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Samnium

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This page deals with the place-names of a region approximately corresponding to the IV Regio of Italy. This region is bounded by the Adriatic sea (to the east), the river Biferno (south), the external Appennine range (west) and the river Saline (north). Included here are the towns of the Samnites Pentri (Augustean municipia of Aufidena, Aesernia, Bovianum Vetus, Bovianum Undecumanorum, Saepinum, Fagifulae, and Tereventum), of the Carracini (municipia of Iuvanum and Cluviae), of the Frentani (municipia of Ortona, Anxanum, Buca, Histonium and Interamna), of the Marrucini (municipium of Teate), of the Paeligni (municipia of Sulmo, Corfinium, and Superaequum), of the Marsi (municipia of Marruvium, Anxa, Lucus Angitiae, and Antinum), of the Aequiculi (municipia of Alba Fucens, Carseoli, Cliternia, and Aequiculi), of the Vestini (municipia of Angulum, Pinna, Aufinum, Peltuinum, and Aveia), of the Sabini (municipia of Amiternum, Forum Decii, Nursia, Reate, Forum Novum, Cures, Trebula Mutuesca, Trebula Suffenas, Tibur, Nomentum, Ficulea, and Fidenae). For the Frentani south of the river Biferno, see Apulia, for the Samnites west of the Appennine see Latium, for the region between rivers Saline and Tronto, see Picenum.

Common remarks: the place-names have been put in the nominative case, an asterisk * means not attested, reconstructed form. The late place-names of probable Latin origin have not been included. The IE roots are in the form given by Pokorny's Indogermanische Wörterbuch. The links will be active when the single pages will be published, see the main page. For any comment, suggestion, email me.

Samnium (428K)

Samnites Pentri

Aesernia

Aquilonia

Aufidena

Bovianum

Duronia

Fagifulae

Ficulea

Herculaneum
  • Place: possibly Civitella di Campochiaro, province Campobasso, region Molise, Italy
  • Name: Herculaneum (Liv.) Hercul(is) Rani (Peut.)
  • Etymology: A sanctuary of Hercules.

Palumbinum
  • Place: not identified
  • Name: Palumbinum (Liv.)
  • Etymology: Rather obscure. It may be a Latin translation of an Samnite name.

Saepinum

Terventum

Tifernus fl., Tifernus m., Tifernum

Velia

Samnites Carracini

*Aventinus fl.

Iuvanum
  • Place: Palazzo di Montenerodomo, province Chieti, region Abruzzo, Italy
  • Name: Iuanum (Plin.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. Possibly, related to the IE root *ieu- 'young'. Compare with Iuvaum (Noricum).

Cluviae

Trebula

Frentani

Anxanum

*Atessa

*Ausentus fl.

Buca

Histonium

Ortona

Pallanum

Sagrus fl.

*Treste fl.

Trinius fl.

Uscosium

Marrucini

*Alentus fl.

*Aufentus fl.

Interpromium
  • Place: close to Tocco da Casauria, province Pescara, region Abruzzo, Italy
  • Name: Interpromium (Peut.)
  • Etymology: The name could have meant 'between the mountains'. In this case and find an exact counterpart in the Romance name Tramonti given to the gorge between Tocco and Popoli.

Marruca

Teate

Paeligni

Corfinium

*Palena

Sulmo

Statulae

Superaequum

Marsi

Alba Fucens
  • Place: Albe di Massa d'Albe, province L'Aquila, region Abruzzo, Italy
  • Name: Alba Fucinis (Ptol.), Alba (Plin., Strab., Liv.)
  • Etymology: It is the Latin name alba, given to colonies.

Antinum

Anxa

Archippe
  • Place: not identified, province L'Aquila, region Abruzzo, Italy
  • Name: Archippe (Plin., Verg.)
  • Etymology: This was the first settlement of the Marsi according to Pliny. Indeed the name could be interpreted as an archaic Greek form, in which we recognize the adjective for 'old'. The second element *ippon was probably an apellative for 'settlement' and is found across the Mediterranean likely linked to the "Mycenean" trade.

Cerfennia

Cuculum

Fresilia

Fucinus lac.

Imeus m.

Marruvium

Milionia
  • Place: possibly close to Ortona dei Marsi, province L'Aquila, region Abruzzo, Italy
  • Name: Milionia (Liv.)
  • Etymology: Unknown.

Plestina

Aequiculi

Carseoli

Cliternum

Nersae

Telonius fl.

Vestini

Angulum

Aternus fl., Aternum

Aufeginum

Aufinum

Aveia

Cingilia

Cutina

Frusternae

Furfo

Peltuinum

Pinna

Pitinum

Prifernum

*Tirinus fl.

Sabini

Amiternum

Avens fl.

Batia

Casperia
  • Place: not identified, not necessarily Casperia (Aspra), province Rieti, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Casperia (Verg.) Casperula (Sil. It.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. It has been related to a personal name Casperius by Pellegrini, but more likely it is this one that derives from the town and not vice versa.

Cures
  • Place: Arci di Fara in Sabina, province Rieti, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Cures (Plin., Strab., Liv., Plut.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. Since the Antiquity, it has been associated to Latin Quirites, that has been explained as 'inhabitants of Cures'.

Cutiliae lac.

Eretum

Fabaris fl.

Falacrinae

Fiscellus m.
  • Place: not identified, a mountain where the river Avens has its sources
  • Name: Fiscellus (Plin., Varr.)
  • Etimology: Unknown. It may be derived from the IE root *bheid- 'to prick, pierce' and explained as a formation *bhid-sko- with a meaning of 'gap, crack'. Thus, the name should have referred to a mountain pass, that is in agreement with the fact that in the ancient times, the passes more than the tops received a name. Moreover, this proposal is consistent with the attestation of the place as a river source. From the phonetic features of the name, it is probably Italic.

Fisternae

Foruli
  • Place: Civitatomassa di Scoppito, province L'Aquila, region Abruzzo, Italy
  • Name: Foruli (Verg., Sil.)
  • Etymology: It cannot be separated from Latin forum 'market, market-place'. Possibly it is an equivalent Sabine word.

Forum Novum
  • Place: Vescovío di Torri in Sabina, province Rieti, region Abruzzo, Italy
  • Name: Forum Novum (Plin.)
  • Etymology: The name is Latin and means 'new market-place'.

Gurgures m.

Himella fl.

Interocrium

Issa i.

Lista

Maruvium

Mefula

Nursia
  • Place: Norcia, province Perugia, region Umbria, Italy
  • Name: Nursia (Ptol., Plin., Plut., Verg., Paul. Diac.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. It is often explained by local scholars from the Etruscan nurziu 'happiness'.

Ortinae

Orvinium

Reate

Testruna

Tetrica m., Severus m.
  • Place: some mountains in the group of mount Terminillo, province Rieti, region Lazio, Italy
  • Name: Tetrica m. (Verg., Varr.) Severus m. (Verg.)
  • Etymology: Probably the same name, since tetricus and severus have in Latin the same meaning of 'wild, severe'.

Tiora

Trebula Mutuesca

Velinus lac.

Conclusions

From the analysis of the place-names of this region, it is evident the presence of at least three linguistic strata. One, probably the most recent, is the Eastern Italic (or Osco-Umbrian) group, including Oscan and the dialects of the small peoples between Samnites and Umbrians. The evidence for it is in the names with f (and especially intervocalic f) derived from the IE aspirated voiced stops (bh, dh, gh), but also other features concerning the labiovelars (*kw>p, *gw>b) and the dyphthongs (*eu>ou, *ei>e and possibly *ou>au).

Certainly non-Oscan are some place-names, distributed on the western part, at the borders with Latium and Campania, that preserve *kw or show an intervocalic *bh>b. These are likely related to Sicule and Latin in the so-called Weatern Italic branch.

From other place-names, distributed along the Adriatic coast, it is possible to assume a different, probably previous, linguistic stratum. This consists in one language characterized by a consonant shift. There is evidence of the voiced stops shifting to voiceless (*d>t, *g>k and presumably *b>p), and of the aspirated voiced stops shifting to voiced (*bh>b etc.). The voiceless stops were preserved or maybe, to complete the shift, they were aspirated, but this aspiration is not shown in the Latin sources, since Latin language had not aspirated voiceless stops in its alphabet. This unknown language is only a speculation. Conventionally, it will be referred to in the languages' page, as Picene (the so-called Picene alphabets seem to have had aspirated voiceless stops).

Even a stratum due to an A-language (that is to say, a language in which *o>a) seems to be possible, in order to explain some place-names with an unclear IE ablaut.