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VIA AEMILIA Αἰμιλία ὁδός), one of the most celebrated and important of the Roman highways, ways, and the first that was constructed by them in Northern Italy. The period of its first construction is clearly marked by Livy, who tells us that M. Aemilius Lepidus, the consul of B.C. 187, after having effectually subdued the Ligurians, carried a highroad from Placentia to Ariminum, that it might there join the Flaminian Way ( “Viam ab Placentia, ut Flaminiae committeret, Ariminum perduxit,” Liv. 39.2). Strabo indeed gives a different view of the case, and speaks of the Aemilian Way as constructed structed in the first instance only from Ariminum to Bononia, and thence sweeping round the marshes, and skirting the roots of the Alps to Aquileia (v. p. 217). But there is every reason to suppose that this last branch of the road was not constructed till long afterwards; and there is no doubt of the correctness rectness of Livy's statement that the original Via Aemilia, and the only one that was generally recognised nised as such, was the line of road from Ariminum to Placentia. It was this celebrated highway--which is still in use at the present day, and, being carried the whole way through a level plain, preserves almost a straight line during a course of 180 miles--that became the means of carrying Roman civilisation into the heart of Cisalpine Gaul; and so great was its influence upon the population that it traversed, that the whole district between the Apennines and the Padus, constituting the Eighth Region of Augustus, and commonly called by geographers Gallia Cispadana, came to be known as Aemilia, and was eventually constituted into a province under that name. The period at which this took place is uncertain, but the appellation was doubtless in popular use long before it became an official designation; and as early as the first century we find Martial employing the expressions, pressions, “Aemiliae de regione viae,” and even “tota in Aemilia” (Martial. 3.4. 2, 6.85. 6). As indeed all the principal towns of the district (with the single exception of Ravenna) were situated on the Via Aemilia, the use of this designation seems extremely natural.

We have no account of the period at which the Via Aemilia was continued from Placentia to Mediolanum, though there is little doubt that it would take [p. 2.1287]place soon after the complete subjugation of the Transpadane Gauls. Nor do we know with any certainty whether the name of Via Aemilia was ever applied in common usage to this portion of the road, or to the branches that led from Mediolanum to the foot of the Alps, as well as from that city by Verona to Patavium. But as Strabo distinctly applies the name to the branch that led by Patavium to Aquileia, we may here most conveniently include all the principal highroads of the N. of Italy under one view in the present article.


The main or trunk line of the Via Aemilia from Ariminum to Placentia. The stations on this road are thus given in the Antonine Itinerary, where they are repeated more than once (pp. 99, 126, 287); and, from the direct line of the road, the distances are subject to no doubt:--

From Ariminum (Rimini) to    
Caesena (Cesena xx. M. P.
Faventia (Faenza xxiv.  
Forum, Cornelii (Imola x.  
Bononia (Bologna xxiv.  
Mutina (Modena xxv.  
Regium (Reggio xvii.  
Parma (Parma xviii.  
Fidentiola (Borgo S. Donino xv.  
Placentia (Piacenza xxiv.  

The same line is given more in detail in the Jerusalem Itinerary (p. 615, &c.), with which the Tabula substantially agrees; but the distances are more correctly given in the latter.

The stations enumerated are:--

Competu (I. H.) Ad Comfluentes (Tab.) xii. M. P.
Caesena (Cesena viii.  
Forum Populii (Forlimpopoli vii.  
Forum Livii (Forli vii.  
Faventia (Faenza x.  
Forum Cornelii (Imola x.  
Claterna (Quaderna xiv.  
Bononia (Bologna x.  
Forum Gallorum xvii.  
Mutina (Modena viii.  
Regium (Reggio xvii.  
Tannetum (Taneto xi.  
Parma (Parma vii.  
Fidentia (Borgo S. Donino xv.  
Florentia (Firenzuola x.  
Placentia (Piacenza xv.  

The general agreement in the distances above given (which are those of the Tabula) with those of the Antonine Itinerary, though the division is different, sufficiently shows the accuracy of the two. The distances in the Jerusalem Itinerary are, for this line of route, generally less accurate. Some obscure Mutationes mentioned in the one document, and not in the other, have been omitted in the above list.


Continuation of the Via Aemilia from Placentia to Mediolanum. This line is summarily given in the Antonine Itinerary thus:--

From Placentia to Laus Pompeia (Lodi Vecchio xxiv. M. P.
Thence to Mediolanum (Milan xvi.  

The same distances are thus divided in the Jerusalem Itinerary:--

Ad Rotas xi. M. P.
Tres Tabernae v.  
Laus viii.  
Ad Nonum vii.  
Mediolanum vii. (ix.?)

The intermediate stations are unknown, and are expressly called mere Mutationes, or places for changing horses.


From Mediolanum to Augusta Praetoria, at the foot of the Alps, the distances, as given in the Antonine Itinerary, are:--

From Mediolanum to    
Novaria (Novara xxxiii. M. P.
Vercellae (Vercelli xvi.  
Eporedia (Ivrea xxxiii.  
Vitricium (Verrez xxi.  
Augusta Praetoria (Aosta xxv.  

The same authority gives a circuitous line of route from Mediolanum to Vercellae (where it rejoins the preceding) by

Ticinum (Pavia xxii. M. P.
Laumellum (Lomello xxii.  
Vercellae (Vercelli xxvi.  


From Mediolanum to Aquileia. The stations given in the Itineraries are as follows:--

Med. to Argentia x. M. P.
  Pons Aureoli (Pontirolo x.  
  Bergamum (Bergamo xiii.  
  Brixia (Brescia xxxviii. (xxxii.)
  Sirmio (Sermione xxii.  
  Verona (Verona xxii.  
  Vicentia (Vicenza xxxiii.  
  Patavium (Padova xxvii. (xxii.)
  Altinum (Altino xxxiii.  
  Concordia (Concordia xxxi.  
  Aquileia (Aquileia xxxi.  

(In the above line of route the minor stations (Mutationes) given in the Jerusalem Itinerary are omitted. For an examination of them, and a careful comparison of all the Roman roads through Cisalpine Gaul, see Walekenaer, Géographie des Gaules, vol. iii. pp. 2--13.)


From Bononia to Aquileia. This is the road of which Strabo expressly speaks as a continuation of the Via Aemilia (v. p. 217), but it is probable, that he did not mean to say that it branched off directly from Bononia; at least the only line given in the Itineraries turns off from the main line of the Via Aemilia at Mutina, and thence proceeds to

Vicus Serninus (?) xxiii. M. P.
Vicus Varianus (Bariano, on the N. bank of the Po xx.  
Anneianum (Legnago? xvii.  
Ateste (Este xx.  
Patavium (Padova xxv.  

whence it followed the same line to Aquileia as that given above. Another line of road, which though more circuitous was probably more frequented, led from Mutina by Colicaria (an uncertain station) to Hostilia (Ostiglia), where it crossed the Padus, and thence direct to Verona (xxx. M. P.). (Itin. Ant. p. 282.)


From Placentia to Dertona, where it communicated with the road constructed by Aemilius Scaurus across the Apennines to Vada Sabata. (Strab. v. p.217.) The stations on this short line were:--

From Placentia to    
Comillomagus xxv. M. P.
Iria (Voghera xvi.  
Dertona (Tortona x.  

The first station, Comillomagus, or Camiliomagus, as the name is written in the Tabula, is unknown, but must have been situated a short distance to the W. of Broni.


Lastly, a branch of the Via Aemilia led from Placentia to Ticinum (Pavia), whence it was carried westwards to Augusta Taurinorum (Turin) and [p. 2.1288]the foot of the Cottian Alps. This was therefore one of the great highroads leading to Gaul. But the stations on it. as given in the Tabula, are very confused, and can only partially be restored by the assistance of the Antonine Itinerary, which nowhere gives this road in its entirety. At Ticinum it was joined by another road leading from Mediolanum to that city. The stations, as given in the Jerusalem Itinerary (p. 556), are as follows:--

Durii (Dorno xii. M. P.
Laumellum (Lomello ix.  
Ad Cottias (Cozzo xii.  
Ad Medias xiii.  
Rigomagus (Trino Vecchio x.  
Ceste (?) viii.  
Quadratae (near Londaglio xi.  
Ad Decimum xii.  
Taurini (Turin x.  
Ad Fines (Avigliano xvi.  
Ad Duodecimum xii.  
Segusio (Susa xii.  

The rest of the route over the Cottian Alps is given in the article ALPES [E.H.B]

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  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 2
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