Map of Horace's Journey to Brundisium

in History, Literature

Iter Brundisium (Horace, Sermones 1.5)

Map of Horace's Journey to Brundisium

In Sermones 1.5, Horace describes a journey often referred to as the iter Brundisium because his “page and road end” there. I drew the map you see here as I worked through the poem (click the image to see the larger version).

I was interested by the fact that you can easily work your through the map except for the middle of the journey, where we’re physically closest to the poet’s hometown. We expect him to stop there, since it’s on the way, and since the poem seems to respond to the iter Siculum of Lucilius. But Horace doesn’t show Venusia to us, or at least doesn’t show it to us clearly.

We see Horace from his arrival at Aricia after departing from Rome (v. 1) through to a series of clear destinations along the Via Appia:

  • Forum Appii (v. 3)
  • Anxur (v. 26)
  • Fundi (v. 34)
  • Formiae (v. 37)
  • Sinuessa (v. 40)
  • Pons Campanus (v. 45)
  • Capua (v. 47)
  • Caudium (v. 51)
  • Beneventum (v. 51)

Here, at the midpoint of the journey, we can no longer confidently use our map. Villa Trivici and the little town that can’t be named in verse (versu dicere non est) have troubled scholars.

But once we move past them, we come out not on the Via Appia but on the Via Minucia where the signposts are once again as clear as they were before, moving down the Adriatic coast:

  • Canusium (v. 91)
  • Rubi (v. 94)
  • Barium(v. 97)
  • Gnatia (v. 97)
  • Brundisium (v. 104)

How did they get from the Via Appia to the Via Minucia, and where were they in that middle portion of the journey?

I’ve got my thoughts, but I’ll save them for another post. For now, enjoy the map. I hope it comes in handy when you read the poem.

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    • Sorry for the very late reply on this much neglected blog, Thaddeus. I drew the map by hand with some assortment of drawing pens I carry around. I probably used Pigma Micron technical pens and a cool gray marker of some kind. It was quick and dirty.

  1. Did you ever get around to putting down your ideas as to where they went and why from Beneventum to Canusium? I would be interested.

    • Unfortunately no. I don’t even remember what my thoughts were at the time, but I do recall having some pretensions to writing a paper about it. I may have notes somewhere, but nothing comes to mind.