Are there accounts of traffic in the ancient world written in Latin? By traffic I mean the behaviour of various vehicles1 on roads and in intersections, not masses of pedestrians. If there are multiple mentions of this in the extant classical literature, what is the longest passage on this topic?

For some reason I ended up looking for ways to describe modern car traffic in Latin, and a passage on the analogous topic in the ancient world would help find useful phrases. In addition, I know almost nothing about ancient traffic, and I would like to get a better picture.

1 The concept of "vehicle" might not be well-defined, but I hope the intention is clear enough. If you want a definition, I would say a vehicle always has wheels and preferably bigger than a wheelbarrow. But if there is a great passage about horses or wheelbarrows in traffic, it would still be interesting.


1 Answer 1


Juv. 3:

raedarum transitus arto vicorum in flexu et stantis convicia mandrae eripient somnum Druso vitulisque marinis.

"The continual traffic of carriages in the narrow twisting streets and the swearing of the drover when his herd has come to a halt would deprive a Drusus or the seals of sleep." (translated by S. Morton Braund)

Sen. Clem. 1.6:

Cogitato, in hac civitate, in qua turba per latissima itinera sine intermissione defluens eliditur, quotiens aliquid obstitit, quod cursum eius velut torrentis rapidi moraretur ...

"Consider this city, in which the throng that streams ceaselessly through its widest streets is crushed to pieces whenever anything gets in the way to check its course as it streams like a rushing torrent..." (translated by J.W. Basore)

I’m sure Penelope will find more examples!

  • 3
    Hmm, difficult to resist such a challenge! But this is already such a good answer, my efforts may be in vain ;)
    – Penelope
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 4:14

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