), a city of Venetia situated on the border of the lagunes, and on the right bank of the little river Silis (Sele
) near its mouth. We learn from the Itineraries that it was distant 32 Roman miles from Patavium, and 31 from Concordia. (Itin. Ant. pp. 128, 281.) Strabo describes it as situated in a marsh or lagune, like Ravenna, and we learn that travellers were in the habit of proceeding by water along the lagunes from Ravenna to Altinum. Tacitus also speaks of it as open to attack by sea ; but at the present day it is distant about 2 miles from the lagunes. (Strab. p. 214; Vitr. 1.4.11
; Itin. Ant. p. 126 ; Tac. Hist. 3.6
The first historical mention of Altinum is found in Velleius Paterculus (2.76) during the wars of the Second Triumvirate, and it appears to have been then, as it continued under the Roman Empire, one of the most considerable places in this part of Italy. Pliny assigns it only the rank of a municipium ; but we learn from inscriptions that it subsequently became a colony, probably in the time of Trajan. (Plin. Nat. 3.18. s. 22
; Orell. Inscr.
4082; Zumpt de Colon.
p. 402.) Besides its municipal importance, the shores of the adjoining lagunes became a favourite residence of the wealthy Romans, and were gradually lined with villas which are described by Martial (4.25
) as rivalling those of Baiae.
The adjoining plains were celebrated for the excellence of their wool, while the lagunes abounded in fish of all kinds, especially shell-fish. (Mart. 14.155
; Plin. Nat. 32.11. s. 53
; Cassiod. Ep. Varr.
It was here that the emperor L. Verus died of apoplexy in A.D. 169. (Eutrop. 8.10
; Jul. Capit. Ver.
9; Vict. de Caes.
The modern village of Altino
is a very poor place; the period of the decay or destruction of the ancient city is unknown, but its inhabitants are supposed to have fled for refuge from the invasions of the barbarians to Torcello,
an island in the lagunes about 4 miles distant, to which the episcopal see was transferred in A.D. 635.