A district of Italy, the name of which is probably derived from campus
, “a plain.” It was separated from Latium by the river Liris,
and from Lucania at a later time by the river Silarus, though in the time of Augustus it did
not extend farther south than the promontory of Minerva. In still earlier times, the
“Ager Campanus” included only the country around Capua. Campania is a
volcanic country, to which circumstance it mainly owed the extraordinary fertility for which
it was celebrated in antiquity above all other lands. The fertility of the soil, allowing in
parts three crops in a year, the beauty of the scenery, and the softness of the climate, the
heat of which was tempered by the delicious breezes of the sea, procured for Campania the
epithet Felix, a name which it justly deserved. It was the favourite retreat in summer of the
Roman nobles, whose villas studded a considerable part of its coast, especially in the
neighbourhood of Baiae
(q.v.). The earliest
inhabitants of the country were the Ausones and the Osci or Opici. These were subsequently
conquered by the Etruscans, who became the masters of almost all the country. In the time of
the Romans we find three distinct peoples, besides the Greek population of Cumae:
The Campāni, properly so called, a
mixed race, consisting of Etruscans and the original inhabitants of the country, dwelling
along the coast from Sinuessa to Paestum. They were the ruling race at Capua.
, an Ausonian people, in
the northwest of the country on the borders of Samnium.
, in the southeastern
part of the country.