Torricella is not Peligna

By Luigi Russo

   n. 17  December1996 p. 16
To understand the title above one must refer to history as far back as three thousand years ago, when our distant ancestors, the Samnites[1], formed into groups called “gens[2]” and occupied our land. Sabone[3] relates that the Sabines[4], since they were at war with the Umbri[5], made a solemn promise to the Numina[6] that, if they were helped to win against their enemy, they would sacrifice everything that was born during the Spring. Thus the “ver sacrum[7]” was born – that is the holy springtime pledge that was made every year in Spring, sacrificing every newborn, whether human or animal, to the Numina.

Later, as the ancient ferocity for sacrificing became attenuated, young human lives were spared from death, but instead, those born in the Spring were dedicated to a God, and when they reached the age of 20, they had to emigrate in search of new lands, guided by a bull that symbolized the strength of their Numen. Thus new colonies and new races were formed.

According to legend, in one of these emigrations, the wild bull that guided these 20-year olds, stopped and fell asleep in the region where the Opici or Osci or Opsci[8] lived. These were rough, wild men, clad in animal skins, without homes and without laws; they were called this because the Sabine name “Opscus” meant “worker of the earth”, which was connected to the name of the God Ops[9], who personified the earth. The Opici, in origin and by language were Greeks; they dwelt in Campania[10] alongside the Pelasgi[11] and had emigrated in ancient times from the coasts of Greece and Dalmatia[12]. These people dedicated themselves to working in the fields, so much so that they were soon easily defeated by the Sabines. The Sabines established themselves at first around Matese[13], mixing with the Osci and the Pelasgi and later on, spreading into neighbouring zones, the local inhabitants called them “Saberti”– which means “small Sabines”. Later they were called “Samnites” or “Sannites” by the Romans and “Sannitai” by the Greeks.

Thus it is true to say that ancient Samnium was made up directly by a Sabine element and indirectly by an Oscan Pelasgic element.

The “Sabelli[14]” who grew over the years both in numbers and in power, divided into many tribes as they expanded towards Abruzzo. This territory, however, was not actually called Abruzzo, it was never unified politically or ethnographically for many years yet to come and the peoples were called Frentani[15], Marruccini[16], Peligni[17], Vestini[18], Marsi[19], Picenti[20], Palmensi[21], Pretuziani (Teramani)[22], Adriani[23], Equi[24] and Samnites[see 1]. It seems that Frentania[25] probably had its own physiognomy in the 5th Century B.C.; what is clear is that, from the times of Pliny[26] onwards, Frentania was quite distinct from Samnium[27] yet the Frentanians maintained the Oscan language that was spoken by the Samnites. It turns out in fact that, although the Frentani were allies of Samnium, in the 4th Century BC, they had their own military and civil ordinances and their territory extended along the Adriatic from the River Foro[28] to the River Fortore[29] and it had borders with the Samnites, the Marruccini and the Peligni. The Frentana region occupied most of the present-day province of Chieti[30] and reached as far as Molise[31], through the entire Larino[32] territory and on the coast it possessed the towns of Ortona[33], Istonio[34] and Buca[35] in the territory that is the present-day Punta Penne[36] and Termoli[37], which is called “Interamnia”[38]. Inland its largest centres were Anxanum (Lanciano)[39], Pallanum (Pallano)[40] and Iuvanum[41]; these are listed by Pliny in his Naturalis Historia[42] book III, chapter 12, where he lists in alphabetical order the Anxani[43], the Carentini[see 44] and the Lanuenses who are the Iuvanenses (Lanuenses is evidently an error made by the people copying the text.)[see extract in 42] The proof that the territory of Juvanum and Torricella really belonged to the Frentani comes from Pliny himself, who in describing the Carentines[44], assigns them to the Frentani, whilst he indicates as Caracenes[45] those belonging to Samnium and typically (according to Balzano’s[46] opinion) those between Civitella Alfedena[47] and Villa S. Maria[48], along both shores of the River Sangro[49].

In Frentania, the Carentine people (or Sarentines or Saracines)[see 44] are divided into “supernati” and “infernati” (i.e. born above or born below) so those on the left bank of the Sangro, towards the Majella[50], native to the high plains near Torricella Peligna are “supernati”, whilst the “infernati” include those on the right bank, from Bomba[51] downwards, (towards the sea).

Amongst the mountains of Frentania, other than Mount Pallano[52], there are the Pizi (Pizzi) or Piconi[53], which were called by these names because of their many sharply pointed peaks (see Pizzoferrato[54]). The Frentanian part lies between Palena[55], Montenerodomo[56] and Torricella[***], There is a legend that, when the Romans invaded Southern Samnium, the nearby people hid gold and silver in these mountains, but these treasures have never been found.

The Piconi Mountains have given their name to so many dear people, including my brotherly friend, the lawyer Nicola[57], fierce warrior of all just causes.

Right up to the period immediately following the end of the Samnite[58] and Italic Wars[59], the Romans under Silla[60] turned the Italic peoples into their colonials: Frentani, Peligni, Marsi, Marruccini, etc. Then gradually the more important towns were transformed into Roman Townships with identical administrative structures: (1) a “Comizio[61]” which functioned as a legislative assembly, (2) a “Senate[62]”, which acted as the Town Council, (3) either two or four executive Magistrates called a duumvirate[63] or a quattuorvirate[64], who also presided over the Senate and the buildings which looked after Public Offices and especially the temples and (4) Quaestors[65] who were examining judges and also had jurisdiction over certain financial matters.

Juvanum lay between the Roman Municipii (Town Halls) as is shown on one tombstone, that tells of Poppedio, a patron of the Municipio, and on another which records that Fabio Massimo, rector of the Samnite Province in 352, restored the walls of Juvanum. Pliny writes of the inhabitants of this Commune as Carentine Frentanians, whilst Mommsen[66] believes that this was very widespread and included the present-day villages including Montenerodomo[see 56], Fallascoso[67], Pennadomo[68], Torricella[see ***], Taranta[69], Palena[see 55] , Gessopalena[70] and Civitella[71].

Thus Torricella has always been Frentanian, right back to ancient times and in the medieval age it is declared in the Catalogue of Barons[72] (1150-1168 AD) as Turricellam number 1024.

Until the Royal Decree of 22nd January 1863 number 1140, it was called Torricella and the name Peligna was not added until more recently. Evidently somebody who was not well-informed with respect to history, thought of categorizing Torricella with the ancient ethnicity of the Peligni, thinking (erroneously) that the Peligni had inhabited the western part of the Majella[see 50]:- Campo di Giove[73] and Pacentro[74]. This person must have thought that the Peligni had also extended further towards Lama[75], and had not taken into account the facts firstly that between Lama and Torricella there is a vast valley which divides them and secondly that Torricella is on the slopes of the River Sangro and not of the River Pescara[76] ….. Evidently, the person proposing the addition of Peligna to Torricella, was not familiar either with its history or its geography.

As an extenuating circumstance one can only think that he might have mixed up the Peligni with the Frentani, because Pelina or Peligna[77] was the indigenous municipal Goddess of both the Peligni and the Frentani, identified by some as Cibele[78], by others as Vesta[79], Diana[80] or Pallade[81]. A votive tombstone found at Lanciano was made by M. Albo Nicerati; on it was written “Pelinae beneficae M. Albius Niceratus ex voto DD.” According to Priori[82] the temple must have been at Lanciano where later, in the old city, the Church of San Lorenzo was built.

I want to hope that Torricellans, affectionately bound to Torricella Peligna, will not consider me to be a desecrator of their memories of Torricella as Peligna. In the final analysis, the etymology of the name Frentania is that it comes from “fretum” which in the Oscan language means “the sea” and thus the Frentani were dwellers of the sea shore; on the other hand, however, they could not be inhabitants of the mountain as are the friends of Torricella.



Territories occupied by Samnites and neighbouring peoples in IVth Century BC

With all of these names, of all of these peoples, and the uncertainties of historical tradition, mostly coming from unsure information and legends, the only certainty is that, when contacts with Rome began, the peoples living in Abruzzo, represented one of the two branches of the Italic people. These two branches were the Latins and the Umbrians; from the latter came the Marsi, Samnites or Osci, and from these came all the nations that in historic times occupied the various territories in Central Italy.
Traditionally the passage from pastoral life to agriculture is credited to king Italus (or Vitalo or Vitulo), but this is yet another version of the Samnitic fable, that says that their aratore (ploughman) was the head of the colonies. In the same way the most ancient Latin names call the Siculi or Sicani field workers (or Opsci).
There is a good article about the tribes :  Timelines: Abruzzo and Molise

[1] Samnites – were the ancient tribe(s) of people of the land/country/region called Samnium, in the centre-south of the Italian peninsula. The land occupied by the Samnites, was named Safinium by its inhabitants who called themselves Safineis. After assimilation, the Romans in Latin called the country Samnium and the people Samnites. The Greeks instead called the territory Saunitis and the people Saunitai.
According to ancient tradition, atavistic people had migrated into the land once occupied by the Opici or Osci (see [8] below) and had assimilated their customs and the Oscan language from them. It is believed that they came to Samnium from the nearby land of the Sabinis from whom they were descended. This suggestion led the historians Strabone, Plutarc and Dionysious of Alicarnassus to conclude that the Samnites derived their Greek origin from the Spartans.
The Osco-Umbrian people, including the Samnites as well as the Sabines, originated during the Iron Age from a fusion of local peoples with indo-european infiltrations. By 600 B.C. they became the well defined Osco-Umbrian tribes and in 500 BC, if not before, the people, now historically known as the Samnites, were clearly identified as having indisputable control of this Samnium region.
[2] Gens, gentis (Latin) – clan, family, stock, race; tribe, people, nation; descendant; (plural) foreign peoples.
[3] Sabone – I believe this to be a typing error … and that the author is referring to Strabo also known as Strabone – a Greek/Roman historian, geographer and philosopher, famous for his 17-book work, Geography, containing the descriptions of peoples and places all over the world as known to him. (He lived 64 BC – 23 AD).
Strabo wrote some two thousand years ago in the early days of the Roman Empire. In his Geography, he provides us with a fascinating verbal description of the 'Inhabited World', as envisaged at that time. Writing in Greek, covering a world dominated by Rome, Strabo’s work is of interest to historians of Rome and its regions, in particular for his description of the geo-political landscape under the first two Roman emperors, Augustus and Tiberius. Strabo’s Geography has survived in various copies, but of his History (referred to by him in his Geography and mentioned in other ancient writings) only a few fragments remain (mainly in papyri excavated at Herculaneum and “rediscovered” only recently).
[4] Sabines - were one of the most ancient peoples of Italy, so ancient that Strabo considered them to be native; and from them many other Italic populations were derived. The Sabines also were an Umbrian tribe; according to some sources they crossed to Italy from the vicinity of the Sabi River in Peonia, Illiria, though others would have liked to consider them as originating from Sparta. The Sabines were the ancestors of the Sabelli (see [14] below).
[5] Umbri – the earliest documented tribes who settled in Umbria 1000 BC were noted to be Osco-Umbrians. They dominated a vast area of Central Italy and founded the first nuclei of important towns in Umbria, such as Otricoli, Amelia, Terni,  Narni, Todi,  Marsciano, Spoleto, Nocera, Foligno, Assisi, Bettona, Gualdo Tadino, Gubbio, Città di Castello.
[6] Numen, (pl) numina (Latin) – presiding deity or spirit; divinity, god that protects a people, a city or a family.
[7] Ver sacrum (Latin) – offerings of firstlings in the Spring.
[8] Opici or Osci or Opsci – early italic tribes; the limits where the Osci language was spoken were Campania, Samnium, Irpinia, Frentania and Northern Apulia. This language, which is strictly connected and similar to Latin, (and not mysterious like the language of the Etruscans), was the language that continued to be spoken in Central Italy even after the Roman conquest (it is found in the medal inscriptions coined by the Samnites in our Abruzzo region during the social war). Oscan, the language of the Osci, is one of the ancient progenitors of the Italian language, supposedly closely related to Umbrian, Latin and Faliscan. It is believed Oscan was spoken in Samnium and in Campania, as well as in Lucania and in Abruzzo. Something of it is known by inscriptions starting from 400 BC. Their language and culture identifies the Osci as one of the most ancient peoples of central Italy.
[9] Ops – in Roman times she was Goddess of plenty, of wealth and of the harvest. Ops was the Magna Mater = the Great Mother. Originally Ops was the Greek Goddess Rhea, (Rhea was the Greek Goddess of the fertile earth, abundance, sowing, harvest and wealth) and later she was adopted by the Romans and given her Roman name; she was a wife of Saturn (Cronus). Like in the Greek myths, she was the mother of Roman Olympians. One of her festivals was on August 10; another festival was the Opalia, which was observed on December 9. The Opeconsiva, on August 25 was her primary festival, but was participated in only by her priests and the Vestal Virgins. Worship of the Mother Goddess gradually became assimilated and transformed into worship of Mary, the Madonna “the giver of life” in Christianity.
[10] Campania - is a region of Southern Italy, bordering on Lazio to the north-west, Molise to the north-east, Puglia to the south-east, Basilicata to the south, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. The name comes directly from Latin, as the Romans called it Campania felix (lucky countryland). The regional capital is Naples (Napoli). The region is divided into five provinces: Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, Napoli and Salerno.
[11] Pelasgi - From a tribal name, both Classical historians and archeologists have come to use the name "Pelasgian" to describe the inhabitants in the lands around the Aegean Sea and their descendants before the arrival of the waves of Greek-speaking invaders during the 2nd millennium BC. The results of archaeological excavations at Çatalhöyük, a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement in southern Anatolia, dating from around 7500 by James Mellaart (1955) and F. Schachermeyr (1979) led them to conclude that the Pelasgians had migrated from Asia Minor to the Aegean basin in the 4th millennium BC. Further, scholars have attributed a number of non-Indo-European linguistic and cultural features to the Pelasgians.
[12] Dalmatia – ancient region in what is now SW Croatia. Consists of mountains and a narrow coastal plain along the Adriatic, with many offshore islands. It once formed part of the Roman province of Illyricum.
[13] Matese – a massif region of the central-southern Apennines; its name may derive from the medieval term Mathesium, or from the Roman goddess of dawn, Matuta; perhaps associated with the fact that from the mountain tops of the Matese, one can see both the dawn, with the rising sun over Molise, and at the same time the still darkness of night over Campania.
[14] Sabelli - people of ancient Italy who spoke Oscan. Ancestors of Samnites. They were a loose group and seemed to have had little or no political unity. Oscan-speaking tribes expanded over central Italy, and by the 5th century B.C. they seem to have taken ancient Campania and Lucania. The Samnites and Sabines were probably Sabelli.
[15] Frentani - one of the ancient Samnite tribes which formed an independent community on the east coast of Italy. They entered the Roman alliance after their capital, Frentrum, was taken by the Romans in 305 or 304 B.C. (Livy ix. 16. 45). This town, which had issued coins of its own with an Oscan legend, either changed its name or perished some time after the middle of the 3rd century B.C.
[16] Marruccini - ancient tribe that occupied a small area around Teate (modern Chieti, Abruzzo) on the east coast of Italy. The Marruccini, though Samnite kinsmen, were probably not members of the Samnite league; they came into conflict with the Romans during the Second Samnite War, at the end of which they entered the Roman alliance (304 BC).
[17] Peligni – Ancient people of pre-roman Italy, belonged to the Sabelli; settled in the Valley of the River Aterno in Abruzzo. Strabo said they inhabited the territories of Sulmona, Pentima, and Popolo.
In 91 B.C. (659 years after Rome was founded) when almost all other wars were at an end, this region buzzed with discord. The Peligni people, who lived here in subjection to the Romans, joined other Italic peoples (Marsi & Piceni) to demand equality with Roman citizens. The united groups pronounced themselves a nation—named Italia—and declared war on Rome. It was a very destructive war on both sides and in the end the Romans defeated the alliance, but they did grant the Italics Roman citizenship.
[18] Vestini - an ancient Sabine tribe, originating from Illyria that fused with the native population The Vestini occupied the eastern and northern bank of the Aterno in central Italy (Abruzzo), entered into the Roman alliance, retaining their own independence, in 304 B.C., and issued coins of their own in the following century. They fought in the social and civil wars against Rome and later became Romanised.
The origin of the Vestines is unknown; in his description Strabo, after listing them along with the Marsi, Paeligni, Marrucini and Frentani, unites all of them under a common ancestral race: the Samnites. According to Strabo their common origin was proved by the frequent communications, the similar customs, forms of government and religion, and the main current of thought nowadays follows him in considering that the Vestini were derived from the Umbrian-Samnites of Central Italy.
It is possible that the name derives from the cult of Vesta, the goddess of the family, whose temple before Rome was originally in Alba, and whose cult the Romans and the Sabellians derived probably from the East. Apart from medals, a great many inscriptions bear the name of Vesta, and one can still be seen just outside the city door of Penne. But other writers say that the name of the Vestini derives from their position between the Piomba and the Aterno, that is from the Celtic words ves (meaning river) and tin (meaning country); so that Vestini would mean “inhabitants of the country of the waters”, and they would have originated from the Illyric-Celtic populations who were the earliest inhabitants of the Adriatic coast, and who, in later periods, moved into the interior.
[19] Marsi - were an ancient people of Abruzzo, Italy, whose chief centre was Marruvium, on the eastern shore of Lake Fucinus*. The Marsi were a hardy mountain people, famed for their simple habits and indomitable courage. It was said that the Romans had never triumphed over them or without them (Appian). They were also renowned for their magicians, who had strange remedies for various diseases.
* Lake Fucinus - Italian Conca Del Fucino, formerly Lago Fucino, or Lago Di Celano, Latin Lacus Fucinus, former lake bed in L'Aquila province, Abruzzi region, central Italy, just east of Avezzano. The lake was once 37 miles (59 km) in circumference and about 100 ft (30 m) deep, although its level was subject to great variations because of the lack of an outlet. As early as AD 52 the emperor Claudius had a tunnel constructed, 3½ miles (5½ km) long, as an outlet to the Liri (Liris) River. The tunnel is still there to this day.
[20] The Picenti (or Piceni) were a tribe known to have inhabited central Italy and archaeology has exposed a strong Illyrian presence among them. In Roman times they lived in the Piceno region. The Piceni civilization developed into an important inhabited nucleus in the low Marche, where they had a sacred area that was of even greater importance then for religious life than that of  today, yet under many aspects they remain for us a mysterious population. They had an important role in the “Amber Road” – trading with peoples from the Baltic regions and along the Adriatic routes and in all the maritime traffic that ensued.
[21] Palmensi - The Palmensi, whose territory was named after a kind of vine called palme producing an exquisite wine, occupied (according to Plinius’ topography) the land south of the Tronto river bordering the Adriatic coast as far as the Elvino river, today called Vibrata. Therefore, the Palmensi were bordered by the Adriatic sea in the east, in the west by the Apennines, in the north by the Tronto river which divided them from the Piceni. On the left bank of the river Truentus, nowadays Tronto, the Palmensi had a town which Strabone describes under the name of Civitas Truentina and Plinius with the name of the river itself, Truentum.
The Helvinus river, which is surely present-day Vibrata or Ubrata, flowing from Garrufo as far as the sea, divided the territory of the Palmensi from the territory of the Praetutii, which was larger, bordering in the north the right bank of the Elvino and the Agrum Palmense and Agrum Ascolanum, and in the south the Vomano river; having its natural limits in the Adriatic in the east, and in the west the main Apennine range with the mountains of Pizzo di Sevo, Pizzo di Moscio, Montagna di Roseto and Valle Chiarina, where the Sabinum territory began. Nowadays all these territories correspond to the districts of Giulianova, Notaresco, Teramo, Montorio, Campli and Civitella del Tronto.
[22] Pretuziani (Teramani) - The origin of this name, Praetutious, is uncertain, the territory may have derived its name from the main town which in antiquity was called Petrut.
Beyond the Salino river (Salinum flumen), the Praetutii had a town called Beregra and their hinterland that was occupied by a Roman colony under Augustus; we don’t know where it was situated however, and although some scholars think it was Garrufo, near Nereto, others place it in the Fano plain, while still others identify it with either Bisegna or Civitella del Tronto.
Another Praetutii town was Castrum Novum, 12 miles from Truentum, along the Salaria, which was not – as the name castrum suggests – merely a citadel, but a real town; however nothing is known about its ancient name or its history. In the Middle Ages it was called Castrum divi Flaviani and in the XV century the inhabitants were moved three miles to the hinterland, where Giulianova is now.
The most important Praetutii city was Interamnia (present-day Teramo), their capital at the junction of the Albula (Vezzola) and the Batinus river (Tordino).
The Pretuzi were a Sabine people that the Roman Emperor Augustus united with the Picenes or Marchigiani - and he explicitly mentioned the excellent wines of the Conero. Monte Conero is a mountain of unusual formation, overlooking the city of Ancona; it appears to have derived its name from the Greek word for the arbutus (strawberry tree) or marine cherry which grows there, spontaneously, in considerable abundance on the slopes of this promontory of the Marches. There are various hypotheses about the geological formation of the hill, which rises to an altitude of 572 meters above sea level. Some insist that it is all that remains of the ancient Adria, a sort of Atlantis, that once extended as far eastward as Dalmatia and that sank into the Adriatic. Others regard it as a localized protuberance resulting from tectonic forces. What is certain is that vines have grown on the slopes of this hill since ancient times.
The first mention of the wines of Ancona is found in the Historia Naturalis of Pliny the Elder, who, in listing the numerous wines produced in his day in Italy, mentioned those of Ancona as among the best known of the products of the Adriatic shore. That citation was echoed by his nephew Pliny the Younger in his Letters, which represent a fundamental literary source for an understanding of life in imperial Rome.
[23] Adriani - As far as the Adriani are concerned, their region was narrower. The Vomano river (Vomanus fluvium) separated it in the north from the Praetuitii and the Matrino (or Piomba), the “terrible river”, divided it from the Vestini, with the Apennine range and the Gran Sasso in the south and the west; so that this territory only covered the districts of Atri and Bisenti. It is doubtful whether these were also the limits of the ancient Hatriana region before the Roman occupation; maybe the opposite is true since Adria, the only city described in this region by ancient geographers, was larger in antiquity, for population and importance, than Interamnia, which was 15 miles away. The Atriani had a trade point which later on became a castle and was called Matrinum or Macrinum Oppidum; some scholars place it at the mouth of the Piomba, others on the other bank of the Vomano river, where nowadays Scerne is situated.
The Adriani territory also comprised Mons Cunarus which, according to Cluverius, was Monte Corno, the highest peak in the Gran Sasso.
In order to briefly summarize the histories of the Adriani, Praetutii and Palmensi, it should be said that, apart from the occupation of the Umbri, Siculi and Liburni and possibly other populations together called Pelasgi, and the wars between all these peoples and other more ancient populations, nothing is known prior to the Roman occupation. The destiny of the Praetutii seems to have been decided in 461, when Curius Dentatus defeated the Sabines for the second time, and the Samnites accepted his conditions: but the occupation of Castrum and Adria by Roman colonizers shows that maybe possibly they had been occupied earlier than that. The Praetutii were allies to the Romans against Hannibal, who perhaps for this reason plundered the Agrum Praeututianum and Adrianum. In order to obtain revenge, the Praetutii fought courageously along with the Frentani and the Marrucini against the Carthaginians thus contributing to the victory of the Roman general Nero at the Metaurum River.
In later times the devastations of the Social War also touched Praetutium and, when the Italic allies obtained Roman citizenship, the Praetutii were included with the Piceni in order to bring extra votes to Rome. Then a number of noble families left Rome and went to live in Praetutium, which had already become a part of the Roman Republic; they shared the first Roman successes and adopted the Roman language and customs. The names of many modern villages in this territory are derived from those families.
[24] Equi – Aequi – are another group of early people in Abruzzo; it is difficult to trace their separate history, to identify the area they inhabited, or the sites of their settlements; they were conquered by the Romans before the 3rd Century BC.
[25] Frentania – the principal town of these people in ancient times was known as Anxanum (Auxanum); legend ascribes its foundation to one of the companions of Aeneas. The ancient city lies further to the east than its modern-day counterpart, Lanciano, one of the most important cities of the Abruzzo region. The area where the Frentani lived was already famous many centuries ago for its enchanting gardens and olive groves that are spread along the coast. Citrus flavoured oils are the symbol of the ancient traditions of Frentania.
[26] Pliny - Gaius Plinius Secundus, (23-79 AD) better known as Pliny the Elder, was an ancient author and scientist of some importance who wrote Naturalis Historia. He was a Roman officer and encyclopaedist. He was the son of a Roman eques* by the daughter of the senator Gaius Caecilius of Novum Comum. He was born at Como.
*eques, plural equites, (Latin) - An Equestrian was a member of one of the two upper social classes in the Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. This class is often translated as Knight or Chevalier. However, this translation is not literal, for whilst medieval knights relied on their martial skills and the physical power of their horse and armour to support their position, the connection of Roman equestrians to horses, as early as during the early days of the Republic, was more symbolic. The social position of knights and equestrians, however, was extremely similar, equestrians being the nearest Roman equivalent to the Medieval nobility; the tax farming system closely approached feudalism, without actually being identical, due to inherent differences in their social structures.
[27] Samnium - (Oscan Safinim) was the region of the southern Apennines in Italy that was home to the Samnites, a group of Osco-Umbrian tribes; roughly it encompassed the Sangro Valley region of the Abruzzo in Italy; which the Samnites controlled from about 600 BC to about 290 BC.
Samnium was delimited by Latium in the north, Lucania (modern-day Basilicata) in the south, Campania in the west and Puglia in the south-east. The principal city of the region was Malventum, which was later renamed Beneventum* by the Romans. For most of their history the Samnites were landlocked, but during a brief period they controlled parts of both coasts of the Italian peninsula. The Samnites were composed of at least four tribes: the Pentri, the Caraceni, the Caudini and the Hirpini, and later may also have been joined by the Frentani.
The earliest written record of the Samnite people is a treaty with the Romans from 354 BC, which set their border at the Liris River. Shortly thereafter the Samnite Wars broke out; they won an important battle with the Roman army in 321 BC, and their empire reached its peak in 316 BC after further gains from the Romans. In 290 BC the Romans finally broke the Samnites' power. In 82 BC the Roman dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla slaughtered many of them and forced the rest to disperse.
The Samnite culture is one of several ethnic groups in the Roman empire; it originated from the Samnium region, While Samnium was considered a cultural backwater by the Romans, investigations by the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Abruzzo and the Sangro Valley Project on Monte Pallano have identified a society that was in fact quite influential to the development of greater Italy. In addition, recent investigations at Pompeii have identified an influx of Samnite culture at the time of the Roman occupation of the 2nd century BC.
* Benevento - a town in Campania, is capital of the province of Benevento, 32 miles Northeast of Naples. It is situated on a hill 400 ft. above sea-level at the confluence of the Calore and Sabbato Rivers. Benevento occupies the site of the ancient Beneventum, originally Maleventum or Maluentum (meaning "the site of bad wind" - some authors also proposed it could mean "a place of crazy people", as in ancient times it was supposed that mad people had a sort of wind storm inside their head). It is supposed to have been founded in the imperial period.
[28] River Foro – arises in the Maiella near the Passo Lanciano and runs straight down to the Adriatic, where its mouth is about halfway between Pescara and Ortona.
[29] River Fortore - the River Fortore rises from Lago Occhito in the Monti della Daunia and runs north-eastwards down to the Adriatic; it forms a natural border between the Italian regions of Campania, Molise and Puglia. The landscape is extremely varied: cultivated fields, olive groves, vineyards, orchards, and wooded areas. It has many watercourses and lakes tucked away among the hills.
[30] Chieti – The Province of Chieti is mostly a hilly and mountainous area between the Adriatic sea to the east and the Maiella chain to the north-west. It is extensively cultivated with olive trees and vineyards, and produces celebrated wines and extra virgin olive oil. The province of Chieti was called "Citeriore" since it was situated to the right of the Pescara river - in Latin "citra" (=this side) with reference to Naples, the capital of the Kingdom. The Pescara River separated it from the province of Teramo, the Apennine Mountains from the province of L'Aquila, the right shore of the Sangro and the Valicella of the Varrino from Molise. The territory includes mountainous features, the group of the Maiella, and 72 km of steep and rocky coast, along the Adriatic sea.
The town of Chieti lies on a crest along the Pescara river. It has an unmistakable profile with the high bell tower of San Giustino against the sky, a few km away from the Adriatic Sea, and with  the Majella and Gran Sasso in the background. It was a Roman town, Teate, and an important medieval centre.



[31] Molise - is a region of south central Italy, the second smallest of the regions.
[32] Larino – is a town of approximately 7,080 inhabitants in the Italian Region of Molise, (just south of Abruzzo), province of Campobasso. It is located at the head of the outlet to the sea of the fertile Biferno Valley, where it dominates and is central to communications, both the east-west routes between the sea and the inland region, leading to Campania, and also the coastal north-south route.
Larino has been continuously inhabited for several millennia. Originally settled by the Samnite and Frentani tribes of Southern Italy, the city came under the control of the Oscan civilization. Its early development as a town, way ahead of other Italic sites, is due to its geographical and political situation; the town was established in the IVth Century B.C. and it prospered well into the Vth-VIth Centuries A.D.
In 217 BC the Romans defeated Hannibal here, and it was later incorporated into the Roman Empire, when it was classified as a municipium, and added to the Secunda Regio (Apulia). Inscriptions are found in all three ancient alphabets, Oscan, Greek and Latin.
The modern city was founded in 1300, after the old one, less than 1 mile away, was destroyed in an earthquake, after repeatedly having been sacked by the Saraceans. In 1656, a plague nearly wiped out the city; thousands died. The 373 survivors were prepared to abandon the settlement, but through the vigorous efforts of then Bishop Giuseppe Catalano, they were convinced to stay, and the city grew and thrived once again. The old town, seen from the mountains, is shaped like a bird's wing. The new town, called Piano San Leonardo, is built on a mountainside.

Larino Amphitheatre predates the Colisseum in Rome An aerial view of the Larino - its wing-like shape is obvious.

[33] Ortona - is a coastal town in the province of Chieti in Abruzzo, 236 feet above sea-level, with 22,700 inhabitants.
[34] Istonio – Histonium – (Now Vasto) a small coastal town about halfway between Ortona and Termoli – (an important railhead for allied supplies in WW2).
[35] Buca – a lost Roman Adriatic coastal city (pre 1st Century BC) mentioned by ancient geographers, perhaps situated somewhere between Istonio and Punta Penne)
[36] Punta Penne – a headland just to the north of Brindisi
[37] Termoli - Termoli is a medium-sized town on the Adriatic coast, in the province of Campobasso, region of Molise. Termoli has a population of around 30,000 and it is the largest and most important seaside resort in Molise, well known for its beaches and old fortifications (the Swabian castle, built in the 12th century by Frederick II once protected Termoli from marauding Saracens and pirates).. Presently Termoli consists of a newer part, on the coast and an ancient borough, called "Borgo Vecchio" up on a rocky promontory.
Archaeological excavations brought to life an italic necropolis in the areas called Porticone and Difesa Grande, next to the Sinarca river; this showed that the area had been inhabited since early times, and it seems, from the studies of Roman historians, that it was the site of a centre called Interamnia, in Latin meaning between streams, namely the Biferno and the Sinarca rivers. The name may be derived from "thermae", suggesting there might have been Roman spas in the area, but none have been found so far. With the fall of the Roman Empire the population took refuge on the promontory where today the old Termoli rises; for centuries Termoli came under attack by Saracen pirates and by the Venetians.
[38] Interamnia - was the site of a Roman encampment, though its origins stretch back a lot further; 'Interamnia' means between two rivers. The town that developed there is now called Teramo, it is situated 432 m. above sea level, near the confluence of the Vezzola torrent with the Tordino River. Founded by the population of the Prepuzi, it was known in ancient times as 'Interamnia'. An important Municipium in Roman times, it rapidly declined after the fall of the Empire and, following Goth and Byzantine domination, became part of the territories of the Lombard Duchy of Spoleto. In 1708, it was conquered by the Normans, then it shared the fortunes of the Kingdom of Naples. Under the Angevin dynasty, it again attained great importance (14th century) but subsequently declined, due to disputes among the various local overlords. It was united with Italy in 1860. The province of Teramo lies between the two coastal towns of Ancona and Pescara and the imposing mountain slopes of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga. Teramo (town) itself is located in the middle of this territory, between the rivers Tordino and Vezzola as they make their way towards the Adriatic.
[39] Anxanum (Lanciano) – Geographically Anxanum-Lanciano has always had great importance due to its commanding position, at the centre of the peninsula, facing the Adriatic and on the North-South route – it had a key position on the route to Apulia, being situated along the Aracturus Magnus (the main transhumance route in Abruzzi).
According to legend Anxanum was founded in 1181 BC by Solima, a companion of Aeneus, after they had fled from the destruction of Troy; he named it Anxanum or Anxia in honour of his brother, Anxa, who died during their flight from Troy; Solima also founded Sulmona. Historically, there was already a settlement in paleolithic times, 7,000 years ago, and Anxanum was the capital of the Frentani people and their land, Frentania. Later the town was colonised successively by Greeks, Etruscans, the Gauls, and was conquered by the Romans in 435 BC. It then became a Municipium. Even in the times of Livy, Varro and Pliny the Elder, Anxanum was well-known for its famous annual market fairs, the “nundinae” – which continue today every April in the guise of the National Agricultural Fair. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Anxanum was sacked many times and then destroyed by the barbarians in 571 AD. The Longobards built a fort there which was taken over by the Byzantines in 610 AD. Gradually its name was changed from Anxanum to Lanciano. Due to the important North-South road passing through the town, connecting Puglia to the North of the Country, Lanciano became ever more important. Under the Franks it became part of the dominion of The Duke of Spoleto, then of Benevento and under the Normans, part of the powerful Kingdom of Naples.
Lanciano is supposedly the birthplace of Longinus, the Roman centurion who thrust his spear into Jesus's side during the Crucifixion. Lanciano is Italian for "The Spear." The city is also known for the first recorded ancient Catholic Eucharistic Miracle that has been proven by modern day science.
[40] Pallanum (Pallano) - a town of the Frentani, on Via Frentana, Pallano. There are remains of Vth-IVth Century BC Megalithic Walls on Mount Pallano, which stretched along its ridge in the past. Nowadays the remains of this once mighty Wall, five metres high, wind up the eastern ridge, from the North to the South, for only 160 metres. In addition to the Walls, there is a settlement, probably the ancient city Pallanum, in the neighbourhood of Fonte Benedetti.
[41] Iuvanum - Dominated by the massif of the Maiella, Iuvanum is immersed in a beautiful landscape, among valleys and mountains peaks, in the borough of Montenerodomo not far from Torricella Peligna. Iuvanum is a very interesting ancient site, with a well preserved theatre and the remains of two temples on the acropolis, surrounded by megalithic pre Roman walls dated 4th century B.C. The Roman town lies at the foot of the acropolis and a long path leads to the public area with the Forum, tabernae (shops), Basilica and domus (private houses).
[42] Naturalis Historia - Pliny the Elder's Natural History is an encyclopedia written by Pliny the Elder. In its present form the Natural History consists of thirty-seven books, the first book including a characteristic preface and tables of contents, as well as lists of authorities, which were originally prefixed to each of the books separately. The contents of the remaining books are as follows:
II, mathematical and physical description of the world;
III - VI, geography and ethnography;
VII, anthropology and human physiology;
VIII - XI, zoology;
XII - XXVII, botany, including agriculture, horticulture and pharmacology;
XXVIII - XXXII, medical zoology;
XXXIII - XXXVII, mineralogy, especially in its application to life and art, including chasing in silver, statuary in bronze, painting, modelling, and sculpture in marble.
He apparently published the first ten books himself in AD 77, and was engaged in revising and enlarging the rest during the two remaining years of his life. The work was probably published with little, if any, revision by the author's nephew, who, when telling the story of a tame dolphin, and describing the floating islands of the Vadimonian Lake, thirty years later (viii. 20, ix. 33), has apparently forgotten that both are to be found in his uncle's work (ii. 209, ix. 26). He describes the Naturalis Historia, as a Naturae Historia, and characterizes it as a "work that is learned and full of matter, and as varied as nature herself."
Extract from Book III. XII. 106 – {pertinent because it shows that Torricella is Frentanian and not Pelignian} -
"There follows the fourth region, which includes the very bravest races of Italy. On the coast, in the territory of the Frentani, after Tifrenum are the river Trigno, affording a harbour, and the towns of Histonium, Buca and Hortona and the river Aternus [now the Pescara]. Inward are the Anxani surnamed Frentani, the Upper and Lower Caretini and the Lanuenses; and in the Marrucine territory Chieti; in the Paelignian, the people of Corfinum , Subequo and Sulmona; in the Marsian, those of Lanciano, Atina, Fucino, Lucca and Muria; in the Albensian region the town of Alba on Lake Fucino; in the Aequiculan, Cliternia and Carsoli; in the Vestinian, Angulani {Sant' Angelo}, Pinna and Peltuina, adjoining which is Ofena South of the Mountain; in the region of the Samnites, who once were called Sabelli and by the Greeks Saunitae, the colony of Old Bojano and the other Bojano that bears the name of the Eleventh Legion, Alfidena, Isernia, Fagifulani, Ficolea, Supino and Terevento; in the Sabine, Amiternum, Correse, Market of Decius, New Market, Fidenae, Ferano, Norcia, La Mentana, Riete, Trebula Mutuesca, Trebula Suffena, Tivoli, Tarano. In this district, of the tribes of the Aequicoli the Comini, Tadiates, Caedici and Alfaterni have disappeared. It is stated by Gellianus that a Marsian town of Archippe, founded by the Lydian commander Marsyas, has been submerged in Lake Fucino, and also Valerian says that the town of the Vidicini in Picenum was destroyed by the Romans. " Translated by H. Rackham, 1942; Cambridge, Mass. Harvard U. Press (Loeb Classical Library)
[43] Anxani – Pliny says (Naturalis Historia, Book III. XII) “inland from the coastal strip are the Anxani, surnamed Frentani, amongst the bravest people of Italy…” These people are probably from Anxanum – see [39] above.
[44] Carentines – according to Pliny these people were Frentanians.
The wide range of form of the names of this group of Samnite tribes, Caraceni, Carecini, Caretini, etc., is partly due to the swings and differences in ancient writings, (Tacitus, Pliny, Tolomeo) and partly due to later reconstructions and criticisms of these texts. Recently two inscriptions have enabled a better definition of the precise Latin form of the ethnic group as Carricini.
Precisazioni Sul Nome "Carricini".
[45] Caracenes - (or Sarentines or Saracines) – probably Saracens, possibly pirates. The term Saracen comes from Greek sarakenoi. In the early centuries of the Roman Empire Saracen was used as the name of an Arab tribe in the Sinai, apparently taken from the Arabic word sharqiyyin ("easterners"). Later the Greek-speaking subjects of the Empire applied it to all Arabs. After the rise of Islam, and especially at the time of the Crusades, its usage was extended to all Muslims, particularly those in Sicily and Southern Italy. In older Western historical literature, the term "Saracen Empire" was often used to refer to the Arab Caliphate under the rule of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties.
In Christian polemical writing against Islam, the name was made to mean "those empty of Sarah" or "not from Sarah," because Arabs are descended from Hagar.
Saracen has also commonly been applied as a term meaning Mediterranean pirates.
[46] Balzano –. Vincenzo Balzano ( 1866 - 1951) a great populariser of Abruzzan art, architecture, archaeology etc, – for many years he regularly wrote Art Notes (Note D’Arte) in the Abruzzan Journal (Rivista Abruzzese) and was a distinguished writer, publishing Monographs and books on both History and Art of Abruzzo. Born in Castel Di Sangro, Vincenzo Balzano, a magistrate and University Jurist, was extremely knowledgeable in the local history, art, and archaeology of Abruzzo; he was a founder member and participated for years in the National Committee compiling Italy’s History in the "Bullettino della Deputazione abruzzese di storia patria", li-liii (1961-1963), pp. 5-131 (G. Zarrilli) XXV (1965).
In 2002, it was reported in Abruzzo World, that, as a tribute to the versatile author Balzano, Walter Capezzali had published an illustrated collection of all of Balzano’s writings, from 1889 – 1965, including two previously unpublished works, one a lengthy manuscript about Abruzzan artists, sculptors, architects, goldsmiths and carvers, the other a short article about Leonardo da Teramo.
[47] Civitella Alfedena – a high mountain village, lies in the Upper Sangro Valley at the foot of the Monti della Meta, on a gentle hill overlooking Lake Barrea, right in the heart of the Abruzzo National Park.
[48] Villa S. Maria - is located at the foot of a vertical rock called La Penna and extends into the shallow floodplain of the Sangro, a fast flowing river that empties into the Adriatic, 30 miles away.

La Penna above Villa S. Maria The Majella

[49] River Sangro - The Sangro is a river in eastern central Italy. It rises in the Abruzzo National Park in the Apennine Mountains, before flowing northeast and into the Lago di Sangro. From there it flows northeast and joins the Aventino River, and thence into the Adriatic Sea south of Punta Cavelluccio.In ancient times it was known as Sagrus.
[50] Majella – The Majella mountain range is connected with the Morrone mountain. The rounded massif of the Majella is very characteristic. Similar to a magnificent, elliptical dome, it dominates the Abruzzo countryside rising up between the sea and the Apennine range.
The western side, being without valleys, is furrowed by wide screes that push as far as the beech woods that embellish that side, whereas the eastern side is more rounded.
Apart from the principal peak, Monte Amaro (2,795 metres), there are another thirty that are above 2,000 metres. These include Monte Acquaviva (2,737 metres), the Cima delle Murelle (2,596 metres) and Monte Focalone (2,676 metres) with almost dolomitic faces. The charm of the Majella is increased by deep valleys, real and true "canyons" and by vast plateaus above 2,000 metres such as Valle di Femmina Morta. The phenomenon of karsification is evidenced by the numerous grottoes, one of which is Grotta del Cavallone.
For geologists, it is an Apenninic Anticline, this is to say a pile of rock that has been folded during the creation of the Apennine Mountain Chain. These rocks were at sea level 7 million years ago, but nowadays are at almost 3,000m above sea level, thus indicating the huge forces that lead to their formation. The mountain is now a National Park where nature lovers can find an incredible quantity of interests. Numerous species of endemic rare plants and animals (bears, wolfs, orchids, etc) are present in this area, and there is spectacular geology to be appreciated all around. Good observers can even find petroleum in several locations in the park.
[51] Bomba - lies on the slopes of Mount Pallano. Although there was a pre Roman settlement, the modern town was not founded until around the 1400’s. For centuries it was a feudal town. It was the birth place of two famous Italian philosopher brothers, Silvio (a patriot) and Bertrando Spaventa.
[52] Pallano - Mount Pallano, situated on the right bank of River Sangro, 15 km from the sea, is the lowest defensible position on the course of its waters. At a height of 1020 m., extending about 7 km from its peak, a wide landscape spreads out below, embracing nearly 300 km of coast, the Gargano, Monte Conero, the Tremiti Islands, the last 50 km of the River Sangro and the massive Majella. The karst nature of the land results in the presence of many springs, which fulfil the water requirements of the nearby villages. The strategic position and the wealth of water have facilitated man’s permanence here over the course of time. Traces of human presence have been discovered from the paleolithic, neolithic, Hellenistic-Roman periods and the late Middle Ages, but it has not been possible to date the earliest occupation nor the reason for it having been abandoned.
Early in history Mount Pallano was settled by a Samnite tribe, of northern Lucani, whose own ethnic island, wedged between the Pentri, Carricini and Frentani, suggests they were probably related to more well-known inhabitants of historical Lucania, now Basilicata.
[53] Pizi (Pizzi) or Piconi Mountains – form a part of The National Park of the Maiella, which geographically is formed by four big mountain units: the wide and compact calcareous massif of the Majella in the centre of the park, the Morrone mountains in the north-west, the Porrara area to the south, and the Pizzi Mountains in the south-east, together with their valleys and the karst plains; altogether there are more than 60 mountains, of which 30 are over 2000 metres in height.
[54] Pizzoferrato - in the province of Chieti, is located on the eastern slopes of the Maiella at a height of 1,251 metres, near the Sangro River; population about 1250 inhabitants.

Pizzoferrato Palena Montenerodomo

Pizzoferrato is built around a huge cliff-top, where the oldest section of the village is to be found, with the remains of two medieval churches. First settled by Benedictine monks from nearby Quadri, its original name was Pizzosterrato, but it was changed to Pizzoferrato in 1770, when, as a defence against brigands who infested the area, the town closed its entrance with a huge iron gate, still to be seen near the ruins of the church of San Nicola di Bari.
[55] Palena – lies on a gentle hill in the Aventino valley, at the far end of the Majella, with Mounts Porrara and Coccia in the west, and artificial lake Sant'Angelo in the east. The very rugged territory overlooks the upper Aventino valley. Its etymology is uncertain, though it shares the same origin as the Maiella, mountain, whose ancient name "Palenus" was given because it was sacred to Jupiter Palenus. On the transhumance route, Palena was well-known in past times for its fine wool-work.
[56] Montenerodomo - This ancient centre lies on a high rocky ridge, 1,165 metres above sea level, overlooking the Adriatic to the East and the Majella to the west, between the Aventino and Sangro Rivers. Lying on the eastern side of the Maiella, it has a beautiful panoramic view from the Maiella to the Adriatic Sea. The village now has a population of only 1,100 inhabitants, but it was much larger previously.
Inhabited since prehistory, it became an Italic centre of the Italic Frentani tribe, then with the name of Juvanum was conquered by Rome in the 1st Century BC, when it became a municipium. Not far from the present-day village are the ruins of Juvanum, with an acropolis, a theatre and a forum.
The philosopher Benedetto Croce's ancestors were born here, but The Second World War destroyed the ancient Croce Palace and seriously damaged the old centre.
[***] TORRICELLA (whether Peligna or not) - Altitude: 910 m above sea level. Distance from Chieti: 54 km. Population: about 1,800 inhabitants. Situated in a hilly area in the high Aventino valley, between the Sangro and Aventino Rivers, it has a beautiful panoramic view that extends all the way from the Maiella to the Adriatic. Not far away are the ruins of Juvanum, a Roman city originating on a pre-existing italic settlement, from where Torricella’s inhabitants most probably originated. Sadly the village was severely damaged by bombing in the Second World War.


[57] Nicola Picone –a contemporary Torricellan, author of some articles in Amici di Torricella.
[58] Samnite Wars – there were three wars between the early Roman Republic and the tribes of Samnium. They ran from 343 BC to 290 BC, and ended in the domination of the Samnites by the Romans.
[59] Italic Wars – The Roman Italic War – Social War or Marsic War [Lat. socii=allies], 91B.C.–88 B.C., was a struggle brought on by the demands of the Italian allies asking for the privileges of Roman citizenship. These allies had fought on the side of Rome and had helped to establish Roman hegemony, but they did not have the same rights as the Romans. Most Romans were greatly averse to sharing citizenship, but Marcus Livius Drusus in 91 B.C. proposed laws granting it to the allies. He was murdered, and a coalition of the allies, chief among them the Marsi, arose in desperation and waged war against Rome, planning to form an Italian federation. Led by Quintus Pompaedius Silo and Caius Papius Mutilus, they gained some success but could not overcome the power of Rome. The revolt died down only after Lucius Julius Caesar secured passage of a law (90 B.C.) granting citizenship to allies who had not joined the revolt and also to those who laid down their arms immediately. The allies were divided, but the revolt ceased. Citizenship was soon given to all of them.
[60] Silla - Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix, (ca. 138 BC – 78 BC) Roman politician who introduced a number of reforms and reinstated exiled citizens. He was usually known simply as Sulla. His cognomen (name he was known by – originally the third name of a Roman) Felix - the fortunate - was attained later in his life, in 82 BC, due to his legendary luck as a general. He had many victories in the East but he was cruel and pitiless when attacking Rome. He took the unprecedented step of marching on Rome with his legions, to purge the Senate of his political enemies and to ensure the downfall of a rival general. Once he was completely in charge of Rome, Sulla proceeded to butcher all political opponents on a scale unmatched even by the outrages of previous generals. The city was filled with murder. Plutarch describes the terror and awe in which Sulla was held.
Sulla was the victor in the first full-scale civil war in Roman history (88–82 BC) and subsequently dictator (82–79), he carried out notable constitutional reforms in an attempt to strengthen the Roman Republic during the last century of its existence.
“Sulla had not been outdone by any of his friends in doing good or by any of his enemies in doing harm.” Plutarch, Life of Sulla, 38.
Sulla's name is also seen as "Silla", presumably due to corruption of ancient writing "SVILLA" (Suilla), that became both Sulla and Silla. It is also occasionally seen as "Sylla" (which in Latin would be pronounced "Syoola", very close to the regular form "Sulla").
[61] Comizio – a public meeting in ancient Rome in which an orator spoke about programmes and problems relevant to politics, elections, legislating and the people.
[62] Senate – the supreme collegiate organ of the Government in ancient Rome for internal and external State politics (at least up until the end of the Republican age). Initially it was composed of elders, subsequently of citizens who had been elected to the main jobs as magistrates.
[63] Duumvirate – each of two magistrates in ancient Rome who were given certain functions to perform together.
[64] Quattuorvirate – each one of four magistrates who acted together collegiately in ancient Rome, with powers to judge and to formulate policies.
[65] Questor (Quaestor) – a minor magistrate in ancient Rome, appointed by the Senate who would select which function each Questor would hold – to act as a judge, an administrator or in a financial capacity.
[66] Mommsen - Theodor Mommsen (1817 - 1903) was a German classical scholar and historian, generally regarded as the greatest classicist of the 19th century. He studied jurisprudence in Kiel from 1838 to 1843, then he went to France and Italy to study classical history. A professor of law at the University of Leipzig, he was involved in the 1848 revolution and had to resign in 1850. In 1858 he was professor of Ancient History at the University of Berlin, then he was named permanent secretary of the Prussian Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was later elected a member of the parliament of Prussia as a National Liberal (later as a Liberal).
Mommsen published hundreds of works - a 1905 bibliography lists over 1,000 items - and effectively gave a new order to the study of Roman history. He pioneered epigraphy, the study of inscriptions on stone and wood. His main work was the unfinished History of Rome, but today his most relevant work is perhaps the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, a collection of Roman inscriptions to which he contributed for the Berlin Academy. Other works regarded Roman coinage and Roman constitutional and criminal law. He edited several volumes of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1902 in recognition of his historical work; one of the very few non-fiction writers to receive the literature Nobel.
[67] Fallascoso – originally called Falascuso, then Fallascusum, it lies perched on a cliffside at 923 metres above sea level, 3 km west of Torricella Peligna. Due to this precarious position it has remained more or less unchanged since the Middle Ages. Some houses are built from stones taken from the walls of Iuvanum, which was destroyed by the earthquake of 346 AD. The houses of the outer perimeter are all attached and this continuous wall is thought to be part of Iuvanum’s fortified walls.
[68] Pennadomo – lies on a hill on the left bank of the River Sangro. In ancient times it was under the dominion of nearby Iuvanum. It is defended on the Sangro side by two enormous vertical limestone rock walls.
[69] Taranta – (Taranta Peligna) arises on the slopes of the Maiella, in the upper reaches of the valley of the River Aventino, where the surrounding mountains have many caves, many named after animals. Some buildings date back to the 12th Century AD. The people were well-off thanks to the materials they wove from the wool of their sheep – they used a special method with tarante or Tarantole. A typical cover from Taranta Peligna doesn’t have a right side and a wrong side – both sides can be used.
[70] Gessopalena - This small town takes its name from the chalk quarries of the area; it has many medieval monuments. It has been inhabited since Pre-Roman times. In the early Middle Ages it consisted of a group of houses clinging to a big rock called "Pietra Lucente" (Shining Stone) on top of which was an ancient castle. Later the population moved downwards along the ancient "Via Peligna". At that time Gessopalena was the main commercial centre in the Aventino valley. The medieval citadel was seriously damaged in an earthquake in 1933 and destroyed by bombings during World War Two.
[71] Civitella – (Civitella Messer Raimondo) This medieval citadel rises on a crest with the beautiful Verde river flowing just below it, on its way to joining the Aventino river. Prehistoric and pre-Roman findings testify to the antiquity of human presence in its territory, and documents dating back to the 12th Century AD mention the village’s name.
[72] Catalogue of Barons - (Catalogus Baronum) is an early 12th Century record, a list of all the Barons in the Southern regions of the Italian Peninsula, (corresponding to the Kingdom of Naples, but not including Sicily) drawn up in the early 1150’s and revised about 20 years later by the Norman Kings William I, the Bad (1154-1166) and William II, the Good (1166-1189); it also covers the Barons’ feudal rights and duties – it can be regarded as Italy’s Domesday Book.
[73] Campo di Giove – situated at 1,100 metres, at the foot of the Southern slopes of the Majella, the “holy” mountain of the Abruzzesi, this village is very beautiful and a popular goal for tourists and skiers.
[74] Pacentro – lies within the National Park of the Majella, on a hilltop on Monte Morrone, where it dominates the Peligna Valley. It is one of the best preserved historic villages with buildings dating back to the 8th-9th Century AD. It was built on the site of the ancient Peligni centre called Pacino. (A modern claim to fame is that the singer Madonna’s roots are here!)
[75] Lama – (Lama dei Peligni) - Situated on the border with the Province of L'Aquila, just below Mount Amaro, comprises in its territory the Oasi Naturale Majella Orientale (Eastern Natural Oasis of the Majella), and is a starting point for many beautiful trekking excursions, horseback and biking itineraries.
[76] River Pescara – From its origin, in the high Apennine mountains, the River Pescara runs as a torrent in a narrow gorge that divides two mountain chains, thus creating conditions for an unusual vegetation. The river then flows from the west then along the low pre-Apennine hills until it reaches the Adriatic shore, where its mouth divides the town of Pescara into two.
[77] Pelina or Peligna - people who inhabited the Valle Peligna before the Romans. The Italics were divided up into numerous tribal groups amongst which there were the Marsi, the Samnites, the Aequi, the Vestini, and those of the Peligna valley. It is thought that the Peligni tribes took refuge in the most rugged places to escape from barbarians who invaded Italy and destroyed Sulmona in 488 A.D. The most important finding of this period that we still have today is the statue of the Warrior of Capestrano, a funeral stele of the 6th century B.C. which is preserved in the Archaeological Museum in Chieti, and represents a warrior with all his offensive and defensive weapons. Other significant testimonies to the pre-Roman period are visible, in particular, at the Archaeological Museum in Campli (Te) which has preserved objects discovered in the Picenian necropolis at Campovalano. The whole region is rich with ruins and findings belonging to this era. Remains of megalithic walls and buildings have been recovered at Alfedena (L'Aquila) which were probably from the ancient Samnite centre of Aufidena, well-known from the 7th to the 2nd century B.C. and destroyed by the Romans in 298 B.C. A huge Samnite necropolis has also come to light with more than six thousand tombs datable from the 7th to the 3rd century B.C. At Montenerodomo, outstanding remains of polygonal walls, attributable to an Italic settlement of considerable size, have been unearthed, whilst a little way outside Tornareccio the ruins of the megalithic walls of Pallanum, an ancient Frentani centre, can be seen. The ruins of an Italic temple, datable as the 3rd to 2nd century B.C. have been discovered at Castiglione Messer Raimondo, in the Colle San Giorgio area. Its clay decoration, partly reconstructed, is preserved at the Archaeological Museum in Chieti together with the decorative parts in brickwork which carne from the two Italic temples in Schiavi d'Abruzzo, as well as other archaeological findings from all over the region.                                                      Sketch of the Valle Peligna and its Mountains

[78] Cibele - A goddess of nature and fertility in Asia Minor and later in Greece, whose worship was marked by ecstatic and frenzied states. Cybele - in ancient Asian religion was the Great Mother Goddess. The chief centres of her early worship were Phrygia and Lydia. In the 5th Century B.C. her cult was introduced into Greece, where she was associated with Demeter and Rhea. The spread of her cult to Rome late in the 3d Century B.C. was marked chiefly by her Palatine temple. Cybele was primarily a nature goddess, responsible for maintaining and reproducing the wild things of the earth. As guardian of cities and nations, however, she was also entrusted with the general welfare of the people. She was attended by the Corybantes and Dactyls, who honoured her with wild music and dancing. At her annual spring festival, the death and resurrection of her beloved Attis were celebrated. She frequented mountains and woodland areas and was usually represented either riding a chariot drawn by lions or seated on a throne flanked by two lions. Cybele is frequently identified with various other mother goddesses.



[79] Vesta - Goddess of the home, Sister of Jupiter, Greek name Hestia – was the goddess of the hearth, the centre of the Roman home.
She was a quiet well-behaved goddess, who didn't join in the arguments and fights of the other gods.
She was protector of the sacred flame, which was supposed to have been brought from Troy to Rome by the hero Aeneus. The flame was relit every March 1st and had to be kept alight all year. If this flame ever went out, disaster would fall on Rome. The flame was kept alive by the Vestal Virgins. These priestesses were chosen when they were as young as six years old. They had to stay as priestesses for thirty years, and were not allowed to marry.
In Roman homes, every day, during a meal, a small cake was thrown on the fire for Vesta. It was good luck if it burnt with a crackle.



[80] Diana - Goddess of the hunt. In Roman art Diana usually appears as a huntress with bow and arrow, along with a hunting dog or a stag. She is also goddess of the moon, forests, animals, and women in childbirth. Both a virgin goddess and an earth goddess, Diana was identified with the Greek Artemis. She is praised for her strength, athletic grace, beauty and her hunting skills. With two other deities she made up a trinity: Egeria the water nymph (her servant and assistant midwife), and Virbius (the woodland god).




[81] Pallade - Pallas - (Greek mythology) goddess of wisdom and useful arts and prudent warfare; guardian of Athens; identified with Roman Minerva. Athena was called Athena by both Greeks and Romans. She reigned as goddess of wisdom and the arts, and goddess of war. Daughter of Jupiter (Zeus) and Juno, she sprang not only fully grown, but fully armed from the head of Zeus, who gave his precocious daughter - as a sign of special favour - his famous breastplate adorned with the head of the Gorgon Medusa, as well as his shield and his thunderbolt. Athena was often sculpted and portrayed in a splendid helmet and armour, carrying a spear (i.e., thunderbolt).
She was considered to be the virgin goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, wisdom and learning, meditation, commerce, crafts, inventiveness, accomplishments such as the arts, spinning and weaving, and commerce and also inventor of music. Ovid called her the "goddess of a thousand works." The Romans celebrated her worship from March 19 to 23 during the Quinquatrus, for five days at the Spring equinox, the artisans' holiday.
Minerva was identified with Pallas Athene, bestower of victory, when Pompey the Great built her a temple with the proceeds from his eastern campaigns. Minerva has many aspects, attributes, names and epithets.
She presided over the useful and ornamental arts, both those of men - such as agriculture and navigation - and those of women, - spinning, weaving, and needlework. She was also a warlike divinity; but it was defensive war only that she patronized, and she had no sympathy with Mars's (Ares) savage love of violence and bloodshed. Athens was her chosen seat, her own city, awarded to her as the prize of a contest with Neptune (Posiedon), who also had aspired to it. The tale ran that in the reign of Cecrops, the first king of Athens, the two deities contended for the possession of the city. The gods decreed that it should be awarded to the one who produced the most useful gift to the mortals. Neptune gave the horse; Minerva produced the olive. The gods gave judgment that the olive was the more useful of the two, and awarded the city to the goddess; and it was named after her, Athens, her name in Greek being Athene.
[82] Priori - presumably an archaeologist (it seems the Social Centre in Torino di Sangro has been named after him) and he’s published at least two articles :-
Priori, Badie e Conventi Benedettini D’Abruzzo e Molise, Carabba, Lanciano 1976, p. 123
Priori, D., Lo stemma e il nome di Torino di Sangro, in "Rivista Abruzzese", a IX, 1956


Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca

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