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AUGUSTA TREVIRORUM (Trier, or Trèves, as the French call it), a town on the right bank of the Mosel, now in the Prussian territory. It was sometimes simply called Augusta, and sometimes under the later empire Treviri, whence the modern name Trier. Caesar names no town among the Treviri. Trier is the Colonia Trevirorum of Tacitus (Tac. Hist. 4.62). It is mentioned by Mela under the name of Augusta (3.2), and we may conclude from the probable period of Mela that it was settled by Augustus. It appears from Tacitus (Tac. Hist. 4.77), that the Roman colonia was connected with the opposite bank by a bridge, as the modern town is; and this suburb was called Vicus Voclanni, as we learn from sepulchral inscriptions found on the left bank. Some commentators have incorrectly supposed that Strabo (p. 194) speaks of this bridge; but he is speaking of bridging the Rhine. The walls of the town are also mentioned by Tacitus. Ausonius, who wrote in the second half of the fourth century of the Christian aera, places Treviri fourth in his list of “nobiles urbes,” a rank to which it was entitled from being the head quarters of the Roman commanders on the Rhine, and the frequent residence of the Roman emperors or Caesars. From the middle of the third century of the Christian aera Trier was visited by the emperors, and in the fourth century it was the regular imperial residence in this division of Gallia. Trier was one of the sixty great towns of Gallia which were taken by the Franks and the Alemanni, after the death of the emperor Aurelian, and recovered by Probus. (Fl. Vopiscus, Probus, 100.13.) The restoration of Trier seems to be due to the emperor Constantine the Great, who from A.D. 306 to A.D. 331 frequently resided at Trier. The panegyric attributed to the rhetorician Eumenius, pronounced before Constantine at Trier in A.D. 310, speaks of the walls of the city as rising again; and the conclusion, from the words of the panegyrist, seems to be that Constantine rebuilt or repaired the walls of Trier. He may have considerably beautified the place, but it is uncertain how much, after it had been damaged by the Germans. Eumenius mentions the great circus of Trier, the basilica, and the forum, as royal works. The city probably received other embellishments after the period of Constantine, and it was a flourishing place when Ausonius wrote. It had establishments for education, and a mint. Trier stands on level ground, surrounded by gentle hills, the slopes of which are covered with vines, as they were when Ausonius visited the place.

The Roman bridge over the Mosel, probably the work of Agrippa, existed till the French wars of Louis XIV. in 1689, when it is said to have been blown up. All that now remains of the original structure are the massive foundations and the piers. The arches were restored in 1717--1720. The blocks of the ancient structure are from six to nine feet long, three feet wide, and three feet high, without any cement. The piers are on an average 66 feet high and 21 wide. There are eight arches. The bridge is 690 feet long and 24 wide. One of the city gates remains, which recent excavations have shown to be in the line of the walls of the city. This Porta Martis or Porta Nigra, as it was called in the middle ages, is a colossal work. It is a kind of quadrangle 115 feet long; and in the central or principal part it is 47, and in the two projecting sides 67 feet deep: it is 91 feet high. It is four stories high in the flanks, but in one of the flanks only three stories remain. There are two gateways in the central part, each 14 feet wide; and over the gateways there is a chamber 52 feet long and 22 feet wide. This building is constructed of great blocks of stone, without cement; some of them four to five feet in length, and others from seven to nine feet long. It is a structure of enormous strength, a gigantic and imposing monument. In the chambers there is a collection of Roman antiquities found in and about Trier: many of the sculptures are of excellent workmanship. A view and plan of the Porta Nigra are given in the Dictionary of Antiquities, p. 943 On the outside of the present town are the remains of the amphitheatre, which was included within the ancient walls. The longer axis is 219 feet, and the shorter 155. There are also remains of the ancient Thermae, which are constructed of limestone and rows of bricks alternately, except the beautiful arches, which are entirely of brick. These and other remains of Trier are described by Wyttenbach, Recherches sur les Antiquités Romaines, &c., de Trèves, and Forschungen, &c.; and also by other writers.


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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 4.62
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 4.77
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