AETHICUS ISTER


Very little is certain about Aethicus of Istria, who seems to have been a traveller, and may have lived in the fifth century AD. His name is a reference to the Danube (Ister), or to Istria, a peninsula in the Adriatic sea. He may have been Iulius Honorius Crator, ethnicus Histricus, but several other identifications have been proposed. He is the author of the Cosmographia, a book about geography.


Cosmographia
Riese, Geographi Latini minores, p. 83, l. 24.
Fluviorum rex, pulcher Tiberis, cui primatum aeternae urbis Romae singularis tribuit magnitudo, nascitur ex monte Appennino, currit milia CCCC. Per urbem sacram geminatur et facit insulam regioni quartae decimae, ubi Duo pontes appellantur. Post iterum ibi unus effectus, per pontem Lepidi, qui nunc abusive a plebe Lapideus dicitur, iuxta forum Boarium quem Cacum dicunt transiens, adunatus gratissimo sono depictus verticibus suorum turbinum, et maritimas naves suscipiens et mediterraneas adducens de Etruria vel Sabinis, ingressus per domni Petri apostoli portam, inter Ostiensem portam quae est domni Pauli apostoli, et viam Portuensem, quae est sancti Felicis martyris, urbem egreditur, qua naves de portu urbis ad dominam totius mundi Romam ascendunt. Hic iterum circa sextum Philippi, quod praedium missale appellatur, geminatur, et in duobus ex uno effectus insulam facit inter portum urbis et Ostiam civitatem, ubi populus Romanus cum urbis praefecto vel consule Castorum celebrandorum causa egreditur sollemnitate iocunda. Insula vero, quam facit inter urbis portum et Ostiam civitatem, tantae viriditatis amoenitatisque est, ut neque aestivis mensibus neque hiemalibus pasturae admirabiles herbas dehabeat; ita autem vernali tempore rosa vel ceteris floribus adimpletur, ut pro nimietate sui odoris et floris insula ipsa Libanus almae Veneris nuncupetur. The king of rivers, the beautiful Tiber, on which the greatness of the eternal city of Rome has bestowed a unique pre-eminence, originates in the Apennines, and runs for 400 miles. In the sacred city it is doubled and creates an island in the fourteenth region, on a spot called Two bridges. Next, at that same spot, it becomes one river again, flows through the bridge of Lepidus (now wrongly called Lapideus by the people), and passes the Forum Boarium (which they call Forum Cacum), united with forceful whirlpools producing a very pleasing noise. The river receives sea-going ships and attracts ships destined for the Mediterranean sea from Etruria and the Sabine territory. Having arrived along the gate of the apostle St. Peter it leaves the city between the Porta Ostiensis (of the apostle St. Paul) and the Via Portuensis (of the holy martyr Felix), where ships from the harbour of the city reach Rome, the mistress of the entire world. Here for the second time, near Sextum Philippi, which is called "praedium missale", it is doubled. Then, with two branches originating from one, it creates an island between the harbour of the city and the city of Ostia, which is visited by the people of Rome together with the Praefectus Urbi or a consul to worship the Dioscures with a happy feast. And indeed, the island, that the river creates between the harbour of the city and the city of Ostia, is so green and lovely, that neither in the summer nor in the winter wonderful vegetation is absent from the pasture; and in the springtime it is filled with so many roses and other flowers, that the island is even called garden of the nourishing Venus, because of the abundant vegetation and wonderful odours.

Provisional translation by Jan Theo Bakker.