The Info List - Samnites

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The Samnites
were an ancient Italic people
Italic people
who lived in Samnium
in south-central Italy. They became involved in several wars with the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
until the 1st century BC. An Oscan-speaking people, the Samnites
probably originated as an offshoot of the Sabines. The Samnites
formed a confederation, consisting of four tribes: the Hirpini, Caudini, Caraceni, and Pentri. They allied with Rome against the Gauls
in 354 BC, but later became enemies of the Romans and were soon involved in a series of three wars (343–341 BC, 327–304 BC, and 298–290 BC) against the Romans. Despite an overwhelming victory over the Romans at the Battle of the Caudine Forks (321 BC), the Samnites
were eventually subjugated. Although severely weakened, the Samnites
later helped Pyrrhus and Hannibal
in their wars (280–275 BC and 218-201 BC) against Rome. They also fought from 90 BC in the Social War and later in the civil war (82 BC) as allies of Gnaeus Papirius Carbo against Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who defeated them and their leader Pontius Telesinus at the Battle of the Colline Gate (82 BC).[1] By 82 BC, the Roman dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
conducted an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Samnites, after which they disappeared from history.[2]


1 Etymology 2 History 3 List of tribes 4 Prominent Samnites

4.1 Leaders of the Samnites 4.2 Uprising against Sulla 4.3 Roman citizens

5 See also 6 Notes 7 References 8 Further reading 9 External links


This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (September 2015)

Samnite soldiers from a tomb frieze in Nola 4th century BC.

The population of Samnium
were called Samnites
by the Romans. Their own endonyms were Safinim for the country (attested in one inscription and one coin legend) and Safineis for the people.[3] Etymologically, the name Samnium
is generally recognized to be a form of the name of the Sabines, who were Umbrians.[4] From Safinim, Sabinus, Sabellus and Samnis, an Indo-European root can be extracted, *sabh-, which becomes Sab- in Latino-Faliscan
and Saf- in Osco-Umbrian: Sabini
and *Safineis.[5] The eponymous god of the Sabines, Sabus, seems to support this view. The Greek terms, Saunitai and Saunitis, remain outside the group. Nothing is known of their origin. At some point in prehistory, a population speaking a common language extended over both Samnium
and Umbria. Salmon conjectures that it was common Italic and puts forward a date of 600 BC, after which the common language began to dialectize. This date does not necessarily correspond to any historical or archaeological evidence; developing a synthetic view of the ethnology of proto-historic Italy
is an incomplete and ongoing task. Linguist Julius Pokorny carries the etymology somewhat further back. Conjecturing that the -a- was altered from an -o- during some prehistoric residence in Illyria, he derives the names from an o-grade extension *swo-bho- of an extended e-grade *swe-bho- of the possessive adjective, *s(e)we-, of the reflexive pronoun, *se-, "oneself" (the source of English self). The result is a set of Indo-European tribal names (if not the endonym of the Indo-Europeans): Germanic Suebi
and Semnones, Suiones; Celtic Senones; Slavic Serbs
and Sorbs; Italic Sabelli, Sabini, etc., as well as a large number of kinship terms.[6] History[edit]

Map of ancient Samnium
from The Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd, 1911.

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
Samnite Wars
broke out; they won an important battle against the Roman army in 321 BC, and their imperium reached its peak in 316 BC, after further gains from the Romans. By 290 BC, the Romans were able to break the Samnites' power after some hard fought battles. The Samnites
were one of the Italian peoples that allied with King Pyrrhus of Epirus
Pyrrhus of Epirus
during the Pyrrhic War. After Pyrrhus left for Sicily, the Romans invaded Samnium
and were crushed at the Battle of the Cranita hills, but after the defeat of Pyrrhus, the Samnites
could not resist on their own and submitted to Rome. A few of them joined and aided Hannibal
during the Second Punic War, but most were loyal to Rome. The Samnites
were the last tribal group holding out against Rome in the Social War (91–88 BC). By 82 BC, the Roman dictator
Roman dictator
Lucius Cornelius Sulla conducted an ethnic cleansing campaign against this most stubborn and persistent of Rome's adversaries and forced the remnant to disperse. So great was the destruction brought upon them that it was recorded that "their cities have now dwindled into villages, some indeed being entirely deserted."[2] List of tribes[edit]

Caraceni Caudini Frentani Hirpini Pentri

Prominent Samnites[edit] Leaders of the Samnites[edit]

Gaius Pontius ca. 320s BC Gellius Egnatius ca. 296 BC

Uprising against Sulla[edit]

Gaius Papius Mutilus 90-89 with: Pontius Telesinus - Samnite commander to Papius

Roman citizens[edit]

Pontius Pilate
Pontius Pilate
- the 5th Prefect
of the Roman province of Judaea from AD 26–36. Saint Longinus
- Roman soldier who pierced Jesus in his side with a lance.[7][better source needed]

See also[edit]

Samnite Wars List of ancient Italic peoples Sabellians


^ "Samnite (people)". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 29 November 2012.  ^ a b Strabo, Geography, Book V, Section 4.11. ^ Salmon 1967, p. 28. ^ Salmon 1967, p. 29. ^ Edward Togo Salmon (1967). Samnium
and the Samnites. Cambridge University Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-521-06185-8.  ^ Pokorny 1959, pp. 882–884 under se. ^ Longinus

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longinus References[edit]

Library resources about Samnites

Online books Resources in your library Resources in other libraries

Salmon, Edward Togo. Samnium
and the Samnites. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1967.

Further reading[edit]

Forsythe, Gary. A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. Jones, Howard. Samnium: Settlement and Cultural Change: the Proceedings of the Third E. Togo Salmon Conference On Roman Studies. Providence, RI: Center for Old World Archaeology and Art, 2004. Paget, R. F. Central Italy: An Archaeological Guide; the Prehistoric, Villanovan, Etruscan, Samnite, Italic, and Roman Remains, and the Ancient Road Systems. 1st U.S. ed. Park Ridge, NJ: Noyes Press, 1973. Salvucci, Claudio R. A Vocabulary of Oscan: Including the Oscan and Samnite Glosses. Southampton, Pa.: Evolution Pub., 1999. Stek, Tesse. Cult Places and Cultural Change In Republican Italy: A Contextual Approach to Religious Aspects of Rural Society After the Roman Conquest. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2010.

External links[edit]

The Battles of Bovianum, 311 BC - article about a problematical campaign of the Second Samnite War The Samnite Pilum Warriors o