, Ptol. 2.6.17
), an ancient city of Spain, probably founded by the Phoenicians, who called it Tarchon,
which, according to Bochart, means “a citadel.” This name was pro bably derived from its situation on a high rock, between 700 and 800 feet above the sea; whence we find it characterised as “arce potens Tarraco.” (Auson. Class. Urb.
9; cf. Mart. 10.104
It was seated on the river Sulcis, on a bay of the Mare Internum, between the Pyrenees and the river Iberus. (Mela, 2.6; Plin. Nat. 3.3. s. 4
.) Livy 22.22
) mentions a “portus Tarraconis;” and according to Eratosthenes (ap. Strab. iii. p.159
) it had a naval station or roads (Ναύσταθμον
); but Artemidorus (ap. Strab. l.c.; Plb. 3.76
) says with more probability that it had none, and scarcely even an anchoring place; and Strabo himself calls it ἀλίμενος.
This answers better to its present condition; for though a mole was constructed in the 15th century with the materials of the ancient amphitheatre, and another subsequently by an Englishman named John Smith, it still affords but little protection for shipping. (Ford's Handbook of Spain,
p. 222.) Tarraco lay on the main road along the S. coast of Spain. (Itin. Ant.
pp. 391, 396, 399, 448, 452.)
It was fortified and much enlarged [p. 2.1105]
by the brothers Publius and Cneius Scipio, who converted it into a fortress and arsenal against the Carthaginians. Subsequently it became the capital of the province named after it, a Roman colony, and “conventus juridicus.” (Plin. l.c.; Tac. Ann. 1.78
; Solin. 23
; Plb. 10.34
; Liv. 21.61
; Steph. B. sub voce
p. 637 ) Augustus wintered at Tarraco after his Cantabrian campaign, and bestowed many marks of honour on the city, among which were its honorary titles of “Colonia Victrix Togata” and “Colonia Julia Victrix Tarraconensis.” (Grut. Inscr.
p. 382; Orelli, no. 3127; coins in Eckhel, i. p. 27; Florez, Med.
ii. p. 579; Mionnet, i. p. 51, Suppl.
i. p. 104; Sestini, p. 202.)
According to Mela (l.c.
) it was the richest town on that coast, and Strabo (l.c.
) represents its population as equal to that of Carthago Nova. Its fertile plain and sunny shores are celebrated by Martial and other poets; and its neighbourhood is described as producing good wine and flax. (Mart. 10.104
; Sil. Ital. 3.369
; Plin. Nat. 14.6. s. 8
. s. 2.)
There are still many important ancient remains at Tarragona,
the present name of the city. Part of the bases of large Cyclopean walls near the Quartel de Pilatos
are thought to be anterior to the Romans.
The building just mentioned, now a prison, is said to have been the palace of Augustus. But Tarraco, like most other ancient towns which have continued to be inhabited, has been pulled to pieces by its own citizens for the purpose of obtaining building materials.
The amphitheatre near the sea-shore has been used as a quarry, and but few vestiges of it now remain.
A circus, 1500 feet long, is now built over it, though portions of it are still to be traced. Throughout the town Latin, and even apparently Phoenician, inscriptions on the stones of the houses proclaim the desecration that has been perpetrated. Two ancient monuments, at some little distance from the town, have, however, fared rather better.
The first of these is a magnificent aqueduct, which spans a valley about a mile from the gates.
It is 700 feet in length, and the loftiest arches, of which there are two tiers, are 96 feet high.
The monument on the NW. of the city, and also about a mile distant, is a Roman sepulchre, vulgarly called the. “Tower of the Scipios;” but there is no authority for assuming that they were buried here. (Cf. Ford, Handbook,
p. 219, seq.; Florez, Esp. Sagr.
xxix. p. 68, seq.; Miñano, Diccion.
viii. p. 398.)