The Coat of Arms of Turin
The Coat of Arms of Turin

While the Winter Olympics are on in Vancouver, we’ll be exploring the origins of the names of former host cities of the winter olympic games, working more or less in reverse chronological order. Today we’re looking at Turin, Italy.

Turin, (Torino in Italian), was originally founded as Taurasia byt the Taurini Gauls around 300 BC. It was destroyed by Hannibal around 218 BC but didn’t get completely wiped off of the map. Rome rebuilt Taurasia as Augusta Taurinorum in 28 BC. After the collapse of the Roman Empire Turin was occupied by various groups, then finally became part of the Duchy of Savoy at the end of the thirteenth century, when its existence became relatively peaceful.

You might be thinking that “that’s all very nice, but where did the name come from?” I was thinking that after reading a bunch of history articles. There isn’t a lot of information out there about the Taurini Gauls who founded Turin, but it appears that the is either derived from the Taurini word “thor” which means “to mount” or is named after a bull because the river Po, which Turin lies on the bank of, looked like a bull with golden horns to the first inhabitants of the area. Apparently the modern Italian name of the city, “Torino” translates roughly to “little bull,” and the symbol of the city is a bull, which lends some weight to the bull story.

1 Comment

  1. Surely there is also some connection between the name ‘Taurini’ and the name ‘Taurus’ for the astrological sign of the bull… I’m guessing that ‘Taurus’ is the latin word for bull – but were the Taurini’s so-named by the Romans because they were associated with bulls? – Or did the Taurini’s already call themselves “Taurini” and that later became associated with bulls when they settled in the Northwest region of Italy? – I’m guessing the former is more likely.

    Another website said the name ‘Taurus’ (when used to name a baby) derived from ‘Taurinus’ – a Saint’s name.

    Seems to me that ‘Taurus’ existed in latin as the word for ‘bull’ long before the Taurini Gauls ever settled there, or St. Taurinus was born, but as the author said above, it is likely that the Taurini Gauls were the ones to associate/connect Taurus the bull with that region.

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