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Columbus Publishing

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)

Florentia

  Florentia (Phlorentia, Ptol.: Eth. Florentinus: Florence; in Italian, Firenze, but in old writers Fiorenza), a city of Etruria, situated on the river Arnus, about 3 miles S. of Faesulae. Though celebrated in modern times as the capital of Tuscany, and in the middle ages as an independent republic, it was not a place of much note in antiquity. No trace of its existence is found in Etruscan times; and it is probable that it derived its first origin as a town from the Roman colony. The date of the establishment of this is not quite clear. We learn from the Liber Coloniarum that a colony was settled there by the triumvirs after the death of Caesar (Lib. Colon. p. 213); but there seems some reason to believe that one had previously been established there by Sulla. There is indeed no direct authority for this fact, any more than for that of the new town having been peopled by emigrants who descended from the rocky heights of Faesulae to the fertile banks of the Arnus; but both circumstances are in themselves probable enough, and have a kind of traditionary authority which has been generally received by the Florentine historians. (Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 135.) A passage of Florus also (iii. 21. § 27), in which he enumerates Florentia (or, as some MSS. give the name, Fluentia) among the towns sold by auction by order of Sulla, is only intelligible on the supposition that its lands were divided among new colonists. (Zumpt, de Colon. p. 253.) But he is certainly in error in reckoning Florentia at this time among the municipia Italiae splendidissima: it could not have been a municipal town at all; and from the absence of all notice of it during the campaign of the consul Antonius against Catiline, in the immediate neighbourhood of Faesulae, it is evident that it was not even then a place of any importance. But from the period of the colony of the triumvirs it seems to have rapidly become a considerable and flourishing town, though not retaining the title of a colony. The Florentini are mentioned by Tacitus in the reign of Tiberius among the municipia which sent deputies to Rome to remonstrate against the project of diverting the course of the Clanis from the Tiber into the Arnus; a proceeding which they apprehended, probably not without reason, would have the effect of flooding their town and territory. (Tac. Ann. i. 79.) We subsequently find the Florentini noticed by Pliny among the municipal towns of Etruria; and the name of Florentia is found in Ptolemy, as well as in the Itineraries. (Plin. iii. 5. s. 8; Ptol. iii. 1. § 48; Itin. Ant. pp. 284, 285; Tab. Peut.) These scanty notices are all that we hear of it previous to the fall of the Western empire; but its municipal consideration during this period is further attested by inscriptions (Orell. 686, 3711, 3713; Gori, Inscr. Etrur. vol. i.), as well as by the remains of an amphitheatre still visible near the church of Sta. Croce. It is probable that its favourable position in the centre of a beautiful and fertile plain on the banks of the Arnus, and on the line of the great high road through the N. of Tuscany, became the source of its prosperity; and it is clear that it rapidly came to surpass its more ancient neighbour of Faesulae. In the Gothic Wars Florentia already figures as a strong fortress, and one of the most important places in Tuscany. (Procop. B. G. iii. 5, 6.)
  The remains of the amphitheatre already noticed, which are in themselves of little importance, are the only vestiges of Roman buildings remaining in the city of Florence.

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

Florentia

The modern Firenze, or Florence; a town in Etruria, sprung from the ancient Fiesole, and subsequently a Roman colony, situated on the Arnus (Arno). The Florentini are mentioned by Tacitus as sending a deputation to Rome in A.D. 16. Its greatness as a city dates from the Middle Ages.

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