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BONO´NIA (Βονωνία: Eth. Bononiensis: Bologna), an ancient and important city of Cispadane Gaul, situated on the river Rhenus, immediately at the foot of the Apennines, and on the great line of road called the Via Aemilia, which led from Artminum to Placentia. Its foundation is expressly ascribed to the Tuscans, by whom it was named FELSINA; and its origin was connected with Perusia by a local tradition that it was first established by Aucnus or Oenus, brother of Aulestes the founder of Perusia. Hence it is called by Silius Italicus “Ocni prisca domus,” (Plin. Nat. 3.15. s. 20; Serv. ad Virg. Aen. 10.198; Sil. Ital. 8.600; Müller, Etrusker, vol. i. pp. 132, 139, vol. ii. p. 275.) Pliny even calls it “princeps Etrariae;” by which he probably means only that it was the chief of the Etruscan cities north of the Apennines; and this is confirmed by a statement (ap. Serv. l.c.) that Mantua was one of its colonies. It afterwards passed into the hands of the Boian Gauls, and is mentioned by Livy, as late as B.C. 196, under the name of Felsina; so that it appears to have first assumed that of Bononia when it became a Roman colony in B.C. 189. (Liv. 33.37, 37.57; Vell. 1.15.) Three thousand colonists, with Latin rights, were established there, with the view of securing the territory newly wrested from the Boians: and two years afterwards the consul C. Flaminius constructed a road from thence across the Apennines direct to Arretium, while the opening of the Via Aemilia about the same time established its communications both with Ariminum and Placentia. (Liv. 39.2.) Its position thus became equally advantageous in a military and commercial point of view: and it seems to have speedily risen into a flourishing and important town. But its name does not again occur in history until the period of the Civil Wars; when during the siege of Mutina (B.C. 43) it became a point of importance, and was occupied with a strong garrison by M. Antonius, was afterwards seized by Hirtius without resistance. It was here that Pansa died of his wounds after the battle of Mutina, and here too that, shortly after, Octavian at the head of his army met the combined forces of Antonius and Lepidus, and arranged the terms of the Second Triumvirate. (Cic. Fam. 11.1. 3, 12.5; D. C. 46.36, 54; Appian. B.C. 3.69; Suet. Aug. 96.) It appears to have been under the especial patronage of the Antonian family, and the triumvir in consequence settled there many of his friends and dependents, on which account, in B.C. 32, Octavian exempted it from the general requisition to take up arms against Antonius and Cleopatra: but after the battle of Actium he increased its population with partisans of his own, and raised it afresh to the rank of a Colonia. Its previous colonial condition had been merged in that of a Municipium by the effect of the Lex Julia. (Suet, Aug. 17; D. C. 1. 6; Fest. Epit. v. Municipium; Zumpt, de Coloniis, pp. 333, 352.) Hence we find Bononia distinguished as a colony both by Pliny and Tacitus; and it appears to have continued under the Roman Empire an important and flourishing place. In A.D. 53, it suffered severely from a conflagration, but was restored by the munificence of Claudius. (Suet. Nero 7; Tac. Ann. 12.58, Hist. 53, 67, 71; Plin. Nat. 3.15. s. 20; Strab. v. p.216; Ptol. 3.1.46; Mart. 3.59.) St. Ambrose speaks of it as much decayed in the fourth century (Ep. 39), but in A.D. 410 it was able successfully to withstand the arms of Alaric (Zosim. 6.10), and seems to have in a great measure retained its prosperity after the fall of the Roman Empire, so that it is ranked by P. Diaconus in the 7th century among the wealthy cities (locupletes urbes) of the province of Aemilia (Procop. 3.11; P. Diac. 2.18): but it was not till a later period that it obtained the preeminence which it still enjoys over all the other cities in this part of Italy. The modern city of Bologna contains few remains of antiquity, except a few fragments of sculpture and some inscriptions preserved in the Museum of the University. They have been published by Malvasia (Marmnora Felsinea, 4to. Bonon. 1690).

About a mile to the W. of Bononia flowed the river Rhenus (Reno),and it was in a small island formed by the waters of this stream that most writers place the celebrated interview between Octavian,Antonius, and Lepidus, when they agreed on the terms of the Se.. cond Triumvirate, B.C. 43. But there is much difficulty with regard to the exact spot. Appian, the only writer who mentions the name of the river, places the interview near Mutina in a small islet of the river Lavinius, by which he evidently means the stream still called Lavino, which crosses the Aemilian Way about 4 m. W, of Bologna, and joins the Reno about 12 miles lower down. Plutarch and Dio Cassius, on the contrary, both fix the scene of the interview near Bononia, in an island of the river which flows by that city: thus designating the Rhenus, but without mentioning its name. (Appian, 4.2; Plut. Cic. 46, Ant. 19; D. C. 46.54, 55.) Local writers have fixed upon a spot called la Crocetta del Trebbo, about 2 m. from Bologna, as the scene of the meeting, but the island formed by the Reno at that point (described as half a mile long and a third of a mile in breadth) seems to be much too large to answer to the description of the spot in question. It is contended by some that the Lavino formerly joined the Reno much nearer Bologna, and at all events it seems certain that the beds of both but streams are subject to frequent changes, so that it is almost impossible to identify with any certainty the Island of the Triumvirs. (Calindri, Dissertazione dell' Isolac del Triumvirato, Cramer's Italy, vol. i. p. 88.)


hide References (11 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (11):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 11.1.3
    • Tacitus, Annales, 12.58
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 96
    • Suetonius, Nero, 7
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.15
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 33, 37
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 37, 57
    • Plutarch, Cicero, 46
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 3.59
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
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