marked linguistic talent. In 1854 he published his Studii orientali e linguistici, and in 1860 was appointed professor of philology at Milan. He made various learned contributions to the study of Indo-European and Semitic languages, and also of the gipsy language, but his special field was the Italian dialects. He founded the Archivio glottologico italiano in 1873, publishing in it his Saggi Ladini, and making it in succeeding years the great organ of original scholarship on this subject. He was universally recognized as the greatest authority on Italian linguistics, and his article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (9th ed., revised for this edition) became the classic exposition in English. (See Italy: Language.)
ASCOLI PICENO (anc. Ausculum) a town and episcopal see of the Marches, Italy, the capital of the province of Ascoli Piceno, 17 m. W. of Porto d’ Ascoli (a station on the coast railway, 56 m. S.S.E. of Ancona), and 53 m. S. of Ancona direct, situated on the S. bank of the Tronto (anc. Truentus) at its confluence with the Castellano, 500 ft. above sea-level, and surrounded by lofty mountains. Pop. (1901) town, 12,256; commune, 28,608. The Porta Romana is a double-arched Roman gate; adjacent are remains of the massive ancient city walls, in rectangular blocks of stone 2 ft. in height, and remains of still earlier fortifications have been found at this point (F. Barnabei in Notizie degli scavi, 1887, 252). The church of S. Gregorio is built into a Roman tetrastyle Corinthian temple, two columns of which and the cella are still preserved; the site of the Roman theatre can be distinguished; and the church and convent of the Annunziata (with two fine cloisters and a good fresco by Cola d’ Amatrice in the refectory) are erected upon large Roman substructures of concrete, which must have supported some considerable building. Higher up is the castle, which now shows no traces of fortifications older than medieval; it commands a fine view of the town and of the mountains which encircle it. The town has many good pre-Renaissance buildings; the picturesque colonnaded market-place contains the fine Gothic church of S. Francesco and the original Palazzo del Comune, now the prefecture (Gothic with Renaissance additions). The cathedral is in origin Romanesque, but has been much altered, and was stored in 1888 by Count Giuseppe Sacconi (1855-1905). The frescoes in the dome, of the same date, are by Cesare Mariani. The cope presented to the cathedral treasury by Pope Nicholas IV. was stolen in 1904, and sold to Mr J. Pierpont Morgan, who generously returned it to the Italian government, and it was then placed for greater safety in the Galleria Corsini at Rome. The baptistery still preserves its ancient character; and the churches of S. Vittore and SS. Vincenzo ed Anastasio are also good Romanesque buildings. The fortress of the Malatesta, constructed in 1349, has been in the main destroyed; the part of it which remains is now a prison. The present Palazzo Comunale, a Renaissance edifice, contains a fine museum, chiefly remarkable for the contents of prehistoric tombs found in the district (including good bronze fibulae, necklaces, amulets, &c., often decorated with amber), and a large collection of acorn-shaped lead missiles (glandes) used by slingers, belonging to the time of the siege of Asculum during the Social War (89 B.C.). There is also a picture gallery containing works by local masters, Pietro Alamanni, Cola d’ Amatrice, Carlo Crivelli, &c. The bridges across the ravines which defend the town are of considerable importance; the Ponte di Porta Cappucina is a very fine Roman bridge, with a single arch of 71 ft. span. The Ponte di Cecco (so named from Cecco d’ Ascoli), with two arches, is also Roman and belongs to the Via Salaria; the Ponte Maggiore and the Ponte Cartaro are, on the other hand, medieval, though the latter perhaps preserves some traces of Roman work. Near Ascoli is Castel Trosino, where an extensive Lombard necropolis of the 7th century was discovered in 1895; the contents of the tombs are now exhibited in the Museo Nazionale delle Terme at Rome (Notizie degli scavi, 1895, 35).
The ancient Asculum was the capital of Picenum, and it occupied a strong position in the centre of difficult country. It was taken in 268 B.C. by the Romans, and the Via Salaria was no doubt prolonged thus far at this period; the distance from Rome is 120 m. It took a prominent part in the Social War against Rome, the proconsul Q. Servilius and all the Roman citizens within its walls being massacred by the inhabitants in 90 B.C. It was captured after a long siege by Pompeius Strabo in 89 B.C. The leader, Judacilius, committed suicide, the principal citizens were put to death, and the rest exiled. The Roman general celebrated his triumph on the 25th of December of that year. Caesar occupied it, however, as a strong position after crossing the Rubicon; and it received a Roman colony, perhaps under the triumvirs, and became a place of some importance. In A.D. 301 it became the capital of Picenum Suburbicarium. In 545 it was taken by Totila, but is spoken of by Paulus Diaconus as the chief city of Picenum shortly afterwards. From the time of Charlemagne it was under the rule of its bishops, who had the title of prince and the right to coin money, until 1185, when it became a free republic. It had many struggles with Fermo, and in the 15th century came more directly under the papal sway.
ASCONIUS PEDIANUS, QUINTUS (9 B.C.-A.D. 76; or A.D. 3-88), Roman grammarian and historian, was probably a native of Patavium (Padua). In his later years he resided at Rome, where he died, after having been blind for twelve years, at the age of eighty-five. During the reigns of Claudius and Nero he compiled for his sons, from various sources—e.g. the Gazette (Acta Publica), shorthand reports or “skeletons” (commentarii) of Cicero’s unpublished speeches, Tiro’s life of Cicero, speeches and letters of Cicero’s contemporaries, various historical writers, e.g. Varro, Atticus, Antias, Tuditanus and Fenestella (a contemporary of Livy whom he often criticizes)—historical commentaries on Cicero’s speeches, of which only five, viz. in Pisonem, pro Scauro, pro Milone, pro Cornelio and in toga Candida, in a very mutilated condition, are preserved. In a note upon the speech pro Scauro, he speaks of Longus Caecina (d. A.D. 57) as still living, while his words imply that Claudius (d. 54) was not alive. This statement, therefore, must have been written between A.D. 54 and 57. These valuable notes, written in good Latin, relate chiefly to legal, historical and antiquarian matters. A commentary, of inferior Latinity and mainly of a grammatical character, on Cicero’s Verrine orations, is universally regarded as spurious. Both works were found by Poggio in a MS. at St Gallen in 1416. This MS. is lost, but three transcripts were made by Poggio, Zomini (Sozomenus) of Pistoia and Bartolommeo da Montpulciano. That of Poggio is now at Madrid (Matritensis x. 81), and that of Zomini is in the Forteguerri library at Pistoia (No. 37). A copy of Bartolommeo’s transcript exists in Florence (Laur. liv. 5). The later MSS. are derived from Poggio’s copy. Other works attributed to Asconius were: a life of Sallust, a defence of Virgil against his detractors, and a treatise (perhaps a symposium in imitation of Plato) on health and long life.
ASCOT, a village in the Wokingham parliamentary division of Berkshire, England, famous for its race-meetings. Pop. of parish of Ascot Heath (1901), 1927. The station on the South-Western railway, 29 m. W.S.W. of London, is called Ascot and Sunninghill; the second name belonging to an adjacent township with a population (civil parish) of 4719. The race-course is on Ascot Heath, and was laid out by order of Queen Anne in 1711, and on the 11th of August in that year the first meeting was held and attended by the queen. The course is almost exactly 2 m. in circumference, and the meetings are held in June. The principal race is that for the Ascot Gold Cup, instituted in 1807. The meeting is one of the most fashionable in England, and is commonly attended by members of the royal family. The royal procession, for which the meeting is peculiarly famous, was initiated by George IV. in 1820.
- The epithet distinguishes it from Ascoli Satriano (anc. Ausculum), which lies 19 m. S. of Foggia by rail.
- It contains a fine polyptych by Carlo Crivelli (1473).