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PARMA (Πάρμα: Eth. Parmensis: Parma), a city of Gallia Cispadana, situated on the Via Aemilia, at the distance of 19 M. P. from Regium Lepidum, and 40 from Placentia. (Itin. Ant. p. 286.) It was about 15 miles distant from the Padus, on the banks of a small stream. called the Parma, from which it probably derived its name; and about 6 miles from the more considerable Tarus or Taro. We find no mention of the name before the establishment of the Roman colony, though it is very probable that there already existed a Gaulish town or village on the spot: but in B.C. 183 after the complete subjugation of the Boii, and the construction of the Via Aemilia, the Romans proceeded to strengthen their footing in this part of Gaul by founding the colonies of Mutina and Parma, along the line of the newly opened highway, which, in connection with the two previously existing colonies of Bononia and Placentia, formed a continuous chain of Roman towns, from one end to the other of the Via Aemilia. Parma was a “colonia civium,” its settlers retaining their privileges as Roman citizens; it received in the first instance 2000 colonists, each of whom obtained 8 jugera of land for his allotment. (Liv. 39.55.) We hear little of Parma for some time after this: it is mentioned incidentally in B.C. 176, as the head-quarters of the proconsul C. Claudius (Id. 41.1:7); but appears to have suffered little from the wars with the Gauls and Ligurians; and hence rose with rapidity to be a flourishing and prosperous town. But its name is scarcely mentioned in history till the period of the Civil Wars, when it sustained a severe blow, having in B.C. 43 taken a prominent part in favour of the senatorial party against M. Antony, in consequence of which it was taken by that general, and plundered in the most unsparing manner by his troops. (Cic. ad. Fam. 10.3. 3, 11.13, a., 12.5, Phil. 14.3, 4.) Cicero still calls it on this occasion a Colonia, and there can be no doubt that it still retained that rank; but under Augustus it received a fresh colony, from which it derived the title of Colonia Julia Augusta, which we find it bearing in inscriptions. (Gruter, Inscr. p. 492. 5; Zumpt, de Colon. p. 354.) Pliny also styles it a Colonia, and there seems no doubt that it continued under the Roman Empire to be, as it was in the time of Strabo, one of the principal towns of this populous and flourishing part of Italy. (Plin. Nat. 3.15. s. 20; Strab. v. p.216; Ptol. 3.1.46; Phlegon, Macrob. 1.) But its name is scarcely mentioned in history: a proof perhaps of the tranquillity that it enjoyed. Its territory was celebrated for the excellence of its wool, which according to Martial was inferior only to that of Apulia. (Martial, 14.155; Col. 7.2.3.) In A.D. 377, a colony of Goths was settled by order of Gratian in the territory of Parma, as well as the adjoining districts (Amm. Marc. 31.9.4),--a proof that they were already suffering from a decay of the population; and it is probable that it did not escape the general devastation of the province of Aemilia by Attila. But it survived these calamities: it still bears a part as an important town during the wars of Narses with the Goths and their allies, and is noticed by P. Diaconus, as one of the wealthy cities of Aemilia after the Lombard conquest. (Agath. B. G. 1.14--17; P. Diac. Hist. Lang. 2.18.) It retained its consideration throughout the middle ages, and is still a populous and flourishing place with above 30,000 inhabitants, but has no remains of antiquity, except a few inscriptions.

The Roman poet Cassius Parmensis would appear from his name to have been a native of Parma, but there is no distinct testimony to this effect.

The Itinerary (p. 284) mentions a line of crossroad which proceeded from Parma across the Apennines to Luca: this must have ascended the valley of the Parma, or the adjoining one of the Tarus, as far as the main ridge, and and thence descended the valley of the Macra to Luna. This passage, though little frequented in modern times, is one of the main lines of natural communication across this part of the Apennines, and is in all probability that followed by Hannibal; on his advance into, Etruria.


hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 10.3.3
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.15
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 55
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 31.9.4
    • Columella, Res Rustica, 7.2.3
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.155
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
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