, Strab.; Ταρράκηνα
, Steph. B. sub voce
: Eth. Ταρρρακινίτης
, Eth. Tarracinensis
), a city of Latium in the more extended sense of that name, but originally a Volscian city, situated on the Tyrrhenian sea, about 10 miles from Circeii, and at the extremity of the Pomptine Marshes.
It was also known by the name of ANXUR
and we learn from Pliny and Livy that this was its Volscian name, while Tarracina was that by which it was known to the Latins and Romans. (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9
; Ennius ap. Fest. s. v. Anxur; Liv. 4.59
The name of Anxur is frequently used at a much later period by the Roman poets (Hor. Sat. i.
5. 26; Lucan 3.84
; Martial, 5.1. 6
, &c.), obviously because Tarracina could not be introduced in verse; but Cicero, Livy, and all other prose writers, where they are speaking of the Roman town, universally call it Tarracina. The Greek derivation of the latter name suggested by Strabo (v. p.233
), who says it was originally called Τραχινή,
from its rugged situation, is probably a mere etymological fancy.
The first mention of it in history occurs in the treaty between Rome and Carthage concluded in B.C. 509, in which the people of Tarracina are mentioned in common with those of Circeii, Antium, &c., among the subjects or dependencies of Rome. (Pol. 3.22.)
It seems certain therefore that Tarracina, as well as Circeii, was included in the Roman dominions before the fall of the monarchy.
But it is clear that it must have again fallen under the dominion of the Volscians, probably not long after this period.
It was certainly in the possession of that people, when its name next appears in history, in B.C. 406. On that occasion it was attacked by N. Fabius Ambustus, and taken by a sudden assault, while the attention of the Volscian armies was drawn off in another direction. (Liv. 4.57
; Diod. 14.16
.) Livy speaks of it as having at this time enjoyed a long period of power and prosperity, and still possessing great wealth, which was plundered by the Roman armies.
A few years afterwards (B.C. 402) it again fell into the hands of the Volscians, through the negligence of the Roman garrison (Liv. 5.8
). In B.C. 400, it was again besieged by the Roman arms under Valerius Potitus, and though his first assaults were repulsed, and he was compelled to have recourse to a blockade, it soon after fell into his hands. (Ib.
An attempt of the Volscians to recover it in 397 proved unsuccessful (Ib.
16), and from this time the city continued subject to Rome. Nearly 70 years later, after the conquest of Privernum, it was thought advisable to secure Tarracina with a Roman colony, which was established there in B.C. 329. (Liv. 8.21
; Vell. 1.14
The condition of Tarracina as a Roman colony is not quite clear, for Velleius notices it as if it had been one of the “Coloniae Latinae,” while Livy certainly does not consider it as such, for he omits its name among the thirty Latin colonies in the time of the Second Punic War, while he on two occasions mentions it in connection with the other maritime colonies, Antium, Minturnae, &c.
In common with these, the citizens of Tarracina in vain contended for exemption from military service during the Second Punic War, and at a later period claimed exemption from naval service also. (Liv. 27.38
There can, therefore, be no doubt that Tarracina was a “colonia maritima civium,” and it seems to have early become one of [p. 2.1104]
the most important of the maritime towns subject to Rome. Its position on the Appian Way, which here first touched on the sea (Strab. v. p.233
; Hor. Sat.
1.5. 26), doubtless contributed to its prosperity; and an artificial port seems to have in some degree supplied the want of a natural harbour. (Liv. 27.4
In a military point of view also its position was important, as commanding the passage of the Appian Way, and the narrow defile of Lautulae, which was situated a short distance from the city on the side of Fundi. (Liv. 22.15
Under the Roman Republic Tarracina seems to have continued to be a considerable and flourishing town. Cicero repeatedly notices it as one of the customary halting-places on the Appian Way, and for the same reason it is mentioned by Horace on his journey to Brundusium. (Cic. de Orat. 2.59
, ad Fam.
7.23, ad Att.
7.5; Hor. Sat.
1.5. 26; Appian, App. BC 3.12
; V. Max. 8.1.13
At the outbreak of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, Tarracina was occupied by the latter with three cohorts under the praetor Rutilius Lupus, but they abandoned their post, when Pompey withdrew to Brundusium. (Caes. B.C.
1.24; Cic. Att. 8.1. 1
, B.) Again, during the civil war between Vespasian and Vitellius, Tarracina was evidently regarded as a place of importance in a military point of view, and was occupied by the partisans of Vespasian, but was wrested from them by L. Vitellius just before the death of his brother. (Tac. Hist. 3.57
It was at Tarracina also that the funeral convoy of Germanicus was met by his cousin Drusus and the chief personages of Rome. (Id. Ann.
The neighbourhood seems to have been a favourite site for villas under the Roman Empire: among others the Emperor Domitian had a villa there (Martial. 5.1. 6); and it was at another villa near the town, on the road to Fundi, that the emperor Galba was born. (Suet. Galb.
In addition to the other natural advantages of the situation, there existed mineral springs in the neighbourhood, which seem to have been much frequented. (Martial, 5.1. 6
The important position of Tarracina doubtless prevented its falling into decay as long as the Western Empire subsisted. Its name is found in the Itineraries as a “civitas” (Itin. Ant.
p. 187; Itin. Hier.
p. 611), and even after the fall of the Roman dominion it appears as a fortress of importance during the Gothic wars. (Procop. B. G.
2.2, 4, &c.)
The position of Tarracina at the extremity of the Pomptine Marshes, just where a projecting ridge of the Volscian mountains runs down to the sea, and separates the marshy tract on the W. from a similar but much smaller tract on the E., which extends from thence towards Fundi, must in all ages have rendered it a place of importance.
The ancient city stood on the hill above the marshes. Horace distinctly describes it as standing on lofty rocks, which were conspicuous afar, from their white colour:-- “Impositum saxis late candentibus Anxur
1.5. 26); and the same circumstance is alluded to by other Latin poets. (Lucan 3.84
; Sil. Ital. 8.392
.) Livy also describes the original Volscian town as “loco alto situm” (5.12), though it extended also down the slope of the hill towards the marshes ( “urbs prona in paludes,” 4.59).
At a later period it not only spread itself down the hill, but occupied a considerable level at the foot of it (as the modern city still does), in the neighbourhood of the port.
This last must always have been in great part artificial, but the existence of a regular port at Tarracina is noticed by Livy as early as B.C. 210. (Liv. 27.4
It was subsequently enlarged and reconstructed under the Roman Empire, probably by Trajan, and again restored by Antoninus Pius. (Capit. Ant. P.
8.) Its remains are still distinctly visible, and the whole circuit of the ancient basin, surrounded by a massive mole, may be clearly traced, though the greater part or it is now filled with sand. Considerable portions of the ancient walls also still remain, constructed partly in the polygonal style, partly in the more recent style known to the Romans as “opus incertum.” Several ancient tombs and ruins of various buildings of Roman date are still extant in the modern city and along the line of the Via Appia.
The modern cathedral stands on the site of an ancient temple, of which only the substructions and two columns remain.
This is generally called, though on very uncertain authority, a temple of Apollo.
The most celebrated of the temples at Tarracina was, however, that of Jupiter, which is noticed by Livy (28.11
), and the especial worship of this deity in the Volscian city under the title of Jupiter Anxurus is alluded to by Virgil (Aen.
He was represented (as we are told by Servius) as a beautiful youth, and the figure of the deity corresponding to this description is found on a Roman coin of the Vibian family. (Eckhel, vol. v. p. 340.)
It is probable that this temple was situated in the highest part of the city, very probably in the ancient citadel, which occupied the summit of a hill above the town, where remains of its walls and substructions are still extant.
Tarracina was distant by the Via Appia 62 miles from Rome, and 18 from the Forum Appii. (Itin. Ant.
p. 107; Itin. Hier.
p. 611; Westphal, Röm. Kamp.
p. 68.) Three miles from the city, at the side of the Via Appia, as well as of the canal which was frequently used by travellers, was the fountain of Feronia, celebrated by Horace, together with the sacred grove attached to it. [FERONIA