Tiber

Last updated
Tiber
PonteSantAngeloRom.jpg
The Tiber in Rome
Tibre.png
Native nameTevere  (Italian)
Location
Country Italy
Physical characteristics
Source 
  location Mount Fumaiolo
  elevation1,268 m (4,160 ft)
Mouth  
  location
Tyrrhenian Sea
Length406 km (252 mi)
Basin size17,375 km2 (6,709 sq mi)
Discharge 
  average239 m3/s (8,400 cu ft/s)[ citation needed ] (in Rome)
View of the Tiber looking towards Vatican City 0 Tibre - Pont Vittorio Emanuele II - San Spirito in Sassia - St-Pierre (Vatican).jpg
View of the Tiber looking towards Vatican City
Rome flood marker, 1598, set into a pillar of the Santo Spirito Hospital near Basilica di San Pietro Rome flood marker.jpg
Rome flood marker, 1598, set into a pillar of the Santo Spirito Hospital near Basilica di San Pietro
Highest level of Tiber for 40+ years, 13 December 2008, at Tiber Island Tiber in flood.jpg
Highest level of Tiber for 40+ years, 13 December 2008, at Tiber Island

The Tiber ( /ˈtbər/ ; Latin : Tiberis; [1] Italian : Tevere [ˈteːvere] ) [2] is the third-longest river in Italy, rising in the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna and flowing 406 kilometres (252 mi) through Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio, where it is joined by the river Aniene, to the Tyrrhenian Sea, between Ostia and Fiumicino. [3] It drains a basin estimated at 17,375 square kilometres (6,709 sq mi). The river has achieved lasting fame as the main watercourse of the city of Rome, founded on its eastern banks.

Contents

The river rises at Mount Fumaiolo in central Italy and flows in a generally southerly direction past Perugia and Rome to meet the sea at Ostia. Anciently called (in Latin) flavus ("the blond"), in reference to the yellowish colour of its water, the Tiber has heavily advanced at the mouth by about 3 kilometres (2 miles) since Roman times, leaving the ancient port of Ostia Antica 6 kilometres (4 miles) inland. [4] [5] However, it does not form a proportional delta, owing to a strong north-flowing sea current close to the shore, to the steep shelving of the coast, and to slow tectonic subsidence.

Sources

Column built by Mussolini near the source of Tiber Source of Tiber.JPG
Column built by Mussolini near the source of Tiber

The source of the Tiber consists of two springs 10 metres (33 ft) away from each other on Mount Fumaiolo. These springs are called "Le Vene". [6] The springs are in a beech forest 1,268 metres (4,160 ft) above sea level. During the 1930s, Benito Mussolini had an antique marble Roman column built at the point where the river rises, inscribed QUI NASCE IL FIUME SACRO AI DESTINI DI ROMA ("Here is born the river / sacred to the destinies of Rome"). There is an eagle on the top of the column, part of its fascist symbolism. The first miles of the Tiber run through Valtiberina before entering Umbria. [7]

Etymology

It is probable that the genesis of the name Tiber was pre-Latin, like the Roman name of Tibur (modern Tivoli), and may be specifically Italic in origin. The same root is found in the Latin praenomen Tiberius . There are also Etruscan variants of this praenomen in Thefarie (borrowed from Faliscan *Tiferios, lit. '(He) from the Tiber' < *Tiferis 'Tiber') and Teperie (via the Latin hydronym Tiber). [8] [9]

The legendary king Tiberinus, ninth in the king-list of Alba Longa, was said to have drowned in the river Albula, which was afterward called Tiberis. [8] The myth may have explained a memory of an earlier, perhaps pre-Indo-European name for the river, "white" (alba) with sediment, or "from the mountains" from pre-Indo-European word "alba, albion" mount, elevated area. [10] Tiberis/Tifernus may be a pre-Indo-European substrate word related to Aegean tifos "still water", Greek phytonym τύφη a kind of swamp and river bank weed ( Typha angustifolia ), Iberian hydronyms Tibilis, Tebro and Numidian Aquae Tibilitanae. [11] Yet another etymology is from *dubri-, water, considered by Alessio as Sicel, whence the form Θύβρις later Tiberis. This root *dubri- is widespread in Western Europe e.g. Dover, Portus Dubris. [12]

History

According to legend, the city of Rome was founded in 753 BC on the banks of the Tiber about 25 kilometres (16 mi) from the sea at Ostia. Tiber Island, in the center of the river between Trastevere and the ancient city center, was the site of an important ancient ford and was later bridged. Legend says Rome's founders, the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, were abandoned on its waters, where they were rescued by the she-wolf, Lupa. [13]

The river marked the boundary between the lands of the Etruscans to the west, the Sabines to the east and the Latins to the south. Benito Mussolini, born in Romagna, adjusted the boundary between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, so that the springs of the Tiber would lie in Romagna.

The Tiber was critically important to Roman trade and commerce, as ships could reach as far as 100 kilometres (60 mi) upriver; there is evidence that it was used to ship grain from the Val Teverina as long ago as the 5th century BC. [4] It was later used to ship stone, timber and foodstuffs to Rome.

During the Punic Wars of the 3rd century BC, the harbour at Ostia became a key naval base. It later became Rome's most important port, where wheat, olive oil, and wine were imported from Rome's colonies around the Mediterranean. [4] Wharves were also built along the riverside in Rome itself, lining the riverbanks around the Campus Martius area. The Romans connected the river with a sewer system (the Cloaca Maxima ) and with an underground network of tunnels and other channels, to bring its water into the middle of the city.

Wealthy Romans had garden-parks or "horti" on the banks of the river in Rome up through the first century BC. [14] These may have been sold and developed about a century later.

The heavy sedimentation of the river made it difficult to maintain Ostia, prompting the emperors Claudius and Trajan to establish a new port on the Fiumicino in the 1st century AD. They built a new road, the via Portuensis, to connect Rome with Fiumicino, leaving the city by Porta Portese ('the port gate'). Both ports were eventually abandoned due to silting.

Several popes attempted to improve navigation on the Tiber in the 17th and 18th century, with extensive dredging continuing into the 19th century. Trade was boosted for a while but by the 20th century silting had resulted in the river only being navigable as far as Rome itself. [4]

The Tiber was once known for its floods — the Campus Martius is a flood plain and would regularly flood to a depth of 2 metres (6 ft 7 in). The river is now confined between high stone embankments which were begun in 1876. Within the city, the riverbanks are lined by boulevards known as lungoteveri , streets "along the Tiber".

Because the river is identified with Rome, the terms "swimming the Tiber" or "crossing the Tiber" have come to be the Protestant shorthand term for converting to Roman Catholicism. This is most common if the person who converts had been Anglican, the reverse of which is referred to as "swimming the Thames" or "crossing the Thames".

In ancient Rome, executed criminals were thrown into the Tiber. People executed at the Gemonian stairs were thrown in the Tiber during the later part of the reign of the emperor Tiberius. This practice continued over the centuries. For example, the corpse of Pope Formosus was thrown into the Tiber after the infamous Cadaver Synod held in 897.

Bridges

Rome Fiumicino airport is also located near the river. Rom Fiumicino 2011-by-RaBoe-02.jpg
Rome Fiumicino airport is also located near the river.

In addition to the numerous modern bridges over the Tiber in Rome, there remain a few ancient bridges (now mostly pedestrian-only) that have survived in part (e.g., the Ponte Milvio and the Ponte Sant'Angelo) or in whole (Fabricius' Bridge).

Train going over the river Metro tevere roma0.JPG
Train going over the river

In addition to bridges, there are tunnels which the Metro trains use.

Representations

Roman representation of Tiber as a god (Tiberinus) with cornucopia at the Campidoglio, Rome Roman sculpture.jpg
Roman representation of Tiber as a god (Tiberinus) with cornucopia at the Campidoglio, Rome

Following the standard Roman depiction of rivers as powerfully built reclining male gods, the Tiber, also interpreted as a god named Tiberinus, is shown with streams of water flowing from his hair and beard. [15]

See also

Related Research Articles

Umbria Region of Italy

Umbria is a region of central Italy. It includes Lake Trasimeno and Marmore Falls, and is crossed by the River Tiber. The regional capital is Perugia. Umbria is known for its landscapes, traditions, history, culinary delights, artistic legacy, and influence on culture.

Etruria region of Central Italy

Etruria (; usually referred to in Greek source texts as Tyrrhenia was a region of Central Italy, located in an area that covered part of what are now Tuscany, Lazio, and Umbria.

Tiberinus was the ninth king of Alba Longa, according to the traditional history of Rome handed down by Titus Livius. He was the successor of Capetus, the eighth king of Alba Longa. The Alban kings claimed descent from Aeneas, a Trojan prince who brought a remnant of the Trojan populace to Italy following the sack of Troy, and settled in Latium. Alba was built by Ascanius, the son of Aeneas and Lavinia, and founder of the Alban royal line. The Alban kings, including Tiberinus, bore the cognomenSilvius, after the son of Ascanius, who was said to have been born in the woods.

Ostia Antica Former human settlement and archaeological site

Ostia Antica is a large archaeological site, close to the modern town of Ostia, that is the location of the harbour city of ancient Rome, 15 miles southwest of Rome. "Ostia" is a derivation of "os", the Latin word for "mouth". At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport, but due to silting the site now lies 3 kilometres from the sea. The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.

Rubicon river in northeastern Italy

The Rubicon is a shallow river in northeastern Italy, just south of Ravenna. The same name was given to a river that was famously crossed by Julius Caesar in 49 BC. While it has not been proven, some historians believe that the two rivers are indeed one and the same.

Lavinium human settlement

Lavinium was a port city of Latium, 53 km (33 mi) to the south of Rome, midway between the Tiber river at Ostia and Anzio. The coastline then, as now, was a long strip of beach. Lavinium was on a hill at the southernmost edge of the Silva Laurentina, a dense laurel forest, and the northernmost edge of the Pontine Marshes, a vast malarial tract of wetlands. The basis for the port, the only one between Ostia and Anzio, was evidently the mouth of the Numicus river.

Cloaca Maxima One of the worlds earliest sewage systems

The Cloaca Maxima has constituted one of the world's earliest sewage systems. Constructed in Ancient Rome in order to drain local marshes and remove the waste of one of world's most populous cities, it carried effluent to the River Tiber, which ran beside the city.

Tiber Island Island of the Tiber river in the center of Rome

The Tiber Island is the only island in the part of the Tiber which runs through Rome. Tiber Island is located in the southern bend of the Tiber.

The Pons Sublicius is the earliest known bridge of ancient Rome, spanning the Tiber River near the Forum Boarium downstream from the Tiber Island, near the foot of the Aventine Hill. According to tradition, its construction was ordered by Ancus Marcius around 642 BC, but this date is approximate because there is no ancient record of its construction. Marcius wished to connect the newly fortified Janiculum Hill on the Etruscan side to the rest of Rome, augmenting the ferry that was there. The bridge was part of public works projects that included building a port at Ostia, at the time the location of worked salt deposits.

Pons Fabricius the oldest Roman bridge in Rome, Italy, still existing in its original state. Its the only one of two bridges that spans half Tiber River together with Pons Cestius

The Pons Fabricius or Ponte dei Quattro Capi, is the oldest Roman bridge in Rome, Italy, still existing in its original state. Built in 62 BC, it spans half of the Tiber River, from the Campus Martius on the east side to Tiber Island in the middle. Quattro Capi refers to the two marble pillars of the two-faced Janus herms on the parapet, which were moved here from the nearby Church of St Gregory in the 14th century.

Portus a large artificial harbour of Ancient Rome

Portus was a large artificial harbour of Ancient Rome. Sited on the north bank of the north mouth of the Tiber, on the Tyrrhenian coast, it was established by Claudius and enlarged by Trajan to supplement the nearby port of Ostia.

Via Ostiensis street in Rome, Italy

The Via Ostiensis was an important road in ancient Rome. It ran west 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the city of Rome to its important sea port of Ostia Antica, from which it took its name. The road began near the Forum Boarium, ran between the Aventine Hill and the Tiber River along its left (eastern) bank, and left the city's Servian Walls through the Porta Trigemina. When the later Aurelian Walls were built, the road left the city through the Porta Ostiensis. In the late Roman Empire, trade suffered under an economic crisis, and Ostia declined as an important port. With the accompanying growth of importance of the Via Portuensis from the time of Constantine onwards, that of the Via Ostiensis correspondingly decreased. Modern Via Ostiense, following a similar path, is the main connection of Rome to Ostia together with the Via del Mare. On its way to Ostia, the road passes by the important basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

Pons Cestius Roman stone bridge in Rome, Italy

The Pons Cestius is a Roman stone bridge in Rome, Italy, spanning the Tiber to the west of the Tiber Island. The original version of this bridge was built around the 1st century BC, after the Pons Fabricius, sited on the other side of island. Both the pontes Cestius and Fabricius were long-living bridges; although the Fabricius remains wholly intact, the Ponte Cestio was partly dismantled in the 19th century, with only some of the ancient structure preserved.

Ostia (Rome) Frazione in Lazio, Italy

Ostia is a large neighbourhood in the X Municipio of the comune of Rome, Italy, near the ancient port of Rome, which is now a major archaeological site known as Ostia Antica. Ostia is also the only municipio or district of Rome on the Tyrrhenian Sea, and many Romans spend the summer holidays there.

Isola Sacra island

Isola Sacra is situated in the Lazio region of Italy south of Rome, near the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is part of the town of Fiumicino.

Caligulas Giant Ship

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Mount Fumaiolo mountain

Mount Fumaiolo is a mountain of the northern Apennines range of Italy located in the southern-most corner of the Emilia-Romagna region, c. 70 km from the town of Cesena. It is at the border Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany. With an elevation of 1,407 metres (4,616 ft), Mount Fumaiolo overlooks the villages of Balze di Verghereto, Bagno di Romagna and Verghereto, in Romagna, and thanks to its extensive fir and beech forests, it is a well-appreciated tourist area of natural interest. It is most famous for being the source of the Tiber, as well as the river Savio.

Tiberius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used throughout Roman history. Although not especially common, it was used by both patrician and plebeian families. The feminine form is Tiberia. The name is usually abbreviated Ti., but occasionally Tib.

Old Latium a region of the Italian peninsula bounded to the north by the river Tiber, to the east by the central Apennine mountains, to the west by the Mediterranean Sea and to the south by Monte Circeo

Old Latium is a region of the Italian peninsula bounded to the north by the river Tiber, to the east by the central Apennine mountains, to the west by the Mediterranean Sea and to the south by Monte Circeo. It was the territory of the Latins, an Italic tribe which included the early inhabitants of the city of Rome. Later it was also settled by various Italic tribes such as the Rutulians, Volscians, Aequi, and Hernici. The region was referred to as "old" to distinguish it from the expanded region, Latium, that included the region to the south of Old Latium, between Monte Circeo and the river Garigliano – the so-called Latium adiectum. It corresponded to the central part of the modern administrative region of Lazio, Italy, and it covered an area measuring of roughly 50 Roman miles. It was calculated by Mommsen that the region's area was about 1860 square kilometres.

Tiberinalia Late Imperial Roman festival in honor of Tiber

The Tiberinalia is a Roman festival of late antiquity, recorded in the Calendar of Filocalus, on August 17 (XVI Kal. Sept.), the same day as the archaic Portunalia. As a festival honoring Father Tiber, it may reflect renewed Imperial patronage of traditional Roman deities, in particular the dedication made to Tiberinus by the emperors Diocletian and Maximianus.

References

  1. Richard J. A. Talbert, ed. (2000). Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World: Map-By-Map Directory. I. Princeton, NJ and Oxford, UK: Princeton University Press. p. 630. ISBN   0691049459.
  2. (in Italian) Dizionario d'ortografia e di pronunzia
  3. Lazio – Latium | Italy Archived 2009-08-28 at the Wayback Machine
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Tiber River". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006
  5. "Tiber". World Encyclopedia. Philip's, 2005.
  6. "Tiber Springs – Mount Fumaiolo". turismo.fc.it. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  7. "Tuscany tours – the origin of the Tiber River". Farm Holidays Le Ceregne. Archived from the original on 11 May 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  8. 1 2 "Tiber". Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names. John Everett-Heath. Oxford University Press 2005.
  9. George Davis Chase, "The Origin of Roman Praenomina", in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, vol. VIII (1897)
  10. Cf. e.g. G. Alessio "Studi storico-linguisitci messapici" in Archivio Storico Pugliese p. 304; "Sul nome di Brindisi" in Archivio Storico Puglese VIII 1955 p. 211 f.; "Apulia et Calabria nel quadro della toponomastica mediterranea" in Atti del VII Congresso Internazionale di Studi Onomastici Firenze 1962 p. 85.
  11. G. Simonetta "La stratificazione linguistica dell' Agro Falisco" p. 6 citing G. Alessio.
  12. G. Alessio "Problemi storico-linguistici messapici" in Studi Salentini12 1962 p. 304.
  13. Moore, Malcolm (21 November 2007). "The legend of Romulus and Remus". Telegrpah . Telegraph Media Group Limited . Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  14. Horti:LacusCurtius • Gardens of Ancient Rome (Platner & Ashby, 1929)
  15. Tiber. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Myth (1996)
The river mouth of the Tiber and city of Fiumicino on the Tyrrhenian Sea Comune di Fiumicino and the Tiber River, near Rome.jpg
The river mouth of the Tiber and city of Fiumicino on the Tyrrhenian Sea

Coordinates: 41°44′26″N12°14′00″E / 41.7405°N 12.2334°E / 41.7405; 12.2334