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MU´TINA (Μουτίνη, Strab.; Μοτίνη, Pol.; Μούτινα, Ptol.: Eth. Mutinensis: Modena), an important city of Gallia Cispadana, situated on the Via Aemilia, between Parma and Bononia. It was 35 miles distant from the former, and 25 from. the latter city. (Strab. v. p.216; Itin. Ant. p. 127; Itin. Hier. p. 616.) It appears to have certainly existed previous to the conquest of this; part of Italy by the Romans, and was not improbably of Etruscan origin. Livy tells us, that the district or territory in which it was situated, was taken from the Boians, and had previously belonged to the Etruscans (Liv. 39.55); but he does not mention the city. Nor do we know at what period the latter fell into the hands of the Romans, though it was probably during the Gaulish War (B.C. 225--222), as we find it in their undisturbed [p. 2.378]possession shortly after, at the commencement of the Second Punic War, B.C. 218. At that period Mutina must have already been a considerable place and well fortified; as we are told that, when the sudden outbreak of the Gauls interrupted the proceedings of the triumvirs who were appointed to found the new colony of Placentia, and compelled them to fly for safety, they took refuge within the walls of Mutina, which afforded them an effectual protection against the arms of the barbarians. (Liv. 21.25, 26, 27.21; Pol. 3.40.) Polybius calls it at this period a Roman colony; but it seems probable that this is a mistake; for we have no account of its foundation as such, nor does Livy ever allude to Mutina as a colony, where he expressly notices those of Cremona and Placentia (27.10). But whether it had been fortified by the Romans, or was a regular walled city previously existing (in which case it must have been, like its neighbour Bononia, of Etruscan origin), we have no means of determining, though the latter supposition is perhaps the more probable. In any case it continued to be held by the Romans not only during the Second Punic War, but throughout the long wars which followed with the Cisalpine Gauls and Ligurians. (Liv. 35.4, 6.) It was not till after the final defeat of the Boians in B.C. 191, on which occasion they were deprived of a large portion of their lands, that the Romans determined to secure the newly acquired territory, by planting there the two colonies of Parma and Mutina, which were accordingly established in B.C. 183. (Liv. 39.55.) They were both of them “coloniae civium ;” so that their inhabitants from the first enjoyed the full rights of Roman citizens: 2000 settlers were planted in each, and these received 5 jugera each for their portion. (Liv. l.c.) The construction of the great military high road of the Via Aemilia a few years before, B.C. 187 (Liv. 39.2), must have greatly facilitated the foundation of these new colonies, and became the chief source of their prosperity.

But shortly after its foundation Mutina sustained a severe disaster. The Ligurians, who still occupied the heights and valleys of the Apennines bordering on the Boian territory, in B.C. 177 made a sudden descent upon the new colony, and not only ravaged its territory, but actually made themselves masters of the town itself. This was, however, recovered with little difficulty by the consul C. Claudius, 8000 of the Ligurians were put to the sword, and the colonists re-established in the possession of Mutina. (Liv. 41.14. 16.) For a considerable period after this, we do not again meet with its name in history; but it appears that it must have risen rapidly to prosperity, and become one of the most flourishing of the towns along the line of the Via Aemilia. Hence it bears a conspicuous part in the Civil Wars. When Lepidus, after the death of Sulla, B.C. 78, raised an insurrection in Cisalpine Gaul against the senate, Mutina was almost the only place which was able to offer any resistance to the arms of Pompeius, and was held against him by Brutus for a considerable period. (Plut. Pomp. 16.) But it was the siege which it sustained, and the battles fought in its neighbourhood after the death of Caesar, B.C. 44, that have rendered the name of Mutina chiefly celebrated in history, and are referred to by Suetonius under the name of “Bellum Mutinense.” (Suet. Aug. 9.) On that occasion D. Brutus, to whom the province of Cisalpine Gaul had been decreed by the senate, threw himself into Mutina with three legions and a large body of auxiliary troops. Here he was besieged by M. Antonius with a numerous army ; but the senate having declared against the latter, the two consuls, Hirtius and Pansa, as well as the young Octavian, were despatched to the relief and succour of Brutus. (Jan. B.C. 43.) Antonius at this time occupied Bononia, as well as Parma and Regium, with his garrisons, while he himself, with the bulk of his forces, maintained the siege, or rather blockade, of Mutina. Hirtius on his arrival seized on Claterna, while Octavian occupied Forum Cornelii (Imola). From thence they advanced after considerable delays, took possession of Bononia, and approached Mutina itself, but were unable to open communications with Brutus. Meanwhile the other consul, C. Pansa, was advancing with a force of 4 newly raised legions to their support, when he was attacked by Antonius, at a place called Forum Gallorum, about 8 miles from Mutina on the road to Bononia. [FORUM GALLORUM] A severe contest ensued, in which Pansa was mortally wounded; but the other consul, Hirtius, having fallen on Antony's army in the rear, completely defeated it, and compelled him to retire to his camp before Mutina. A second battle took place some days afterwards (April 27, B.C. 43), under the walls of that city, in which Hirtius was slain; but the forces of Antonius were again worsted, and that general found himself compelled to abandon the siege (which had now lasted for above four months), and retire westward, with a view of crossing the Alps. (Appian, App. BC 3.49-51, 61, 65--72; D. C. 46.35-38; Cic. Fam. 10.1. 1, 14, 30, 33, Phil. v.--viii.; Vell. 2.61; Suet. Aug. 10.)

Mutina was evidently at this period a flourishing and important town, as well as strongly fortified. Cicero calls it “firmissima et splendidissima populi Romani colonia” (Phil. 5.9); and these praises are confirmed by Appian (App. BC 3.49), who calls it “a wealthy city,” as well as by the fact, that it was capable of supporting so large an army as that of Brutus for so long a time. Mela, also, singles out Mutina, together with Bononia and Patavium, as the most opulent cities in this part of Italy. (Mela, 2.4.2.) The same inference may fairly be drawn from the circumstance, that it was at Mutina the numerous body of senators who had accompanied the emperor Otho from Rome, in A.D. 69, remained, while Otho himself advanced to meet the generals of Vitellius, and where they very nearly fell victims to the animosity of the soldiery, on the first news of his defeat and death. (Tac. Hist. 2.52-54.) But with this exception, we meet with scarcely any mention of Mutina under the Roman empire until a late period, though the still extant inscriptions attest the fact of its continued prosperity. Some of these give to the city the title of Colonia, as do also Mela and Pliny. (Mela, l.c. ; Plin. Nat. 3.15. s. 20; Cavedoni, Marmi Modenesi, pp. 120, 165.) We learn also from Pliny and Strabo, that it was famous for the excellence of the wool produced in its territory, as well as for its wine, and the city itself possessed considerable manufactures of earthenware, as well as woollen goods. (Strab. v. p.218; Plin. Nat. 14.3. s. 4, 35.12. s. 46; Col. 7.2.3.)

In A.D. 312, Mutina was taken by Constantine during his war with Maxentius, but appears to have suffered but little on this occasion. (Nazar. Pasneg. 27.) Before the close of the century, however, both [p. 2.379]the city and its territory had begun to feel severely the calamities that were pressing upon the whole of this fertile and once flourishing tract of country. In A.D. 377, the remains of the conquered tribe of the Taifali were settled, by order of the emperor Gratianus, in the country around Mutina, Regium, and Parma (Amm. Marc. 31.9.4)--a plain indication that the population was already deficient; and St. Ambrose, writing not long after the same date, describes Mutina, Regium, and the other cities along the Aemilian Way, as in a state of ruin and decay, while their territories were uncultivated and desolate. (Ambros. Ep. 39.) The same district again suffered severely in A.D. 452, from the ravages of Attila, who laid waste all the cities of Aemilia with fire and sword. (Hist. Miscell. xv. p. 549.) They, however, survived all these calamities, from which, nevertheless, Mutina appears to have suffered more severely than its neighbours. Under the Lombard kings, it became the frontier city of their dominions towards the Exarchate; and though taken by the Greek emperor Mauricius in 590, it was again annexed by Agilulphus to the Lombard kingdom of Italy. (Muratori, Antiq. Ital. vol. i. p. 63.) At this period it fell into a state of great decay. P. Diaconus, who mentions Bononia, Parma, and Regium as wealthy and flourishing cities, does not even notice the name of Mutina (Hist. Lang. 2.18); and a writer of the 10th century draws a lamentable picture of the condition to which it was reduced. The numerous streams which irrigated its territory having been then neglected, inundated the whole surrounding tracts; and the site of the city had become in great part a mere morass, in which the ruins that attested its ancient grandeur, were half buried in the mud and water. (Murat. Ant. vol. ii. pp. 154, 155.)

At a later period of the middle ages, Modena again rose to prosperity, and became, as it has ever since continued, a flourishing and opulent city. But the truth of the description above cited is confirmed by the fact, that the remains of the ancient city are wholly buried under the accumulations of alluvial soil on which the buildings of the modern city are founded, and are only brought to light from time to time by excavations. (Murat. l.c.) Large portions of the ruins were also employed at various periods, in the construction of the cathedral and other churches; and no remains of ancient buildings are now extant. But a valuable collection of sarcophagi and inscriptions, discovered at various periods on the site of the modern city, is preserved in the museum. These have been fully illustrated by Cavedoni in his Antichi Marmi Modenesi (8vo. Modena, 1828), in which work the facts known concerning the ancient history of the city are well brought together.

Modena is situated between the river Secchia, which flows about 3 miles to the W. of the city, and the Panaro, about the same distance on the E. The latter is unquestionably the ancient SCULTENNA a name which it still retains in the upper part of its course. The Secchia is probably the Gabellus of Pliny; but seems to have been also known in ancient times as the Secia; for the Jerusalem Itinerary marks a station called Pons Secies, 5 miles from Mutina, where the Aemilian Way crossed this river. (Itin. Hier. p. 616.) The Apennines begin to rise about 10 miles to the S. of the city; and the ancient territory of Mutina seems to have included a considerable extent of these mountains, as Pliny notices a prodigy which occurred “in agro Mutinensi,” when two mountains were dashed against one another with great violence, so that they appeared to recoil again from the shock. (Plin. Nat. 2.83. s. 85.) This phenomenon, which occurred in B.C. 91, was doubtless the result of an earthquake, and not, as has been sometimes supposed, of a volcanic outbreak.


hide References (24 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (24):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 10.1.1
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 3.8.49
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 3.8.51
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 3.8.61
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 3.9.65
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.52
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.54
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 10
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 9
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 2.83
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.15
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 14.3
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 14.35
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 55
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 35, 6
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 41, 14.16
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 21
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 35, 4
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 21, 25
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 21, 26
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 31.9.4
    • Plutarch, Pompey, 16
    • Columella, Res Rustica, 7.2.3
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