, Strab. Dionys. &c.: later Greek writers have Ἄνθιον
, Procop. Philostr.: Eth. Antias
,--ātis), one of the most ancient and powerful cities of Latium, situated on a promontory or projecting angle of the sea-coast, at the distance of 260 stadia from Ostia (Strab. v. p.232
), and 38 miles from Rome.
It is still called Porto d'Anzo.
Tradition ascribed its foundation, in common with that of Ardea and Tusculum, to a son of Ulysses and Circe (Xenag. ap. Dionys. A. R. 1.72
; Steph. B. sub voce
while others referred it to Ascanius (Solin. 2.16
It seems probable that it was one of those Latin cities in which the Pelasgian element preponderated, and that it owed its origin to that people. (Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 44.)
In consequence of its advantageous maritime position the inhabitants seem early to have devoted themselves to commerce as well as piracy, and continued down to a late period to share in the piratical practices of their kindred cities on the coast of Etruria. (Strab. l.c.
) It seems doubtful whether, in early times, it belonged to the Latin League; Dionysius represents it as first joining that confederacy under Tarquinius Superbus (Dionys. A. R. 4.49
), but he is certainly mistaken in representing it as then already a Volscian city. (See Niebuhr, vol. ii. p. 108.) And though we find its name in the treaty concluded by the Romans with Carthage among the Latin cities which were subject to or dependent upon Rome (Pol. 3.22), it does not appear in the list given by Dionysius of the thirty towns which, in B.C. 493, constituted the Latin League. (Dionys. A. R. 5.61
That author, however, represents it as sending assistance to the Latins before the battle of Regillus (6.3), and it was probably at that time still a Latin city.
But within a few years afterwards it must have fallen into the hands of the Volscians, as we find it henceforth taking an active part in their wars against the Latins and Romans, until in the year B.C. 468 it was taken by the latter, who sought to secure it by sending thither a colony. (Liv. 2.33
; Dionys. A. R. 6.92
; Niebuhr, vol. ii. pp. 246--[p. 1.149]
A few years afterwards, however (B.C. 459), Antium again revolted; and though it is represented by the annalists as having been reconquered, this appears to be a fiction, and we find it from henceforward enjoying complete independence for near 120 years, during which period it rose to great opulence and power, and came to be regarded as the chief city of the Volscians. (Liv. 3.4
; Niebuhr, vol. ii. pp. 254, 255.) During the former part of this period it continued on friendly terms with Romne; but in B.C. 406, we find it, for a short time, joining with the other Volscian cities in their hostilities: and after the invasion of the Gauls, the Antiatans took the lead in declaring war against the Romans, which they waged almost without intermission for 13 years (B.C. 386--374), until repeated defeats at length compelled them to sue for peace. (Liv. 4.59
--33; Niebuhr, vol. ii. pp. 465, 583--593.) Notwithstanding this lesson, they again provoked the hostility of Rome in B.C. 348, by sending a colony to Satricum; and in the great Latin War (B.C. 340--338) they once more took the lead of the Volscians, in uniting their arms with those of the Latins and their allies, and shared in their defeats at Pedum and Astura. Their defection was severely punished; they were deprived of all their ships of war (the beaks of which served to adorn the Rostra at Rome), and prohibited from all maritime commerce, while a Roman colony was sent to garrison their town. (Liv. 7.27
--14; Niebuhr, vol. iii. p. 128, 140--144.)
From this time Antium figures only in history as one of the maritime colonies of Rome (Liv. 27.38
); but Strabo states, that the inhabitants did not discontinue their piratical habits even after they had become subject to Rome, and that Alexander the Great, and Demetrius (Poliorcetes), successively sent embassies to complain of their depredations. (Strab. v. p.232
It was taken by Marius during the civil wars (Appian. B.C.
1.69); and suffered severely from the ravages of his followers (Liv. Epit. lxxx.), but appears to have quickly recovered, and became, during the latter days of the Republic, as well as under the Roman Empire, a favourite place of resort with wealthy Romans, who adorned both the town and its neighbourhood with splendid villas. (Strab. l.c.
) Among others, Cicero had a villa here, to which he repeatedly alludes. (Ad Att.
2.1, 7, 11, &c.) Nor was it less in favour with the emperors themselves; it was here that Augustus first received from the people the title of “Pater Patriae” (Suet. Aug. 58
); it was also the birth-place of Caligula (Id. Cal.
8), as well as of Nero, who, in consequence, regarded it with especial favour; and not only enlarged and beautified the imperial villa, but established at Antium a colony of veterans of the praetorian guard, and constructed there a new and splendid port, the remains of which are still visible. (Id. Ner.
6. 9; Tac. Ann. 14.27
It was at Antiumn, also, that he received the tidings of the great conflagration of Rome. (Ibid. 15.39.) Later emperors continued to regard it with equal favour; it was indebted to Antoninus Pius for the aqueduct, of which some portions still remain, and Septimius Severus added largely to the buildings of the imperial residence. (Capitol. Ant. Pins,
8; Philostr. Vit. Apoll.
The population and importance of the town appear, however, to have declined; and though we learn that its port was still serviceable in A.D. 537 (Procop. B. G.
1.26), we find no subsequent mention of it; and during the middle ages it appears to have been wholly deserted, the few inhabitants having established themselves at Nettuno.
The attempts made by Innocent XII. and subsequent popes to restore the port, though attended with very imperfect success, have again attracted a small population to the spot, and the modern village of Porto d'Anzo
contains about 500 inhabitants.
Antium was celebrated for its temple of Fortune, alluded to by Horace (O Diva gratum quae regis Antium, Hor. Carm. 1.35
; Tac. Ann. 3.71
), which was one of the wealthiest in Latium, on which account its treasures were laid under contribution by Octavian in the war against L. Antonius in B.C. 41 (Appian. B.C.
5.24), as well as for one of Aesculapius, where the god was said to have landed on his way from Epidaurus to Rome (V. Max. 1.8.2
; Ovid. Met.
The neighbouring small town of Nettuno
probably derives its name from a temple of Neptune, such as would naturally belong to a city so much devoted to maritime pursuits.
The same place is generally supposed to occupy the site of the ancient CENO, which, as we learn from Livy and Dionysius, served as the naval station and arsenal of Antium (Liv. 2.63
; Dionys. A. R. 9.56
.) Besides this, several other towns, as Longula, Pollusca, and Satricum, were dependent upon Antium in the days of its greatest power.
The only remains of the ancient Latin or Volscian city are some trifling fragments of its walls; it appears to have occupied the hill a little to the N. of the modern town, and a short distance from the sea.
The extensive ruins which adjoin the ancient port, and extend along the sea-coast for a considerable distance on each side of the promontory, are wholly of Roman date, and belong either to the imperial villa, or to those of private individuals.
The greater part of those immediately adjoining the outer mole may be referred, from the style of their construction, to the reign of Nero, and evidently formed part of his palace. Excavations which have been made, from time to time, among these ruins, have brought to light numerous works of art of the first order, of which the most celebrated are the statue of the Apollo Belvedere, and that commonly known as the Fighting Gladiator. (Nibby, Dintorni di Roma,
vol. i. p. 187.)
The remains of the port constructed by Nero, which are extensive and well preserved, prove that it was wholly artificial, and formed by two moles, the one projecting immediately from the extremity of the promontory, the other opposite to it, enclosing between them a basin of not less than two miles in circumference. Great part of this is now filled with sand, but its circuit may still be readily traced. Previous to the construction of this great work, Antium could have had no regular port (Strabo expressly tells us that it had none), and notwithstanding its maritime greatness, was probably content with the beach below the town, which was partially sheltered by the projecting headland on the W.
The ruins still visible at Antium are fully described by Nibby (Dintorni di Roma,
vol. i. p. 181--197); of the numerous inscriptions which have been found there, the most important are given by Orelli (Nos. 2273, 2648, 3180), and by Nibby (l.c.
). Among them is a valuable fragment of an ancient calendar, which has been repeatedly published: for the first time by Volpi (Tabula Antiatina,
4to. Romae, 1726), and by Orelli (vol. ii. pp. 394--405.) [p. 1.150]
Q. Valerius, the Roman annalist, was a native of Antium, from whence he derived the surname of Antias, by which he is commonly known.