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CORA (Κόρα: Eth. Κορανός, Eth. Coranus: Cori), a city of Latium, situated on the left of the Appian Way, between Velitrae and Norba, and about 37 miles distant from Rome. It stands on a bold hill, on the outskirts of the Volscian mountains, and overlooking the plain of the Pomptine Marshes. All accounts agree in representing it as a very ancient city. Virgil notices it as one of the colonies of Alba Longa, and this is confirmed by Diodorus and the author of the Origo Urbis Romae, both of whom include it in their lists of the colonies founded by Latinus Silvius. (Verg. A. 6.776; Diod. vii. Fr. ap. Euseb. Arm. p. 184; Orig. U. Rom. 17.) Pliny, on the contrary, ascribes its foundation to Dardanus (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9; Solin. 2.7), while another tradition seems to have represented it as deriving both its name and its origin from Coras, a brother of Tiburtus, the eponymous hero of Tibur. (Serv. ad Aen. 7.672; Solin. 2.8.) Both these last traditions may be regarded as pointing to a Pelasgic origin. It is certain that it was at a very early period one of the most considerable cities of Latium. Thus Cato mentions it as one of those which took part in the consecration of the grove and sanctuary of Diana in the Nemus Aricinum; and we find it included by Dionysius in the list of the thirty Latin cities which composed the League in B.C. 493. (Cato ap. Priscian. 4.4.21; Dionys. A. R. 5.61; Niebuhr, vol. ii. p. 17, note.) At an earlier period also one of the two generals chosen to command the confederate armies was Ancus Publicius of Cora. (Dionys. A. R. 3.34.) Its subsequent relations both with Latium and Rome are very obscure. In B.C. 503, Livy calls it a “colonia Latina,” and speaks of it as revolting, together with Pometia, to join the Aurunci, but shortly after both Cora and Pometia appear as Volscian towns. (Liv. 2.16, 22; Niebuhr, vol. ii. pp. 108, 261.) It appears certain that it must have fallen into the hands of the Volscians at the time that nation was at the height of its power: and it was probably occupied by a fresh body of colonists when it was recovered by the Romans and Latins. Propertius (4.10. 26) appears to place this reconquest before B.C. 428, but it is doubtful whether we can trust to his historical accuracy on this point. It is, however, probable that Cora resumed the position of a Latin colony about this period, as well as Norba and Setia, and on this account we find no mention of any of the three in the great Latin War of B.C. 340, or the pacification that followed. But a few years later, B.C. 330, their territories were laid waste by the Privernates under Vitruvius Vaccus. (Liv. 8.19.) It seems certain therefore that they were at this time dependencies of Rome. Livy includes Cora among the twelve Latin colonies, which, in B.C. 209, refused any further supplies (27.9): but where the same list is repeated, (29.15), the name is written Sora, and it seems most probable that this is the town really, meant. (Madvig. de Colon. p. 268, note.) In another passage he notices it among the Municipia on the Appian Way (Liv. 26.8), and it seems to have been at this time still a considerable town, but from henceforth we hear little of it. According to Florus, it was ravaged by Spartacus (3.20.5, but this reading is probably corrupt); and there seems reason to suppose that it suffered severely during the Civil Wars. (Lucan 7.392.) But no subsequent mention of it occurs in history; and though the name is still found in Strabo and Pliny, and an inscription attests its municipal rank in the first century of the empire, it seems probable that it must have soon after fallen into complete decay. Nor is any trace of its existence found in the middle ages till the 13th century, when it reappears under its ancient name, which it still retains, and is now a considerable town. (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9; Strab.v. p. 237; Nibby, Dintorni, vol. i. p. 493.)

Few cities of Latium possess more considerable remains of antiquity than Cora. Among these are numerous portions of the ancient walls, constructed of massive polygonal blocks, together with terraces and substructions of a similar character, resembling in style the massive fortifications of Norba and Signia, but inferior in extent and preservation. They appear when perfect to have formed three successive tiers or circuits, the uppermost of which enclosed the highest summit of the hill, and constituted the citadel of the ancient town. Within this enclosure, and on the highest point of the whole city, stands a small Doric temple (commonly known, but without any authority, as that of Hercules), the tetrastyle portico of which is in good preservation, and an inscription over the entrance records its construction by the Duumvirs of the town. From the orthography of this inscription, as well as the style of architecture, there seems reason to assign the erection of it to the last century of the Roman Republic. Lower down the town are the remains of another temple of far superior style and execution, but of which only two columns now exist: they are of Corinthian order and of beautiful workmanship; from a fragment of the inscription on the architrave, we learn that it was consecrated to Castor and Pollux; its date is uncertain, but it must certainly be referred to the best period of Roman architecture. Many other fragments of buildings are to be found in the town, and several inscriptions, but all belonging to the early ages of the Roman empire, or the end of the Republican period. Just outside the town, on the road to Norba, is an ancient bridge of a single arch, thrown over a deep ravine, which is one of the most remarkable monuments of its kind in Italy. From the irregularity of its construction, it is probable that this is the work of an early period, and belongs to the old Latin colony of Cora. Many of the other remains, and some parts at least of the fortifications, may probably be referred to the time of Sulla. (Nibby, Dintorni di Roma, vol.i. pp.497--512. The bridge and specimens of the walls are figured by Dodwell, Pelasgic Remains, pl. 88--91.)


hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 6.776
    • Lucan, Civil War, 7.392
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 8
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 22
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 16
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 19
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