), one of the most considerable cities of Apulia, situated on the coast of the Adriatic, but separated from the open sea by an intervening lagune, or saltwater lake, which was known in ancient times as the SALAPINA PALUS (Lucan 5.377
; Vib. Seq. p. 26), and is still called the Lago di Salpi.
This lagune has now only an artificial outlet to the sea through the bank of sand which separates them; but it is probable that in ancient times its communications were more free, as Salapia was certainly a considerable sea-port and in Strabo's time served as the port both of Arpi and Canusium (Strab. vi. p.284
At an earlier period it was an independent city, and apparently a place of considerable importance. Tradition ascribed its foundation, as well as that of the neighbouring cities of Canusium and Arpi, to Diomedes (Vitr. 1.4.12
); or, according to others, to a Rhodian colony under Elpias (Id. ib.; Strab. xiv. p.654
There is no trace of its having received a Greek colony in historical times, though, in common with many other cities of the Daunian Apulians, it seems to have imbibed a large amount of Hellenic influence.
This was probably derived from the Tarentines, and did not date from a very early period.
The name of Salapia is not mentioned in history till the Second Punic War, in which it bears a considerable part.
It was evidently one of the cities of Apulia which revolted to Hannibal after the battle of Cannae (Liv. 22.61
); and a few years after we find it still in his possession.
It was apparently a place of strength, on which account he collected there great magazines of corn, and established his winter quarters there in B.C. 214. (Id. 24.20.)
It remained in his hands after the fall of Arpi in the following year (Id. 24.47); but in B.C. 210 it was betrayed into the power of Marcellus by Blasius, one of its citizens, who had been for some time the leader of the Roman party in the place, and the Numidian garrison was put to the sword. (Id. 26.88; Appian, Annib.
45--47.) Its loss seems to have been a great blow to the power of Hannibal in this part of Italy; and after the death of Marcellus, B.C. 208, he made an attempt to recover possession of it by stratagem; but the fraud was discovered, and the Carthaginian troops were repulsed with loss. (Liv. 27.1
; Appian, Annib.
51.) No subsequent mention of it is found till the Social War, in the second year of which, when the tide of fortune was beginning to turn in favour of Rome, it was taken by the Roman praetor C. Cosconius, and burnt to the ground (Appian, App. BC 1.51
After this time it appears to have fallen into a state of decay, and suffered severely from malaria in consequence of the exhalations of the neighbouring lagune. Vitruvius tells us, that at length the inhabitants applied to M. Hostilius, who caused them to remove to a more healthy situation, about 4 miles from the former site, and nearer the sea, while he at the same time opened fresh communications between the lagune and the sea (Vitr. 1.4.12
). We have no clue to the time at which this change took place, but it could hardly have been till after the town had fallen into a declining condition. Cicero, indeed, alludes to Salapia as in his day notorious for its pestilential climate (de Leg. Agr.
2.27); but this may be understood as relating to its territory rather than the actual town. Vitruvius is the only author who notices the change of site; but if his account can be depended [p. 2.880]
upon, the Salapia mentioned by Pliny and Ptolemy as well as Strabo, must have been the new town, and not the original city of the name. (Strab. vi. p.284
; Plin. Nat. 3.12. s. 17
; Ptol. 3.1.16
.) The Liber Coloniarum also speaks of it as a colony adjoining tire sea-coast, which doubtless refers to the new town of the name.
This does not, however, seem to have ever risen into a place of much importance, and the name subsequently disappears altogether.
Extensive ruins of Salapia are still visible on the southern shore of the Lago di Salpi,
in a tract of country now almost wholly desolate. They evidently belong to a city of considerable size and importance, and must therefore be those of the ancient Apulian city.
This is further confirmed by the circumstance that the coins of Salapia, which of course belong to the period of its independence, are frequently found on the spot. (Swinburne's Travels,
vol. i. p. 81.)
The site of the Roman town founded by M. Hostilius is said to be indicated by some remains on the seashore, near the Torre di Salpi.
(Romanelli, vol. ii. p. 201.)
The lagune still called the Lago di Salpi
is about 12 miles in length by about 2 in breadth.
At its eastern extremity, where it communicates with the sea by an artificial cut, are extensive salt-works, which are considered to be the representatives of those noticed in the Itineraries under the name of Salinae.
It is by no means certain (though not improbable) that these ancient salt-works occupied the same site as the modern ones; and the distances given in the Itineraries along this line of coast, being in any case corrupt and confused, afford no clue to their identification. (Itin. Ant.
p. 314; Tab. Peut.
) It is probable that the name of Salapia itself is connected with sal,
the lagune having always been well adapted for the collection of salt.
The coins of Salapia, as well as those of Arpi and Canusium, have Greek legends, and indicate the strong influence of Greek art and civilisation, though apparently at a late period, none of them being of an archaic style.
The magistrates' names which occur on them (ΔΑΖΣ, ΠΨΑΑΟΣ,
&c.) are, on the contrary, clearly of native origin. (Mommsen, U. I. D.
pp. 82, 83.)
|COIN OF SALAPIA.|