The SAMNITES were an ancient
Italic people who lived in
Italy . They became involved in several wars with the
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
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, 327–304, and 298–290) against the Romans.
Despite an overwhelming victory over the Romans at the Battle of the
Caudine Forks (321), the
Samnites were eventually subjugated. Although
severely weakened, the
Samnites later helped Pyrrhus and
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). By 82 BC, the Roman dictator Lucius
Cornelius Sulla conducted an ethnic cleansing campaign against the
Samnites, after which they disappeared from history.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 3 List of tribes
* 4 Prominent
* 4.1 Leaders of the
* 4.2 Uprising against Sulla
* 4.3 Roman citizens
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 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OUT-OF-DATE INFORMATION.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.
Etymologically, the name
Samnium is generally recognized to be a form
of the name of the
Sabines , who were Umbrians . 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. The eponymous god of the Sabines,
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
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.
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):
Suiones ; Celtic
Senones ; Slavic Serbs
Sorbs ; Italic
Sabini , etc., as well as a large number
of kinship terms.
Map of ancient
Samnium from The Historical Atlas by William R.
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
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.
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. They joined and
Hannibal during the
Second Punic War
Second Punic War . The
Samnites were the
last tribal group holding out against Rome in the Social War (91–88
BC) . By 82 BC, the 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 "the towns
Samnium have become villages, and most have vanished altogether."
LIST OF TRIBES
LEADERS OF THE SAMNITES
Gaius Pontius ca. 320s BC
Egnatius ca. 296 BC
UPRISING AGAINST SULLA
Gaius Papius Mutilus 90-89 with:
* Pontius Telesinus - Samnite commander to Papius
Pontius Pilate - the 5th
Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea
from AD 26–36.
Longinus - Roman soldier who pierced Jesus in his side with
List of ancient Italic peoples
* ^ "Samnite (people)".
Encyclopædia Britannica Online .
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
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.