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Local government Web-Sites
Camara Municipal de Lisboa
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
Olisipo (Lisbon) Estremadura, Portugal.
Mentioned by Ptolemy (2.5), Strabo (3.3.1), Mela (3.1), and Pliny (HN 4.22). Isidore
of Seville and the Ravenna Cosmographer call the city Ulyssipona and Olisipona
respectively, from which the name Lisbon is derived. A settlement existed here
in the Late Palaeolithic Age. Of the topography and history of the Roman city
little is known. The site was occupied by the Romans in 138 B.C. The tradition
according to which Cato the Censor was in Olisipo in 195 B.C. rests on an inscription
now considered unreliable. According to Strabo, in 138 B.C. the consul Decimus
Junius Brutus fortified the city, but it is not clear whether he encircled the
existing village with fortifications or simply built a permanent castrum beside
it. Pliny calls Olisipo Felicitas Julia and is uncertain whether it received this
designation from Julius Caesar or Octavian. Also uncertain is the date when Olisipo
was granted the status of municipium, mentioned by Pliny and confirmed by inscriptions.
No traces of the network of streets or the circuit of fortifications
has been found, but it is likely that Olisipo, like Ebora, Pax Iulia, Egitania,
Conimbriga, and other cities of Lusitania, was fortified at least by the end of
the 3d or the beginning of the 4th c. The Roman city occupied the S and W slopes
of the mountain where the Castelo de S. Jorge was later erected. On the S it certainly
extended to the Tejo, and on the W at least to the present-day Rua da Prata, where
there were some baths and a temple. The only remains of Roman public buildings
are those of a theater and of the baths of the Augustales. The theater lies between
Saudade and S. Mamede (Caldas) streets and was built in the time of Nero. Gaius
Heius Primus, flamen augustalis, erected the proscenium and orchestra at his own
expense. To judge from the representation of Lisbon on the royal pendent seal
of 1352, the theater was then still well preserved, but it had disappeared by
the time of Renaissance descriptions of Lisbon. In 1798 the proscenium, orchestra,
and first seats of the cavea were discovered and a plan was published in 1815.
Building again covered the site until recently, and the remains have not yet been
The baths under the Rua da Prata were built in the time of Tiberius,
but no traces have been found of the other bath, reconstructed in A.D. 336, on
the Rua das Pedras Negras.
Olisipo was supplied with water by an aqueduct about 10 km long which
ran from below a dam, the dike of which is preserved. The dike is 50 m long and
7 m thick and is reinforced; part of it still stands 8 m high. The 3d c. A.D.
date for its construction is uncertain.
J. Alarcao, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites,
Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Jan 2006 from
Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
Olisipo (Olioseipon, Ptol. ii. 5. § 4), a city of Lusitania, on the
right bank of the Tagus, and not far from its mouth. The name is variously written.
Thus Pliny (iv. 35) has Olisippo; so also the Itin. Ant. pp. 416, 418, seq. In
Mela (iii. 1. § 6), Solinus (c. 23), &c., we find Ulyssippo, on account probably
of the legend mentioned in Strabo, which ascribed its foundation to Ulysses, but
which is more correctly referred to Odysseia in Hispania Baetica. Under the Romans
it was a municipium, with the additional name of Felicitas Julia. (Plin. l. c.)
The neighbourhood of Olisipo was celebrated for a breed of horses of remarkable
fleetness, which gave rise to the fable that the mares were impregnated by the
west wind. (Plin. viii. 67; Varr. R. R. ii. , 19; Col. vi. 27.) It is the modern
Lisboa or Lisbon.
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)