Geographical sites:

  • Modena (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #383715)
    Pleiades_icon Mutina settlement Description: Ancient Mutina (originally the Etruscan town Mutna), was first inhabited by Villanovans and later by Ligurians and the Gaulish Boii. The Boii sieged the city in 218 BC and later Mutina was re-established as a Roman colony (183 BC). It was an important city and played a role in the civil wars during the last decades of the Roman Republic.
  • Arretium (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #413032)
    Pleiades_icon Arretium settlement, amphitheatre Description: Arretium (the Etruscan Aritim) was one of the duodecim populi Etruriae and described by Livy as one of the "Capitae Etruriae". The Romans captured the city in 311 B.C. and it became a station on the via Cassia.
  • Vestini (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #413376)
    Pleiades_icon Vestini people Description: The Vestini were an ancient tribe of Italy and lived in the southern part of the modern Abruzzo, between the Gran Sasso and the northern bank of the Aterno river. A major center was located at Pitinum.
  • Aenaria (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #432648)
    Pleiades_icon Aenaria/Pithekoussai Ins. island Description: Aenaria/Pithekoussai Ins. (modern Ischia) is a volcanic island located in the northern part of the Bay of Naples.
  • Regium (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #452416)
    Pleiades_icon Rhegion/Regium settlement, temple, architecturalcomplex Description: A site with settlement origins in the Bronze and Iron ages, Rhegion was eventually colonized by Chalcis in either 730 or 743 BC.
  • Cumae (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #432808)
    Pleiades_icon Cumae/Kyme (Campanian) tunnel, temple, aqueduct, settlement, amphitheatre, port Geocontext: Cuma
    Description: An ancient settlement of Campania, Cumae was the first Greek colony established on the Italian mainland in the eighth century BC.


Text #1802

Pliny. Natural History. Series: Natural History. Vol. 1
[Plin. Nat. 2.85. Translated by H. Rackham. Harvard University Press. 1938. (10 Vols.) p. 329]

I find in the books of the lore of Tuscany that once a vast and portentous earthquake occurred in the district of Modena; this was during the consulship of Lucius Marcius and Sextus Julius. Two mountains ran together with a might crash, leaping forward and then retiring with flames and smoke rising between them to the sky; this took place in the daytime, and was watched from the Aemilian road by a large crowd of Knights of Rome with their retinues and passers by. The shock brought down all the country houses, and a great many animals in the buildings were killed. It was in the year before the Allies’ War, which was perhaps more disastrous to the land of Italy than the civil wars. Our generation also experienced a not less marvellous manifestation in the last year of the Emperor Nero, as we have set forth in our history of his principate: meadows and olive trees with a public road running between then got over to the opposite sides of the road; this took place in the Marrucinian territory, on the lands of Vettius Marcellus, Knight of Rome, Nero’s estate-manager.

Text #1803

Obsequens. "A Book of Prodigies After the 505th year of Rome"


54. L. Marcio Sex. Iulio coss. AUC 663/91 BC

When Livius Drusus, tribune of the people, was passing his laws, and the Italian War began, many prodigies appeared in the city. Around sunrise a ball of fire flashed out of the sky with a might sound from the northern regions. At Arretium as they were breaking bread blood flowed from the middle of the loaves. In the territory of the Vestini for seven days it rained stones and potsherds. At Aenaria a flame which came out of a cleft in the earth flashed out to the sky. Around Regium part of the city and the walls were destroyed by an earth tremor. At Spoletum1 a ball of fire with a golden hue rolled down to earth. It increased in size and after it was seen being carried from the land to the east it covered the sun with its magnitude. At Cumae on the citadel the statue of Apollo perspired. In the Circus Flaminius the temple of Piety which was closed was struck by lightning. At Asculum Romans were killed because of the games. When the Latins drove flocks and herds from the fields into the city, it caused a butchery of men everywhere. The herds were agitated into such a state of madness that by ravaging them they represented the hostile war and tearfully with their many loved ones they foretold the calamitous event to their own people.

  1. Spoleto (Latin Spoletium) is an ancient city in the Italian province of Perugia in east central Umbria on a foothill of the Apennines. It is 20 km (12 mi) S. of Trevi, 29 km (18 mi) N. of Terni, 63 km (39 mi) SE of Perugia; 212 km (132 mi) SE of Florence; and 126 km (78 mi) N of Rome. [EN]

Text #9662

Orosius. Histories

In the six hundred and fifty-ninth year of the City [91 BC] and during the consulship of Sextus Julius Caesar and L. Marcius Philippus, all Italy was in the throes of the war against allies. This war was caused by domestic quarrels. For Livius Drusus, a tribune of the plebs, was unable to appease the Latins by a decree after they had been deceived in their hope of gaining liberty and thus he roused them all to arms. Things came to such a pass that awful prodigies terrified the saddened city. At sunrise a ball of fire, accompanied by a tremendous clap of thunder, shone forth from the northern region. While the inhabitants of Arretium were breaking bread at banquets, blood flowed from the center of the loaves as if from bodily wounds. Moreover, a shower of stones, intermingled with pieces of brick, lashed the earth far and wide for seven continuous days. Among the Samnites, a flame broke forth from a vast fissure in the ground and seemed to shoot upwards into the sky. Furthermore, several Romans on a journey saw a golden globe falling headlong from the sky to the earth; when it had become large in appearance, they saw it again carried aloft from the earth toward the rising sun, where its huge bulk hid the sun itself from view. Drusus, who was worried by these ill-boding portents, was killed by an unidentified assassin in his own house.

The Picentes, Vestini, Marsi, Paeligni, Marrucini, Samnites, and Lucani, who had long since been planning a secret rebellion, put to death at Asculum the praetor C. Servius, who had been sent to them as an ambassador. The inhabitants immediately closed the city, proclaimed a slaughter, and cut the throats of all Roman citizens. Notorious prodigies directly preceded this frightful massacre. Animals of all kinds, which were accustomed to accept caresses from the hands of men and to live among men, left their stables and pastures; even the dogs, whose nature is such that they must live among men, wandered about, howling mournfully and loping in the manner of wolves.

Text #9488

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

The description of the event at Modena with the attendant phenomena sounds more like a meteor impact than an ordinary earthquake. In fact, it could have happened at a much further distance and caused the local earthquake and the appearance of fire coming off the mountains with a mushroom cloud far behind them. There are also some echoes of the 94 BC events: See entry E#5497 and related.

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