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TERGESTE (Τέργεστε, Strab. Τέργεστον, Ptol.: Eth. Tergestinus: Trieste), a city of Venetia or Istria, situated on a bay to which it gave the name of TERGESTINUS SINUS, which forms the inner bight or extremity of the Adriatic sea towards the N. It [p. 2.1130]was very near the confines of Istria and Venetia, so that there is considerable discrepancy between ancient authors as to which of these provinces it belonged, both Strabo and Ptolemy reckoning it a city of Istria, while Pliny includes it in the region of the Carni, which was comprised in Venetia. (Strab. v. p.215, vii. p. 314; Plin. Nat. 3.18. s. 22; Ptol. 3.1.27.) Mela on the contrary calls it the boundary of Illyricum (2.4.3). From the time that the Formio, a river which falls into the sea 6 miles S. of Trieste, became fixed as the boundary of the provinces [FORMIO], there can be no doubt that Pliny's attribution is correct. It is probable that Tergeste was originally a native town either of the Carni or Istrians, but no mention is found of its name till after the Roman conquest, nor does it appear to have risen into a place of importance until a later period. The first historical mention of it is in B.C. 51, when we learn that it was taken and plundered by a sudden incursion of the neighbouring barbarians (Caes. Gal. 8.24; Appian, App. Ill. 18); but from the terms in which it is there noticed it is evident that it was already a Roman town, and apparently had already received a Roman colony. It was afterwards restored, and, to protect it for the future against similar disasters, was fortified with a wall and towers by Octavian in B.C. 32. (Gruter, Inscr. p. 266. 6.) It is certain that it enjoyed the rank of a Colonia from the time of Augustus, and is styled such both by Pliny and Ptolemy. (Plin. Nat. 3.18. s. 22; Ptol. 3.1.27.) That emperor also placed under the protection and authority of the city the neighbouring barbarian tribes of the Carni and Catali, and, by reducing to subjection their more formidable neighbours, the Iapodes, laid the foundations of the prosperity of Tergeste. The growth of this was mainly promoted by the advantages of its port, which is the only good harbour in this part of the Adriatic; but it was apparently overshadowed by the greatness of the neighbouring Aquileia, and Tergeste, though a considerable municipal town, never rose in ancient times to a comumanding position. We even learn that in the reign of Antoninus Pius the citizens obtained the admission of the Carni and Catali--who had previously been mere subjects or dependents--to the Roman “civitas,” in order that they might share the burthensome honours of the local magistracy. (Orell. Inscr. 4040.) The inscription from which we learn this fact is one of the most interesting municipal records preserved to us from ancient times, and has been repeatedly published, especially with notes and illuistrations by C. T. Zumpt (Decretum Municipale Tergestinum, 4to. Berol. 1837) and by Göttling (Fünfzehn Römische Urkunden, p. 75). No subsequent mention of Tergeste is found in history under the Roman Empire; but it is certain that it continued to exist; and retained its position as a considerable town throughout the middle ages. But it is only within the last century that it has risen to the position that it now occupies of one of the most populous and flourishing cities on the Adriatic. The only remains of antiquity extant at Trieste are some portions of a Roman temple, built into the modern cathedral, together with several inscriptions (including the celebrated one already noticed) and some fragments of friezes, bas-reliefs, &c.

Tergeste is placed by the Itineraries at a distance of 24 miles from Aquileia, on the line of road which followed the coast from that city into Istria. (Itin. Ant., p. 270; Tab. Peut.) Pliny, less correctly, calls it. 33 miles from that city (Plin. l.c.). The spacious gulf on which it was situated, called by Pliny the TERGESTINUS SINUS, is still known as the Gulf of Trieste.


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Appian, Illyrian Wars, 4.18
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 8.24
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.18
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
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