, and Eth. Ἀγκωνίτης
, Steph. B. sub voce
Anconitanus: the form Ancon in Latin is chiefly poetical; but, according to Orelli, Cicero uses Anconem
for the ace. case), an important city of Picenum on the Adriatic sea, [p. 1.133]
still called Ancona.
It was situated on a promontory which forms a remarkable curve or elbow, so as to protect, and almost enclose its port, from which circumstance it derived its Greek name of Ἀγκών, the elbow.
(Strab. v. p.241
; Mela, 2.4; Procop. B. G.
2.13. p. 197.) Pliny, indeed, appears to regard it as named from its position at the angle or elbow formed by the coast line at this point (in ipso flectentis se orae cubito,
3.13. s. 18), but this is probably erroneous.
The promontory on which the city itself is situated, is connected with a more lofty mountain mass forming a bold headland, the CUMERUS
of Pliny, still known as Monte Comero.
Ancona was the only Greek colony on this part of the coast of Italy, having been founded about 380 B.C. by Syracusan exiles, who fled hither to avoid the tyranny of the elder Dionysius. (Strab. l.c.
) Hence it is called Dorica Ancon
by Juvenal (4.40), and is mentioned by Scylax ( § 17, p. 6), who notices only Greek cities. We have no account of its existence at an earlier period, for though Pliny refers its foundation to the Siculi (l.c.;
see also Solin. 2.10
), this is probably a mere misconception of the fact that it was a colony from Sicily. We learn nothing of its early history: but it appears to have rapidly risen into a place of importance, owing to the excellence of its port (the only natural harbour along this line of coast) and the great fertility of the adjoining country. (Strab. l.c.; Plin. Nat. 14.6
It was noted also for its purple dye, which, according to Silius Italicus (8.438
), was not inferior to those of Phoenicia or Africa.
The period at which it became subject to the Romans is uncertain, but it probably followed the fate of the rest of Picenum: in B.C. 178 we find them making use of it as a naval station against the Illyrians and Istrians. (Liv. 41.1
.) On the outbreak of the Civil War it was occupied by Caesar as a place of importance, immediately after he had passed the Rubicon; and we find it in later times serving as the principal port for communication with the opposite coast of Dalmatia. (Caes. B.C.
1.11; Cic. Att. 7.1. 1
, ad Farn.
16.12; Tac. Ann. 3.9.
) As early as the time of C. Gracchus a part of its territory appears to have been assigned to Roman colonists; and subsequently Antony established there two legions of veterans which had served under J. Caesar.
It probably first acquired at this time the rank of a Roman colony, which we find it enjoying in the time of Pliny, and which is commemorated in several extant inscriptions. (App. BC 5.23
; Lib. Colon.
pp. 225, 227, 253; Gruter, pp. 451. 3, 465. 6; Zumpt, de Colon.
It received great benefits from Trajan, who improved its port by the construction of a new mole, which still remains in good preservation. On it was erected, in honour of the emperor, a triumphal arch, built entirely of white marble, which, both from its perfect preservation and the lightness and elegance of its architecture, is generally regarded as one of the most beautiful monuments of its class remaining in Italy. Some remains of an amphitheatre may also be traced; and numerous inscriptions attest the flourishing condition of Ancona under the Roman Empire.
The temple of Venus, celebrated both by Juvenal and Catullus (Juv. 4.40
; Catull. 36.13), has altogether disappeared; but it in all probability occupied the same site as the modern cathedral, on the summit of the lofty hill that commands the whole city and constitutes the remarkable headland from which it derives its name.
We find Ancona playing an important part during the contests of Belisarius and Narses with the Goths in Italy. (Procop. B. G.
2.11, 13, 3.30, 4.23.)
It afterwards became one of the chief cities of the Exarchate of Ravenna, and continued throughout the Middle Ages, as it does at the present day, to be one of the most flourishing and commercial cities of central Italy.
The annexed coin of .Ancona belongs to the period of the Greek colony: it bears on the obverse the head of Venus, the tutelary deity of the city, on the reverse a bent arm or elbow,
in allusion to its name.
|COIN OF ANCONA.|