Volsci were an Italic tribe, well known in the history of the
first century of the Roman Republic. At the time they inhabited the
partly hilly, partly marshy district of the south of Latium, bounded
Samnites on the south, the
Hernici on the east, and
stretching roughly from
Norba and Cora in the north to
Anzio and 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 BC.
1 Description by the ancient geographers
3 Conflict with ancient Rome
4 Notable Volscians
Description by the ancient geographers
Strabo says that the
Volsci formed a sovereign state near the site of
Rome. It was placed in the Pomentine plain, between the Latins and
the Pontine marshes, which took their name from the plain.
Volsci spoke Volscian, a
Sabellic Italic language, which was
closely related to Oscan and Umbrian, and more distantly to Latin.
In the Volscian territory lay the little town of Velitrae (modern
Velletri), home of the ancestors of Caesar Augustus. From this town
comes an inscription dating probably from early in the 3rd century BC;
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
Main article: Roman-Volscian wars
Volsci were among the most dangerous enemies of ancient Rome, and
frequently allied with the Aequi, whereas their neighbors the Hernici
from 486 BC onwards were the allies of Rome.
According to Rome's early semi-legendary history, Rome's seventh and
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was the first to go to war
against the Volsci, commencing two centuries of a relationship of
conflict between the two states.
Also, the legendary Roman warrior
Gaius Marcius Coriolanus
Gaius Marcius Coriolanus earned his
cognomen after taking the Volscian town of
Corioli in 493 BC. The
supposed rise and fall of this hero is chronicled in Shakespeare's
However, if Livy's account of the war between Rome and Clusium is
accurate, it can be seen that the relationship between Rome and the
Volsci was not always hostile.
Livy writes that, at the approach of
the Clusian army in 508 BC, with the prospect of a siege, the Roman
senate arranged for the purchase of grain from the
Volsci to feed the
lower classes of Rome.
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Attius Tullus Aufidius.
Cicero, orator and writer, was a native of
Arpinum in former Volscian
Camilla featured as one of the fighters in Virgil's Aeneid, a Volscian
Warrior Maiden (like the legendary Amazons).
Virgil says that she can
outrun the wind and run over crops so lightly she never even bent
them. She could run over the waves of the sea without getting her feet
wet. She fights on the side of the Latins and kills many of the Trojan
refugees before being killed herself by the Etruscan hero Arruns.
Gaius Marius, reforming consul and general, was a native of
former Volscian territory.
Augustus Caesar spent his early life in Velitrae, where he may have
^ Paola Brandizzi Vittucci, Antium:
Nettuno in epoca romana,
Roma, Bardi, 2000 ISBN 88-85699-83-9
^ a b c Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Volsci". Encyclopædia
Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
^ Strabo. "Book 5 Chapter 3". Geography. Tufts University, Perseus
^ James Clackson; Geoffrey Horrocks (23 May 2011). The Blackwell
History of the
Latin Language. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 59–.
^ Nathan Rosenstein; Robert Morstein-Marx (7 September 2011). A
Companion to the Roman Republic. John Wiley & Sons.
pp. 279–. ISBN 978-1-4443-5720-2.
Livy Ab urbe condita 1.53
^ William Shakespeare (1969). Coriolanus. CUP Archive.
Livy Ab urbe condita 2.10
^ Suetonius Life