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O´LBIA (Ὀλβία: Eth. Ὀλβιανός, Eth. Olbiensis: Terranova), one of the most considerable cities of Sardinia, situated on the E. coast of the island not far from its NE. extremity, in the innermost recess or bight of a deep bay now called the Golfo di Terranova. According to Pausanias it was one of the most ancient cities in the island, having been founded by the colony of Thespiadae under lolaus, the companion of Hercules, with whom were associated a body of Athenians, who founded a separate city, which they named Ogryle. (Paus. 10.17.5; Diod. 4.29; Solin. 1.61.) The name of Olbia certainly seems to indicate that the city was of Greek origin; but, with the exception of this mythical legend, we have no accounts of its foundation. After the Roman conquest of the island it became one of the most important towns in Sardinia; and from its proximity to Italy and its opportune port, became the ordinary point of communication with the island, and the place where the Roman governors and others who visited Sardinia usually landed. (Cic. ad Q. Fr. 2.3. 7, 6.7.) In the First Punic War it was the scene of a naval engagement between the consul Cornelius and a Carthaginian fleet, which had taken refuge in its spacious port; but was attacked and defeated there by Cornelins, who followed up his advantage by taking the city, B.C. 259. (Zonar. 8.11; Flor. 2.2.16; V. Max. 5.1.2.) In the Second Punic War (B.C. 210) its territory was ravaged by a Carthaginian fleet. (Liv. 27.6.) Under the reign of Honorius, Olbia is still mentioned by Claudian as one of the principal sea-ports of Sardinia; and the Itineraries give more than one line of road proceeding from thence towards different parts of the island. (Claudian, B. Gild. 519; Itin. Ant. pp. 79, 80, 82.) The name is there written Ulbia: in the middle ages it came to be known as Civita, and obtained its modern appellation of Terranova from the Spaniards.

Ptolemy distinguishes the port of Olbia (Ὀλβιανὸς λιμήν, 3.3.4) from the city itself: he probably applies this name to the whole of the spacious bay or inlet now known as the Gulf of Terranova, and the position given is that of the entrance.


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.17.5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 6
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 4.29
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 5.1.2
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