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COMO, LAKE OF—COMORO ISLANDS

which goes on to Chiasso—Swiss frontier—and the St Gotthard), the other via Saronno and also with Lecco and Varese.

Of the Roman Comum little remains above ground; a portion of its S.E. wall was discovered and may be seen in the garden of the Liceo Volta, 88 ft. within the later walls: later fortifications (but previous to 1127), largely constructed with Roman inscribed sepulchral urns and other fragments, had been superimposed on it. Thermae have also been discovered (see V. Barelli in Notizie degli scavi, 1880, 333; 1881, 333; 1882, 285). The inscriptions, on the other hand, are numerous, and give an idea of its importance. The statements as to the tribe which originally possessed it are various. It belonged to Gallia Cisalpina, and first came into contact with Rome in 196 B.C., when M. Claudius Marcellus conquered the Insubres and the Comenses. In 89 B.C., having suffered damage from the Raetians, it was restored by Cn. Pompeius Strabo, and given Latin rights with the rest of Gallia Transpadana. Shortly after this 3000 colonists seem to have been sent there; 5000 were certainly sent by Caesar in 59 B.C., and the place received the name Novum Comum. It appears in the imperial period as a municipium, and is generally spoken of as Comum simply. The place was prosperous; it had an important iron industry; and the banks of the lake were, as now, dotted with villas. It was also important as the starting-point for the journey across the lake in connexion with the Splugen and Septimer passes (see Chiavenna). It was the birthplace of both the elder and the younger Pliny, the latter of whom founded baths and a library here and gave money for the support of orphan children. There was a praefectus classis Comensis under the late empire, and it was regarded as a strong fortress. See Ch. Hulsen in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopädie, Suppl. Heft i. (Stuttgart, 1903), 326.

Como suffered considerably from the early barbarian invasions, many of the inhabitants taking refuge on the Isola Comacina off Sala, but recovered in Lombard times. It was from that period that the magistri Comacini formed a privileged corporation of architects and sculptors, who were employed in other parts of Italy also, until, at the end of the 11th century, individuals began to come more to the front (G. T. Rivoira, Origini dell’ architettura Lombarda, Rome, 1901, i. 127 f.). Como then became subject to the archbishops of Milan, but gained its freedom towards the end of the 11th century. At the beginning of the 12th century war broke out between Como and Milan, and after a ten years’ war Como was taken and its fortifications dismantled in 1127. In 1154, however, it took advantage of the arrival of Barbarossa, and remained faithful to him throughout the whole war of the Lombard League. After frequent struggles with Milan, it fell under the power of the Visconti in 1335. In 1535, like the rest of Lombardy, it fell under Spanish dominion, and in 1714 under Austrian. Thenceforth it shared the fortunes of Milan, becoming in the Napoleonic period the chief town of the department of the Lario. Its silk industry and its position at the entrance to the Alpine passes gave it some importance even then. It bore a considerable part in the national risings of 1848–1859 against Austrian rule.  (T. As.) 


COMO, Lake of (the Lacus Larius of the Romans, and so sometimes called Lario to the present day, though in the 4th century it is already termed Lacus Comacinus), one of the most celebrated lakes in Lombardy, Northern Italy. It lies due N. of Milan and is formed by the Adda that flows through the Valtelline to the north end of the lake (here falls in the Maira or Mera, coming from the Val Bregaglia) and flows out of it at its south-eastern extremity, on the way to join the Po. Its area is 55½ sq. m., it is about 43 m. from end to end (about 30½ m. from the north end of Bellagio), it is from 1 to 2½ m. in breadth, its surface is 653 ft. above the sea, and its greatest depth is 1365 ft. A railway line now runs along its eastern shore from Colico to Lecco (24½ m.), while on its western shore Menaggio is reached by a steam tramway from Porlezza on the Lake of Lugano (8 m.). Colico, at the northern extremity, is by rail 17 m. from Chiavenna and 42 m. from Tirano, while at its southern end Como (on the St Gotthard line) is 32 m. from Milan, and Lecco about the same distance. The lake fills a remarkable depression which has been cut through the limestone ranges that enclose it, and once doubtless extended as far as Chiavenna, the Lake of Mezzola being a surviving witness of its ancient bed. Towards the south the promontory of Bellagio divides the lake into two arms. That to the south-east ends at Lecco and is the true outlet, for the south-western arm, ending at Como, is an enclosed bay. During the morning the Tivano wind blows from the north, while in the afternoon the Breva wind blows from the south. But, like other Alpine lakes, the Lake of Como is exposed to sudden violent storms. Its beauties have been sung by Virgil and Claudian, while the two Plinys are among the celebrities associated with the lake. The shores are bordered by splendid villas, while perhaps the most lovely spot on it is Bellagio, built in an unrivalled position. Among the other villages that line the lake, the best-known are Varenna (E.) and Menaggio (W.), nearly opposite one another, while Cadenabbia (W.) faces Bellagio.  (W. A. B. C.) 


COMONFORT, IGNACIO (1812–1863), a Mexican soldier and politician, who, after occupying a variety of civil and military posts, was in December 1855 made provisional president by Alvarez, and from December 1857 was for a few weeks constitutional president. (See Mexico.)


COMORIN, CAPE, a headland in the state of Travancore, forming the extreme southern point of the peninsula of India. It is situated in 8° 4′ 20″ N., 77° 35′ 35″ E., and is the terminating point of the western Ghats. The village of Comorin, with the temple of Kanniyambal, the “virgin goddess,” on the coast at the apex of the headland, is a frequented place of pilgrimage.


COMORO ISLANDS, a group of volcanic islands belonging to France, in the Indian Ocean, at the northern entrance of the Mozambique Channel midway between Madagascar and the African continent. The following table of the area and population of the four largest islands gives one of the sets of figures offered by various authorities:—

  Area sq. m. Population.
Great Comoro 385 50,000
Anjuan or Johanna 145 12,000
Mayotte 140 11,000
Moheli 90 9,000
Total 760 82,000

There are besides a large number of islets of coral formation. Particulars of the four islands named follow.

1. Great Comoro, or Angazia, the largest and most westerly, has a length of about 38 m., with a width of about 12 m. Near its southern extremity it rises into a fine dome-shaped volcanic mountain, Kartola (Karthala), which is over 8500 ft. high, and is visible for more than 100 m. Up to about 6000 ft. it is clothed with dense vegetation. Eruptions are recorded for the years 1830, 1855 and 1858; and another eruption occurred in 1904. In the north the ground rises gradually to a plateau some 2000 ft. above the sea; from this plateau many regularly shaped truncated cones rise another 2000 ft. The centre of the island consists of a desert field of lava streams, about 1600 ft. high. The chief towns are Maroni (pop. about 2000), Itzanda and Mitsamuli; the first, situated at the head of a bay in 11° 40′ S., being the seat of the French administrator.

2. Anjuan, or Johanna, next in size, lies E. by S. of Comoro. It is some 30 m. long by 20 at its greatest breadth. The land rises in a succession of richly wooded heights till it culminates in a central peak, upwards of 5000 ft. above the sea, in 12° 14′ S., 44° 27′ E. The former capital, Mossamondu, on the N.W. coast, is substantially built of stone, surrounded by a wall, and commanded by a dilapidated citadel; it is the residence of the sultan and of the French administrator. There is a small but safe anchorage at Pomony, on the S. side, formerly used as a coal depot by ships of the British navy.

3. Mayotte, about 21 m. long by 6 or 7 m. broad, is surrounded by an extensive and dangerous coral reef. The principal heights on its extremely irregular surface are: Mavegani Mountain, which rises in two peaks to a maximum of 2164 ft., and Uchongin,