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DALMA´TIA (Δαλματία, Δαλματική, Eth. Δαλματικός, Eth. Dalmatia, Delmatia; Eth. and ad j. Δαλμάτης, Δαλματεύς, Dalmata, Eth. Dalmatensis, Eth. Dalmaticus). The Dalmatians formed a portion of that great aggregate of tribes which inhabited the broken and indented coast E. of the Adriatic from the Celti Taurisci as far S. as the Epirots and Macedonians. These tribes, which comprehended, besides the Dalmatians, the Veneti, Pannonians, Dardani, Autariatae and others, belonged to the Illyrian group; and the territory which with varying limits was occupied by them bore the common name of Illyricum [ILLYRICUM]. Strabo (vii. p.315) asserted that it was a peculiarity of the Dalmatians, to divide their lands afresh (χώρας ἀναδασμός) every eighth year; and that they were not in the habit of using coined money among themselves.

The inland parts of this district are diversified by undulating grounds, hills, and high mountains; many of the latter have the same rugged appearance as those of the coast. The geological character of the whole of this country is referred to the secondary formation.

Sterility is the general character of the hilly parts of Dalmatia, and it is singular that the N. sides are usually less barren than the S. slopes. The soil, though not rich, is good; Strabo (p. 315) indeed describes it as “sterile, unsuited to agriculture, and barely affording a subsistence to the inhabitants.” He adds (p.317), and this may account for its impoverished condition, “The country which, with the exception of a few rugged spots, abounds every where with the olive and vine, has always been neglected, and its worth has been unknown in consequence of the wildness and predatory habits of the inhabitants.”

The coast was well furnished with harbours as well on the mainland as in the neighbouring islands, while the opposite coast of Italy is without ports. In antiquity Dalmatia produced a great quantity of gold ( “aurifera terra,” Mart. 10.78; Stat. Silv. 1.2. 53), and if Pliny (33.4) may be believed, as much as 50 pounds of gold were procured daily from the mines in the time of Nero. There is some difficulty in these statements, because, as far as present information goes, Dalmatia can boast of neither gold nor silver. Gold has, however, been found at Serajero in Bosnia; and as there can be little doubt but that the Dalmatia of the Romans included much of Bosnia, the statements of the ancients must be referred to this district. (Neigebauer, Die Sudslaven, p. 211; comp. Fortis, Viaggio in Dalmazia, p. 113; Wilkinson, Dalmatia, vol. i. p. 219.)

In the reign of Gentius, last king of Illyria, a separation took place among his subjects. They obeyed Pleuratus as long as he lived, but after his death, on the accession of Gentius, the Dalmatae revolted, B.C. 180, having assumed that name from the city of Delminium (or Dalminium) which they chose as the capital of their new state. (Plb. 32.18.) The territory of the Dalmatae was at first comprehended between the Naro (Narenta) and the Tilurus or Nests (Cettina), and contained at one period twenty cities; it then extended to the Titius (La Kerka), and the whole country received the name of Dalmatia, under a republican form of government, which lasted till the inhabitants either delivered themselves up to Rome, or were conquered by her armies.

In consequence of a quarrel between them and the Lissans and Daorsi, who were allies of Rome, a consular army was sent against them. The consul, C. Marcius Figulus, entered Dalmatia, B.C. 156, and its strongly fortified capital Delminium having been taken, the Dalmatians were obliged to sue for peace; and their liberty was only allowed them on condition of their paying tribute to Rome. (Plb. 32.24; Appian. Illyr. 11; Liv. Epit. xlvii.; Flor. 4.12.) In the following year they were subdued by P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum (Liv. l.c.). Delminium, their capital, it would appear, suffered to such an extent (Strab. p. 315) that the seat of government was transferred to Salona. In B.C. 119, L. Caecilius Metellus, who was consul, declared war against the Dalmatians, though they had been guilty of no offence. They offered no opposition to him, and after wintering at Salona he returned to Rome, and gained the undeserved honour of a triumph and the surname Dalmaticus. (Liv. Epit. lxii.; Appian. Illyr. 11.)

Appian (App. Ill. 13) has told the story of the 4th Dalmatian war. The Liburnians, who were attacked by their restless neighbours, appealed to Rome for aid. Troops were sent to enforce the demand which had previously been made, that the Dalmatians should evacuate Promona. In B.C. 48, Gabinius lost more than 2000 men in an, engagement with the natives, and then fell back upon Salona. It was reserved for Vatinius to wipe off the disgrace which the Roman arms had sustained. He was saluted as “imperator” by his soldiers, and received the honours of a “supplicatio” from the senate in B.C. 45. The death of J. Caesar emboldened the Dalmatians. Fortune favoured them. Vatinius took refuge in Epidamnus, and the war against M. Antonius and Octavianus prevented Brutus, to whom the province had been decreed, from punishing their defection. In B.C. 34, Octavianus led a formidable army into Dalmatia, where Agrippa had the command, and penetrated as far as Setonia, where he was wounded in the knee. The country submitted to him, hostages were taken, the standards captured from Gabinius restored, and a promise was given that the owing tribute should be paid. (D. C. 49.38; Liv. Epit. cxxxii.; Appian. Illyr. 24--27; Veil. 2.90; Flor. 4.12; Suet. Oct. 20.)

Dalmatia became an imperial province, and its limits were pushed as far N. as the Save. In B.C. 16, and again in 11, the Dalmatians showed an inclination to throw off the yoke, and some years afterwards joined the revolted Pannonians, when Rome anticipated such danger, that Suetonius (Suet. Tib. 16) considered that no more formidable enemy had appeared since the Punic War. Tiberius, who was appointed to the command of the Roman army, displayed considerable military talent in the Dalmatian campaign against Bate, the champion of his country's liberties, a man of great bravery and capacity. In A.D. 9, he had reduced the country entirely to subjection, and in A.D. 12 received the honour of a triumph for this and his German victory. (D. C. 55.29-32, 56.11--17; Vell. 2.110--115; Zonar. 10.37.) Henceforward Dalmatia and Illyricum, though geographically they were distinguished (Tac. Ann. 2.53), became politically convertible terms. [p. 1.748]

The name Illyricum is however more properly applied to the long and narrow tract of country which lies between the Save and the Adriatic, and Dalmatia after its final incorporation into the Roman province must be referred to the article under that head [ILLYRICUM]. Dalmatia was the native country of Diocletian, and its capital Salona (Spalatro) will always be famous as having been the place to which that emperor retired. At the division of the empire between Arcadius and Honorius, the important and warlike praefecture of Illyricum was divided between the West and the East; Dalmatia with Noricum and Pannonia fell to the lot of the former. About A.D. 461, Dalmatia was exposed to the inroads of the Suevi, but the intrepid Marcellinus maintained the power of the Romans against the barbarians, and occupied the province in an independent position with the title of patrician of the West. (Procop. Bell. Vandal. 1.6.) Theodoric, the great emperor of the Ostro-Goths, supported by Zeno, emperor of the East, wrested it from Odoacer; and it is said that an iron mine in Dalmatia furnished the victors with one of the chief requisites of war. (Cassiod. Var. iii. ep. 25.) In A.D. 535, it was conquered for the Lower Empire by the imperial armies, regained by the Ostro-Goths, and again recovered by Belisarius.

Under Justinian the limits of Dalmatia were advanced to the E. over Pannonia; and it was divided into maritime and inland Dalmatia: the former extending from Istria through Liburnia, Dalmatia, and N. Albania, with the adjacent islands; and the latter lying to the E. of the range of mountains known under the name of Albius, Bebius, Ardius, or the modern Prolog range, and Scardus. It was, however, with difficulty preserved for the Byzantine empire, and was subjected to the inroads of the Gepidae, and then of the Lombards. The great Heraclius, in pursuance of his statesmanlike plan of establishing a permanent barrier in Europe against the encroachments of the Avars and Slaves, induced the Serbs or W. Slaves, who occupied the country about the Carpathians, to abandon their ancient seats and move down into the provinces between the Danube and the Adriatic. Though independent, these people, when they had made their footing in Dalmatia, for a long period considered themselves as owing a degree of territorial allegiance to the Lower Empire. (Const. Porph. de Adm. Imp. 31--36.)

The modern history of Dalmatia commences with these relations established by Heraclius and the W. Slaves, who entered the country under the various names of Servians, Croatians, Narentins, Zachlumians, Terbunians, Diocleans, and Decatrians. (Schafarik, Slav. Alt. vol. ii. p. 237.)

The following is a list of Dalmatian towns, the chief of which are mentioned elsewhere.

On the coast:--Sicum, Praetorium, Tragurium, Salona, Col. Julia Martia, Epetium, Oneum, Iranonia, Piguntia; Laureata, Dalluntum, Rhausium, Epidaurus, Rhizus, Cattarus, Butua, Ascrivium, Olcinium, Nymphaeum, Lissus.

In the interior, in the direction from NW. to SE.:--Pelva, Dalminium, Aequum, Promona, Ratanea, Andetrium, Selovia, Seretium, Sinotium, Tilurium, Ad Matricem, Staneclum, Dioclea, Narona, Glinditiones, Salluntum, Varo, Grabaea, Nalata, Birziminium, Sinna, Medion, Scodra, Picaria, Sphentzanium, Doracium. (Sir Gardner Wilkinson, Dalmatia and Montenegro, 2 vols. 1848; Kohl, Reisen in Istrien, Dalmatien, u. Montenegro, 2 vols. 1850; Neigebauer, Die Sudslaven u. deren Länder, 1851; Cusani, Dalmazia, 2 vols. 1846; Pannonius, Illyrien u. Dalmatien, 2 vols. 1816.).


hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Appian, Illyrian Wars, 3.13
    • Polybius, Histories, 32.18
    • Polybius, Histories, 32.24
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.53
    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 16
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 33.4
    • Statius, Silvae, 1.2
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 10.78
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