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SPINA (Σπίνα, Strab.; Σπῖνα, Steph. B. sub voce: Eth.Σπινάτης and Eth. Σπινίτης), an ancient city of Italy, situated near the southernmost mouth of the Padus, within the limits of Gallia Cisalpina. It was, according to Dionysius, a Pelasgic settlement, and one of the most flourishing cities founded by that people in Italy, enjoying for a considerable time the dominion of the Adriatic, and deriving great wealth from its commercial relations, so that the citizens had a treasury at Delphi, which they adorned with costly offerings. They were subsequently expelled from their city by an overwhelming force of barbarians, and compelled to abandon Italy. (Dionys. A. R. 1.18, 28.) Strabo gives a similar account of the naval greatness of Spina, as well as of its treasury at Delphi; but he calls it a Greek (Hellenic) city; and Scylax, who notices only Greek, or reputed Greek, cities, mentions Spina apparently as such. Its Greek origin is confirmed also by Justin, whose authority, however, is not worth much. (Strab. v. p.214, ix. p. 421; Scyl. p. 6.19; Justin, 20.1; Plin. Nat. 3.16. s. 20.) But these authorities, as well as the fact that it had a treasury at Delphi, which is undoubtedly historical, seem to exclude the supposition that it was an Etruscan city, like the neighbouring Adria; and whatever be the foundation of the story of the old Pelasgic settlement, there seems no reason to doubt that it was really a Greek colony, though we have no account of the period of its establishment. Scylax alludes to it as still existing in his time: hence it is clear that the barbarians who are said by Dionysius to have driven out the inhabitants, can be no other than the neighbouring Gauls; and that the period of its destruction was not very long before the conquest of Cisalpine Gaul by the Romans. It does not appear to have ever been rebuilt or become a Roman town. Strabo speaks of it as in his time a mere village; and Pliny repeatedly alludes to it as a place no longer in existence. (Plin. Nat. 3.16. s. 20, 17. s. 21; Strab. v. p.214.) No subsequent trace of it is found and its site has never been ascertained. We know, however, that it must have been situated on or near the southernmost arm of the Padus, which derived from it the name of SPINETICUM OSTIUM, and which probably corresponded with the modern Po di Primaro. [PADUS] But the site of Spina must now be sought far from the sea: Strabo tells us that even in his time it was 90 stadia (11 miles) from the coast; though it was said to have been originally situated on the sea. It is probably now 4 or 5 miles further inland; but the changes which have taken place in the channels of the rivers, as well as the vast accumulations of alluvial soil, render it almost hopeless to look for its site.

Pliny tells us that the Spinetic branch of the Padus was the one which was otherwise called Eridanus; but it is probable that this was merely one of the attempts to connect the mythical Eridanus with the actual Padus, by applying its name to one particular branch of the existing river. It is, however, probable that the Spinetic channel was, in very early times, one of the principal mouths of the river, and much more considerable than it afterwards became. [PADUS]


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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.16
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