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The Volsci (, , ) were an Italic
Osco-Umbrian The Osco-Umbrian, Sabellic or Sabellian languages are a group of Italic languages, the Indo-European languages that were spoken in Central and Southern Italy by the Osco-Umbrians before being replaced by Latin, as the power of Ancient Rome expanded. ...
tribe, well known in the history of the first century of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
. At the time they inhabited the partly hilly, partly marshy district of the south of
Latium Latium ( , ; ) is the region of central western Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding it, whose territory large ...
, bounded by the
Aurunci The Aurunci were an Italic tribe The Italic peoples were an ethnolinguistic group identified by their use of Italic languages The Italic languages form a branch of the Indo-European language family, whose earliest known members were spoken ...
and
Samnites The Samnites were an ancient Italic people The Italic peoples were an ethnolinguistic group identified by their use of Italic languages a branch of the Indo-European language family. The Italic peoples are descended from the Indo-European speak ...
on the south, the
Hernici 250px, Map showing location of the Hernici in central Italy. The Hernici were an Italic tribe of ancient Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern ...
on the east, and stretching roughly from
Norba Norba, an ancient town of Latium (''Adjectum''), Italy. It is situated 1 mile northwest of the modern town of Norma, Lazio, Norma, on the western edge of the Volscian Mountains or Monti Lepini. The town is perched above a precipitous cliff with a ...

Norba
and Cora in the north to
Antium Anzio (, also , ) is a city and ' on the coast of the region of , about south of . Well known for its seaside harbour setting, it is a and a departure point for ferries and hydroplanes to the of , , and . The city bears great historical sign ...
(modern
Anzio Anzio (, also , ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a of , roughly equivalent to a or . Importance and function The provides essential public services: of births and deaths, , and maintenance of local roads and public work ...

Anzio
and
Nettuno Nettuno is a town and ''comune'' of the Metropolitan City of Rome in the Lazio region of central Italy, south of Rome. A resort city and agricultural center on the Tyrrhenian Sea, it has a population of approximately 50,000. Its name is perhaps i ...

Nettuno
) in the south. Rivals of Rome for several hundred years, their territories were taken over by and assimilated into the growing republic by 300 BCE. Rome's first emperor
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
was of Volscian descent.


Description by the ancient geographers

Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
says that the Volsci formed a sovereign state near the site of Rome. It was placed in the Pomentine plain, between the
Latins The Latins were originally an Italic tribe in ancient central Italy from Latium Latium ( , ; ) is the region of central western Italy in which the city of Rome was founded and grew to be the capital city of the Roman Empire. Definition La ...
and the Pontine marshes, which took their name from the plain.


Language

The Volsci spoke
Volscian Volscian was a Sabellic Italic language, which was spoken by the Volsci and closely related to Oscan language, Oscan and Umbrian language, Umbrian. Overview Volscian is attested in an inscription found in Velitrae (Velletri), dating probably from ...
, a
Sabellic The Osco-Umbrian, Sabellic or Sabellian languages are a group of Italic languages The Italic languages form a branch of the Indo-European language family, whose earliest known members were spoken in the Italian Peninsula in the first millenni ...
Italic language The Italic languages form a branch of the Indo-European language family, whose earliest known members were spoken in the Italian Peninsula in the first millennium BC. The best known of them is Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language ...
, which was closely related to
Oscan Oscan is an extinct Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and th ...
and
Umbrian Umbrian is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, p ...
, and more distantly to
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
. In the Volscian territory lay the little town of Velitrae (modern
Velletri Velletri (; la, Velitrae; xvo, Velester) is an Italian ''comune'' in the Metropolitan City of Rome, approximately 40km to the south-east of the city centre, located in the Alban Hills, in the region of Lazio, central Italy. Neighbouring communes a ...

Velletri
), home of the ancestors of
Caesar Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles througho ...

Caesar Augustus
. From this town comes an inscription dating probably from early in the 3rd century BCE; it is cut upon a small bronze plate (now in the Naples Museum), which must have once been fixed to some votive object, and dedicated to the god Declunus (or the goddess Decluna).


Conflict with ancient Rome

The Volsci were among the most dangerous enemies of
ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
, and frequently allied with the
Aequi 300px, Location of the Aequi (Equi) in central Italy, 5th century BC. The Aequi ( grc, Αἴκουοι and Αἴκοι) were an Italic tribe The Italic peoples were an ethnolinguistic group identified by their use of Italic languages The Ital ...
, whereas their neighbors, the
Hernici 250px, Map showing location of the Hernici in central Italy. The Hernici were an Italic tribe of ancient Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern ...
, were allied with Rome after 486 BCE. According to the semi-legendary history of early Rome, its seventh and last king,
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (died 495 BC) was the legendary seventh and final king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in ...
, was the first to go to war against the Volsci, commencing two centuries of conflict between the two states.
Gaius Marcius Coriolanus 250px, ''Veturia at the Feet of Coriolanus'' by Gaspare Landi Gaius Marcius Coriolanus was a ancient Rome, Roman general who is said to have lived in the 5th century BC. He received his toponymy, toponymic cognomen "Coriolanus" because of his excep ...
, the legendary Roman warrior, earned his
cognomen A ''cognomen'' (; plural ''cognomina''; from ''con-'' "together with" and ''(g)nomen'' "name") was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC ...
after capturing the Volscian town of
CorioliCorioli was a town in ancient times in the territory of the Volsci 320px, Volscian settlements (in red) The Volsci (, , ) were an Italic Osco-Umbrian tribe, well known in the history of the first century of the Roman Republic. At the time they inha ...
in 493 BCE. The reputed rise and fall of this Roman hero is chronicled in
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC&nbs ...

Plutarch
's ''
Parallel Lives Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from a ...
'', which served as the basis for the
Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

Shakespeare
play, ''
Coriolanus ''Coriolanus'' ( or ) is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1605 and 1608. The play is based on the life of the legendary Roman Republic, Roman leader Gaius Marcius Coriolanus, Caius Marcius Coriolanus. Sh ...

Coriolanus
''. However, if
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
's account of the war between Rome and Clusium is accurate, it would seem that the relationship between Rome and the Volsci was not always hostile. Livy writes that at the approach of the Clusian army in 508 BCE, with the prospect of a siege, the arranged for the purchase of grain from the Volsci to feed the lower classes of Rome.
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
''
Ab urbe condita 300px, Antoninianus of Pacatianus, Roman usurper, usurper of Roman emperor Philip the Arab, Philip in 248. It reads ''ROMAE AETERANMIL ESIMOET PRIMO'', 'To eternal Rome, in its one thousand and first year.' ''Ab urbe condita'' ( ...
'' 2.10


Prominent Volsci

* Camilla in
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
's
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
, a Volscian Warrior Maiden (like the legendary Amazons). * Attius Tullus Aufidius, leader of the Volsci during the
Roman–Volscian wars The Roman–Volscian wars were a series of wars fought between the Roman Republic and the Volsci 320px, Volscian settlements (in red) The Volsci (, , ) were an Italic Osco-Umbrian tribe, well known in the history of the first century of the Roma ...
.


Prominent Romans of Volscian ancestry

*
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
, first Roman emperor. *
Decius Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius (c. 201 ADJune 251 AD), sometimes translated as Trajan Decius or Decius, was the emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler ...

Decius
, Roman emperor from 249 to 251.


Roman Gentes of Volscian origin

* Balventia gens * Messia gens *
Octavia gens The gens Octavia was a plebeian family at ancient Rome, which was raised to patrician (ancient Rome), patrician status by Julius Caesar, Caesar during the first century BC. The first member of the gens to achieve prominence was Gnaeus Octavius Ruf ...
* Pomptina gens * Publicia gens


References

{{reflist


Further reading

* Coarelli, Filippo. "Roma, i Volsci e il Lazio antico". In: ''Crise et transformation des sociétés archaïques de l'Italie antique au Ve siècle av. JC''. In: Actes de la table ronde de Rome (19-21 novembre 1987). Rome: École Française de Rome, 1990. pp. 135–154. (Publications de l'École française de Rome, 137) ww.persee.fr/doc/efr_0000-0000_1990_act_137_1_3901 Ancient Italic peoples