previous next


VIA APPIA ( Ἀππία ὁδίς), the greatest and most celebrated of all the Roman highways in Italy, which led from Rome direct to Brundusium, and thus became the principal line of communication with Greece, Macedonia and the East. Hence it became, in the flourishing times of the Roman Empire, the most frequented and important of the Roman roads, and is called by Statius “regina viarum.” (Silv. 2.2. 12.) Martial also calls it “Appia . . . Ausoniae maxima fama viae” (9.102). The former author terms it “annosa Appia,” in reference to its great antiquity (lb. 4.3. 163.) It was indeed the earliest of all the Roman highways, of the construction of which we have any definite account, and very probably the first of all that was regularly made as a great public work; the Via Salaria, Tiburtina, &c., having doubtless long been in use as mere natural roads, before they were converted into solidly constructed Viae. There must in like manner have always been some kind of road communicating from Rome with Alba and Aricia; but it is evident, from the perfectly straight line followed by the Via Appia from a point very little without the gates of Rome to Aricia, that this must have been a new work, laid out and executed at once. The original construction of the Via Appia was undoubtedly due to the censor Appius Claudius Caecus, who commenced it in B.C. 312, and completed it as far as Capua before the close of his censorship. (Liv. 9.29; Diod. 20.36; Frontin. de Aquaed. 5; Orell. Inscr. 539.) From Capua it was undoubtedly carried on to Beneventum, and again at a subsequent period to Brundusium; but the date of these continuations is unknown. It is evident that the last at least could not have taken place till after the complete subjugation of the south of Italy in B.C. 266, and probably not till after the establishment of the Roman colony at Brundusium, B.C. 244. Hence it--is certainly a mistake when Aurelius Victor speaks of Appius Claudius Caecus as having carried the Appian Way to Brundusium. (Vict. Vir. Ill. 34.) The continuation and completion of this great work has been assigned to various members of the Claudian family; but this is entirely without authority.

Strabo distinctly speaks of the Appian Way as extending, in his time, from Rome to Brundusium; and his description of its course and condition is important. After stating that almost all travellers from Greece and the East used to land at Brundusium, he adds: “From thence there are two ways to Rome, the one adapted only for mules, through the country of the Peucetians, Daunians, and Samnites, to Beneventum, on which are the cities of Egnatia, Caelia, Canusium, and Herdonia; the other through Tarentum, deviating a little to the left, and going round about a day's journey, which is called the Appian, and is better adapted for carriages. On this are situated Uria (between Brundusium and Tarentum) and Venusia, on the confines of the Samnites and Lucanians. Both these roads, [p. 2.1289]starting from Brundusium, meet at Beneventum. Thence to Rome the road is called the Appian, passing through Caudium, Calatia, Capua, and Casilinum, to Sinuessa. The whole distance from Rome to Brundusium is 360 miles. There is yet a third road, from Rhegium, through the Bruttians and Lucanians, and the lands.of the Samnites to Campania, where it joins the Appian; this passes through the Apennine mountains, and is three or four days' journey longer than that from Brundusium.” (Strab. v. p.283.) It is not improbable that the first of these branches, which Strabo distinctly distinguishes from the true Appian Way, is the Via Numicia or Minucia (the reading is uncertain), mentioned by Horace as the alternative way by which it was customary to proceed. to Brundusium. (Hor. Ep. 1.18. 20.) But Strabo gives us no information as to how it proceeded from Herdonia, in the plains of Apulia, through the mountains to Beneventum. It is, however, probable that it followed nearly the same line as the high road afterwards constructed by Trajan, through Aecae and Equus Tuticus. This is indeed one of the principal natural passes through this part of the Apennines, and is still followed, with little deviation, by the modern highroad from Naples to Brindisi and Taranto. But it is worthy of remark, that Horace and his companions in their journey to Brundusium, of which he has left us the poetical itinerary (Sat. 1.5), appear not to have followed this course, but to have taken a somewhat more direct route through Trivicum, and a small town not named ( “oppidulum quod versu dicere non est” ), to Canusium. This route, which does not agree with either of those mentioned by Strabo, or with those given in the Itineraries, was probably disused after that constructed by Trajan, through Equus Tuticus and Aecae, had become the frequented line. It was to that emperor that the Appian Way was indebted for many improvements. He restored, if he was not the first to construct, the highroad through the Pontine Marshes from Forum Appii to Tarracina (D. C. 68.15; Hoare, Class. Tour, vol. i. p. 28); and he at the same time constructed, at his own expense, a new line of highroad from Beneventum to Brundusium (Gruter,Insor. p. 151. 2), which is undoubtedly the Via Trajana celebrated by coins. (Eckhel, vol. iv. p. 421.) It is probable (as already pointed out) that he did no more than render practicable for carriages a. line of; route previously existing, but accessible only to mules; and that the Via Trajana coincided nearly with the road described by Strabo. But from the time that this road was laid open to general traffic, the proper Via Appia through Venusia to Tarentum, which traversed a wild and thinly-peopled country, seems to have fallen much into disuse. It is, however, still given in the Antonine Itinerary (p. 120) though not as the main line of the Appian Way. The latter appellation seems indeed to have been somewhat vaguely used under the Empire, and the same Itinerary bestows the name on the line, already indicated by Strabo (l.c.), that proceeded S. through Lucania and Bruttium to Rhegium, on the Sicilian Strait, a route which never went near Beneventum or Brundusium at all.

The Appian Way long survived the fall of the Western Empire. That portion of it which passed through the Pontine Marshes, which was always the most liable to suffer from neglect, was restored by Theodoric (Gruter, Inscr. p. 152. 8); and Procopius, who travelled over it 40 years later, speaks with admiration of the solidity and perfection of its construction. “The Appian Way (says he) extends from Rome to Capua, a journey of five days for an active traveller. Its width is such as to admit of the passage of two waggons in contrary directions. The road itself is worthy of the highest admiration, for the stone of which it is composed, a kind of mill-stone, and by nature very hard, was brought by Appius from some distant region, since none such is found in this part of the country. He then, after having smoothed and levelled the stones, and cut them into angular forms, fitted them closely together, without inserting either bronze or any other substance. But they are so accurately fitted and joined together, as to present the appearance of one compact mass naturally united, and not composed of many parts. And notwithstanding the long period of time that has elapsed, during which they have been worn by the continual passage of so many carriages and beasts of burden, they have neither been at all displaced from their original position, nor have any of them been worn down, or even lost their polish.” (Procop. B. G. 1.14.) The above description conveys an accurate impression of the appearance which the Appian Way must have presented in its most perfect state. The extraordinary care. and accuracy with which the blocks that composed the pavement of the Roman roads were fitted together, when first laid down, is well seen in the so-called Via Triumphalis, which led to the Temple of Jupiter, on Mons Albanus. [ALBANUS MONS] But it is evident from many other examples, that they became much worn down with time; and the pavement seen. by Procopius had doubtless been frequently restored. He is also mistaken in supposing that the hard basaltic lava (silex) with which it was paved, had to be brought from a distance: it is found in the immediate neighbourhood, and, in fact, the Appian Way itself, from the Capo di Bove to the foot of the Alban Hills, runs along a bank or ridge composed of this lava. Procopius also falls into the common mistake of supposing that the road was originally constructed by Appius Claudius such as he beheld it. But during the long interval it had been the object of perpetual care and restoration; and it is very doubtful how far any of the great works along its line, which excited the admiration of the Romans in later ages, were due to its original author. Caius Gracchus in particular had bestowed great pains upon the improvement of the Roman roads; and there is much reason to believe that it was in his time that they.first assumed the finished appearance which they ever afterwards bore. (Plut. C. Gracch. 7.) Caesar also, when a young man, was appointed “Curator Viae Appiae,” which had become a regular office, and laid out large sums of money upon its improvement. (Plut. Caes. 5.) The care bestowed on it by successive emperors, and especially by Trajan, is attested by numerous inscriptions.

It is very doubtful, indeed, whether the original Via Appia, as constructed by the censor Appins, was carried through the Pontine Marshes at all. No mention is found of his draining those marshes, without which such a work would have been impossible; and it is much more probable that the road was originally carried along the, hills by Cora, Norba, and Setia, by the same line which was again in use in the last century, before the Pontine Marshes had been drained for the last time by Pius VI. This conjecture is confirmed by the circumstance that Lucilius, in [p. 2.1290]describing his journey from Rome to Capua, complains of the extremely hilly character of the road in approaching Setia. (Lucil. Fragm. 3.6, ed. Gerlach.) Even in the time of Horace, as we learn from his well-known description of the journey to Brundusium, it was customary for travellers to continue their route from Forum Appii by water, embarking at that point on the canal through the Pontine Marshes (Hor. Sat. 1.5. 11, &c.). But the very existence of this canal renders it probable that there was at that time a road by the side of it, as we know was the case in Strabo's time, notwithstanding which he tells us that the canal was much used by travellers, who made the voyage in the night, and thus gained time. (Strab. v. p.233.)

It will be convenient to divide the description of the Appian Way, as it existed under the Roman Empire, and is given in the Itineraries, into several portions. The first of these from Rome to Capua was the main trunk line, upon which all its branches and extensions depended. This will require to be described in more detail, as the most celebrated and frequented of all the Roman highways.


From Rome to Capua.

The stations given in the Antonine Itinerary are:--

From Rome to Aricia (Lariccia xvi. M. P.
  Tres Tabernae xvii.  
  Appii Forum x.  
  Tarracina (Terracina xviii.  
  Fundi (Fondi xvi. (xiii.)
  Formiae (Mola di Gaëta xiii.  
  Mlinturnae (near Tragletto ix.  
  Sinuessa (Mondragone ix.  
  Capua (Sta Maria xvi. (xxvi.)

The above stations are for the most part well known, and admit of no doubt. Those in the neighbourhood of the Pontine Marshes have indeed given rise to much confusion, but are in fact to be easily determined. Indeed, the line of the road being almost perfectly straight from Rome to Tarracina renders the investigation of the distances a matter of little difficulty.

The Jerusalem Itinerary (p. 611) subdivides the same distance as follows:

Rome to Ad Nonum (mutatio) ix. M. P.
  Aricia (civitas) vii.  
  Sponsaeor Ad Sponsas (mutatio) xix.  
  Appii Forum (do.) vii. (xii.?)
  Ad Medias (do.) ix.  
  Tarracina (civitas) x.  
  Fundi (do.) xiii.  
  Formiae (do.) xii.  
  Minturnae (do.) ix.  
  Sinuessa (do.) ix.  
  Pons Campanus (mutatio) ix.  
  Ad Octavum (do.) ix.  
  Capua (civitas) viii.  

The intermediate stations were (as they are expressly called in the Itinerary itself) mere Mutationes, or posthouses, where relays of horses were kept. The determination of their position is therefore of no interest, except in connection with the distances given, which vary materially from those of the other Itinerary, though the total distance from Rome to Capua (125 miles) is the same in both.

The Appian Way issued from the Porta Capena, in the Servian walls of Rome, about half a mile outside of which it separated from the Via Latina, so that the two roads passed through different gates in the walls of Aurelian. That by which the Via Appia finally quitted Rome was known as the Porta Appia; it is now called the Porta S. Sebastiano. The first milestone on the road stood about 120 yards outside this gate; the distances always continuing to be measured from the old Porta Capena. The buildings and tombs which bordered the Via Appia in that portion of it which lay between the two gates, are described in the article ROMA p. 821. It was apparently in this part of its course, just outside the original city, that it was spanned by three triumphal arches, erected in honour of Drusus (the father of the emperor Claudius), Trajan, and L. Verus. One only of these still remains, just within the Porta S. Sebastiano, which, from its plain and unadorned style of architecture, is probably that of Drusus. Outside the Porta Appia the road descends to a small stream or brook, now called Acquataccia, which it crosses by a bridge less than half a mile from the gate: this trifling stream is identified, on good grounds, with the river Almo, celebrated for the peculiar sacred rites with which it was connected [ALMO]. A short distance beyond this the road makes a considerable bend, and ascends a bank or ridge before it reaches the second milestone. From that point it is carried in a straight line direct to the remains of Bovillae at the foot of the Alban Hills, running the whole way along a slightly elevated bank or ridge, formed in all probability by a very ancient current of lava from the Alban Mount. This long, straight line of road, stretching across the Campagna, and bordered throughout by the remains of tombs and ruins of other buildings, is, even at the present day, one of the most striking features in the neighbourhood of Rome, and, when the edifices which bordered it were still perfect, must have constituted a magnificent approach to the Imperial City. The whole line has been recently cleared and carefully examined. It is described in detail by the Car. Canina (in the Annali dell' Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica for 1852 and 1853; and more briefly by Desjardins, Essai sur la Topographie du Latium, 4to. Paris, 1854, pp. 92--130. We can here mention only some of the most interesting of the numerous monuments that have been thus brought to light, as well as those previously known and celebrated.

On the right of the road, shortly after crossing the Almo, are the remains of a vast sepulchre, which now serve to support the tavern or Osteria dell' Acquataccio; this is clearly identified by the inscriptions discovered there in 1773, as the monument of Abascantius, a freedman of Domitian, and of his wife Priscilla, of which Statius has left us in one of his poems a detailed description (Stat. Silv. 5.1). On the left of the road, almost exactly 3 miles from Rome, is the most celebrated of all the monuments of this kind, the massive sepulchre of Caecilia Metella, the daughter of Q. Metellus Creticus, and wife of Crassus the triumvir. Converted into a fortress in the middle ages, this tower-like monument is still in remarkable preservation, and, from its commanding position, is a conspicuous object from all points of the surrounding country. It is popularly known as the Capo di Bove, from the bucranium which appears as an ornament in the frieze. (A view of this remarkable monument is given in the article ROMA p. 822.) Before reaching the Capo di Bove, the road passes some extensive remains of buildings on the left, which appear to have formed part of an imperial villa constructed by the emperor Maxentius, attached to which are the remains of a circus, also the work of the same emperor, and which, from their remarkably perfect condition, have thrown much light [p. 2.1291]on the general plan of these edifices. [ROMA p. 844.]

Proceeding onwards from the tomb of Caecilia Metella, the road is bordered throughout by numerous sepulchres, the most remarkable of which is the tomb of Servilius Quartus, on the left, about 3 3/4 miles from Rome. The remarkable preservation of the ancient road in this part of its course, shows the accuracy of the description above cited from Procopius; but it is remarkable that this, the greatest and most frequented highway of the Roman empire, was only just wide enough to admit of the passage of two carriages abreast, being only 15 feet broad between the raised crepidines which bordered it. After passing a number of obscure tombs on both sides of the way, there occurs, just beyond the fifth mile from Rome, a remarkable enclosure, of quadrangular form, surrounded by a low wall of Alban stone. This has frequently been supposed to be the Campus Sacer Horatiorum, alluded to by Martial (3.47) as existing on the Appian Way, and which preserved the memory of the celebrated combat between the Horatii and Curiatii. This was believed to have been fought just about 5 miles from Rome (Liv. 1.23), which would accord well with the position of the enclosure in question; but it is maintained by modern antiquaries that this, which was certainly of a sacred character, more probably served the purposes of an Ustrinum, or place where the bodies of the dead were burned, previously to their being deposited in the numerous sepulchres that lined both sides of the Appian Way. These still form a continuous cemetery for above two miles farther. The most massive of them all, which must, when entire, have greatly exceeded even that of Caecilia Metella in magnitude, and from its circular form is known as the Casal Rotondo, occurs near the 6th mile from Rome, on the left of the Via Appia. From a fragment of an inscription found here, it is probable that this is the tomb of Messala Corvinus, the friend of Augustus and patron of Tibullus, and is the very monument, the massive solidity of which is more than once referred to by Martial ( “Messalae saxa,” 8.3. 5; “marmora Messalae,” 10.2. 9). Somewhat nearer Rome, on the same side of the road, are extensive ruins of a different description, which are ascertained to be those of a villa of the Quintilii, two brothers celebrated for their wealth, who were put to death by Commodus (D. C. 72.5), after which the villa in question probably became an imperial residence.

Some remains of a small temple, just 8 miles from Rome, have been supposed to be those of a temple of Hercules, consecrated or restored by Domitian at that distance from the city (Martial, 3.47. 4, 9.65. 4, 102. 12); but though the site of the temple in question is clearly indicated, it appears that the existing remains belong to an edifice of earlier date. Exactly 9 miles from Rome are the ruins of a villa of imperial date, within which is a large circular monument of brick, supposed with good reason to be the tomb of Gallienus, in which the emperor Flavius Severus also was buried. (Vict. Epit. lx.) Close to this spot must have been the station Ad Nonum mentioned in the Jerusalem Itinerary (l.c.). The road is still bordered on both sides by tombs; but none of these are of any special interest. At the Osteria delle Fratocchie (between 11 and 12 miles from Rome) the ancient Via is joined by the modern road to Albano: it here commences the ascent of the Alban Hills, which continues (though at first very gradually) for above 3 miles. A little farther on are the remains of Bovillae; the principal ruins of which lie a short distance to the right of the road. [BOVILLAE] The Tabula marks that place as a station on the Via Appia, but erroneously places it 10 miles from Rome, while the real distance is 12 miles. Thence the road (still retaining its straight line) ascended the hill to1 Albano, nearly on the site of the ALBANUM of Domitian, which, as we learn from Martial, was just 14 miles from Rome. (Martial, 9.65. 4, 102. 12.) The remains of the imperial villa border the road on the left for some distance before reaching the modern town. Two miles farther was Aricia, which is correctly placed by both the Itineraries 16 miles from Rome. The station was probably below the town, outside of the walls, as the Via Appia here deviates from the straight line which it has pursued so long, and descends into the hollow below the city by a steep slope known as the Clivus Aricinus. A little farther on it is carried over the lowest part of the valley by a causeway or substruction of massive masonry, one of the most remarkable works of the kind now extant. [ARICIA]

The remainder of the road will not require to be described in such detail. From Aricia it was continued, with a slight deviation from the direct line, avoiding the hills of Genzano and those which bound the Lake of Nami, on the left, and leaving Lanuvium at some distance on the right, till it descended again into the plain beyond the Alban Hills and reached the station of Tres Tabernae. An intermediate station, Sub Lanuvio, indicated only in the Tabula, must have been situated where a branch road struck off to the city of Lanuvium. The position of Tres Tabernae has been much disputed, but without any good reason. That of Forum Appii, the next stage, is clearly established [FORUM APPII], and the 43rd milestone of the ancient road still exists on the spot; thus showing that the distances given in the Antonine Itinerary are perfectly correct. This being established, it is clear that Tres Tabernae is to be placed at a spot 10 miles nearer Rome, and about 3 miles beyond the modern Cisterna, where there are still ruins of ancient buildings, near a medieval tower called the Torre d'Annibale. The ancient pavement is still visible in many places between Aricia and Tres Tabernae, and no doubt can exist as to the course of the road. This was indeed carried in a perfectly straight line from the point where it descended into the plain, through the Pontine Marshes to within a few miles of Terracina. The position of the station Ad Sponsas, mentioned in the Jerusalem Itinerary, cannot be determined, as the distances there given are incorrect. We should perhaps read xii. for vii. as the distance from Forum Appii, in which case it must be placed 2 miles nearer Rome than Tres Tabernae. Between the latter station and Forum Appii was TRIPONTIUM at which commenced the canal navigation called Decennovium from its being 19 miles in length. The site of this is clearly marked by a tower still called Torre di Tre Ponti, and the 19 miles measured thence along the canal would terminate at a point 3 miles from Terracina, where travellers quitted the canal for that city. An inscription records the paving of this part of the road by Trajan. The solitary posthouse of Mesa [p. 2.1292]is evidently the station Ad Medias of the Jerusalem Itinerary. A short distance from Terracina the Via Appia at length deviated from the direction it had so long pursued, and turning to the left ascended the steep hill on which the ancient city stood [TARRACINA], while the modern road is carried round the foot of this hill, close to the sea. The distance of Tarracina from Rome is correctly given at 61 miles in the Antonine Itinerary.

From Terracina the line of the ancient road may still be traced distinctly all the way to Fondi, and is flanked by ruins of villas, dilapidated tombs, &c., through a great part of its course. It first ascended the hill above the city as far as the convent of San Francesco, and afterwards descended into the valley beneath, joining the modern highroad from Rome to Naples about 3 miles from Terracina, just before crossing the frontier of the Papal States. The narrow pass at the foot of the mountains, which the road here follows, between the rocks, and the marshy lake of Fondi, is the celebrated defile of LAUTULAE or Ad Lautulas, which more than once bears a conspicuous part in Roman history. [LAUTULAE] The distance from Tarracina to Fundi is overstated in the Antonine Itinerary: the true distance does not exceed 13 miles, as correctly given in the Jerusalem Itinerary. From Fundi to Formiae (Mola di Gaëta), a distance of 13 miles, the road passed through a rugged and mountainous country, crossing a complete mountain pass: the substructions of the ancient way are in many places still visible, as well as portions of the pavement, and numerous ruins of buildings, for the most part of little interest. The bridges also are in several instances the ancient ones, or at least rest upon ancient substructions.. The ruins of Formiae and of the numerous villas with which it was adorned line the shores at Mola di Gaëta; and bound the road for a space of more than 2 miles: other ruins, principally sepulchral, are scattered along its line almost all the way thence to MINTURNAE The ruins of this latter city stand on the right bank of the Liris (Garigliano), a short distance from its mouth, and about a mile and a half below the village of Traghetto. The line of the ancient road from Mola thither is clearly traced and susceptible of no doubt: the distance is correctly given as 9 miles. Here the Via Appia crossed the Liris, and was continued nearly in a straight line through a level and marshy district along the sea-coast to Sinuessa, the ruins of which are found near the village of Mondragone. The distance of 9 miles between the two (given in both Itineraries) is somewhat less than the truth. It was at Sinuessa that the Appian Way finally quitted the coast of the Tyrrhenian sea (Strab. v. p.233), and struck inland towards Capua, passing by the stations of Pons Campanus and Ad Octavum, But this part of its course has not been very distinctly traced, and there is some difficulty as to the distances given. The three subdivisions of the Jerusalem Itinerary would give 26 miles for the total distance from Sinuessa to Capua; and the coincidence of this sum with the statement of the Antonine Itinerary, as given by Wesseling, is a strong argument in favour of the reading xxvi. M. P. instead of xvi. adopted by Pinder. The latter number is certainly too small, for the direct distance between the two points is not less than 21 miles, and the road must have deviated from the straight ine on account of the occurrence of the marshes of he Save, as well as of the river Vulturnus. It is probable, therefore, that it made a considerable bend, and that the distance was thus prolonged: but the question cannot be settled until this part of the road has been more accurately traced than has hitherto been done. The distances given in the Tabula are too inaccurate to be of any use; but it appears probable from that document that the Pons Campanus was a bridge over the little river Savo, and not, as might have been suspected, over the Vulturnus, which the Appian Way did not cross till it arrived at Casilinum, 3 miles from Capua. It was here that it united with the Via Latina. (Strab. v. p.237; Tab. Peut.

The total distance from Rome to Capua (if we adopt 26 miles as that from Sinuessa) was therefore 131 miles. This portion of the Via Appia as far as Minturnae has been traced with much care by Westphal (Römische Kampagne, pp. 22--70), as well as by Chaupy (Maison d'Horace, vol. iii. pp. 365--461) and Sir R. Hoare (Classical Tour, vol. i. pp. 81--148); but all these accounts are deficient in regard to the portion between Minturnae and Capua.

Several minor branches or cross lines parted from the Via Appia during this first portion of its course. Of these it may suffice to mention: 1. The VIA ARDEATINA which quitted the Via Appia at a short distance beyond the Almo, just after passing the Osteria dell' Acquataccio: it proceeded in a nearly straight line to Ardea, 23 miles from Rome. [ARDEA] 2. The VIA ANTIATINA, which branched off from the Appian Way just before reaching Bovillae, and proceeded direct to Antium, 38 miles from Rome. It probably followed nearly the same line as the modern road, but its precise course has not been traced. 3. The VIA SETINA quitted the Appian Way, shortly after passing Trepontium, and proceeded in a direct line to Setia (Sezze): considerable portions of the ancient pavement still remain. 4. A branch road, the name of which is unknown, diverged from the Via Appia at Minturnae, and proceeded to Teanum (18 miles distant) on the Via Latina, whence it was continued through Allifae and Telesia to Beneventum. [VIA LATINA] 5. The VIA DOMITIANA constructed by the emperor of that name, of which Statius has left us a pompous description. (Silv. 4.3.) It was a continuation of the coast-road from Sinuessa, being carried across the Vulturnus close to its mouth by a bridge which must really have been a work of great difficulty; thence it followed closely the line of coast as far as Cumae, whence it struck across to Puteoli. The road communicating between that city and Neapolis was previously in existence. The distances on this road, as given in the Antonine Itinerary (p. 122), are:--

From Sinuessa to Liternum xxiv. M. P. (this must be a mistake for xiv.)
  thence to Cumae vi.
    Puteoli iii.
    Neapolis x.

There was also a direct road from Capua to Neapolis (Tab. Peut.), passing through Atella, which was midway between the two cíties.


From Capua to Beneventum.

This portion of the road may be very briefly disposed of. From Capua it was continued along in the plain as far as Calatia, the site of which is fixed at Le Galazze, near Maddaloni; it then entered the Apennines, and, passing through the valley of Arienzo, commonly supposed to be the celebrated [p. 2.1293]valley of the Caudine Forks, reached Caudium, which must have been sltuated about 4 miles beyond Arpaja, on the road to Beneventum. The distances given along this line are:--

From Capua to Calatia vi. M. P.
  Ad Novas vi.  
  Caudium ix.  
  Beneventum xi.  

Itin. Ant. p. 111; Itin. Hier. p. 610; Tab. Pent.) It was at Beneventum, as above shown, that the two main branches of the Appian Way separated: the one proceeding by Venusia and Tarentum to Brundusium; the other by Equus Tuticus and Canusium to Barium, and thence along the coast of the Adriatic. We proceed to give these two branches separately.


From Beneventum to Brundusium, through Venusia and Tarentum.

The line of this road is given in the Antonine Itinerary (p. 120) as well as in the Tabula; but in this last it appears in so broken and confused a form that it would be unintelligible without the aid of the other authority. But that this line was the original Via Appia is proved not only by the distinct testimony of Strabo, and by incidental notices which show that it was the frequented and customary route in the time of Cicero (Cic. Att. 5.5, 7), but still more clearly by an inscription of the time of Hadrian, in which the road from Beneventum to Aeculanum is distinctly called the Via Appia. The greater part of the line from Beneventum to Venusia, and thence to Tarentum, was carried through a wild and mountainous country; and it is highly, probable that it was in great measure abandoned after the more convenient line of the Via Trajana was opened. It appears that Hadrian restored the portion from Beneventum to Aeculanum, but it is doubtful whether he did so farther on. Nevertheless the general course of the road can be traced, though many of the stations cannot be fixed with certainty. The latter are thus given in the Antonine Itinerary:--

From Beneventum to    
  Aeculanum xv. M. P.
  Sub Romulea xxi.  
  Pons Aufidi xxii.  
  Venusia (Venosa xviii.  
  Silvium (Garagnone xx.  
  Blera (Gravina xiii.  
  Sub Lupatia xiv.  
  Canales xiii.  
  Tarentum (Taranto xx.  

Aeculanum, or Eclanum as the name is written in the Itineraries, is fixed beyond a doubt at Le Grotte, near Mirabella, just 15 miles from Beneventum, where a town grew up on its ruins in the middle ages with the name of Quintodecimum. [AECULANUM] The site of Romulea is much less certain, but may perhaps be placed at Bisaccia, and the station Sub Romulea in the valley below it. The Pons Aufidi is the Ponte Sta Venere, on the road from Lacedogna to Venosa, which is unquestionably an ancient bridge, and the distance from Venusia agrees with that in the Itinerary, which is confirmed also in this instance by the Tabula. The latter authority gives as an intermediate station between Sub Romulea and the Pons Aufidi, Aquilonia, which is probably Lacedogna; but the distances given are certainly incorrect. In this wild and mountainous country it is obviously impossible at present to determine these with any accuracy. From Venusia again the Via Appia appears to have passed, in as direct a line as the nature of the country will allow, to Tarentum; the first station, Silvium, may probably be placed at Garagnone, and the second, Plera, or Blera, at or near Gravina; but both determinations are very uncertain. Those of Sub Lupatia and Canales are still more vague, and, until the course of the ancient road shall have been traced upon the spot by some traveller, it is idle to multiply conjectures.

From Tarentum to Brundusium the Antonine Itinerary gives 44 M. P., which is nearly correct; but the intermediate stations mentioned in the Tabula, Mesochoron, Urbius, and Scamnum, cannot be identified. Urbius may perhaps be a corruption of Urium or Hyrium, the modern Oria, which is nearly midway between the two cities.

Besides the main line of the Via Appia, as above described, the Itineraries mention several branches, one of which appears to have struck off from Venusia to Potentia, and thence to have joined the highroad to Rhegium, while another descended from Venusia to Heraclea on the gulf of Tarentum, and thence followed the E. coast of the Bruttian peninsula. These lines are briefly noticed in the articles LUCANIA and BRUTTII but they are very confused and uncertain.


From Beneventum by Canusium and Barium to Brundusium.

It was this line of road, first constructed by Trajan, and which was originally distinguished as the VIA TRAJANA that became after the time of that emperor the frequented and ordinary route to Brundusium, and thus came to be commonly considered as the Via Appia, of which it had in fact taken the place. Its line is in consequence given in all the Itineraries, and can be traced with little difficulty. It passed at first through a rugged and mountainous country, as far as Aecae in Apulia, from which place it was carried through the plains of Apulia to Barium, and afterwards along the sea-coast to Brundusium: a line offering no natural difficulties, and which had the advantage of passing through a number of considerable towns. Even before the construction of the Via Trajana it was not uncommon (as we learn from the journey of Horace) for travellers to deviate from the Appian Way, and gain the plains of Apulia as speedily as possible.

The first part of this road from Beneventum to Aecae may be traced by the assistance of ancient milestones, bridges, &c. (Mommsen, Topogr. degli Irpini, in the Bullet. dell' Inst. Arch. for 1848, pp. 6, 7.) It proceeded by the villages of Paduli, Buonalbergo, and Casalbore, to a place called S. Eleuterio, about 2 miles S. of Castelfranco, which was undoubtedly the site of Equus Tuticus, a much disputed point with Italian topographers. [EQUUS TUTICUS] This is correctly placed by the Antonine Itinerary 21 miles from Beneventum; the Jerusalem Itinerary, which makes it 22 miles, divides the distance at a station called Forum Novum, which must have been situated at or very near Buonalbergo. From Equus Tuticus, the road followed a NE. direction to Aecae (the site of which is clearly known as that of the modern Troja), and thence turned in a direction nearly due E. to Herdonia (Ordona). The object of this great bend was probably to open a communication with Luceria and the other towns of Northern Apulia, as well as perhaps to avoid the defile of the Cervaro, above Bovino, through which the modern road passes. At Aecae the Via Trajana descended into the great plain of Apulia, across which it was carried in a nearly [p. 2.1294]straight line to Barium (Bari). The remainder of its course presents no difficulties, and the stations are, for the most part, well-known towns. The whole line is thus given in the Antonine Itinerary (pp. 112, 116):--

From Beneventum to    
Equus Tuticus (S. Eleuterio xxi. M. P.
Aecae (Troja xviii.2  
Herdonia (Ordona xviii.  
Canusium (Canosa xxvi.  
Rubi (Ruvo xxiii.  
Butuntum (Bitonto xi.  
Barium (Bari xi.  
Turres (?) xxi.  
Egnatia (Torre di Gnazia xvi.  
Speluncae (?) xx.  
Brundusium (Brindisi xviii.  

The two stations of Turres between Barium and Egnatia, and Speluncae between Egnatia and Brundusium, cannot be identified; it is evident, from the names themselves that they were not towns, but merely small places on the coast so called. The Jerusalem Itinerary has two stations, Turres Aurelianae, and Turres Juliae, between Egnatia and Barium, but, from the distances given, neither of these can be identified with the Turres of the Antonine Itinerary. The other intermediate stations mentioned by the same authority are unimportant Mutationes, which can be identified only by a careful survey on the spot.

The Tabula gives (though in a very confused manner) an intermediate line of route, which appears to have been the same as that indicated by Strabo (v. p.283), which quitted the coast at Egnatia, and proceeded through Caelia to Brundusium. The stations given are:--

Canusium to Rudiae xii. M. P.
  Rubi xiv.  
  Butuntum ix.  
  Caelia (Ceglie ix.  
  Ehetium (Azetium?) --  
  Norve (?) ix.  
  Ad Veneris (?) viii.  
  Egnatia viii.  

It is certain that the Via Trajana was continued, probably by Trajan himself, from Brundusium to Hydruntum (Otranto), and was thence carried all round the Calabrian peninsula to Tarentum. The road from Brundusium to Hydruntum passed through Lupiae (Lecce), in the interior of the peninsula, which is correctly placed 25 miles from each of the above cities. (Itin. Ant. p. 118.) The stations on the other line, which is given only in the Tabula, are as follow:--

    M. P.
Hydruntum to Castrum Minervae (Castro viii.
  Veretum (Sta Maria di Vereto xii.
  Uxentum (Ugento x.
  Baletium (Aletium) x.
  Neretum (Nardò) x.
  Manduria (Manduria xxix.
  Tarentum (Taranto xx.

The above distances appear to be correct.

Lastly, a branch struck off from the Via Trajana at Barium which proceeded direct to Tarentum. It is probable that this came to be adopted as the most convenient mode of reaching the latter city when the original Via Appia had fallen into disuse. The distance is correctly given as 60 miles. (Itin. Ant. p. 119.)

Besides the above, which may be considered as all in some degree branches of the Via Trajana, there was another line, probably constructed at a late period, which struck across from Equus Tuticus to Venusia, so as to form a cross communication between the Via Trajana and the old Via Appia. This is set down in the Antonine Itinerary (p. 103) as part of a long line proceeding from the N. of Italy to the S.; but the intermediate stations between Equus Tuticus and Venusia cannot be determined.


From Capua by Nuceria to Rhegium.

This line of road is indicated by Strabo in the passage above cited (v. p. 283) as existing in his time, but he certainly did not include it under the name of the Via Appia. It seems, however, to have subsequently come to be regarded as such, as the Antonine Itinerary puts it under the heading, “Ab Urbe Appia via recto itinere ad Columnam” (Itin. Ant. p. 106.)3, and inasmuch as it was a continuation of the original Appian Way, it was, strictly speaking, as much entitled to bear the name as the Via Trajana. Strabo does not tell us whether it was passable in his day for carriages or not, and we have no account in any ancient author of its construction. But we learn the period at which it was first opened from a remarkable inscription discovered at La Polla, in the valley of Diano, which commemorates the construction of the road from Rhegium to Capua, and adds the distances of the principal towns along its course: unfortunately the first line, containing the name of the magistrate by whom it was opened, is wanting; and the name of M. Aquilius Gallus, inserted by Gruter and others, is a mere conjecture. There is little doubt that the true restoration is the name of P. Popilius Laenas, who was praetor in B.C. 134, and who, after clearing the mountains of Lucania and Bruttium of the fugitive slaves who had taken refuge in them, appears to have first constructed this highroad through that rugged and mountainous country. (Mommsen, Inscr. R. N. 6276; Ritschl. Mon. Epigr. pp. 11, 12.) There is, therefore, no foundation whatever for the name of VIA AQUILIA which has been given by some modern writers (Romanelli, Cramer, &c.) to this line of road: it was probably at first called VIA POPILIA after its author, who, as was usual in similar cases, founded at the same time a town which bore the name of Forum Popilii, and occupied the site of La Polla [FORUM POPILII]; but no mention of this name is found in any ancient author, and it seems to have been unknown to Strabo. The distances given in the inscription above mentioned (which are of the greatest value, from their undoubted authenticity), are:--

    M. P.
From Capua to Nuceria xxxiii.
  [Forum Popilii] li.
  Muranum lxxiv.
  Consentia xlix.
  Valentia lvii.
  Ad Statuam li.
  Rhegium vi.

The point designated as “Ad Fretum ad Statuam” is evidently the same as the Columna of the Itineraries, which marked the spot from which it was [p. 2.1295]usual to cross the Sicilian straits. The total distance from Capua to Rhegium, according to the above description, is 321 miles. The Antonine Itinerary makes it 337 miles. It is difficult to judge how far this discrepancy is owing to errors in the distances as given in our MSS., or to alterations in the line of road; for though it is evident that the road given in the Itinerary followed generally the same line as that originally constructed by Popilius, it is probable that many alterations had taken place in particular parts; and in the wild and mountainous tracts through which the greater part of it was carried, such alterations must frequently have been rendered necessary. The determination of the particular distances is, for the same reason, almost impossible, without being able to trace the precise course of the ancient road, which has not yet been accomplished. The stations and distances, as given in the Antonine Itinerary, are as follow:--

    M. P.
From Capua to Nola xxi. (xix.)4
  Nuceria (Nocera xvi.5 (xiv.)
  Ad Tanarum xxv.
  Ad Calorem xxiv.
  In Marcelliana xxv.
  Caesariana xxi.
  Nerulum (La Rotonda xxiii.
  Sub Murano (near Murano xiv.
  Caprasiae (Tarsia xxi.
  Consentia (Cosenza xxviii.
  Ad Sabatum fluvium xviii.
  Ad Turres xviii.
  Vibona (Monte Leone xxi.
  Nicotera (Nicotera xviii.
  Ad Mallias xxiv.
  Ad Columnam xiv.

The stations between Nucedria and Nerulum cannot be determined. Indeed the only points that can be looked upon as certain, in the whole line from Nuceria to Rhegium, are Sub Murano, at the foot of the hill on which stands the town of Murano, Consentia (Cosenza), Vibo Valentia (Monte Leone), and Nicotera, which retains its ancient name. Nerulum and Caprasiae may be fixed with tolerable certainty by reference to these known stations, and the distances in this part of the route appear to be correct. The others must remain uncertain, until the course of the road has been accurately traced.

At Nerulum the above line of road was joined by one which struck across from Venusia through Potentia (Potenza) to that place. It was a continuation of the cross-road already noticed from Equus Tuticus to Venusia; this line, which is given in the Antonine Itinerary (p. 104), was called, as we learn from the inscriptions on milestones still extant, the VIA HERCULIA, and was therefore in all probability the work of the Emperor Maximianus. (Mommsen, I. R. N. p. 348.) The stations mentioned in the Itinerary (l.c.) are:--

From Venusia to Opinum xv. M. P.
  Ad fluv. Bradanum xxix.  
  Potentia (Potenza xxiv.  
  Acidii (?) xxiv.  
  Grumentum (Saponara xxviii.  
  Semuncla (?) xxvii.  
  Nerulum xvi.  

None of the above stations can be identified, except Potentia and Grumentum, and the distances are in some cases certainly erroneous. The same line of route is given in the Tabula, but in a very confused and corrupt manner. The stations there set down are wholly different from those in the Itinerary, but equally uncertain. Anxia (Anzi), between Potentia and Grumentum, is the only one that can be identified.

The principal work on the Via Appia is that of Pratilli (Della Via Appia, fol. Napoli, 1745); but, unfortunately, little dependence can be placed upon it. Parts of the route have been carefully and accurately examined by Westphal, Chaupy, and other writers already cited, but many portions still remain to be explored; and accurate measurements ate generally wanting. Nor does there exist any map of the kingdom of Naples on which dependence can be placed in this respect. [E.H.B]

1 It was probably this long ascent that was known as the CLIVUS VIRBII, mentioned by Persius (6.55).

2 This distance must be above the truth: the direct distance is not more than 8 miles.

3 The words “Appia via” may, however, refer only to the first part of this route, which certainly follwed the true Appian Way as far as Capua.

4 both these distances are overstated, and should probably be corrected as suggested by the numbers in parentheses. the same distances are given in the tab. peunt. thus:--

Capua to Suessula ix. M. P.
Nola ix.  
Ad Teglanum v.  
Nuceria ix.  

5 Both these distances are overstated, and should probably be corrected as suggested by the numbers in parentheses. The same distances are given in the Tab. Peut. thus:--

Capua to Suessula ix. M. P.
Nola ix.  
Ad Teglanum v.  
Nuceria ix.  

hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.5
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 23
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 29
    • Plutarch, Caesar, 5
    • Statius, Silvae, 5.1
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 3.47
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 20.36
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: