Vicus Tuscus

Richardson, L. jr

Vicus Tuscus: the street running southwest out of the Forum Romanum between the Temple of Castor and the Basilica Iulia that emerged in the Velabrum and presumably was the main street leading to the Porta Flumentana. It was the main route between the Forum Romanum and lower Forum Boarium, and hence to the Circus Maximus (Livy 27.37.15). Originally it must have run along the left bank of the Cloaca and presumably crossed it at the site of the Ianus Quadrifrons of the Velabrum. It was joined before reaching the Ianus by the Clivus Victoriae descending from the Palatine.

The street supposedly received its name from a settlement of Etruscans there, variously explained as a contingent that came to aid Romulus against Titus Tatius (Varro Ling. 5.46; Servius ad Aen. 5.560; Propertius 4.2.49-52), remnants of Porsenna's army after the Battle of Aricia (Livy 2.14.9; Festus 486L; Festus 487L; Dion. Hal. 5.36.4), or supporters of Tarquinius Priscus (Tacitus Ann. 4.65). It is more likely that it got its name from being the main route from the Forum Romanum and Palatine to the Etruscan bank of the Tiber by first the Cloaca ferry and later the Pons Sublicius. The only shrine that is known to have been there was that of the Etruscan god Vortumnus (see Signum Vortumni) behind the Temple of Castor; this was believed to be very old.

It was always a very busy street in which there were shops of many sorts, but especially of fine clothing (Martial 11.27.11 [serica]; CIL 6.9976, 33923 = ILS 7575 [vestiarius tenuiarius], 37826, 14.2433 = ILS 7597 [purpurarius]). Early on it had a bad reputation (Plautus Curc. 482), probably especially for the high prices asked by the merchants there (Horace Sat. 2.3.228).

Jordan 1.1.273-4; Nash 2.315.

© The Johns Hopkins University Press