a sewer constructed, according to tradition, by Tarquinius
Superbus to drain the forum and the valleys between the hills (Liv. i.
. 6; 56. 2; Dion. iii. 67
. 5; iv. 44
. 1; Strabo v. 8
; Plin. NH xxxvi.
, who gives an eloquent description of it, lasting as it did almost
unimpaired to his own day, and mentions that the whole system was
inspected by Agrippa during his aedileship (33 B.C.), ut paulo ante retulimus
[this passage is lost] urbe pensili subterque navigata M. Agrippae in
aedilitate post consulatum
). Cf. Cass. Dio xlix. 43
Even in the time of
Theodoric the cloacae of Rome were objects of wonder (Cassiod. Var.
). This tradition has been strikingly confirmed-and it is one of
the most important historical results of the recent excavations in the
forum-by the fact that the latest tombs in the prehistoric necropolis
of the forum belong to the sixth century B.C. (Mitt. 1905, 115
; HC 4).
The course of the cloaca Maxima proper began in the Argiletum,
where it collected the waters of the Esquiline, Viminal and Quirinal, and
flowed through the forum and Velabrum to the Tiber. The windings
of the whole of its course show that it was in origin a stream flowing
through a marshy valley, which Tarquin regulated by walls; and despite
what the writers of the empire say about his having constructed it
underground from the first, Plautus's reference to it as canalis (Curc. 476)
has led most scholars to suppose that it was not roofed until after his own
Some of its windings too appear to have been due to the erection of
buildings under the empire, e.g. that near the temple of Minerva, though
the style of construction seems older (see below).
It is probable that nothing remains of the original drain, though a
small section in cappellaccio under the basilica Aemilia may be attributed
to such an early period; but it has not yet been properly described
(CR 1901, 137-138
; TF 69-74). Some of the branch drains near the
temple of Saturn, on the other hand, may be assigned to the beginning
of the fifth century B.C. at latest (JRS 1925, 121
; ASA 3).
In the rest of its course there is nothing belonging to any period before
the third century B.C., and much is a good deal later, being assignable
to the restorations of Agrippa. The whole, however, needs further
examination in the light of modern criteria.
The cloaca proper seems to have begun near the north-west corner
of the forum of Augustus. From this point to the via Alessandrina
it is built entirely of peperino, vaulted, and paved with blocks of lava-
the characteristic style of the republic; while onwards as far as the forum
the roof has been restored in brick-faced concrete of the empire. The
channel is here 4.20 metres high and 3.20 wide. Eight branches empty
into this section-none of them, as Lanciani notes, from private houses,
which must have relied largely on cesspools. Beneath the nave of the
basilica Aemilia the channel of the cloaca Maxima has been found crossing
it obliquely; this portion had been rebuilt in tufa and travertine in 34 A.D.
Originally it appears to have run in the direction of the column of Phocas
(TF fig. 10, p. 69), though it must soon have turned westward; but a
branch was built (in 78 B.C., as Frank thinks-but did the cloaca at that
time already run round the outside of the basilica ?) to connect it with
the line of the cloaca as rebuilt (by Agrippa ?), which skirted the basilica
on the north-west and south-west, then turned at right angles to the
south-west near the shrine of Venus Cloacina, crossed the area of the
forum, passed under the east end of the basilica Iulia, and thence into
the Velabrum. According to Ficoroni (Roma Antica, i. 74) the whole
of this lower section was cleared in 1742; the conduit was found to
be built of blocks of travertine and was as much as 10 metres below
ground. A part of it, belonging to the republican period, with later
restorations, is still visible opposite the church of S. Giorgio in Velabro.
It has recently been connected with the main sewer of modern Rome,
so that the forum can no longer be inundated by its backwash (aliquando
Tiberis retro infusus recipitur
, as Pliny says), as it was, for the last time, in
the flood of 1901: Vidimus flavum Tiberim retortis litore Etrusco
violenter undis ire deiectum monumenta regis templaque Vestae
Carm. i. 2
. 13). The three concentric arches at the mouth of it, which show
a combination of Gabine stone and Grotta Oscura stone, are assigned to
100 B.C. or slightly before (TF 142, n. 9; ASA 5; cf. Ill. 43).
See Jord. i. I. 441-443; 447-452 ; Richter, Ant. Denk. i. 37
Fognatura di Roma 39-49; BC 1890, 95-102
; Mitt. 1889, 236
; LR 29 sq.; P1. 107-109; 271-273; CR 1900, 137-138
; ZA 262-