previous next


Eth. A´STURES (sing. Astur, in poets; Αστυρες, Strab. iii. pp. 153, 155, 167; D. C. 53.25; Plin. Nat. 3.3. s. 4; Flor. 4.12; Gruter, Inscript. p. 193, No. 3, p. 426, No. 5, &c.: Adj. Astur and Asturicus; Asturica gens, Sil. Ital. 16.584; Ἀστούριοι, Strab. p. 162; Ἀστουροί, Ptol. 2.6.28; i. e. Highlanders, see ASTA), a people in the NW. of Hispania Tarraconensis, extending from the N. coast to the river Durius (Douro), between the Gallaeci on the W. and the Cantabri and Celtiberi on the E., in the mountains N. and W. of the great plain of Leon and partly in the plain itself. They were divided into two parts by the Cantabrian mountains (M. Vinnius); those between the mountains and the coast (in the Asturias) being called TRANSMONTANI and those S. of the mountains (in Leon and Valladolid) AUGUSTANI, names, which clearly indicate the difference between the Roman subjects of the plain and the unsubdued tribes of the mountains and the coast. They comprised a population of 240,000 free persons, divided into 22 tribes (Plin. l.c.), of which Ptolemy mentions the following names: Lanciati (Lancienses, Plin.), Brigaecini (Trigaecini, Flor.), Bedunenses, Orniaci, Lungones, Saelini, Superatii, Amaci, Tibures, Egurri or Gigurri (Cigurri, Plin.), and the Paesici, on the peninsula of C. de Peñas (Plin. Nat. 4.20. s. 34), to which Pliny adds the Zoelae, near the coast, celebrated for their flax. (Plin. Nat. 3.4, 19.2.)

The country of the Astures (Asturia, Plin.: Ἄστουριά Ptol.), was for the most part mountainous and abounded in mines More gold was found in Asturia than in any other part of Spain, and the supply was regarded as more lasting than in any other part of the world. (Plin. Nat. 33.4. s. 21.) To this the poets make frequent allusions: e. g. Sil. Ital. 1.231:

Astur avarus,

Comp. 7.755.
Callaicis quidquid fodit Astur in arvis,
Mart. 10.16.
Merserit Asturii scrutator pallidus auri,
Lucan. 4.298.
(according to Oudendorp's emendation: comp. Stat. Silv. 4.7. 13, Pallidus fossor ...... concolor auro, and Claudian. Cons. Prob. et Olybr. 50.)

Asturia was also famous for its breed of horses, [p. 1.250]the small ambling Spanish jennet, described by Pliny (8.42. s. 67), Silius Italicus (3.335-337: in the preceding lines the poet derives the name of the people from Astur the son of Memnon), and Martial (14.199): “Hie brevis, ad numerum rapidos qui colligit ungues, Venit ab auriferis gentibus, Astur equus.”

The species of horse was called Asturco, and the name was applied to horses of a similar character bred elsewhere, as Asturco Macedonicus. (Petron. Sat. 86: comp. Senec. Ep. 87.)

The Asturians were a wild, rugged, and warlike race. (Strab. l.c.; Sil. Ital. 1.252, exercitus Astur; 12.748, belliger Astur; Flor. 4.12, Cantabri et Astores validissimae gentes.) Their mountains have always been the stronghold of Spanish independence. In the war of Augustus against the Cantabri, B.C. 25, the Asturians, anticipating the attack of the Romans, were defeated with. great slaughter on the banks of the river Astura, and retreated into Lancia, which was taken, after some resistance. (Dio Cass. l.c.; Flor. 4.12.56, ed. Duker; Oros. 6.21; Clinton, s. a.) These actions ended the Cantabrian war, as the result of which the country south of the mountains became subject to Rome; but the highlands themselves, and the strip of land between the mountains and the coast (the modern Asturias), still furnished a retreat to the natives, and afterwards sheltered the remnants of the Goths from the Arab invasion, and became the cradle of the modern Spanish monarchy. In its retired position, its mountainous surface, and in a certain resemblance of climate, the Asturias is the Wales of Spain; and, in imitation of our principality, it gives to the heir apparent his title.

Under the Romans, Asturia possessed several flourishing cities, nearly all of which were old Iberian towns: most of them were situated in the S. division, the valleys and plain watered by the ASTURA and its tributaries. The capital, ASTURICA AUGUSTA (Astorga), the city of the Amaci, was the centre of several roads, which, with the towns upon them, were as follows (comp. Ptol. 2.6.29):--(1) On the road SW. to BRACARA AUGUSTA (Braga, in Portugal; Itin. Ant. p. 423): ARGENTIOLUM, 14 M. P. (Torienzo or Torneras? La Medulas, Ford): Petavonium, 15 M. P. (Poybueno or Congosta?). (2) NW. also to Bracara, branching out into three different roads through Gallaecia (It. Ant. pp. 423, 429, 431). Interamnium Flavium, 30 M. P. (Ponferrada or Bembibre?): Bergidum, 16 M. P. (prob. Castro de la Ventosa, on a hill near Villa Franca, in a Swiss-like valley at the foot of the mountain pass leading into Gallaecia), beyond which, the following places on the same road, which would seem to belong properly to Gallaecia, are assigned by Ptolemy to Asturia: Forum Cigurrorum (Γιγούρρων, corrected from Ἐγούρρων), the Forum of the Itinerary, the chief city of the Cigurri (Plin.), now Cigarrosa or S. Estevan de Val de Orres, with ruins and a Roman bridge, where the people preserve a tradition that an old town once stood there, named Guigurra. Nemetobriga (Mendoya), the city of the Tiburi. (3) E. to CAESARAUGUSTA (Zaragoza; It. Ant. pp. 448,453): Vallata, 16 M. P. (prob. Puente de Orvigo): Interamnium, 13 M.P. (Villaroane): Palantia, 14 M. P. (Valencia de S. Juan): Viminacium, 31 M. P. (Valderaduei or Beceril?): at the next station, LACOBRIGA 10 M. P., in the VACCAEI this road was joined by that from the military station of LEGIO VII. GEMINA (Leon), NE. of Asturica (It. Ant. p. 395): between Legio VII. and Lacobriga were LANCE or Lancia, 9 M. P. (Sollanco or Mansilla?), and Camala (Cea?); (4) A lower road to Caesaraugusta (It. Ant. pp. 439, 440): Bedunia, 20 M. P. (prob. La Bañeza), city of the Bedunenses: Brigaecium, 20 M. P. (prob. Benavente), the capital of the Brigaecini. In the district between the mountains and the coast, the chief cities were Lucus Asturum (Ptol.: prob. Oviedo), perhaps the Ovetum of Pliny (34.17. s. 49); NOEGA and Flavionavia (Ptol.: Aviles), on the coast. To these may be added, in the S. district, Intercatia, the city of the Orniaci; Pelontium, city of the Lungones; Nardinium, city of the Saelini (coins, Sestini, Med. Isp. p. 172); Petavonium, city of the Superatii; and two or three more, too insignificant to name. (Ukert, vol. ii. pt. i. pp. 440--443; Forbiger, vol. ii. pp. 83--85.)


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: