.23 ff.; Staatsrecht, ll. cc.; O. Richter in Baumeister, Denkmäler, s. v. Rom.

[L.S] [G.E.M]

hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Tacitus, Annales, 12.24
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.19
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 44
    • Cicero, De Divinatione, 2.3
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 13.14
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