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Samnium

Samnium

[sam-nee-uhm]
Samnium, ancient country of central and S Italy, mostly in the S Apennines. It was E of Campania and Latium and NE of Apulia.

Samnium (Oscan: Safinim; Italian: Sannio) is a historical region of the south central Apennines in Italy, that was home to the Samnites, a group of Sabellic tribes that controlled the area from about 600 BC to about 290 BC. Samnium was delimited by Latium in the north, by Lucania in the south, by Campania in the west and by Apulia in the east. The principal cities of the region were Bovaiamom, renamed Bovianum by Latins (today: Bojano or Boiano) and Malventum (Maloenton in Oscan), which was later renamed Beneventum by the Romans (today: Benevento).

For most of their history the Samnites were landlocked, but during a brief period they controlled parts of both coasts of the Italian peninsula. The Samnites were composed of at least four tribes: the Pentri (the most important tribe, capital: Bovianum), the Caraceni (principal cities: Cluviae, the modern Casoli, and Juvanum, the ruins of which are spread between Torricella Peligna and Montenerodomo), the Caudini (capital: Caudium, today Montesarchio) and the Hirpini (Oscan for wolf; capital Beneventum), and later may have been joined by the Frentani (capital Larinum, the modern Larino). The federal capital of the federal League they formed was Bovianum, except for a short period between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, in which it was Aquilonia, destroyed by Romans in 293 BC, whose probable location today is modern Aquilonia, in Campania, province Avellino. The earliest written record of the people is a treaty with the Romans from 354 BC, which set their border at the Liris River. Shortly thereafter the Samnite Wars broke out; they won an important battle against the Roman army in 321 BC, and their empire reached its peak in 316 BC after further gains from the Romans. In 290 BC, the Romans finally broke the Samnites' power. The Samnites were the last group holding out against Rome in the Social War (91–88 BC). In 82 BC, the Roman dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla slaughtered many of them and forced the rest to disperse. So great was the destruction that it was recorded that "the towns of Samnium have become villages, and many have vanished altogether."

Rulers of the Samnites

Uprising against Sulla

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