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Appian Way

Appian Way

Courtesy of iessi at Flickr.

Pictures of the Appian Way

The most famous Roman road is the Appian Way (Via Appia) leading from the Porta Capena, near the forum Romanum in Rome to the southeastern coast of Italy, at Brundisium. Originally, it only reached as far as Capua, in Campania. This was in 312 B.C. when it was built by the censor Appius Claudius (later, known as Ap. Claudius Caecus 'blind') in order to help with the battles Rome was fighting further south in the Italic peninsula. Not entirely coincidentally, Appius Claudius Caecus is the first Roman public official about whom we know much, according to Filippo Coarelli in Rome and Environs. Brundisium [modern Brindisi] was a harbor city on the Adriatic, especially important for ancient travel between Greece and Italy, and a Latin colony from 244 B.C. It was also the location of a treaty made between Mark Antony and Octavian in 40 B.C.

This remarkably straight road was first made by laying small stones on the level dirt and then covering them with a flat layer of interlocking stones. When first laid out, the road was only gravel (glareata), but in 296 B.C., the curule aediles paved a mile of it in saxo quadrato. Only later was the rest of the Appian Way so paved.

The Appian Way was the site of Clodius Pulcher's murder.

48 1 Such being the state of things in the city at that time, with no one in charge of affairs, murders occurred practically every day, and they could not hold the elections, although men were eager to win the offices and employed bribery and assassination to secure them. 2 Milo, for instance, who was seeking the consulship, met Clodius on the Appian Way and at first simply wounded him; then, fearing he would avenge the deed, he slew him, hoping that after he had immediately freed all the servants concerned in the affair, he would be more easily acquitted of the murder, once the man was dead, than he would be of assault, in case he should survive
Cassius Dio 40.48

Clodius Pulcher was an originally patrician Claudian descendant of the road-founding Appius Claudius, but he became a plebeian for political reasons, and (or maybe as a result) he pronounced his name in a manner thought to represent the plebeian branch of his gens. It was also along the Appian Way that the bodies of the rebellious slaves from the revolt of Spartacus were crucified. Christian legend holds that Peter had a vision of Christ along the Appian Way.

The Appian Way was the first major Roman road named after the magistrate who built it, rather than for its function or destination [source: Coarelli].

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Also Known As: Appian Road, Via Appia, Regina Viarum (Queen of Roads)
At first, the Appian Way ran only 132 miles (212 km) from Rome to Capua, but later, it extended another 230 miles (370 km) away from Rome to Brundisium.

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