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|Location||Roman Forum, Rome to Brindisi|
|Built in||312–264 BC|
|Built by/for||Appius Claudius Caecus, addition by Trajan (Via Appia Traiana)|
|Type of structure||Roman road|
|Related||Appius Claudius Caecus, Trajan, Roman roads|
The Appian Way (Latin and Italian: Via Appia) is one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It connected Rome to Brindisi, in southeast Italy.Its importance is indicated by its common name, recorded by Statius:
Appia longarum... regina viarum
"the Appian Way the queen of the long roads"
The road is named after Appius Claudius Caecus, the Roman censor who began and completed the first section as a military road to the south in 312 BCduring the Samnite Wars.
The Appian Way was a Roman road used as a main route for military supplies since its construction for that purpose in 312 BC.
The Appian Way was the first long road built specifically to transport troops outside the smaller region of greater Rome (this was essential to the Romans). The few roads outside the early city were Etruscan and went mainly to Etruria. By the late Republic, the Romans had expanded over most of Italy and were masters of road construction. Their roads began at Rome, where the master itinerarium , or list of destinations along the roads, was located, and extended to the borders of their domain – hence the expression, "All roads lead to Rome".
Romans had an affinity for the people of Campania, who, like themselves, traced their backgrounds to the Etruscans. The Samnite Wars were instigated by the Samnites when Rome attempted to ally itself with the city of Capua in Campania. The Italic speakers in Latium had long ago been subdued and incorporated into the Roman state. They were responsible for changing Rome from a primarily Etruscan to a primarily Italic state.
Dense populations of sovereign Samnites remained in the mountains north of Capua, which is just north of the Greek city of Neapolis. Around 343 BC, Rome and Capua attempted to form an alliance, a first step toward a closer unity. The Samnites reacted with military force.
Between Capua and Rome lay the Pontine Marshes (Pomptinae paludes), a swamp infested with malaria. A tortuous coastal road wound between Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber and Neapolis. The Via Latina followed its ancient and scarcely more accessible path along the foothills of Monti Laziali and Monti Lepini, which are visible towering over the former marsh.
In the First Samnite War (343–341 BC) the Romans found they could not support or resupply troops in the field against the Samnites across the marsh. A revolt of the Latin League drained their resources further. They gave up the attempted alliance and settled with Samnium.
The Romans were only biding their time while they looked for a solution. The first answer was the colonia, a "cultivation" of settlers from Rome, who would maintain a permanent base of operations. The Second Samnite War (327–304 BC) erupted when Rome attempted to place a colony at Cales in 334 and again at Fregellae in 328 on the other side of the marshes. The Samnites, now a major power after defeating the Greeks of Tarentum, occupied Neapolis to try to ensure its loyalty. The Neapolitans appealed to Rome, which sent an army and expelled the Samnites from Neapolis.
In 312 BC, Appius Claudius Caecus became censor at Rome. He was of the gens Claudia, who were patricians descended from the Sabines taken into the early Roman state. He had been given the name of the founding ancestor of the gens, Appius Claudius (Attus Clausus in Sabine). He was a populist, i.e., an advocate of the common people. A man of inner perspicacity, in the years of success he was said to have lost his outer vision and thus acquired the name caecus, "blind".
Without waiting to be told what to do by the Senate, Appius Claudius began bold public works to address the supply problem. An aqueduct (the Aqua Appia) secured the water supply of the city of Rome. By far the best known project was the road, which ran across the Pontine Marshes to the coast northwest of Naples, where it turned north to Capua. On it, any number of fresh troops could be sped to the theatre of operations, and supplies could be moved en masse to Roman bases without hindrance by either enemy or terrain. It is no surprise that, after his term as censor, Appius Claudius became consul twice, subsequently held other offices, and was a respected consultant to the state even during his later years.
The road achieved its purpose. The outcome of the Second Samnite War was at last favorable to Rome. In a series of blows the Romans reversed their fortunes, bringing Etruria to the table in 311 BC, the very year of their revolt, and Samnium in 304. The road was the main factor that allowed them to concentrate their forces with sufficient rapidity and to keep them adequately supplied, whereafter they became a formidable opponent.
The main part of the Appian Way was started and finished in 312 BC.
The road began as a leveled dirt road upon which small stones and mortar were laid. Gravel was laid upon this, which was finally topped with tight fitting, interlocking stones to provide a flat surface. The historian Procopius said that the stones fit together so securely and closely that they appeared to have grown together rather than to have been fitted together.The road was cambered in the middle (for water runoff) and had ditches on either side of the road which were protected by retaining walls.
The road began in the Forum Romanum, passed through the Servian Wall at the porta Capena, went through a cutting in the clivus Martis, and left the city. For this stretch of the road, the builders used the via Latina. The building of the Aurelian Wall centuries later required the placing of another gate, the Porta Appia. Outside of Rome the new via Appia went through well-to-do suburbs along the via Norba, the ancient track to the Alban hills, where Norba was situated. The road at the time was a via glarea, a gravel road. The Romans built a high-quality road, with layers of cemented stone over a layer of small stones, cambered, drainage ditches on either side, low retaining walls on sunken portions, and dirt pathways for sidewalks. The via Appia is believed to have been the first Roman road to feature the use of lime cement. The materials were volcanic rock. The surface was said to have been so smooth that you could not distinguish the joints. The Roman section still exists and is lined with monuments of all periods, although the cement has eroded out of the joints, leaving a very rough surface.
The road concedes nothing to the Alban hills, but goes straight through them over cuts and fills. The gradients are steep. Then it enters the former Pontine Marshes. A stone causeway of about 31 kilometers (19 mi) led across stagnant and foul-smelling pools blocked from the sea by sand dunes. Appius Claudius planned to drain the marsh, taking up earlier attempts, but he failed. The causeway and its bridges subsequently needed constant repair. No one enjoyed crossing the marsh.[ citation needed ] In 162 BC, Marcus Cornelius Cathegus had a canal constructed along the road to relieve the traffic and provide an alternative when the road was being repaired. Romans preferred using the canal.
The Via Appia picked up the coastal road at Tarracina (Terracina). However, the Romans straightened it somewhat with cuttings, which form cliffs today. From there the road swerved north to Capua, where, for the time being, it ended. Caudine Forks was not far to the north. The itinerary was Aricia (Ariccia), Tres Tabernae, Forum Appii, Tarracina, Fundi (Fondi), Formiae (Formia), Minturnae (Minturno), Suessa, Casilinum and Capua, but some of these were colonies added after the Samnite Wars. The distance was 212 kilometers (132 mi). The original road had no milestones, as they were not yet in use. A few survive from later times, including a first milestone near the porta Appia.
The Third Samnite War (298–290 BC) is perhaps misnamed. It was an all-out attempt by all the neighbors of Rome: Italics, Etruscans and Gauls, to check the power of Rome. The Samnites were the leading people of the conspiracy. Rome dealt the northerners a crushing blow at the Battle of Sentinum in Umbria in 295. The Samnites fought on alone. Rome now placed 13 colonies in Campania and Samnium. It must have been during this time that they extended the via Appia 35 miles beyond Capua past the Caudine forks to a place the Samnites called Maloenton, "passage of the flocks". The itinerary added Calatia, Caudium and Beneventum (not yet called that). Here also ended the Via Latina.
By 290 BC, the sovereignty of the Samnites had ended. The heel of Italy lay open to the Romans. The dates are somewhat uncertain and there is considerable variation in the sources, but during the Third Samnite War the Romans seem to have extended the road to Venusia, where they placed a colony of 20,000 men. After that they were at Tarentum.
Roman expansion alarmed Tarentum, the leading city of the Greek presence (Magna Graecia) in southern Italy. They hired the mercenary, King Pyrrhus of Epirus, in neighboring Greece to fight the Romans on their behalf. In 280 BC the Romans suffered a defeat at the hands of Pyrrhus at the Battle of Heraclea on the coast west of Tarentum. The battle was costly for both sides, prompting Pyrrhus to remark "One more such victory and I am lost." Making the best of it, the Roman army turned on Greek Rhegium and effected a massacre of Pyrrhian partisans there.
Rather than pursue them, Pyrrhus went straight for Rome along the via Appia and then the Via Latina. He knew that if he continued on the via Appia he could be trapped in the marsh. Wary of such entrapment on the Via Latina also, he withdrew without fighting after encountering opposition at Anagni. Wintering in Campania, he withdrew to Apulia in 279 BC, where, pursued by the Romans, he won a second costly victory at the Battle of Asculum. Withdrawing from Apulia for a Sicilian interlude, he returned to Apulia in 275 BC and started for Campania up the Roman road.
Supplied by that same road, the Romans successfully defended the region against Pyrrhus, crushing his army in a two-day fight at the Battle of Beneventum in 275 BC. The Romans renamed the town from "Maleventum" ("site of bad events") to Beneventum ("site of good events") as a result. Pyrrhus withdrew to Greece, where he died in a street fight in Argos in 272 BC. Tarentum fell to the Romans that same year, who proceeded to consolidate their rule over all of Italy.
The Romans pushed the via Appia to the port of Brundisium in 264 BC. The itinerary from Beneventum was now Venusia, Silvium, Tarentum, Uria and Brundisium. The Roman Republic was the government of Italy, for the time being. Appius Claudius died in 273, but in extending the road a number of times, no one has tried to displace his name upon it.
The Appian Way's path across today's regions Lazio and Campania has always been well known, while the exact position of the part located in Apulia (the original one, not the extension by Trajan) was unknown, since there were no visible remains of the Appian Way in that region.
In the first half of the 20th century, the professor of ancient Roman topography Giuseppe Lugli managed to discover, with the then innovative technique of photogrammetry, what probably was the route of the Appian Way from Gravina in Puglia (Silvium) up to Taranto. When analysing aerophotogrammetric shots of the area, Lugli noticed a path (Italian : tratturo) named la Tarantina, whose direction was still largely influenced by the centuriation; this, according to Lugli, was the path of the Appian Way. This path, as well as the part located in today's Apulia region, was still in use in the Middle Ages. A further piece of evidence for Lugli's proposed path is the presence of a number of archaeological remains in that region, among them the ancient settlement of Jesce.
By studying the distances given in the Antonine Itinerary, Lugli also assigned the Appian Way stations Blera and Sublupatia (which also occurs on the Tabula Peutingeriana ) respectively to the areas Murgia Catena and Taverna (between masseria (estate farmhouse) S. Filippo and masseria S. Pietro). However, the toponym Murgia Catena defined too large an area, so that it didn't allow a clear localization of the Appian Way station. Recently Luciano Piepoli, based on the distances given in the Antonine Itinerary and on recent archeological findings, has suggested that Silvium should be Santo Staso, an area very close to Gravina in Puglia, Blera should be masseria Castello, and Sublupatia should be masseria Caione.
The emperor Trajan built the Via Traiana, an extension of the Via Appia from Beneventum, reaching Brundisium via Canusium and Barium rather than via Tarentum. This was commemorated by an arch at Beneventum.
Travellers could cross the Adriatic Sea through the Otranto Strait towards Albania either by landing at present day Durrës through the Via Egnatia or near the ancient town of Apollonia and continue towards present day Rrogozhina in central Albania.
In 73 BC, a slave revolt (known as the Third Servile War) under the ex-gladiator of Capua, Spartacus, began against the Romans. Slavery accounted for roughly every third person in Italy.
Spartacus defeated many Roman armies in a conflict that lasted for over two years. While trying to escape from Italy at Brundisium he unwittingly moved his forces into the historic trap in Apulia/Calabria. The Romans were well acquainted with the region. Legions were brought home from abroad and Spartacus was pinned between armies. The ex-slave army was defeated at Siler River by Marcus Licinius Crassus. Pompey's armies captured and killed several thousand rebels that escaped from the battle and Crassus captured several thousand more. The Romans judged that the slaves had forfeited their right to live. In 71 BC, 6,000 slaves were crucified along the 200-kilometer (120 mi) Via Appia from Rome to Capua.
In 1943, during World War II, the Allies fell into the same trap Pyrrhus had retreated to avoid, in the Pomptine fields, the successor to the Pomptine marshes. The marsh remained, despite many efforts to drain it, until engineers working for Benito Mussolini finally succeeded. (Even so, the fields were infested with malarial mosquitos until the advent of DDT in the 1950s.)
Hoping to break a stalemate at Monte Cassino, the Allies landed on the coast of Italy at Nettuno, ancient Antium, which was midway between Ostia and Terracina. They found that the place was undefended. They intended to move along the line of the via Appia to take Rome, outflanking Monte Cassino, but they did not do so quickly enough. The Germans occupied Mounts Laziali and Lepini along the track of the old Via Latina, from which they rained down shells on Anzio. Even though the Allies expanded into all the Pomptine region, they gained no ground. The Germans counterattacked down the via Appia from the Alban hills in a front four miles wide, but could not retake Anzio. The battle lasted for four months, one side being supplied by sea, the other by land through Rome. In May 1944, the Allies broke out of Anzio and took Rome. The German forces escaped to the north of Florence.
For the 1960 Summer Olympics, it served as part of the men's marathon course that was won by Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the road fell out of use; Pope Pius VI ordered its restoration. A new Appian Way was built in parallel with the old one in 1784 as far as the Alban Hills region. The new road is the Via Appia Nuova ("New Appian Way") as opposed to the old section, now known as Via Appia Antica. The old Appian Way close to Rome is now a free tourist attraction. It was extensively restored for Rome's Millennium and Great Jubilee celebrations. The first 5 kilometers (3 mi) are still heavily used by cars, buses and coaches but from then on traffic is very light and the ruins can be explored on foot in relative safety. The Church of Domine Quo Vadis is in the second mile of the road. Along or close to the part of the road closest to Rome, there are three catacombs of Roman and early Christian origin and one of Jewish origin.
The construction of Rome's ring road, the Grande Raccordo Anulare or GRA, in 1951 caused the Appian Way to be cut in two. More recent improvements to the GRA have rectified this through the construction of a tunnel under the Appia, so that it is now possible to follow the Appia on foot for about 16 km (10 mi) from its beginning near the Baths of Caracalla.
Many parts of the original road beyond Rome's environs have been preserved, and some are now used by cars (for example, in the area of Velletri). The road inspires the last movement of Ottorino Respighi's Pini di Roma . To this day the Via Appia contains the longest stretch of straight road in Europe, 62 km (39 mi).totaling
There are the remains of several Roman bridges along the road, including the Ponte di Tre Ponti, Ponte di Vigna Capoccio, Viadotta di Valle Ariccia, Ponte Alto and Ponte Antico.
Year 212 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Flaccus and Pulcher. The denomination 212 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
Three Taverns was a place on the ancient Appian Way, about 50 km from Rome, designed for the reception of travellers, as the name indicates.
Year 312 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Corvus and Mus. The denomination 312 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
Benevento is a city and comune of Campania, Italy, capital of the province of Benevento, 50 kilometres (31 mi) northeast of Naples. It is situated on a hill 130 metres above sea level at the confluence of the Calore Irpino and the Sabato. It is also the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishop. Around Benevento there is an urban area with 110,000 inhabitants.
Capua is a city and comune in the province of Caserta, in the region of Campania, southern Italy, situated 25 km (16 mi) north of Naples, on the northeastern edge of the Campanian plain.
The First, Second, and Third Samnite Wars were fought between the Roman Republic and the Samnites, who lived on a stretch of the Apennine Mountains to the south of Rome and the north of the Lucanians. The first of these wars was the result of Rome's intervening to rescue the Campanian city of Capua from a Samnite attack. The second one was the result of Rome's intervention in the politics of the city of Naples and developed into a contest over the control of much of central and southern Italy. The third war also involved a struggle over the control of this part of Italy. The wars extended over half a century and the peoples to the east, north and west of Samnium as well as the peoples of central Italy north of Rome and the Senone Gauls got involved to various degrees and at various points in time. The Samnites were one of early Rome's most formidable rivals.
Appius Claudius Crassus Caecus was an important statesman of the Roman Republic, active between 315 and 278. He was censor between 312 and 308, and then consul twice, once in 307 and once in 296, dictator c. 285, and interrex three times. He is the first Roman whose life can be traced with historical certainty.
Samnium is a Latin exonym for a region of Southern Italy anciently inhabited by the Samnites. Their own endonyms were Safinim for the country and Safineis for the people. The language of these endonyms and of the population was the Oscan language. However, not all the Samnites spoke Oscan, and not all the Oscan-speakers lived in Samnium.
The Battle of Heraclea took place in 280 BC between the Romans under the command of consul Publius Valerius Laevinus, and the combined forces of Greeks from Epirus, Tarentum, Thurii, Metapontum, and Heraclea under the command of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus. Although the battle was a victory for the Greeks, their casualties were so high that they were eventually compelled to withdraw from Italy. It is from this battle that the term "pyrrhic victory" is derived, meaning a victory at such high cost as to amount to a defeat.
Lucania was a historical region of Southern Italy. It was the land of the Lucani, an Oscan people. It extended from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Gulf of Taranto.
The Pyrrhic War was a war fought by Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus. Pyrrhus was asked by the people of the Greek city of Tarentum in southern Italy to help them in their war with the Roman Republic.
The Battle of Beneventum was the last battle of the Pyrrhic War. It was fought between the forces of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus in Greece, and the Romans, led by consul Manius Curius Dentatus. It was fought near Beneventum, in southern Italy. It was a strategic Roman victory and Pyrrhus was forced to return to Tarentum, and later to Epirus.
The Messapians were a Iapygian tribe that inhabited Salento in classical antiquity. Two other Iapygian tribes, the Peucetians and the Daunians, inhabited central and northern Apulia respectively. All three tribes spoke the Messapian language, but had developed separate archaeological cultures by the seventh century BC. The Messapians lived in the eponymous region Messapia, which extended from Leuca in the southeast to Kailia and Egnatia in the northwest, covering most of the Salento peninsula. This region includes the Province of Lecce and parts of the provinces of Brindisi and Taranto today.
Suessula was an ancient city of Campania, southern Italy, situated in the interior of the peninsula, near the frontier with Samnium, between Capua and Nola, and about 7 km northeast of Acerrae, Suessula is now a vanished city and the archeological site belongs to the city of Acerra, and not to San Felice a Cancello as reported in some sources.
The First Battle of Capua was fought in 212 BC between Hannibal and two Roman consular armies. The Roman force was led by two consuls, Quintus Fulvius Flaccus and Appius Claudius Pulcher. The Roman force was defeated, but managed to escape. Hannibal temporarily managed to raise the siege of Capua. A tactical Carthaginian victory, it ultimately did not help the Capuans.
The Hirpini were an ancient Samnite tribe of Southern Italy. While generally regarded as having been Samnites, sometimes they are treated as a distinct and independent nation. They inhabited the southern portion of Samnium, in the more extensive sense of that name, roughly the area now known as Irpinia from their name—a mountainous region bordering on Basilicata towards the south, on Apulia to the east, and on Campania towards the west. No marked natural boundary separated them from these neighboring nations, but they occupied the lofty masses and groups of the central Apennines, while the plains on each side, and the lower ranges that bounded them, belonged to their more fortunate neighbors. The mountain basin formed by the three tributaries of the Vulturnus —the Tamarus, Calor, and Sabatus, which, with their valleys, unite near Beneventum, surrounded on all sides by lofty and rugged ranges of mountains—is the center and heart of their territory. They occupied the Daunian Mountains to the north, while its more southern portion comprised the upper valley of the Aufidus and the lofty group of mountains where that river takes its rise.
The Via Traiana was an ancient Roman road. It was built by the emperor Trajan as an extension of the Via Appia from Beneventum, reaching Brundisium (Brindisi) by a shorter route. This was commemorated by an arch at Beneventum.
The history of Taranto dates back to the 8th century BC when it was founded as a Greek colony, known as Taras.
Montesarchio is a comune in the Province of Benevento, Campania, southern Italy. It is located 18 kilometres south-east of Benevento in the Valle Caudina at the foot of Monte Taburno. The commune was granted the official status of City (Città) by a presidential decree of 31 July 1977.
In ancient times the Appian Way, which links Rome to the southern city of Brindisi, was known as the regina viarum, the queen of the roads. But these days its crown appears to be tarnished by chronic traffic congestion, vandalism and, some of its guardians grumble, illegal development.
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