Oenotrians ("tribe led by Oenotrus" or "people from the land of
vines - Οἰνωτρία") were an ancient people of Greek origin who
inhabited a territory from
Paestum to southern
Calabria in southern
Italy. By the sixth century BC, the
Oenotrians had been absorbed into
other Italic tribes.
According to Pausanias and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Oenotria was
named after Oenotrus, the youngest of the fifty sons of Lycaon who
migrated there from
Arcadia in Peloponnese, Greece. According to
Antoninus Liberalis, their arrival triggered the migration of the
Elymians to Sicily. The settlement of the Greeks with
the first stable colonies, such as Metapontum, founded on a native one
(Metabon), pushed the
Oenotrians inland. From these positions a "wear
and tear war" was started off with the Greek colonies, which they
plundered more than once. From the 5th century BC
onwards, they disappeared under the pressure of an Oscan people, the
Lucanians. Virgil mentions them as the settlers of Hesperia whose
descendants now call their land Italy.
A likely derivation of the ethnonym Oenotrian would be the Greek
οἶνος (oinos), "wine", as the
Oenotrians inhabited a
territory rich in vineyards, with Oenotria (or Enotria) being extended
to refer to the entirety of Southern Italy. Hesychius mentions the
word οἴνωτρον (oinōtron), a kind of a vine stake.
According to a traditionalist view, the
Oenotrians represent the
southern branch of a very old and different ethno-linguistic layer
from the proto-Latin one, which would have occupied the Tyrrhenian
area from Liguria to
Sicily (Ligurian/Sicanian layer).
^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, Arcadia, 8.3.5 (Theoi Project)
^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities. Book I, 11-13
^ Virgil (2006). The Aeneid. New York: Penguin Classics. p. 65.
^ οἶνος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English
Lexicon, on Perseus
^ McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the
Kitchen. Simon and Schuster, 2004, ISBN 0-684-80001-2, p. 716.
Italy Oenotria, "land of the grape." Over the
next couple of centuries, Rome advanced the art of winemaking
^ οἴνωτρον, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A
Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
^ Sciarretta, Antonio (2010). Toponomastica d'Italia. Nomi di luoghi,
storie di popoli antichi. Milano: Mursia. pp. 174–194.