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VIA CASSIA

VIA CASSIA was the name given to one of the principal highroads of Italy which led from Rome through the heart of Etruria to Arrietim, and thence by Florentia to Luca. The period of its construction, as well as the origin of its name, is unknown, We learn only from a passage of Cicero that it was a well-known and frequented highway in his time, as that orator mentions it as one of the three roads by which he could proceed to Cisalpine Gaul. (Cic. Phil. 12.9) In the same passage, after speaking of the Flaminian Way as passing along the Upper Sea, and the Aurelian along the Lower, he adds: “Etruriam discriminat Cassia.” Hence it is clear that it was the principal road through the centre of that province, and is evidently the same given in the Antonine Itinerary (p. 285), though it is there erroneously called the Via Clodia. But indeed the occurrence of the Forum Cassii upon this line is in itself a sufficient proof that it was the Cassian and not the Clodian Way. The stations there set down, with their distances, are as follow:--

    M. P.
From Rome to Baccanae (Baccano xxi.
  Sutrium (Sutri xii.
  Forum Cassii (near Vetralla xi.
  Volsinii (Bolsena xxviii.
  Clusium (Chiusi xxx.
  Ad Statuas xii.
  Arretium (Arezzo xxv.
  Ad Fines xxv.
  Florentia (Firenze xxv.
  Pistoria (Pistoja xxv.
  Luca (Lucca xxv.

[p. 2.1297]

The Via Cassia branched off from the Via Fiamiia just after crossing the Tiber by the Milvian Brldge, 3 miles from Rome. It then ascended the table-land, and proceeded over a dreary and monotonous plain to Baccanae (Baccano), situated in the basin or crater of an extinct volcano. Two intermediate small stations are given in the Tabula: Ad Sextum, which, as its name imports, was situated 6 miles from Rome, and therefore 3 from the Pons Milvius; and Veii, 6 miles farther: but it is probable that the ancient Via Cassia, like the modern highroad, passed by, but not through, the ancient city; so that the station indicated was probably that where the road turned off to Veii, near the Isola Farnese. The Via Clodia separated from the Cassia about 3 miles beyond the station Ad Sextum, and struck off through Careiae (Galera) and Sabate (Bracciano) to Forum Clodii. The Tabula again gives an intermediate station, between Sutrium and Forum Cassii, called Vicus Matrini, the ruins of which are still visible 7 miles beyond Sutri; and that of the Aquae Passeris, now called the Bagni di Serpa, 12 miles beyond Forum Cassii. The stations given in that document can thus be identified as far as Clusium. They are:--

Ad Sextum vi. M. P.
Veii (near Isola Farnese vi.  
Baccanae (Baccano ix.  
Sutrium (Sutri xii.  
Vicus Matrini (omitted, but should be vii.)
Forum Cassii (Vetralla iv.  
Aquae Passeris (Bagni di Serpa xi.  
Volsinii (Bolsena ix.  
Ad Palliam Fluvium (R. Paglia --  
Clusium (Chiusi ix.  

But from Clusium to Florentia the names of the stations are wholly unknown, and cannot be identified, with the exception of Arretium; and the entire route is given in so confused a manner that it is impossible to make anything of it.

Livy tells us that C. Flaminius, the colleague of M. Aemilius Lepidus in B.C. 187, after having effectually reduced the Ligurian tribes that had infested the territory of Bononia, constructed a road from Bononia to Arretium (Liv. 39.2). But it is remarkable that we never hear anything more of this line of road, which would seem to have fallen into disuse; though this pass across the Apennines, which is still traversed by the modern highroad from Florence to Bologna, is one of the easiest of all. Cicero indeed might be thought to allude to this route when he speaks of proceeding into Cisalpine Gaul by the Via Cassia (l.c.); but the absence of any allusion to its existence during the military operations at that period, or on any other occasion, seems to prove conclusively that it had not continued in use as a military highway.

(For a careful examination and description of the portion of the Via Cassia near Rome, see Westphal, l Röm. Kamp. pp. 147--153; Nibby, Vie degli Antichi, pp. 75--82.)

[E.H.B]

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Cicero, Philippics, 12.9
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 2
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