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Pons Aemilius

Pons Aemilius

Rome's first stone bridge across the Tiber, built by the censor M. Fulvius Nobilior in 179 B.C. The Ponte Rotto is the modern name for a small surviving section that stands isolated in the middle of the river just south of the Tiber Island.

Pons Aemilius

From Samuel Ball Platner, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, rev. Thomas Ashby. Oxford: 1929, p. 397-398.

The official name (hemerol. Amit. Vall. Allif. ad Kal. Sept., CIL I2 pp217, 240, 244; Not. app.; Pol. Silv. 545; Hist. Aug. Elag. 17) of the first stone bridge across the Tiber, said to have been built ὑπ᾽ αἰμιλίου ταμιευόντος (Plut. Numa 9). A comparison of the citations just made with other passages (Ov. Fast. VI.477-478; Serv. Aen. VIII.646; Aethicus, Cosmog. 28 (ed. Riese 83)) indicates that this bridge was close to the pons Sublicius and crossed the river from the forum Boarium (cf. CIL I2 p325). According to Livy (XL.51.4) M. Fulvius Nobilior when censor in 179 B.C. contracted (undoubtedly with his colleague M. Aemilius Lepidus) for the placing of 'pilas pontis in Tiberi', and P. Scipio Africanus and L. Minucius, the censors of 142 B.C., built arches (fornices) on these piers. This statement is now generally believed to refer to the pons Aemilius, and Plutarch's attribution of the building of the bridge to a quaestor, Aemilius, is interpreted as a mistake or on the hypothesis that the fornices of 142 were of wood and that the stone arches were laid by a later Aemilius in his quaestorship. That the upper part of the bridge was of wood, until 142 at least, is certain, and therefore a statement in Obsequens (16) under date of 156 B.C., pontis maximi tectum cum columnis in Tiberim deiectum, is cited as evidence that pons maximus was then a name in common use, although Mommsen's conjecture pontificis may be correct.

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Additional source material

  • Ancient Library Sources (from Peter Aicher, Rome Alive: A Source Guide to the Ancient City, vol. 1, Bolchazy-Carducci: 2004) [Works cited]

    116. The Pons Aemilius and the Pons Sublicius (“The Pile Bridge”). Sources.


    The censors Marcus Aemelius Lepidus and Marcus Fulvius Nobilior carried out a number of public works with the money assigned and divided between them [in 179 BC].… The works contracted out by Marcus Fulvius were of greater utility, including a harbor and piers for a bridge across the Tiber. Some years later [142 BC], the censors Publius Scipio Africanus and Lucius Mummius added the arches to these piers.

    Livy, History 40.51.2, 4

  • Stanford Digital Forma Urbis Romae Project
  • Flickr images
  • Wikipedia

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