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NÓRICUM (Noricus ager, Νωρικόν), a country on the south of the Danube, bordering in the west on Rhaetia and Vindelicia, from which it was separated by the river Aenus ; in the north the Danube separated it from Germania Magna; in the east it bordered on Pannonia, the Mons Cestius forming the boundary, and in the south on Pannonia and Italy, from which it was divided by the river Savus, the Alpes Carnicae, and mount Ocra. It accordingly comprised the modern Upper and Lower Austria, between the Inn and the Danube, the greater part of Styria, Carinthia, and portions of Carniola, Bavaria, Tyrol, and the territory of Salzburg. (Ptol. 2.13.)

The name Noricum, is traced by some to Norix, a son of Hercules, but was in all probability derived from Noreia, the capital of the country. Nearly the whole of Noricum is a mountainous country, being surrounded in most parts by mountains, sending their ramifications into Noricum; while an Alpine range, called the Alpes Noricae, traverse the whole of the country in the direction from west to east. With the exception of the north and south, Noricum has scarcely any plains, but numerous valleys and rivers, the latter of which are all tributaries of the Danube. The climate was on the whole rough and cold, and the fertility of the soil was not very great; but in the plains, at a distance from the Alps, the character of the country was different and its fertility greater. (Isid. Orig. 14.4.) It is probable that the Romans, by draining marshes and rooting out forests, did much to increase the productiveness of the country. (Comp. Claudian, Bell. Get. 365.) But the great wealth of Noricum consisted in its metals, as gold and iron. (Strab. iv. pp. 208,214; Ov. Met. 14.711, &c.; Plin. Nat. 34.41; Sidon. Apoll, 5.51.) The Alpes Noricae still contain numerous traces of the mining activity displayed by the Romans in those parts. Norican iron and steel were celebrated in ancient times as they still are. (Clem. Al. Strom. i. p. 307; Hor. Carm. 1.16. 9, Epod. 17.71; Martial, 4.55. 12; Rutil. Itin. 1.351, &c.) The produce of the Norican iron mines seems to have been sufficient to supply the material for the manufactories of arms in Pannonia, Moesia, and Northern Italy, which owed their origin to the vicinity of the mines of Noricum. There are also indications to show that the Romans were not unacquainted with the salt in which the country abounds; and the plant called Saliunca, which grows abundantly in the Alpes Noricae, was well known to the Romans, and used by them as a perfume. (Plin. Nat. 21.20.)

The inhabitants of Noricum, called by the general name Norici (Νωρικοί, Plin. Nat. 3.23; Plb. 34.10; Strab. iv. pp. 206, 208), were a Celtic race (Strab. vii. pp. 293, 296), whose ancient name was Taurisci (Plin. Nat. 3.24.) The Celtic character of the people is sufficiently attested also by the names of several Norican tribes and towns. About the year B. C. 58, the Boii, a kindred race, emigrated from Boiohemum and settled in the northern part of Noricum (Caes. Gal. 1.5). Strabo (v. p.213) describes these Boii as having come from the north of Italy. They had resisted the Cimbri and Teu-tones, but were afterwards completely annihilated by the Getae, and their country became a desert. Ptolemy does not mention either the Norici or the Boii, but enumerates several smaller tribes, such as the Sevaces (Σεούακες) in the west, the Alauni or Halauni (Ἀλαυνοί) in the south, and the Ambisontii (Ἀμβισόντιοι), the inhabitants of the banks of the Isonta. In the east the same authority mentions the Norici (Νωρικοί) together with two other small tribes, the Ambidravi (Ἀμβιδραυοί, i. e. dwellers about the Dravus) and the Ambilici (Ἀμβιλικοί, or dwellers about the Licus or Lichtas, or Lech). It must be observed that, in this enumeration of Ptolemy, the Norici, instead of forming the great body of the population, were only one of the six smaller tribes.

As to the history of Noricum and its inhabitants, we know that at first, and for a long time, they were governed by kings (Caes. Civ. 1.18; Strab. vii. pp. 304, 313); and some writers speak of a regnum Noricum even after the country had been incorporated with the Roman Empire. (Veil. Pat. 2.39, 109 ; Suet. Tib. 16.) From early times, the Noricans had carried on considerable commerce with Aquileia (Strab. iv. p.207, vii. p. 314); but when the Romans, under the command of Tiberius and Drusus, made themselves masters of the adjoining countries south of the Danube, especially after the conquest of Rhaetia, Noricum also was subdued; and about B. C. 13, the country, after desperate struggles of its inhabitants with the Romans, was conquered by Tiberius, Drusus, and P. Silius, in the course of one summer. (Strab. iv. p.206 ; D. C. 54.20.) The country was then changed into a Roman province, probably an imperial one, and was accordingly governed by a procurator. (Tac. Hist. 1.11, Ann. 2.63.) Partly to keep Noricum in subjection, and partly to protect it against foreign invasions, a strong body of troops (the legio II. Italica) was stationed at Laureacum, and three fleets were kept on the Danube, viz. the classis Comaginensis, the cl. Arlapensis, and the cl. Laureacensis. Roads were made through the country, several Roman colonies were founded, as at Laureacum and Ovilaba, and fortresses were built. In the time of Ptolemy, the province of Noricum was not yet divided; but in the subsequent division of the whole empire into smaller provinces Noricum was cut into two parts, Noricum Ripense (the northern part, along the Danube),and Noricum Mediterraneum (embracing the southern and more mountainous part), each of which was governed by a praeses, the whole forming part of the diocese of Illyricum. (Not. Imp. Occid. p. 5, and Orient. p. 5.) The more important rivers of Noricum, the Savus, Dravus, Murus, Arlape, Ises, Jovavus or Isonta, are described under their respective heads. The ancient capital of the country was Noreia; but, besides this, the country under the Roman [p. 2.448] Empire, contained a great many towns of more or less importance, as BOIODURUM, JOVIACUM, OVILABA, LENTIA, LAUREACUM, ARELATE or ARLAPE, NAMARE, CETIUM, BEDAIUM, JUVAVUM, VIRUNUM, CELEIA, AGUNTUM, LONCIUM, and TEURNIA

An excellent work on Noricum in the time of the Romans is Muchar, Das Römische Noricum, in two vols. Graetz, 1825; compare also Zeuss, Die Deutschen, p. 240, &c.


hide References (11 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (11):
    • Polybius, Histories, 34.10
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 1.5
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 14.711
    • Caesar, Civil War, 1.18
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 1.11
    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 16
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 21.20
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 34.41
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.23
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.24
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 2.13
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