Sabines, ancient people of central Italy, centered principally in the Sabine Hills, NE of Rome. Not much dependable information on them can be gathered. They were probably Oscan-speaking and therefore may be classed among the Sabelli. From the earliest days there was a Sabine element in Rome (the story of the rape of the Sabine women to supply wives for the womanless followers of Romulus is a legend explaining this fact); many Roman religious practices are said to have Sabine origins. Rome was involved in numerous wars with the inland Sabines; Horatius is supposed to have defeated them in the 5th cent. B.C., and Marcus Curius Dentatus conquered them in 290 B.C. The Sabines became (268) Roman citizens. The Samnites were possibly a branch of the Sabines.

Any member of an ancient Italic tribe located east of the Tiber River. According to legend, Romulus invited them to a festival and then carried off (“raped”) their women to provide wives for his men. The second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius, probably a Sabine, is credited with creating a great number of the early Roman religious institutions and practices. Later groups displaced the Sabines from Rome. The Romans conquered them and granted them partial citizenship in 290 BC; they became full citizens in 268.

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