Key to Umbria

Livy’s Maritime Colonies: (338 - 241 BC) 

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Adapted from the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire 

According to Graham Mason (referenced below, at p. 75), who cited (inter alia) Edward Salmon (referenced below, at pp. 70-81):

  1. “Between the end of the Latin War in 338 BC and the end of the First Punic War in 241 BC, Rome founded her first ten coloniae civium Romanorum [(citizen colonies)]: Ostia, Antium, Tarracina, Minturnae, Sinuessa, Sena Gallica, Castrum Novum, Pyrgi, Alsium, and Fregenae, in approximate order of foundation. ... All [of these were on] coastal sites, [and are referred to in the sources as coloniae maritimae

  2. Five [Ostia, Antium, Tarracina, Minturnae and Sinuessa] were on the Tyrrhenian coast from Ostia south to northern Campania; 

  3. four [Castrum Novum, Pyrgi, Alsium, and Fregenae] were on the coast of Etruria; and 

  4. only one, Sena Gallica, was on the Adriatic coast.”

These ten colonies, plus another possible colony in this group, at Castrum Novum on the Adriatic, are marked on the map above.

Identification and Characteristics

This list can be compiled from two records by Livy:

  1. In 207 BC, when the Romans realised that Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, was about to cross the Alps into Italy and open up a second front in the on-going Hannibalic War:

  2. “... the consuls conducted the [military] levy more vigorously and more strictly than anyone remembered  ... [because] the terror of the war was doubled by the coming of a new enemy into Italy [at a time when] there were fewer young men from whom to enlist soldiers.  Accordingly, they compelled even the men of the ‘coloniae maritimae’, who ... had an inviolable exemption [from the obligation] to furnish soldiers.  ... [The colonies in question were]: Ostia, Alsium, Antium, Anxur [Tarracina], Minturnae, Sinuessa, and (from the [Adriatic]), Sena [Gallica]”, (‘History of Rome’, 27: 38: 1-4).

  3. In 191 BC, when the Romans decided to send an army to Greece against King Antiochus:

  4. “Whilst [the praetor Caius Livius Salinator] was doing his utmost to make the fleet ready for sea, he was delayed for some time by a dispute with the citizens of the ‘coloniae maritimae’. ... The colonies concerned were Ostia, Fregenae, Castrum Novum, Pyrgi, Antium, Tarracina, Minturnae and Sinuessa”, (‘History of Rome’, 36: 3: 3-5).

Graham Mason observed (at note 1) that:

  1. Castrum Novum, Pyrgi, and Fregenae are missing from the first list; and

  2. Alsium and Sena Gallica are missing from the second.

These records, taken together, form the basis of the list of coloniae maritimae above.

It is usually assumed that the colonies in Livy’s two lists formed a discrete group that shared particular characteristics: as Graham Mason observed (at p. 77):

  1. “The issues of geographical placement and constitutional status of the ten sites are interrelated:

  2. The location of each is well known, except for some possible uncertainty about Castrum Novum [see below].  Each was on the coast. 

  3. [Although] some were near to, others at a distance, from Rome, ... [they were all] on the ager Romanus or on land directly controlled by Rome. 

  4. Each was founded, not as a Latin colony, but as a colonia civium Romanorum - indeed, [they were] the first of Rome's citizen colonies.”

In fact, Livy describes only the colonies of the second list as citizen colonies.  Nevertheless, there is enough overlap between the two lists to suggest that any colony included in one or both lists was indeed a citizen colony. 

Mason also listed other apparently shared attributes (at p. 78):

  1. “For present purposes, three attributes of the coloniae maritimae are especially relevant:

  2. the colonists' sacrosancta vacatio militiae [notionally inviolable exemption from military service];

  3. the small number of only 300 colonists per settlement; and

  4. the small size of land allotments per colonist (apparently two iugera)”.

In fact, we have information for the number of colonists and the size of their allotments for only one of Livy’s coloniae maritimae: in 329 BC:

  1. “... 300 colonists were sent to [the Volscian port of] Anxur [Tarracina], where they each received 200 iugera of land”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 21: 11).

It is true that we have information as to the number of colonists sent to  five coastal colonies that were founded after 241 BC: according to Livy, in 197 BC: 

  1. “Caius Atinius, tribune of the people, carried a proposal that five colonies should be established on the sea-coast, two at the mouths of the Vulturnus and Liternus rivers, one at Puteoli, one at Castrum Salerni; Buxentum was added, and it was ordered that 300 hundred families be sent to each colony”, ‘History of Rome’, 32: 29: 3).


  1. none of these later colonies was ever designated in our surviving sources as a colonia maritima; and

  2. Tarracina is the only colony of any kind at which we know that each of the initial colonists received 200 iugera of land.

While it is likely that many (and perhaps the majority) of Livy’s ten coloniae maritimae:

  1. initially received 300 colonists; and

  2. they were each allotted 200 iugera of land;

the archeological evidence (discussed below) from one or two sites on the Adriatic coast suggests that this was not always the case.

Location of Castrum Novum

There are two possible locations for a coastal colony called Castrum Novum (both marked, with question marks, on the map above):

  1. at modern Giulianova, on the Adriatic; and

  2. at modern Santa Marinella, on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

There are also two surviving records of the foundation of a colony of this name:

  1. According to the summary of Livy’s now-lost Book 11, in the period 290-87 BC:

  2. “Colonies were founded at Castrum [Novum] ... and [at nearby] Hadria”, (‘Periochae’, 11:7).

  3. There is no reason to doubt Livy’s dating for the foundation of the Latin colony of Hadria, in the territory of the Praetutti in southern Picenum at this time.  Many scholars assume that Livy’s Castrum Novum was founded nearby: for example, Tesse Stek (referenced below, at p. 97, note 42) asserted that:

  4. “...the colonies of Hadria and Castrum Novum were founded [in the the ager Praetutianus] in the 290s BC, and a praefectura was established at [nearby] Interamna Praetutiorum.”

  5. According to Velleius Paterculus:

  6. “At the outbreak of the First Punic War [in 264  BC], Firmum [in Picenum] and Castrum [Novum] were occupied by colonies,  ... Alsium ... [in 247 BC], and Fregenae ... [in 245 BC]”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 14: 8).

  7. This Castrum Novum seems to be linked geographically Alsium and Fregenae, both here and in Livy’s list of coloniae maritimae in 191 BC (above).

There is, however, some dispute about the precise status of Castrum Novum in Picenum:

  1. Oliva Menozzi and Alesaandra Ciarico (referenced below, at p. 596) designated it as a Latin colony.  However, Edward Salmon (referenced below, at p. 180, note 119) pointed out that this is unlikely, since it was not among the 30 existent Latin colonies that Livy (27: 9 and 27: 10) listed at the time of the Second Punic War. 

  2. Simona Antolini and Silvia Marengo (referenced below, at p. 209) and Lily Ross Taylor (referenced below, at p. 59, note 47) designated it as a citizen colony. 

  3. Edward Salmon (referenced below, at pp. 179-80, note 119):

  4. also ruled it out as a Latin colony; but

  5. doubted that it had been a citizen colony either, on the basis of epigraphic evidence for a praetor there.

  6. He concluded that:

  7. “Castrum Novum in Etruria was most certainly a colony.  Castrum Novum in Picenum probably was not, at least in Republican times.”

The consensus of modern scholars is probably that both were citizen colonies. 

I can see no problem with the hypothesis that there were two citizen colonies named Castrum Novum that were founded some two decades apart.  Looking at the context (chronological and  geographical) in which each authors place Castrum Novum, it seems to me that:

  1. Livy’s colony of Castrum Novum, which was founded in 290-87 BC, was probably the colony of this name on the Adriatic (as suggested, for example, by Saskia Roselaar, referenced below, at p. 314, note 74); while.

  2. Velleius’ colony of Castrum Novum, which was founded at the outbreak of the First Punic War, was

  3. probably one of four coloniae maritimae that were established on the Tyrrhenian coast in the period 264-45 BC; and

  4. probably among the eight coloniae maritimae that Livy recorded in 191 BC.

It is possible that Castrum Novum in Picenum did not appear in either of Livy’s lists because it did resist either of the levies of 207 and 191 BC. 

Coloniae Maritimae South of Rome

As Graham Mason (above) pointed out, the earliest of this Livy ‘coloniae maritimae’ were all on the Tyrrhenian coast, to the south of Rome: at Ostia; Antium; Tarracina; Minturnae; and Sinuessa.

Ostia and Antium

According to tradition, the fourth king of Rome, Ancus Marcius, who was thought to have ruled in the late seventh century BC, founded the colony of Ostia.  According to Tim Cornell (referenced below, at p. 385), the earliest archeological evidence relates to:

  1. “... a small Roman settlement founded in the early 4th century BC, [which] was no more than a fort to guard the estuary ...”

The earliest secure record we have of its colonial status is provided by Livy for 207 BC.  However, it is commonly regarded as the earliest citizen colony founded by Rome.

Antium was an ancient settlement, albeit that its early history is obscure. However, it is clear from Livy that the Romans founded a citizen colony here in 338 BC, at the end of the Latin War, when:

  1. “... a colony was dispatched to Antium, with an understanding that the Antiates might be permitted, if they wished, to enroll as colonists; their warships were taken from them, and their people were forbidden the sea; [those who chose not to do so] were granted citizenship”, (‘Roman History’, 8: 14: 7-9)

Edward Bispham (referenced below, at pp. 229-20) suggested that the Antiates who were not enrolled in the colony became citizens without voting rights.  He also observed (at p. 230) that:

  1. “Antium alone of the cities whose fate was decided by the Romans in 338 BC received a citizen colony.  The reasons for [this] must have been ... dictated by its peculiar location with respect to the other cities affected by the settlement. ... [Since our sources associated it with piracy from and early date], one function of the colony may have been to control or discourage piratical practices.  That the Antiates were now forbidden access to the sea points in the same direction.  Nevertheless, ... this cannot have been the whole story ...”

According to Livy:

  1. “Although, each [of the seven colonies that resisted the levy in 207 BC] read out the evidence of its exemption [before the Senate], in no case except Antium and Ostia was the exemption [from military service] respected so long as the enemy was in Italy: and in the case of these [two] colonies, the younger men were made to swear that they would not pass the night outside the walls of their colony for more than 30 days, so long as the enemy was in Italy” , (‘Roman History’, 8: 14: 4-5).

The reason for these two exemptions are unspecified: perhaps, as the oldest colonies, the constitutions of Ostia and Antium made the military exemptions here harder to overrule.

Tarracina (329 BC)

Volscian Prefectures: Privernum, Fundi and Formiae

Citizen colony: Tarracina (329 BC)

Underling indicates tribal assignations: red = Oufentina; blue = Aemilia

According to Livy, the Romans suppressed a revolt at the Volscian city of Privernum in 329 BC and:

  1. “In that same year, 300 colonists were sent to [the Volscian port of] Anxur where they each received 200 iugera of land”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 21: 11).

Velleius Patroculus (‘History of Rome’, 1: 14: 4) also recorded this foundation in 329 BC, albeit that he refers to the colony by its Roman name, Tarracina.  We might reasonably assume that this colony was founded on the land that had been confiscated from Privernum in 340 BC (see, for example, Saskia Roselaar, referenced below, at pp. 300-1, entry 3 and pp. 303, entry 9).

Epigraphic evidence suggests that Tarracina was assigned to the Oufentina, which was formed in 318 BC and named for the river Ufens: this assignation is unsurprising, since Anxur/ Tarracina was sited at the point where this river reached the sea.  We might therefore reasonably assume that that the Oufentina was formed in 318 BC for:

  1. viritane settlers on the land that had been confiscated from Privernum in 340 BC; and

  2. colonists that had been enrolled at Tarracina in 329 BC.

Minturnae and Sinuessa (295 BC)

Samnite prefectures (290 BC ?): Allifae, Venafrum, Atina; Casinum and Aufidena (?)

Latin colonies: Suessa Aurunca; Interamna Lirensis (313-2 BC)

Maritime citizen colonies: Minturnae and Sinuessa (both 296 BC)

Red underlining indicates centres assigned to the Terentia

In 296 BC, during the Third Samnite War, the consul Lucius Volumnius Flamma Violens suppressed a Samnite incursion into Campania.  Livy described the relief felt in Rome when this news arrived, and continued:

  1. “The next question was the protection of the district that had been devastated by the Samnites.  It was decided to settle bodies of colonists about the Vescinian and Falernian country. 

  2. One was to be at the mouth of the Liris, now called the colony of Minturnae.

  3. The other was to be in the Vescinian forest, where it is contiguous with the territory of Falernum.  Here, the Greek city of Sinope is said to have stood and, from this, the Roman settlers gave the place the name of Sinuessa.   

  4. It was arranged that the tribunes of the plebs should get a plebiscite passed requiring P. Sempronius, the praetor, to appoint commissioners for the founding of colonies in those spots. But it was not easy to find people to be sent to what was practically a permanent outpost in a dangerously hostile country: [potential colonists preferred to have] fields allotted to them for cultivation”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 21: 7-10).

According to Lily Ross Taylor (referenced below, at p. 57), both Minturnae and Sinuessa were located on land that the Romans had taken from the Aurunci in 314 BC.  (See also Saskia Roselaar, referenced below, at pp. 300-5-6, entry 13). The Romans had established two Latin colonies (Suessa Aurunca and Interamna Lirensis) on the confiscated land in 313-2 BC. 

The two new citizen colonies were assigned to the Teretina tribe, which had been established in 299 BC, presumably for viritane settlers on the confiscated land.  Graham Mason (referenced below, at p. 82) suggested that:

  1. “The main reason for founding both Mintunae and Sinuessa [in 296 BC] was to secure ... the neighbouring fertile lands from the ravages of the Samnites, who had repeatedly overrun the area.  Livy ... says as much. ... [The apparent reluctance of prospective colonists] implies no negative attitude toward the two sites as such ... It reflects the circumstances at that point in the Third Samnite War; there was another attempted Samnite incursion into the area the following year ”

Edward Salmon (referenced below, at p. 77) pointed out that:

  1. “... besides denying the coastal road to attackers, Minturnae and Sinuessa might also foil any attempts of seaborne enemies to leapfrog along the littoral in search of a beachhead.”

With the end of the war in 290 BC, the barriers to both colonial and viritane citizen settlement would have been greatly reduced.  Thus, it is possible that a more extensive programme for settling this fertile plain was facilitated by the protection of the new colonies. 

Coloniae Maritimae on the Adriatic

As Graham Mason (above) pointed out, the next of Livy ‘coloniae maritimae’ was probably Sena Gallica on the Adriatic.  I also include in this section the broadly contemporary colony at Castrum Novum in Picenum.

Sena Gallica (283 BC)

Territory of Sena Gallica

Adapted from G. Lepore (referenced below, p. 229, figure 5)

Dotted line represent the road network

The summary of Livy’s Book 11 recorded that, in the period 290-87 BC:

  1. “Colonies were founded at Castrum [Novum], Sena [Gallica] and Hadria”, (‘Periochae’, 11:7).

While this is probably accurate in respect of Castrum Novum and Hadria (both in Picenum), it seems to me to be unlikely that the Romans could have founded  the colony of Sena Gallica at this point, when the land in question was still occupied by the Senones.  In my view, we should probably instead follow Polybius, who reported that, immediately after the conquest of the Senones in 283 BC:

  1. “... the Romans sent the first colony that they ever planted in Gaul: namely, ... Sena [Gallica], so called from the tribe of Gauls that formerly occupied it”, (‘‘Histories’, 2: 19).

The new colony was founded on the coast, near the mouth of the Misa river.  As we have seen. Livy (History of Rome’, 27: 38: 4) listed it among 7 ‘coloniae maritimae’ that, in 207 BC, pleaded their exemption from prolonged military duties elsewhere. 

As discussed above, it is often asserted that only 300 citizen settlers were enrolled for this type of colony, and that this was therefore the case at Sena Gallica.  However, Giuseppe Lepore (referenced below, in the English abstract) pointed out that excavations at Sena Gallica suggest that this:

  1. “... first [maritime colony] on the Adriatic [had] the shape and size of a [Latin colony], recalling the situation that, 20 years later, characterised the [Latin] colony of Ariminum.  The new [evidence gained from the excavations] allows us to hypothesise that Rome adopted a new form of  [citizen colony as part of] its ‘Adriatic policy’.”

In the body of his paper (at pp pp. 231-2), he expanded as follows:

  1. “We can recognise [from the new archeological data] a city of dimensions quite unlike those of other maritime colonies: we are looking at [an area of some] 18 hectares, compared with 2-2.5 hectares for the older maritime colonies on the Tyrhenian coast”, (my translation).

He suggested that this new model had also applied at the citizen maritime colony of Castrum Novum, which had been founded to the south (on land recently confiscated from the Praetutti) at about the same time and which had an estimated area of some 10 hectares.

Graham Mason observed (at p. 82) that: 

  1. “There is no specific evidence for the level of prosperity [of Sena Gallica], except that it became an established place often mentioned [in the surviving sources].  It was adjacent to a broad alluvial plain and a coastal lagoon, and was too distant to be provisioned from Rome as would have been necessary unless the colonists provided for themselves.”

Giuseppe Lepore (referenced below, at p. 231) identified:

“... the presence of a vast [centuriated territory] that was very probably associated with the city from its foundation. [which] seems to testify, already in the 3rd century BC, to the function of the settlement and the agricultural exploitation of the new territories, which had only recently become ager publicus populi Romani”, (my translation).

It is noteworthy that this centuriated area extended across the upper regions of both the Misa and Cesana rivers, towards the later centres of Ostra and Suasa respectively.  Giusepp Lepore noted (at p. 230) that:

  1. “Obviously, proposing a precise chronology for a persisting centuriation is practically impossible but, once again, [the results of recent excavations] can give us some insights: [in particular] various materials from the site of [Corinaldo, marked on the map above] ... could be referable to production facilities that pre-dated [the viritane settlement of the area in] 232 BC”, (my translation).

An inscription (AE 1981, 334 , 1st century BC) from Sena Gallica suggests that the citizen colonists here were assigned to the Pollia tribe.  As Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at p. 217) observed, this must have been the first voting tribe established in this area.  It was one of the old rural tribes, and this is the earliest known example of its extension away from its original heartland.

Sena Gallica was documented in the context of Hasdrubal’s invasion of Italy in 207 BC, which culminated in the Roman victory at the Battle of the Metaurus.  However, as Giuseppe Lepore (referenced below, at pp. 234-5) pointed out, it subsequently:

  1. “... seems to have disappeared from history, except for the moment of its (probable) destruction [in 82 BC] during the civil war ...  For the ancient colony, ... we have only very few traces of public buildings and epigraphic material from the imperial period.  The image that seems to emerge is that of an urban centre that was only sparsely populated after the Republican period, with rather simple buildings ...  There is no evidence of the prestigious buildings that characterise the public areas of Roman cities, [and] no indication to date of a forum and its associated buildings”, (my translation).

He speculated (at pp. 233-4) that:

  1. “Only 20 years after the foundation of Sena Gallica, the changed political and strategic situation showed how the site of [the new coastal Latin colony of] Ariminum was more suitable to serve as the headquarters for the advance to the north: obviously, the city of Sena Gallica was not abandoned, but the ‘public investment’ in it must have decreased considerably, as demonstrated by the fact that, in 220 BC, the new Via Flaminia [apparently] avoided the Misa valley and instead privileged the valley of the Metaurus and the more northerly route that better connected to Ariminum”, (my translation).

However, the surviving sources for the route of Via Flaminia do not pre-date the Augiustan period, and it is at least possible that it originally did follow the Misa valley to Sena Gallica, before turning along the coast towards Pisaurum and Ariminum.  (Indeed, this might explain why the Roman general Livius Salinator established his camp near Sena Gallica in 207 BC in order to block Hasdrubal’s advance into Umbria). 

In short, while it is certainly likely that Sena Gallica received much less ‘public investment’ than Ariminum after 268 BC, it probably still retained some strategic importance, at least in the period 220- 207 BC.  I think that its real decline would have started in 184 BC, when a new citizen colony was established at Pisaurum, some 30 km to the north.  It might have been at this point that Via Flaminia was re-routed to cross the Apeninnes via the narrow Gola del Furlo and continue towards the coast along the Metaurus valley.

Coloniae Maritimae of Etruria

Latin colonies: Nepete and Sutrium (383 BC); Cosa (273 BC); Heba ? (ca. 150 BC)

Maritime citizen colonies (ca. 264 - 245 BC): Castrum Novum; Pyrgi; Alsium; Fregenae

Citizen colony: Saturnia (183 BC); Graviscae (181 BC)

Prefectures listed by Festus: Caere ; Saturnia

Other prefectures: Forum Clodii (CIL XI 3310a, Pliny the Elder); Statonia (Vitruvius)

Underline indicates known or likely tribal assignation:

Tribes formed in 387 BC: Turquoise = Tromentina (Veii); Blue = Stellatina;

Red = Sabatina; Yellow = Arnensis (Blera and Ocriculum)

Green = Voltinia (old tribe)

Velleius Paterculus gave the foundation dates of three of these colonies:

  1. “At the outbreak of the First Punic War [in 264  BC], Firmum [in Picenum] and Castrum [Novum] were occupied by colonies,  ... Alsium seventeen years later [i.e. in 247 BC], and Fregenae two years later still”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 14: 8).

It is usually assumed that Pyrgi, like Castrum Novum, was founded in ca. 264 BC.  We might reasonably assume that viritane citizen settlement also took place in this period on land that had been confiscated from Caere, and that this might have given rise to the constitution of a prefecture there. 

We might usefully explore this possibility by exploring the known tribal assignations in this area.  The tribe of Caere is usually deduced from a funerary inscription (known in two versions, CIL XI 3615 and 3257), which can be dated to the period 40-70 AD and which commemorates Titus Egnatius Rufus: the inscriptions were documented at Sutri in the 16th century, but Egnatius’ cursus included the post of dictator, an office that he almost certainly held at Caere.  Early readings of the inscription had Egnatius assigned to the Voturia tribe.  However, there are two other inscriptions from Caere that suggest that this should be read as the Voltinia (one of the original 17 rural tribes):

  1. an inscription from the Necropoli della Banditaccia commemorates Lucius Campatius of the Voltinia; and

  2. an inscription discovered in 1970 and published by Lidio Gasperini (referenced below, 2003, at pp. 511-5) commemorates a now-anonymous ‘L(ucius)’, who was assigned to the Voltinia. 

Thus, we can reasonably assume that Egnatius was also assigned to the Voltinia, and that this was the tribal assignation of Caere from the time of its enfranchisement.  There is also epigraphic evidence that suggests the assignations of three nearby centres to the Voltinia: 

  1. An inscription (CIL VI 0951, dated to 97 AD) from Rome records Lucius Sertorius Evanthus of the Voltinia, an aedile of a colony ‘C(---) N(---)’, usually completed as Castrum Novum and attributed to the Etruscan maritime colony of this name.

  2. Annarosa Gallo (referenced below, at p. 351 and note 36) referred to a recently-discovered fragmentary inscription from Alsium, another nearby maritime colony, that records a now-anonymous member of the Voltinia.

  3. The tribe of the prefecture of Forum Clodii  can be deduced from two inscriptions commemorating Quintus Cascellius Labeo:

  4. an inscription (CIL XI 3303) from Forum Clodii, which is dated to 18 AD, reproduces a decree of the decurions in which it is noted that Cascellius had undertaken to finance in perpetuity a banquet on the birthday of the Emperor Tiberius; and

  5. his epitaph (CIL VI 3510) from Rome gives his tribe as the Voltinia.

There is other circumstantial evidence that suggests that the prefecture was constituted at Caere in the 3rd century BC: according to Graham Mason (referenced below, at pp. 82-3), the four maritime colonies founded on the Etruscan coast (mentioned above and marked on the map above) were established on land that had been ceded by Caere in ca. 273 BC.


Coloniae Maritimae Founded During the War

Graham Mason (referenced below, at p. 75) noted that:

  1. “Between the end of the Latin War in 338 BC and the end of the First Punic War in 241 BC, Rome founded her first ten citizen colonies:

  2. Ostia; Antium; Tarracina, Minturnae; Sinuessa; Sena Gallica;

  3. [followed by the four under discussion here]: Castrum Novum; Pyrgi, Alsium; and Fregenae;

  4. in approximate order of foundation.”

Velleius Paterculus gave the foundation dates of three of these last four:

  1. “[Castrum Novum was founded] at the outbreak of the First Punic War; ... Alsium 17 years later [i.e. in 247 BC]; and Fregenae [in 245 BC]”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 14: 8). 

Graham Mason observed (at pp. 82-3) that all four:

  1. “... were [located] in the ager Caeretanus, a coastal strip ceded by Caere after a failed Etruscan revolt in [ca. 280 BC].”

Each of the ten colonies in Mason’s list appears in one or both lists of coloniae maritimae recorded by Livy: in the case of the four under discussion here:

  1. In 207 BC, when the Romans realised that Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, was about to cross the Alps into Italy and open up a second front in the on-going Hannibalic War:

  2. “... the consuls ... compelled even the men of the ‘colonia maritimae’, who, it was said, had an inviolable exemption [from conscription], to furnish soldiers.  When they refused, the consuls named a date for them to report to the Senate on what basis each state claimed exemption”, (‘History of Rome’, 27: 38: 1-4).

  3. His list of the seven colonies whose representatives came before the Senate on the following day included Alsium (but none of Castrum Novum, Pyrgi and Fregenae).

  4. In 191 BC BC, when the Romans decided to send an army to Greece against King Antiochus:

  5. “Whilst [the praetor Caius Livius Salinator] was doing his utmost to make the fleet ready for sea, he was delayed for some time by a dispute with the citizens of the ‘colonia maritimae’. ... The [eight] colonies concerned [included]: Fregenae; Castrum Novum,; Pyrgi, ...[but not Alsium]”, (‘History of Rome’, 36: 3: 3-5).

There is some uncertainty as to the identity of the Castrum Novum recorded by Velleius Paterculus and by Livy (in 191 BC), since there were two broadly contemporary colonies of this name:

  1. at modern Giulianova, on the Adriatic; and

  2. at modern Santa Marinella, under discussion here.

However, since, in both of these records, Castrum Novum is listed with other coloniae maritimae on the Tyrrhenian, we might reasonably assume that both sources refer to the colony of this name at Santa Marinella. 

Livy described only the eight coloniae maritimae of his later list as citizen colonies, but there is sufficient overlap between his two lists to suggest that this was true of all ten (including Alsium).  It is usually assumed that they each each received 300 new colonists, each of whom received 2 iugera of land.  In fact, we have documentary evidence for this only at Tarracina (and at three of the eight citizen colonies founded on coastal sites in ca. 194 BC).  However, Graham Mason (referenced below, at p. 80) observed that, despite the absence of information for the other nine:

  1. “... there is no weighty reason to dispute the numbers [300 colonists and 2 iugera per colonist] ... , especially since the [areas enclosed by those] original castrum walls that can be traced at .. [for example,] Minturnae and Pyrgi are about the right size for ...  300 colonists.”

In short, we might reasonably assume that each of Castrum Novum at Santa Marinella, Pyrgi, Alsium and Fregenae was a citizen colony, and that each received some 300 colonists who were each allotted 2 iugera of land.

The timing of the foundations of these four colonies suggests that, at least initially, their function was primarily defensive: in particular, Velleius Paterculus associated the foundation of Castrum Novum with the outbreak of the First Punic War.  Furthermore, the Romans founded very few colonies of any kind during the war: indeed, Pyrgi, Alsium; and Fregenae were the only colonies that they founded between 263 BC (Aesernia) and 243 BC (Brundisium), which suggests that, despite the presence of the colony at Cosa, this part of the coast was deemed to be at particular risk.  However, military considerations might not have been the single determinant of the decision to found these colonies.  Unlike Cosa, they were citizen colonies, and it might be that, in the longer term, the Romans wished to promote the citizen settlement of this tract of ager publicus.  The colonists would certainly have cultivated the land allotted to them.  However, as Graham Mason (referenced below, at p. 87) pointed out:

  1. “All the ten coloniae maritimae, with only perhaps one exception [presumably Fregenae - see below], were established in areas where careful agriculture at subsistence level or better would and did thrive.  An agrarian role for all these colonies was both possible and essential ... The 2 iugera individual allotments were never meant to be the only land available to the colonists; [they would also have had the use of non-distributed public land].”

In other words, the colonists might well have facilitated the agricultural use of the ager publicus, perhaps creating  a model for future viritane settlers.  This hypothesis is possibly supported by the fact that, as discussed below, Caere itself was constituted at some point as a prefecture (the seat of a Roman prefect who would administer the legal affairs of citizens in the vicinity).

Graham Mason(referenced below, pp. 81-3) summarised:

  1. “[The] ancient references to the sites [of the ten coloniae maritimae], their agricultural fertility and subsequent general prosperity in the later Republic and Empire.   [In the case of] the four  ...  in the ager Caeretanus:

  2. Castrum Novum ... was apparently a new site [and] appears little in history ....

  3. Pyrgi was placed in an area of longstanding Etruscan wealth.  It seems never to have grown large, [but] served as a small port for the area of Caere.

  4. Alsium was never large and has limited historical record ... From the time of Pompey until [after that of] Marcus Aurelius, it was a favoured villa resort area: clearly agriculture on a fair scale was possible.

  5. Fregenae, about midway between Alsium and the mouth of the Tiber, apparently did not thrive and faded somewhat after the founding of Portus [closer to Rome, on the right bank of the Tiber, in 42 AD],   According to Silius Italicus, the site was marshy and unhealthy [and] it did not prosper as a town ...”

The remark by Silius Italicus was to the effect that the Roman army at the Battle of Cannae (216 BC) included a contingent of:

  1. “... Etruscan warriors  ... The choicest of their men were sent by Caere and Cortona ... , and by  ancient Graviscae.  Alsium too sent men .... ; and Fregenae, girt about by a barren plain.” (‘Punica’, 8:458).

This poem, which is not renowned for its historical accuracy, can nevertheless be relied on in relation to its topographical details, which would relate to the time of writing (in the late 1st century AD).  Thus we  might reasonably assume that the territory of Fregenae had become infertile by this time.  Nevertheless, Pliny the Elder included all four of these coastal centres in his account of the Augustan seventh region (by which time, they would have been constituted as municipia):

  1. “... Castrum Novum; Pyrgi, the river Caeretanus and Caere, which is 4 miles inland ... ; Alsium; Fregenae; and [then] the river Tiber ...” (‘Natural History’, 3: 8). 

Read more:

O. Menozzi and A. Ciarico, “The Picentes”, in:

  1. G. Farney and G. Bradley (Eds), “The Peoples of Ancient Italy”, (2018) Boston and Berlin, at  pp. 579-602

T. Stek, “The City-State Model and Roman Republican Colonisation: Sacred Landscapes as a Proxy for Colonial Socio-Political Organisation”, in:

  1. T. Stek and J. Pelgrom (Eds), “Roman Republican Colonisation: New Perspectives from Archaeology and Ancient History”, (2014) Rome , at pp. 87-105

E. Bispham, “Rome and Antium: Pirates, Polities, and Identity in the Middle Republic”, in

  1. S. Roselaar (Ed.), “Processes of Integration and Identity Formation in the Roman Republic”, (2012) Leiden and Boston, at pp. 227-45

A. Gallo, “M. Herennius M. f. Mae. Rufus (ILLRP 441) e la Tribù dei Coloni di Alsium”, in:

  1. M. Silvestrini editor), “Le Tribù Romane: Atti della XVIe Rencontre sur l’Épigraphie (Bari 8-10 Ottobre 2009)”, (2010) Bari, at 349-54

S. Antolini and S.Marengo, “Regio V (Picenum) e Versante Adriatico della Regio VI (Umbria)”, in

  1. M. Silvestrini (Ed.), “Le Tribù Romane: Atti della XVIe Rencontre sur l’Epigraphie du Monde Romaine (Bari, 8-10 Ottobre 2009)”, (2010) Bari, at pp. 209-15 

S. Roselaar, “Public Land in the Roman Republic: A Social and Economic History of Ager Publicus in Italy, 396 - 89 BC”, (2010) Oxford

T. Cornell, “The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (ca. 1000-264 BC)”, (1995) London and New York

G. Mason, “The Agrarian Role of Coloniae Maritimae: 338-241 BC”, Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 41:1 (1992)  75-87

E. Salmon, “Roman Colonisation Under the Republic”, (1970) New York

L. Ross Taylor, “The Voting Districts of the Roman Republic: The 35 Urban and Rural Tribes”, (1960) Rome

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