Information about the place TRIESTE (Town) FRIULI - GTP - Greek Travel Pages
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Comune di Trieste

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites


  A settlement, probably founded by the Veneti and heavily damaged by the Giapidi in 52 B.C. A Roman colony was founded there either by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. or in 42-41 by the Triumviri after the battle of Filippi.
  The colony's strategic importance is indicated by its walls. Made of sandstone blocks, they encircled the city, following the descent from the hill toward the sea. Inside traces of the right-angled urban establishment are preserved. One gate survives, the so-called Arco di Riccardo. It is on the decumanus, is built of Sistiana stone, and is the city's oldest monument.
  The city developed commercially, being the point of departure for both Nauporto and the towns along the Danube. Later, at the time of Vespasian, it was linked to the Istrian centers on the Via Flavia.
  During the long period of the Pax Romana, that is from Augustus to the first barbarian skirmishes, the city spread outside the walls with beautiful villas of great archaeological interest. Inside the walls the monumental buildings multiplied.
  An Early Christian basilica has been discovered under the cathedral dedicated to S. Giusto. It is rectangular in form and dates from the first half of the 5th c. It was adapted from a Roman temple constructed in the age of Domitian and perhaps restored by Hadrian or by Antoninus Pius. One entered the temple from a propylon of Hellenistic type, perhaps the only example of its kind in N Italy. It was probably built by P. Palpellius Clodius Quirinalis, retired prefect of the Ravenna fleet, ca. A.D. 80 (CIL V, 533). Before the temple stood an equestrian monument, dedicated to C. Calpentanus Ranzius Quirinalis Valerius Festus, vice consul in A.D. 71 (CIL V, 531).
  To the N of the temple opened the forum, connected by a portico with the large civil basilica, divided into three naves with an internal apse. The donor was Q. Baienus Blassianus (1.1. 10.4.37-40), procurator of Trajan before A.D. 120-125.
  Also from the age of Trajan is the beautiful theater in the Greek style, with a single balcony and two loggias superimposed on it. The scena was ornamented by many votive statues in marble which constitute a notable body of sculpture of the so-called cult type from the 2d c. A.D. Represented are Athena, Knidia, Asklepios, Apollo, and Hygieia.
  The aqueduct of Rosandra is still partly preserved.
  During the last ten years a succession of Early Christian buildings have been discovered in the center of the old city.
  It is probable that Trieste remained outside the routes of the invasions that in the 6th c. destroyed Aquileia, and that it continued to enjoy a tranquil life until the beginning of the mediaeval period.
  Besides the monuments cited, Trieste is rich in museums. The Civic Museum of History and Art deserves special mention. Besides the public collections there are numerous private collections of varying interest and importance.

B. Forlati Tamaro, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  Tergeste (Tergeste, Strab. Tergeston, Ptol.: Eth. Tergestinus: Trieste), a city of Venetia or Istria, situated on a bay to which it gave the name of Tergestinus Sinus, which forms the inner bight or extremity of the Adriatic sea towards the N. It was very near the confines of Istria and Venetia, so that there is considerable discrepancy between ancient authors as to which of these provinces it belonged, both Strabo and Ptolemy reckoning it a city of Istria, while Pliny includes it in the region of the Carni, which was comprised in Venetia. (Strab. v. p. 215, vii. p. 314; Plin. iii. 18. s. 22; Ptol. iii. 1. § 27.) Mela on the contrary calls it the boundary of Illyricum (ii. 4. § 3). From the time that the Formio, a river which falls into the sea 6 miles S. of Trieste, became fixed as the boundary of the provinces, there can be no doubt that Pliny's attribution is correct. It is probable that Tergeste was originally a native town either of the Carni or Istrians, but no mention is found of its name till after the Roman conquest, nor does it appear to have risen into a place of importance until a later period. The first historical mention of it is in B.C. 51, when we learn that it was taken and plundered by a sudden incursion of the neighbouring barbarians (Caes. B. G. viii. 24; Appian, Illyr. 18); but from the terms in which it is there noticed it is evident that it was already a Roman town, and apparently had already received a Roman colony. It was afterwards restored, and, to protect it for the future against similar disasters, was fortified with a wall and towers by Octavian in B.C. 32. (Gruter, Inscr. p. 266. 6.) It is certain that it enjoyed the rank of a Colonia from the time of Augustus, and is styled such both by Pliny and Ptolemy. (Plin. iii. 18. s. 22; Ptol. iii. 1. § 27.) That emperor also placed under the protection and authority of the city the neighbouring barbarian tribes of the Carni and Catali, and, by reducing to subjection their more formidable neighbours, the Iapodes, laid the foundations of the prosperity of Tergeste. The growth of this was mainly promoted by the advantages of its port, which is the only good harbour in this part of the Adriatic; but it was apparently overshadowed by the greatness of the neighbouring Aquileia, and Tergeste, though a considerable municipal town, never rose in ancient times to a comumanding position. We even learn that in the reign of Antoninus Pius the citizens obtained the admission of the Carni and Catali - who had previously been mere subjects or dependents - to the Roman civitas, in order that they might share the burthensome honours of the local magistracy. (Orell. Inscr. 4040.) The inscription from which we learn this fact is one of the most interesting municipal records preserved to us from ancient times, and has been repeatedly published, especially with notes and illuistrations by C. T. Zumpt (Decretum Municipale Tergestinum, 4to. Berol. 1837) and by Gottling (Funfzehn Romische Urkunden, p. 75). No subsequent mention of Tergeste is found in history under the Roman Empire; but it is certain that it continued to exist; and retained its position as a considerable town throughout the middle ages. But it is only within the last century that it has risen to the position that it now occupies of one of the most populous and flourishing cities on the Adriatic. The only remains of antiquity extant at Trieste are some portions of a Roman temple, built into the modern cathedral, together with several inscriptions (including the celebrated one already noticed) and some fragments of friezes, bas-reliefs, &c.
  Tergeste is placed by the Itineraries at a distance of 24 miles from Aquileia, on the line of road which followed the coast from that city into Istria. (Itin. Ant., p. 270; Tab. Peut.) Pliny, less correctly, calls it. 33 miles from that city (Plin. l. c.). The spacious gulf on which it was situated, called by Pliny the Tergestinus Sinus, is still known as the Gulf of Trieste.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


Now Trieste; a town of Istria, on a bay in the northeast of the Adriatic Gulf, called after it Tergestinus Sinus. It was made a Roman colony by Vespasian. For its use in a proverbial saying, see Theveste.

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