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NA´RNIA (Ναρνία, Strab., Ptol.: Eth. Narniensis: Narni), one of the most important cities of Umbria, situated on the left bank of the river Nar, about 8 miles above its confluence with the Tiber. It.was on the line of the Via Flaminia, by which it was distant 56 miles from Rome. (Itin. Ant. p. 125; Itin. Hier. p. 613; Westphal, Röm. Kamp. p. 145.) It appears to have been an ancient and important city of the Umbrians, and previous to the Roman conquest bore the name of NEQUINUM (Plin. Nat. 3.14. s. 19; Liv. 10.9: Steph. Byz. writes the name Νηκούϊα.) In B.C. 300, it was besieged by the Roman consul Appuleius; but its natural strength enabled it to defy his arms, and the siege was protracted till the next year, when it was at length surprised and taken by the consul M. Fulvius, B.C. 299. (Liv. 10.9, 10.) Fulvius was in consequence honoured with a triumph “de Samnitibus Nequinatibusque” (Fast. Capit.); and the Roman senate determined to secure their new conquests by sending thither a colony, which assumed the name of Narnia from its position on the banks of the Nar. (Liv. 10.10.) It is strange that all mention of this colony is omitted by Velleius Paterculus; but its name again occurs in Livy, in the list of the thirty Latin colonies during the Second Punic War. On that occasion (B.C. 209), it was one of those which professed themselves exhausted and unable any longer to bear the burdens of the war; for which it was subsequently punished by the imposition of a double contingent and increased contribution in money. (Liv. 27.9; 29.15.) Yet the complaint seems, in the case of Narnia at least, to have been well founded; for a few years afterwards (B.C. 199), the colonists again represented their depressed condition to the senate, and obtained the appointment of triumvirs, who recruited their numbers with a fresh body of settlers. (Id. 32.2.) During the Second Punic War, Narnia was the point at which, in B.C. 207, an army was posted to oppose the threatened advance of Hasdrubal upon Rome; and hence it was some Narnian horsemen who were the first to bring to the capital the tidings of the great victory at the Metaurus. (Liv. 27.43. 50.) These are the only notices we find of Narnia under the republic, but it seems to have risen into a flourishing municipal town, and was one of the chief places in this part of Umbria. (Strab. v. p.227; Plin. Nat. 3.14. s. 19; Ptol. 3.1.54.) It probably owed its prosperity to its position on the great Flaminian highway, as well as to the great fertility of the subjacent plain. In the civil war between Vitellius and Vespasian, Narnia bore an important part, having been occupied by the generals of the former as a stronghold, where they hoped to check the advance of the army of Vespasian; but the increasing disaffection towards Vitellius caused the troops at Narnia to lay down their arms without resistance. (Tac. Hist. 3.58-63, 67, 78.) The natural strength of Narnia, and its position as commanding the Flaminian Way, also rendered it a fortress of the utmost importance during the Gothic wars of Belisarius and Narses. (Procop. B. G. 1.16, 17; 2.11; 4.33.) It became an episcopal see at an early period, and continued throughout the middle ages to be a considerable town.

The position of Narnia on a lofty hill, precipitous on more than one side, and half encircled by the waters of the Nar, which wind through a deep and picturesque wooded valley immediately below the town, is alluded to by many ancient writers, and described with great truthfulness and accuracy by Claudian, as well as by the historian Procopius. (Claudian, de VI. Cons. Hon. 515--519 ; Sil. Ital. 8.458 ; Martial. 7.93 ; Procop. B. G. 1.17.) It was across this ravine, as well as the river Nar itself, that the Via Flaminia was carried by a bridge constructed by Augustus, and which was considered to surpass all other structures of the kind in boldness and elevation. Its ruins are still regarded with admiration by all travellers to Rome. It consisted originally of three arches, built of massive blocks of white marble; of these the one on the left bank is still entire, and has a height of above sixty feet the other two have fallen in, apparently from the foundations of the central pier giving way; but all the piers remain, and the imposing style of the whole structure justifies the admiration which it appears to have excited in ancient as well as modern times. Martial alludes to the bridge of Narnia as, even in his day, the great pride of the place. (Procop. l.c. ; Martial. 7.93. 8 ; Cluver. Ital. p. 636; Eustace's Italy, vol. i. p. 339.) The emperor Nerva was a native of Narnia, though his family would seem to have been of foreign extraction. (Vict. Epit. 11; Caes. 12.)


hide References (11 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (11):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 10, 9
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.58
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.63
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.67
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.78
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.14
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 43.50
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 9
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 29, 15
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 10, 10
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
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