1902 Encyclopedia > Liguria


LIGURIA, in ancient geography, was the name given to a portion of the north-west of Italy, including the districts, on both sides of the Maritime Alps and the Apennines, which border on the Tyrrhenian Sea from the frontiers of Gaul to those of Etruria. Along the sea-coast it extended from the river Varus or Var, which separated it from Gaul, to the Macra (Magra), which formed its limit on the side of Etruria, thus comprising the whole district between the mountains and the sea, now known as the Riviera of Genoa. But besides this it comprehended a broad tract to the north of the same range, formed by the underfalls of the Apennines and the hilly tract adjoining them, extending to the plains of the Padus or Po, - that river itself constituting its northern limits under the Roman administration. But at an earlier period the term had a much wider signification, - all the tribes on the south slopes of the Alps, in the north-west of Italy, being apparently of Ligurian origin. This we are expressly told by ancient authors in the case of the Taurini, who dwelt around Turin, and of the Levi and Libici, who extended from thence to the Ticinus; and there can be little doubt that it was true also of the Salassi, who occupied the modern Val d'Aosta. But to the west of the Maritime Alps also the Ligurians were undoubtedly widely spread in ancient times, and occupied a considerable extent of what was afterwards included in Gaul. Thus the Salyes, who held all the southern part of Provence from the Var to the Rhone, are distinctly termed a Ligurian tribe, as well as the minor tribes of the Oxybii and Deciates, near Frejus and Nice. All the early Greek writers speak of the important colony of Massilia as founded in Liguria.

Of the origin or affinities of the Ligurians (or Ligyans, as they are termed by Greek writers) we know absolutely nothing. All ancient writers concur in representing them as a distinct people front the Gauls on the One band, and from the Iberians on the other ; and the attempts of some modern writers to assign them to a Celtic stock rest upon no adequate foundation. In the absence of all remains of their language, all such speculations must be matters of mere conjecture. They appear in the historical period as a rough and hardy race of mountaineers, cultivating a rugged territory with much industry, and opposing a stubborn resistance to the efforts of the Romans to reduce them to subjection. They first came in contact with the Roman arms in 235 B.C., but it was not till after the Second Punic War - in which the Ligurians had openly espoused the cause of Hannibal - that a serious struggle began, which, commencing in 200 B.C., was continued with little intermission for more than eighty years. While the Roman generals in the East were overthrowing, with comparative ease, the powerful monarchies of Macedonia and Syria, one of the consuls was generally engaged in inglorious hostilities with the hardy mountaineers of the Ligurian Apennines. Even.after these were reduced to subjection, the tribes which held the still more rugged fastnesses of the Maritime Alps long maintained their independence, and it was not till the reign of Augustus that they were finally subdued. The construction by that monarch of a Roman highway along the coast, which followed almost exactly the same line as the modern road of the Corniche, marked the period of their complete subjection.

The physical geography of Liguria has been already described in the article of ITALY. All the rivers which take their rise on the northern slope of the mountains ultimately discharge their waters into the Po; of these by much the most considerable is the Tanaro, which receives the tributary streams of the Stura and the Bormida, while to the east of it flow the Serivia and the Trebia, celebrated by the victory of Hannibal over the Romans. This last stream, according to the division of Augustus, formed the boundary between Liguria and Gaul south of the Po. The streams which flow from the Apennines southward to the sea are for the most part inconsiderable, and mere mountain torrents. But the Magra, which forms the limits of the province on the east, is an important stream, and brings with it the waters of its tributary, the Boactes or Vara, On the west also the Var is a river of considerable magnitude, which forms a natural boundary on this side between Liguria and Gaul, as it long constituted their political limit. The Rutuba or Roya, a little farther east, is also a considerable river, descending through a deep mountain valley from the Col di Tenda.

The principal Ligurian tribes were (1) the Apuani, inhabiting the valley of the Magra, including the district known in modern times as the Lunigiana ; (2) the Friniates, on the northern slope of the Apennines towards Modena ; (3) the Briniates, in the valley of the Vara ; (4) the Genuates, around Genoa; (5) the Veturii, immediately west of the preceding ; (6) the Ingauni, whose capital was Albium Ingaunum, still called Albenga; (7) the Intemelii, whose chief city still retains the name of Vintimiglia ; and (8) the Vediantii, extending thence to the Var. North of the Apennines the most important tribes were the Vagienni, who held the whole mountain tract from the Monte Viso and the sources of the Po to the Tanaro ; and the Statielli, east of them, whose chief town was Aquae Statiellm or Acqui.

The chief city on the Ligurian sea-coast was, in ancient as in modern times, that of Genoa, which combined an excellent natural port with a central position, and easy communications with the interior. West of it, along the coast, were Veda Sabbata (Vado, near Savona), Albium Ingaunum (Albenga), Albium Intemelium (Vintimiglia), the Portus Herculis Monceci (Monaco), and Nicma (Nice), which was founded by a colony from Massilia. In its immediate vicinity was the Roman town of Cemenelium (Cimiez). On the northern slope of the Apennines were several considerable towns, almost all of them of Roman origin. The chief of these were Augusta Vagiennorum (Rene), Alba Pompeia, Asta, Aqua; Statiellee, Dertona (Tortona), and Iria (Voghera), but none of them attained to anything like the same prosperity and importance as the great cities of Cisalpine Gaul. The towns on the eastern Riviera, between Genoa and the Gulf of Spezia, were inconsiderable places ; and even on the shores of that gulf, forming the magnificent port called the Portus Lime, there was never any town of importance, Luna itself being some distance inland, and within the confines of Etruria. B.)

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