Ostia: Rome’s Ancient Port City

If you’ve read any of my Scipio novels, you know that Scipio frequently docks at Ostia and rides into Rome from there. Some have wondered if Ostia was a real seaside city, and I am here to tell you that it was. I know, I was there in 2015!

Situated 20 miles west of Rome, Ostia was a thriving port during Scipio’s time. The word “Ostia” means “mouth,” referring to its location at the mouth of the Tiber river. It was founded sometime in the in seventh century BCE, and more fully developed as a Roman camp/town during the fourth century. By Scipio’s time in the third century BCE, it was a fully developed shipping and military port, large enough to have its own Forum, pictured below.


My Three Generals novel has Scipio riding in from Ostia to see Amelia, his beloved. Rest assured, it was a rough ride at the outset, with the main road cobbled with large stones that were tough to walk upon, much less ride. Ah, the price we pay for love!


In the left background you can see several of the tombs that lined the exit road from Ostia to Rome. grim reminders of man’s mortality to those heading back to the city.




Martin Tessmer is a retired university professor and military training consultant. He is the author of the best selling Scipio Africanus Saga series, which includes Scipio Rising, The Three Generals, Scipio's Dream, Scipio Risen, Scipio Rules, and Scipio's End. The Noble Brute is the first book in his new series about Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus.

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