1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Patavium
PATAVIUM (mod. Padova, Eng. Padua, q.v.), an ancient city of Venetia, Italy, 55 m. E. of Verona by road. Its central position gave it great importance. One road led from it south-west to Ateste, Hostilia (where the Po was crossed) and Bononia; another east-north-east to Altinum and Concordia. It was accessible by canals from the sea, a distance of about 30 m. The old town (40 ft. above seal-level) lay and lies on a peninsula surrounded by the Bacchiglione except on the south, where it was protected by a canal. Of the bridges which cross the canals by which Padua is now intersected, four go back to Roman times. Remains of a public building, possibly belonging to the forum, were found in the centre of the modern city in making the foundations of the Caffè Pedrocchi at the south-west angle of Piazza Cavour—possibly a colonnade of fine Corinthian architecture (see P. Selvatico, Relazione della Scavo . . . su la Piazzetta Pedrocchi. A large mosaic with geometric designs was also recently discovered in the centre of the city. In imperial times the town spread even farther, as is shown by the position outside the town of the amphitheatre, built of blocks of local stone with brick courses, which was excavated in 1881 (G. Ghirardini in Notizie degli Scavi, 1881, 225). It measures 325 by 205 ft., and is the only Roman building of which visible remains exist. A so-called “paletta” (a bronze plate with a handle—possibly a bell or a votive axe or a simple pendant) with a figure of a horse on one side and a votive inscription on the other, belonging to the 5th or 4th B.C., was found in 1899 at a great depth close to the church of S. Antonio (G. Ghirardini in Notizie degli Scavi, 1901, 314). The name of the town is probably connected with Padus (Po). According to the legend it was founded by the Trojan Antenor. The memory of the defeat of the Spartan king Cleonymus by the fleet of Patavium in 302 B.C. was perpetuated by Spartan spoils in the temple of Juno and a yearly sea-fight which took place on the river. On land Patavium was equally powerful (it had been able, we are told, to put 120,000 men into the field), and perpetually made war against its Celtic neighbours. Patavium acquired Roman citizenship with the rest of Gallia Transpadana in 49 B.C. Under Augustus, Strabo tells us, Patavium surpassed all the cities of the north in wealth, and in the number of Roman knights among its citizens in the census of Augustus was only equalled by Gades, which had also 500.
Its commercial importance was also great, being especially due to its trade in wool. The numerous inscriptions, however, as Th. Mommsen remarks (Corp. inscr. latin. v. 268), show remarkably dignity and simplicity and avoidance of pomposity; to this Pliny the younger and Martial testify. The importance of Patavium as a literary centre was also considerable. Livy, Q. Asconius Pedianus and Thrasea Paetus were natives of the town; and Quintilian speaks of the directness and simplicity of their diction as Patavinitas, comparing it with the artificial obscurity of the writers of Rome itself.
After the 2nd century A.D. it is hardly mentioned, and seems to have been outstripped by other cities, such as Milan and Aquileia. It was destroyed by the Lombards with fire and sword, and it was then that it lost practically all its monuments of the Roman period.(T. As)