The Fountain of Trevi

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One hundred and fifteen years after Agrippa brought the Acqua Virgo into Rome the Emperor Nerva appointed as commissioner of the water-works of the city a man of extraordinary integrity and energy who was possessed of many accomplishments and had had along training in the practical experience of government and war. Fortunately for posterity, he was able to write as well as govern, and in his book, " The Water Supply of the City of Rome," a copy of which has been preserved in the monastery of Monte Cassino for more than thirteen centuries, there is an account, true beyond the shadow of doubt, of the earliest history of the Trevi Water. Frontinus says that the water was shown to some Roman soldiers by a young maiden who guided them to the springs near her father's home, that a small temple was erected near the springs containing a picture of the incident, and that the name of Virgo, or maiden, which still endures, commemorates the event. Agrippa at once brought the water to Rome and its delightful purity as well as its abundance must have given it immediate popularity. Suetonius relates that about this time the Romans complained to Augustus of the expense and scarcity of wine, whereupon the Emperor sent word to them that his son-in-law, Agrippa, had sufficiently provided for their thirst by the ample supply of water which he had brought to Rome. The springs of the Virgo rise in the valley of the Anio and are not more than eighty feet above sea-level. They are on land which once belonged to Lucullus. The veteran adversary of Mithradates, who had suffered all the privations of far-eastern warfare, knew from personal experience the immense value of pure and abundant water. It is not improbable that he was aware of his priceless possession and that he kept it for his own private use during those years of his peaceful old age passed in his gardens on the Pincian Hill. When, a generation after Lucullus's death, Agrippa constructed the Virgo Aqueduct he brought it underground through the old gardens of Lucullus to a reservoir beneath the hill, and from there the water was carried to the Campus Martius, and thence distributed throughout the city, whose gardens and fountains it still supplies. Cassiodorus, prime minister to that Gothic King, Theodoric, who, from 493 to 526, governed the Romans with such extraordinary sympathy and intelligence, felt for the Virgo Water the admiration and love of a veritable Roman.

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