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COMPSA

COMPSA (Κῶμψα, Ptol.: Eth. Compsanus and Consanus: Conza), a considerable city of the Hirpini, situated near the sources of the Aufidus, and not far from the confines of Lucania, on which account Ptolemy reckons it as a Lucanian town. Livy, on the contrary, expressly assigns it to the Hirpini, and this is confirmed by Pliny; while the Liber Coloniarum erroneously includes it among the cities of Apulia. (Liv. 23.1; Plin. Nat. 3.11. s. 16; Ptol. 3.1.70; Lib. Colon. p. 261.) From its position on a lofty eminence immediately above the valley of the Aufidus, it seems to have been a place of great strength, on which account Hannibal, to whom it opened its gates after the battle of Cannae (B.C. 216), deposited there his baggage and booty, while he himself advanced into Campania. It was, however, retaken by the Romans under Fabius Maximus two years afterwards, B.C. 214. (Liv. 23.1, 24.20.) According to Velleius Paterculus (2.68), it was in an attack on Compsa that Milo, the rival of Clodius, was killed; but this seems to be certainly a mistake, as that event is said by Caesar to have occurred at Cosa in Lucania. (Caes. B.C. 3.22.) No further mention of Compsa occurs in history; but we learn from Cicero that it enjoyed in his time the rights of a municipium (Verr. 5.61, 63), and its continued municipal existence under the Roman empire is proved by inscriptions, in one of which it is called “Res Publica Cossana,” so that the confusion between the two forms Cossa and Compsa seems to have been of very early date. In the passages also of Cicero just cited, the MSS. vary between Consanus and Cossanus, though, according to Zumpt and Orelli, the former reading is the best supported. The strength of its position rendered it a place of great importance in the middle ages, and in the 10th century it became the see of an archbishop, a rank which it still retains, though now but a poor decayed place with only 1100 inhabitants. The only ancient remains there are some inscriptions and sarcophagi of Roman date. (Romanelli, vol. ii. pp. 356--358; Orell. Inscr. 3108, 3854; Giustiniani, Diz. Geogr. vol. iv. p. 119.)

Livy mentions incidentally a temple “in agro Compsano,” dedicated to Jupiter Vicilinus, an epithet otherwise unknown (24.44). According to a local antiquary, some remains of it were still visible at a spot named Voghino in the neighbourhood of Conza. (Romanelli, 1. c., p. 360.)

[E.H.B]

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