Vicus Tuscus

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Map of central Rome during the Roman Empire showing Vicus Tuscus at the center

Vicus Tuscus ("Etruscan Street" or "Tuscan Street") was an ancient street in the city of Rome, running southwest out of the Roman Forum between the Basilica Julia and the Temple of Castor and Pollux towards the Forum Boarium and Circus Maximus via the west side of the Palatine Hill and Velabrum. [1]

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Roman Forum Archaeological site in Rome, Italy

The Roman Forum, also known by its Latin name Forum Romanum, is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum.

Basilica Julia building in Roman Forum, Italy

The Basilica Julia was a structure that once stood in the Roman Forum. It was a large, ornate, public building used for meetings and other official business during the early Roman Empire. Its ruins have been excavated. What is left from its classical period are mostly foundations, floors, a small back corner wall with a few arches that are part of both the original building and later Imperial reconstructions and a single column from its first building phase.



The name of Vicus Tuscus is believed to have originated from Etruscan immigration to Rome. Two distinct historical events are said by ancient authors to have led to the name. Tacitus says the name arose from the Etruscans who had come to aid the Romans against Titus Tatius, a Sabine ruler who invaded Rome in around 750 BC after Romans abducted Sabine women, and later settled down in the neighborhood of the Roman forum. [2] Livy, on the other hand, says the name came from the remnants of the Clusian army who settled in the area following the War between Clusium and Aricia in 508 BC.

Tacitus Roman senator and historian

PubliusCornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors. These two works span the history of the Roman Empire from the death of Augustus, in 14 AD, to the years of the First Jewish–Roman War, in 70 AD. There are substantial lacunae in the surviving texts, including a gap in the Annals that is four books long.

Titus Tatius mythical character

According to the Roman foundation myth, Titus Tatius was the king of the Sabines from Cures and joint-ruler of Rome for several years.

Livy Roman historian

Titus Livius – simply rendered as Livy in English – was a Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people – Ab Urbe Condita Libri – covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditional foundation in 753 BC through the reign of Augustus in Livy's own lifetime. He was on familiar terms with members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and even in friendship with Augustus, whose young grandnephew, the future emperor Claudius, he exhorted to take up the writing of history.

Some say the settlement was composed of workers whose task in Rome was to construct the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. [1]

Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus building in ancient Rome, Italy

The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, also known as the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus was the most important temple in Ancient Rome, located on the Capitoline Hill. It had a cathedral-like position in the official religion of Rome, and was surrounded by the Area Capitolina, a precinct where certain assemblies met, and numerous shrines, altars, statues and victory trophies were displayed.

Dionysius indicates that the Roman senate provided Etruscans a place to build houses near Vicus Tuscus. [3]


Though originally a residential area of wealthy families; by the Republican time, the Vicus Tuscus became a hub of Roman commerce where there were many stores ( horrea ) on both sides, such as booksellers. [4] According to Horace's Epistles, books were on sale in front of the statues of Etruscan god Vertumnus and Janus Geminus in the Tuscan street and inside the Forum. [5] The most influential merchants were expert dealers of incense and perfume (turarii in Latin), giving rise to the street's second name - Vicus Turarius. [1] Propertius recorded that these tradesmen made sacrificial offerings to Vertumnus, whose statue stood on Vicus Tuscus. [6]

Horreum public warehouse used during the ancient Roman period

A horreum was a type of public warehouse used during the ancient Roman period. Although the Latin term is often used to refer to granaries, Roman horrea were used to store many other types of consumables; the giant Horrea Galbae in Rome were used not only to store grain but also olive oil, wine, foodstuffs, clothing and even marble. By the end of the imperial period, the city of Rome had nearly 300 horrea to supply its demands. The biggest were enormous, even by modern standards; the Horrea Galbae contained 140 rooms on the ground floor alone, covering an area of some 225,000 square feet. The amount of storage space available in the public horrea can be judged by the fact that when the emperor Septimius Severus died in 211 AD, he is said to have left the city's horrea stocked with enough food to supply Rome's million-strong population for seven years. Smaller horrea were a standard feature of Roman towns, cities and forts throughout the empire; well-preserved examples of military horrea have been excavated on Hadrian's Wall in England, notably at the forts of Housesteads, Corbridge and South Shields.

Vertumnus In Roman mythology, is the god of seasons, change and plant growth, as well as gardens and fruit trees

In Roman mythology, Vertumnus is the god of seasons, change and plant growth, as well as gardens and fruit trees. He could change his form at will; using this power, according to Ovid's Metamorphoses (xiv), he tricked Pomona into talking to him by disguising himself as an old woman and gaining entry to her orchard, then using a narrative warning of the dangers of rejecting a suitor to seduce her. The tale of Vertumnus and Pomona has been called the only purely Latin tale in Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Janus Roman god of beginnings and doorways

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. It is conventionally thought that the month of January is named for Janus (Ianuarius), but according to ancient Roman farmers' almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the month.


Vicus Tuscus was frequently used as an important path of communication between the Roman Forum and the Forum Boarium and Circus Maximus. [1] When Romans conducted a sacrificial rite to their gods, two white cows were led through Vicus Tuscus and Velabrum via the forum Boarium, to arrive at the Temple of Juno Regina on the Aventine Hill. [7]

Forum Boarium cattle market of Ancient Rome

The Forum Boarium was the cattle forum venalium of Ancient Rome. It was located on a level piece of land near the Tiber between the Capitoline, the Palatine and Aventine hills. As the site of the original docks of Rome, the Forum Boarium experienced intense commercial activity.

Circus Maximus Ancient Roman circus in Rome

The Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium and mass entertainment venue located in Rome, Italy. Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine Hills, it was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome and its later Empire. It measured 621 m (2,037 ft) in length and 118 m (387 ft) in width and could accommodate over 150,000 spectators. In its fully developed form, it became the model for circuses throughout the Roman Empire. The site is now a public park.

Velabrum low valley in the city of Rome that connects the Forum with the Forum Boarium, and the Capitoline Hill with the western slope of the Palatine Hill

The Velabrum is the low valley in the city of Rome that connects the Forum with the Forum Boarium, and the Capitoline Hill with the western slope of the Palatine Hill. Before the construction of the Cloaca Maxima, which probably follows the course of an ancient stream, the area was a swamp, though this claim from earlier sources is contested by core samples taken from Velabrum in 1994. Ancient authorities state that in this marshy area the roots of a fig tree (Ficus Ruminalis) caught and stopped the basket carrying Romulus and Remus as it floated along on the Tiber current. The place therefore has a high symbolic significance.

During the Ludi Romani, the Vicus Tuscus was a route for processions. Statues of gods on wagons were paraded through here from the Capitoline Hill to the Circus Maximus. [4] Plautus also tells us ( Curculio , IV 482) that around 193 BCE, this was the spot for male prostitution in Rome. [8]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Platner, Samuel B. "Vicus Tuscus." A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome London, Humphrey Milford: Oxford University Press, 1929.
  2. Tacitus, Cornelius. The Annals & The Histories. Trans. Alfred Church and William Brodribb. New York, 2003.
  3. Dionysius, of Halicarnassus. The Roman antiquities of Dionysius Halicarnassensis. Trans. Edward Spelman, Vol. 2. London, 1758. 4 vols. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale Group.
  4. 1 2 Claridge, Amanda. Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide . New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  5. Peck, Tracy. Classical Philology, Vol. 9, No. 1. (January 1914), pp. 77-78.
  6. Hornblower, Simon and Antony Spawforth. “Vertumnus.” The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford, New York : Oxford University Press, 2003.
  7. Livius, Titus. Livy. Tras. Frank G. Moore. Vol. 7. London, 1943. 13 vols. Harvard University Press, William Heinemann Ltd.
  8. "In tusco vico, ubi sunt homines qui ipsi sese vendidant".