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A´DRIA, A´TRIA, HA´DRIA, or HA´TRIA (Ἀδρία or Ἀτρία). It is impossible to establish any distinction between these forms, or to assign the one (as has been done by several authors) to one city, and another to the other. The oldest form appears to have been HATRIA, which we find on coins, while HADRIA is that used in all inscriptions: some MSS. of Livy have ADRIA and others ATRIA. Pliny tells us that ATRIA was the more ancient form, which was afterwards changed into ADRIA but the Greeks seem to have early used Ἀδρία for the city, as well as Ἀδρίας for the sea.


A city of Cisalpine Gaul, situated between the Padus and the Athesis, not far from their mouths, and still called Adria. It is now distant more than 14 miles from the sea, but was originally a sea-port of great celebrity. Its foundation is ascribed to Diomed by Stephanus Byzantinus, and some other late writers: Justin also (20.1), probably following Theopompus, calls it a city of Greek origin; but these testimonies are far outweighed by those of the Roman writers, who agree in describing it as an Etruscan colony. It was probably established at the same period with their other settlements on the north side of the Apennines, and became, from its position, the principal emporium for their trade with the Adriatic; by which means it attained to so flourishing a condition, as to have given name to the gulf, or portion of the sea in its immediate neighbourhood, from whence the appellation was gradually extended to the whole of the inland sea still called the Adriatic. To this period may also be ascribed the great canals and works which facilitated its communications with the adjoining rivers, and through them with the interior of Cisalpine Gaul, at the same time that they drained the marshes which would otherwise have rendered it uninhabitable. (Liv. 5.33; Plin. Nat. 3.16. s. 20; Strab. v. p.214; Varro de L. L. 5.161; Festus, p. 13, ed. Müller; Plut. Camill. 16.) Notwithstanding its early celebrity, we have scarcely any information concerning its history; but the decline of its power and prosperity may reasonably be ascribed to the conquest of the neighbouring countries by the Gauls, and to the consequent neglect of the canals and streams in its neighbourhood. The increasing commerce of the Greeks with the Adriatic probably contributed to the same result. It has been supposed by some writers that it received, at different periods, Greek colonies, one from Epidamnus and the other from Syracuse; but both statements appear to rest upon misconceptions of the passages of Diodorus, from which they are derived. (Diod. ix. Exc. Vat. p. 17, 15.13; in both of which passages the words τὸν Ἀδρίαν certainly refer to the Adriatic sea or gulf, not to the city, the name of which is always feminine.) The abundance of vases of Greek manufacture found here, of precisely similar character with those of Nola and Vulci, sufficiently attests a great amount of Greek intercourse and influence, but cannot be admitted as any proof of a Greek colony, any more than in the parallel case of Vulci. (R. Rochette in the Annali dell Inst. Arch. vol. vi. p. 292; Welcker, Vasi di Adria in the Bullettino dell Inst. 1834, p. 134.) Under the Romans Adria appears never to have been a place of much consequence. Strabo (l.c.) speaks of it as a small town, communicating by a short navigation with the sea; and we learn from Tacitus (Tac. Hist. 3.12) that it was still accessible for the light Liburnian ships of war as late as the time of Vitellius. After the fall of the Western Empire it was included in the exarchate of Ravenna, but fell rapidly into decay during the middle ages, though it never ceased to exist, and always continued an episcopal see. Since the opening of new canals it has considerably revived, and has now a population of 10,000 souls. Considerable remains of the ancient city have been discovered a little to the south of the modern town towards Ravegnano; they are all of Roman date, and comprise the ruins of a theatre, baths, mosaic pavements, and part of the ancient walls, all which have been buried to a considerable depth under the accumulations of alluvial soil., Of the numerous minor antiquities discovered there, the most interesting are the vases already alluded to. (See Müller, Etrusker, i. p. 229, and the authors there cited.) The coins ascribed to this city certainly belong to Adria in Picenum.

A river of the same name (δ Ἀδρίας) is mentioned by Hecataeus (ap. Steph. Byz. s. v.), and by Theopompus (ap. Strab. vii. p.317); it is called by Ptolemy Ἀτριανὸς ποταμός, and must probably be the same called by the Romans Tartarus (Plin. Nat. 3.16. s. 20), and still known in the upper part of its course as the Tartaro. It rises in the hills to the SE. of the Lago di Garda, and flows. by the modern Adria, but is known by the name of Canal Bianco in the lower part of its course; it communicates, by canals, with the Po and the Adige.


A city of Picenum, still called Atri, situated about 5 miles from the Adriatic Sea, between the rivers Vomanus and Matrinus. According to the Itinerary it was distant 15 Roman miles from Castrum Novum, and 14 from Teate. (Itin. Ant. pp. 308, 310, 313; comp. Tab. Peut.) It has been supposed, with much probability, to be of Etruscan origin, and a colony from the more celebrated city of the name (Mazocchi, Tab. Heracl. p. 532; Müiller, Etrusker, vol. i. p. 145), though we have no historical evidence of the fact. It has also been generally admitted that a Greek colony was founded there by Dionysius the Elder, at the time that he was seeking to establish his power in the Adriatic, about B.C. 385; but this statement rests on very doubtful authority (Etym. Magn. v. Ἀδρίας), and no subsequent trace of the settlement is found in history. The first certain historical notice we find of Adria is the establishment of a Roman colony there about 282 B.C. (Liv. Epit. xi.; Madvig, de Coloniis, p. 298.) In the early part of the Second Punic War (B.C. 217) its territory was ravaged by Hannibal; but notwithstanding this calamity, it was one of the 18 Latin colonies which, in B.C. 209, were faithful to the cause of Rome, and willing to continue their contributions both of men and money. (Liv. 22.9, 27.10; Plb. 3.88.) At a later period, as we learn from the Liber de Coloniis, it must have received a fresh colony, probably under Augustus: hence it is termed a Colonia, both by Pliny and in inscriptions. One of these gives it the titles of “Colonia Aelia Hadria,” whence it would appear that it had been re-established by the emperor Hadrian, whose family was originally derived from hence, though he was himself a native of Spain. (Lib. Colon. p. 227; Plin. Nat. 3.13. s. 18; Orell. Inscr. no. 148, 3018; Gruter, p. 1022; Zumpt de Colon. p. 349; Spartian. Hadrian. 1.; Victor, Epit. 14.) The territory of Adria (ager Adrianus), though subsequently included in Picenum, appears to have originally formed a separate and independent district, bounded on the N. by the river Vomanus (Vomano), and on the S. by the Matrinus (la Piomba); at the mouth of this latter river was a town bearing the name of MATRINUM, which served as the port of Adria; the city itself stood on a hill a few miles inland, on the same site still occupied by the modern Atri, a place of some consideration, with the title of a city, and the see of a bishop. Great part of the circuit of the ancient walls may be still traced, and mosaic pavements and other remains of buildings are also preserved. (Strab. v. p.241; Sil. Ital. 8.439; Ptol. 3.1.52; Mela, 2.4; Romanelli, vol. iii. p. 307.) According [p. 1.27]to the Itin. Ant. (pp. 308, 310) Adria was the point of junction of the Via Salaria and Valeria, a circumstance which probably contributed to its importance and flourishing condition under the Roman empire.

It is now generally admitted, that the coins of Adria (with the legend HAT.) belong to the city of Picenum; but great difference of opinion has been entertained as to their age. They belong to the class commonly known as Aes Grave, and are even among the heaviest specimens known, exceeding in weight the most ancient Roman asses. On this account they have been assigned to a very remote antiquity, some referring them to the Etruscan, others to the Greek, settlers. But there seems much reason to believe that they are not really so ancient, and belong, in fact, to the Roman colony, which was founded previous to the general reduction of the Italian brass coinage. (Eckhel, vol. i. p. 98; Müller, Etrusker, vol. i. p. 308; Böckh, Metrologie, p. 379; Mommsen, Das Römische Münzwesen, p. 231; Millingen, Numismatique de l'Italie, p. 216.)



hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.88
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.12
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.16
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.13
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 33
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 10
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 22, 9
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
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