previous next


MINTURNAE (Μιντοῦρναι, Ptol.; Μιντούρνη, Strab.: Eth. Μιντουρνήσιος, Plut.; Minturnensis), a city of Latium, in the more extended sense of that term; but originally a city of the Ausonians, situated on the right bank of the Liris (Garigliano), about 3 miles from the sea. It was on the line of the Appian Way, which here crossed the Liris. (Strab. v. p.233.) The name of Minturnae is first mentioned in history during the great Latin War, B.C. 340--338, when it afforded a refuge to the Latin forces after their defeat in Campania. (Liv. 8.10.) It was not, however, at that time a Latin city, but belonged to the Ausonians, who appear to have been then in alliance with the Latins and Campanians. For, in B.C. 315, Livy tells us that there were three cities of the Ausonians, Ausona, Minturnae, and Vescia, which had declared themselves hostile to Rome after the battle of Lautulae, but were again betrayed into the hands of the Romans by some of the young nobles in each, and the inhabitants unsparingly put to the sword. (Liv. 9.25.) Not many years later, in B.C. 296, a Roman colony was established at Minturnae, at the same time with one at Sinuessa, a little further down the coast: they were both of them of the class called “Coloniae Maritimae,” with the rights of Roman citizens (Liv. 10.21; Vell. 1.14); and were obviously designed to maintain and secure the communications of the Romans with Campania. During the Second Punic War both Minturnae and Sinuessa were among the colonies which endeavoured, but without success, to establish their exemption from the obligation to furnish military levies (Liv. 27.38); and again, during the war with Antiochus (B.C. 191), they attempted, with equal ill success, to procure a similar exemption from providing recruits and supplies for the naval service. (Id. 36.3.) Minturnae was situated on the borders of an extensive marsh, which rendered the city unhealthy, but its situation on the Appian Way must have contributed to maintain its prosperity; and it seems to have been already under the Republic, what it certainly became under the Empire, a flourishing and populous town. In B.C. 88 Minturnae was the scene of a celebrated adventure of C. Marius, who, while flying from Rome by sea, to escape from the hands of Sulla, was compelled to put into the mouth of the Liris. He at first endeavoured to conceal himself in the marshes near the sea-coast; but being discovered and dragged from thence, he was cast into prison by order of the magistrates of Minturnae, who sent a slave to put him to death. But the man is said to have been so struck with the majestic appearance of the aged general that he was unable [p. 2.361]to execute his task; and hereupon the magistrates determined to send Marius away, and put him on board a ship which conveyed him to Africa. (Plut. Mar. 36-39; Appian, App. BC 1.61, 62; Vell. 2.19; V. Max. 1.5.5. 2.10.6; Liv. Epit. lxxvil.; Juv. 10.276; Cic. pro Planc. 10 pro Sext. 22.)

We hear little more of Minturnae under the Republic, though from its position on the Appian Way it is repeatedly noticed incidentally by Cicero (Cic. Att. 5.1, 3, 7.13, 16.10.) It still retained in his time the title of a colony; but received a material accession from a fresh body of colonists established there by Augustus; and again at a later period under Caligula. (Lib. Colon. p. 235; Hygin. de Limit. p. 178; Zumpt, de Colon. p. 355.) We find it in consequence distinguished both by Pliny and Ptolemy by the title of a colony, as well as in inscriptions (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9; Ptol. 3.1.63; Orell. Inscr. 3762; Mommsen, I. R. N. 4058--4061); and notwithstanding its unhealthy situation, which is alluded to by Ovid, who calls it “Minturnae graves” (Met. 15.716), it appears to have continued throughout the Roman Empire to have been a flourishing and important town. Its prosperity is attested by numerous inscriptions, as well as by the ruins still existing on the site. These comprise the extensive remains of an amphi-theatre, of an aqueduct which served to bring water from the neighbouring hills, and the substructions of a temple, as well as portions of the ancient walls and towers. (Romanelli, vol. iii. p. 430; Eustace, Classical Tour, vol. ii. p. 318.) All these remains are on the right bank of the Liris, but according to Pliny the city extended itself on both sides of the river; and it is certain that its territory comprised a considerable extent on both banks of the Liris. (Hygin. de Limit. p. 178.) The period of its destruction is unknown: we find it still mentioned in Proepius (B. G. 3.26) as a city, and apparently a place of some strength; but at the commencement of the middle ages all trace of it is lost, and it was probably destroyed either by the Lombards or Saracens. The inhabitants seem to have withdrawn to the site of the modern Trajetto, a village on a hill about 1 1/2 mile distant, the name of which is obviously derived from the passage of the Liris (Ad Trajectum), though wholly inapplicable to its present more elevated position.

Between Minturnae and the sea-coast, at the mouth of the Liris, was the celebrated grove of Marica [LUCUS MARICAE], with a temple or shrine of the goddess of that name, which seems to have enjoyed a great reputation for sanctity. (Plut. Mar. 39; Strab. v. p.233.) She appears to have been properly a local divinity; at least we do not meet with her worship under that name any where else in Italy; though many writers called her the mother of Latinus, and others, perhaps on that very account, identified her with Circe. (Verg. A. 7.47; Serv. ad loc.; Lactant. Inst. Div. 1.21.) We may probably conclude that she was connected with the old Latin religion; and this will explain the veneration with which her grove and temple were regarded, not only by the inhabitants of Minturnae, but by the Romans themselves. Frequent allusions to them are found in the Latin poets, but always in close connection with Minturnae and the Liris. (Hor. Carm. 3.17. 7; Lucan 2.424; Martial, 13.83; Claudian, Prob. et Ol. Cons. 259).

Strabo calls Minturnae about 80 stadia from Formiae, and the same distance from Sinuessa; the Itineraries give the distance in each case as 9 miles. (Strab. v. p.233; Itin. Ant. pp. 108, 121.) After crossing the Liris a branch read quitted the Appian Way on the left, and led by Suessa to Teanum, where it joined the Via Latina.


hide References (19 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (19):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 16.10
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 7.13
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 1.7.61
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 1.7.62
    • Cicero, For Plancius, 10
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 7.47
    • Lucan, Civil War, 2.424
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 10
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 38
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 25
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 10, 21
    • Plutarch, Caius Marius, 39
    • Plutarch, Caius Marius, 36
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 13.83
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 1.5.5
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: