previous next


CAMPA´NIA (Καμπανία, Eth. Campanus, Eth. Καμπανοί), a province or region of Central Italy, bounded on the N. by Latium, on the E. by the mountains of Samnium, on the S. by Lucania, and on the W. by the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its exact limits varied at different periods. The Liris appears to have been at first recognised as its northern boundary, but subsequently the district south of that river, as far as the Massican hills and the town of Sinuessa, was included in Latium, and the boundaries of Campania diminished to the same extent. (Strab. v. p.242.) On the S. also, the territory between the Silarus, which formed the boundary of Lucania, and the ridge of the Apennines that bounds the Gulf of Posidonia on the N., was occupied by the people called PICENTINI (a branch of the inhabitants of Picenum on the Adriatic), and was not reckoned to belong to Campania, properly so called, though united with it for administrative purposes.

Originally, indeed, the name of Campanians appears to have been applied solely to the inhabitants of the great plain, which occupies so large a portion of the province; and did not include the people of the hill country about Suessa, Cales, and Teanum, which was occupied by the Aurunci and Sidicini. But Campania, in the sense in which the term is used by Strabo and Pliny, was bounded on the N. by the low ridge of the Massican hills, which extend from the sea near Sinuessa to join the more lofty group of volcanic mountains that rise between Suessa and Teanum, and comprised the whole of the latter range. Venafrum and the territory annexed to it, in the valley of the Vulturnus, which had been originally Samnite, were afterwards included in Campania; though Strabo appears in one passage (v. p. 238) to assign them to Latium. The eastern frontier of Campania is clearly marked by the first ridges of the Apennines, the MONS CALLICULA N. of the Vulturnus, and the MONS TIFATA S. of that river, while other ranges of still greater elevation continue the mountain barrier towards the SE. to the sources of the Sarnus. Near this latter point, a side arm or branch is suddenly thrown off from the main mass of the Apennines, nearly at right angles to its general direction, which constitutes a lofty and narrow mountain ridge of about 24 miles in length, terminating in the bold headland called the Promontory of Minerva, but known also as the Surrentine Promontory. It is this range which separates the Gulf of Cumae or Crater, as the Bay of Naples was called in ancient times, from that of Posidonia, and which constituted the limit also between Campania in the stricter sense of the term, and the territory of the Picentini. The latter occupied the district S. of this range along the shores of the Posidonian Gulf, as far as the mouth of the Silarus. [p. 1.491]

The region thus limited is one of the most beautiful and fertile in the world, and unquestionably the fairest portion of Italy. Greek and Roman writers vie with one another in celebrating its natural advantages,--the fertility of its soil, the beauty of its landscape, the softness of its climate, and the excellence of its harbours. Pliny calls it “felix illa Campania-certamen humanae voluptatis.” Florus is still more enthusiastic: “Omnium non modo Italia, sed toto orbe terrarum pulcherrima Campaniae plaga est. Nihil mollius caelo. Denique bis floribus vernat. Nihil uberius solo, ideo Liberi Cererisque certamen dicitur. Nihil hospitalius mari.” Even the more sober Polybius and Strabo are loud in its praises; and Cicero calls the plains about Capua “fundum pulcherrimum populi Romani, caput pecuniae, pacis ornamentum, subsidium belli, fundamentum vectigalium, horreum legionum, solatium annonae.” (Pol. 3.91; Strab. v. pp. 242, 243; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9; Flor. 1.16; Cic. de Leg. Agr. 1.7, 2.28.) The greater part of Campania is an unbroken plain, of almost unequalled fertility, extending from the foot of the Apennines to the sea. But its uniformity is broken by two remarkable natural features: the one a group of volcanic hills of considerable extent, but of moderate elevation, rising abruptly from the plain between Cumae and Neapolis, and constituting a broken and hilly tract of about 15 miles in length (from E. to W.), and from 8 to 10 in breadth. One of the most considerable of these hills is the MONS GAURUS, so celebrated in ancient times for its wines. The whole range, as well as the neighbouring islands of Aenaria and Prochyta, is of volcanic origin, and preserves evident traces of the comparatively recent action of subterranean fires. These were recognised by ancient Writers in the Forum Vulcani, or Solfatara, near Puteoli (Strab. v. p.246; Lucil. Aetn. 431; Sil. Ital. 12.133); but we have no account of any such eruption in ancient times as that which, in 1538, gave rise to the Monte Nuovo, near the same town. On the other side of Neapolis, and wholly detached from the group of hills already described, as well as from the chain of the Apennines, from which it is separated by a broad girdle of intervening plain, rises the isolated mountain of VESUVIUS, whose regular volcanic cone forms one of the most striking natural features of Campania. Its peculiar character was noticed by ancient observers, even before the fearful eruption of A.D. 79 gave such striking proof that its subterranean fires were not, as supposed by Strabo (v. p.247), “extinct for want of fuel.” But the volcanic agency in Campania, though confined in historical times to the two mountain groups just noticed, must have been at one period far more widely extended. The mountain called Rocca Monfina or Mte di Sta Croce, which rises above Suessa, and was the ancient seat of the Aurunci [AURUNCI], is likewise an extinct volcano; and the soil of the whole plain of Campania, up to the very foot of the Apennines, is of volcanic origin, from which circumstance is derived the porous and friable character to which it owes its great fertility. It was, in all probability, from the evidences of subterranean fire so strongly marked in their neighbourhood, that the Greeks of Cumae gave the name of the Phlegraean plains (Campi Phlegraei: τὰ φλεγραῖα πεδία) to the part of Campania adjoining their city. (Diod. 4.21; Strab. v. p.245.) Another appellation by which the same tract appears to have been known, was that of CAMPI LABORINI (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9), from which is probably derived the modern name of Terra di Lavoro, now used to designate the whole district of Campania.

It is this extensive plain which was so celebrated in ancient, as well as modern, times for its extraordinary fertility. Strabo calls it the richest plain in the world (πεδίον εὐδαιμονέστατον τῶν ἁπάντων), and tells us that it produced wheat of the finest quality; while some parts of it yielded four crops in the year,--two of spelt (ζειά), one of millet, and the fourth of vegetables (λάχανα). (Strab. v. p.242.) Pliny also relates that it grew two crops of spelt and one of millet every year; while those parts of it that were left fallow produced abundance of roses, which were employed for the ointments and perfumeries for which Capua was celebrated. The spelt of the Campanian plain was of particularly fine quality, so that it was considered to be the only one fit for the manufacture of “alica,” apparently a kind of pasta, called by Strabo χόνδρος. (Plin. Nat. 18.8. s. 9, 11. s. 29.) Virgil also selects the plains around the wealthy Capua and the tract at the foot of Vesuvius as instances of soils of the best quality for agricultural purposes, adapted at once for the growth of wine, oil, and corn. (Verg. G. 2.224.) From the expressions of Cicero already cited, it is evident that the “ager Campanus,” --the district immediately around the city of Capua,--while it continued the public property of the Roman state, was one of the chief quarters from whence the supplies of corn for the public service were derived. There is no doubt that vines were cultivated (as they are at the present day) all over the plain (see Virg. l.c.), but the choicest wines were produced on the slopes of the hills; the Massican and Falernian on the sides of the Mons Massicus and the adjoining volcanic hills near Suessa and Cales, the Gauran on the flanks of Mt. Gaurus and the other hills near Puteoli, and the Surrentine on the opposite side of the bay. All these were reckoned among the most celebrated wines then known. Nor was the olive-oil of Campania less distinguished: that of Venafrum was proverbial for its excellence (Hor. Care. 2.6. 16), and the other hilly tracts of the province were scarcely inferior to it. (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9; Strab. v. p.243; Flor. 1.16.)

The maritime advantages of Campania were scarcely less remarkable than those which it derived from the natural fertility of its territory. Its coastline has a tolerably uniform direction towards the SE. from the mouth of the Liris to Cumae: but S. of that city it is interrupted by the bold and isolated group of volcanic hills already described, which terminate towards the S. in the lofty and abrupt headland of Misenum. Between this point and the Promontory of Minerva, which is itself (as already pointed out) but the extremity of a bold and lofty arm of the Apennines, the coast is deeply indented by the beautiful bay, known in ancient times as the CRATER from its cup-like form, but called also the SINUS CUMANUS and PUTEOLANUS, from the neighbouring cities of Cumae and Puteoli,--and now familiarly known to all as the Bay of Naples. (Strab. v. pp. 242, 247.) The two ranges which constitute the two headlands bounding this gulf are farther continued by the outlying islands adjoining them: those of AENARIA and PROCHYTA off Cape Misenum, being, like the hills on the adjacent mainland, of volcanic origin; while that of CAPREAE with its precipitous cliffs and walls of limestone, is obviously a continuation of the calcareous range of the Apennines, which ends in the Surrentine Promontory. The shores of this beautiful gulf, so nearly land-locked, [p. 1.492]and open only to the mild and temperate breezes from the SW., were early sought by the Romans, as a place of retirement and luxury; and in addition to the numerous towns that had grown up around it, the houses, villas, and gardens, that filled the intervals between them were so numerous, that, according to Strabo, they presented the aspect of one continuous city. (Strab. l.c.) Tacitus also calls it “pulcherrimus sinus,” though in his time it had not yet recovered from the frightful devastation caused by the great eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79. On the N. shore of this extensive bay, immediately within the headland of Misenum, was another smaller bay, known as the SINUS BAIANUS, or Gulf of Baiae; and here were situated two excellent harbours,--that of Misenum itself, close to the promontory of the same name; and, on the opposite side of the bay, that of Puteoli, which, under the Roman empire, became one of the most frequented ports of Italy.

Strabo speaks of the coast of Campania from Sinuessa to Cape Misenum, as forming a gulf (p. 242); but this is incorrect, that portion of the coast presenting but a slight curvature, though it may be considered (if viewed on a wider scale) as forming a part of the great bay that extends from the Circeian Promontory on the N., to Cape Misenumn, or rather to the island of Aenaria (Ischia), on the S. On the southern side of the Surrentine Promontory opens out another extensive bay, wider than that of Naples, but less deep: this was known in ancient times as the Gulf of Posidonia or Paestum (Sinus Posidoniates, or Paestanus, Strab. v. p.251; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 10); but only its northern shores, as far as the mouths of the Silarus, belonged to Campania.

The climate of Campania was celebrated in antiquity for its soft and genial character, an advantage which it doubtless owed to its exposure to the SW., and to the deep bays with which its coast was indented. It was, indeed, thought that the climate had an enervating influence, and it was to the effect of this, as well as the luxurious habits engendered by the richness of the country, that ancient writers ascribed the unwarlike character of the inhabitants and the frequent changes of population that had taken place there. Besides the beauty of its landscape and the mildness of its climate, the shores of Campania had a particular attraction for the Romans in the numerous thermal waters with which they abounded, especially in the neighbourhood of Baiae, Puteoli, and Neapolis. For these it was doubtless indebted to the remains of volcanic agency in these regions; and the same causes furnished the sulphur, which was found in such abundance in the Forum Vulcani (or Solfatara), near Puteoli, as to become a considerable article of commerce. (Lucil. Aetn. 433.) A peculiar kind of white clay (creta) used in the preparation of alica, was procured from the hills near the same place, which bore the name of Colles Leucogaei; while the volcanic sand of other hills in the immediate neighbourhood of Puteoli formed a cement of extraordinary hardness, and which was known in consequence by the name of Puteolanum. (Plin. Nat. 18.11. s. 29, 35.6. s. 26.)

All ancient writers are agreed that the Campanians were not the original inhabitants of the country to which they eventually gave their name. Indeed. Campania appears, as might have been expected from its great fertility, to have been subject to repeated changes of population, and to have been conquered by successive swarms of foreign invaders. (Pol. 3.91.) The earliest of these revolutions are involved in great obscurity: but it seems, on the whole, pretty clear that the original population of this fertile country (the first at least of which we have any record) was an Oscan or Ausonian race. Antiochus of Syracuse spoke of it as inhabited by the Opicans, “who were also called Ausonians.” Polybius, on the contrary, attempted to establish a distinction between the two, and described the shores of the Crater as occupied by Opicans and Ausonians: while others carried the distinction still farther, and represented the Opicans, Ausonians, and Oscans, as separate races which successively made themselves masters of the country. (Strab. v. p.242.) The fallacy of this statement is obvious: Opicans and Oscans are merely two forms of the same name, and there is every reason to believe that the Ausonians were a branch of the same race, if not absolutely identical with them. [AUSONES] It appears certain that the first Greek settlers in these regions found them occupied by the people whom they called Opicans, whence this part of Italy was termed by them Opicia (Ὀπικία); and thus Thucydides distinguishes Cumnae as Κύμη ἐν Ὀπικίᾳ (6.4). At the same time we find numerous indications of Tyrrhenian (i. e. Pelasgic) settlements, especially on the coast, which appear to belong to a very early period, and cannot be referred to the later Etruscan domination. (Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 45; Abeken, Mittel Italien, p. 102.) Whether these were prior to the establishment of the Oscans, or were spread along the coasts, while that people occupied principally the interior, is a point on which it is impossible for us to pronounce an opinion.

The earliest fact that can be pronounced historical in regard to Campania, is the settlement of the Greek colony of Cumae; and though we certainly cannot receive as authentic the date assigned to this by late chronologers (B.C. 1050), there seems good reason to believe that it was really, as asserted by Strabo, the most ancient of all the Greek settlements in Italy. [CUMAE] The Cumaeans soon extended their power, by founding the colonies of Dicaearchia, Palaepolis, and Neapolis; and, according to some accounts, it would seem that they had even formed settlements in the interior at Nola and Abella. (Just. 20.1.) But it is probable that their progress was checked by the establishment of a new and more formidable power in their immediate neighbourhood. The conquest of Campania by the Etruscans is a fact which we cannot refuse to receive as historical, imperfect as is the information we have concerning it. Polybius tells us that at the same time that the Etruscans held possession of the plains of Northern Italy, subsequently occupied by the Gauls, they possessed also those of Campania about Capua and Nola; and Strabo says that they founded in this part of Italy twelve cities, the chief of which was Capua. (Pol. 2.17; Strab. v. p.242.) The Tuscan origin of Capua and Nola is confirmed by the testimony of Cato; and Livy tells us that the original name of the former city was Vulturnum, an obviously Etruscan form. (Liv. 4.37; Mela, 2.4; Cato, ap. Veil. Pat. 1.7.) The period at which this Etruscan dominion was established is, however, a very doubtful question. If we adopt the date assigned by Cato for the foundation of Capua (Veil. Pat. 1.7), which he places as late as B.C. 471, we cannot suppose that the period of Etruscan rule lasted much above fifty years,--a space apparently much too short: on the other hand, those who placed the origin of Capua more than three centuries earlier (Vell. Pat. l.c.) [p. 1.493]may not improbably have erred as much in the contrary direction. Whatever may have been the actual date, we are told that these Tuscan cities rose to great wealth and prosperity, but gradually became enervated and enfeebled by luxury, so that they were unable to resist the increasing power of their warlike neighbours the Samnites. The fate of their chief city of Capua, which was first compelled to admit the Samnites to the privileges of citizenship and a share of its fertile lands, and ultimately fell wholly into their power [CAPUA], was probably soon followed by the minor cities of the confederacy. But neither these, nor the metropolis, became Samnite: they seem to have constituted from the first a separate national body, which assumed the name of Campani, “the people of the plain.” It is evidently this event which is designated by Diodorus as the “first rise of the Campanian people” (τὸ ἔθνος τῶν Καμπανῶν συνέστη, Diod. 12.31), though he places it as early as B.C. 440; while, according to Livy (4.37), Capua did not fall into the hands of the Samnites till B.C. 423. So rapidly did the new nation rise to power, that only three years after the occupation of Capua they were able to take by storm the Greek city of Cumae, which had maintained its independence throughout the period of the Etruscan dominion. (Liv. 4.44; Diod. 12.76, who, however, gives the date B.C. 428.)

The people of the Campanians thus constituted was essentially of Oscan race. The Samnite or Sabellian conquerors appear to have been, like the Etruscans whom they supplanted, a comparatively small body: and it is probable that the original Oscan population, which had continued to subsist, though in a state of subjection, under the Etruscans, was readily amalgamated with a people of kindred race like their new conquerors, so that the two became completely blended into one nation. It is certain that the language of the Campanians continued to be Oscan: indeed it is from them that our knowledge of the Oscan language is mainly derived. Their name, as already observed, probably signified only the inhabitants of the plain, and it was at this period confined to that part only of what was afterwards called Campania. Nor does there appear to have been any distinct organisation or national union among them. The Ausones or Aurunci, and the Sidicini, on the N. of the Vulturnus, still continued to exist as distinct and independent tribes. The minor towns around Capua--Acerra, Atella, Calatia, and Suessula--seem to have followed the lead, and probably acknowledged the supremacy of that powerful city: but Nola stood aloof, and appears to have preserved a closer connection with Samnium: while Nuceria in the southern part of the Campanian plain belonged to the Alfaterni, who were probably an independent tribe. Hence the Campanians with whom the Romans came into connection in the fourth century B.C. were only the people of Capua itself with its surrounding plain and dependent cities. They were not the less a numerous and powerful nation: Capua itself was at this time the greatest and most opulent city of Italy (Liv. 7.31.): but though scarcely 80 years had elapsed since the establishment of the Samnites in Campania, they were already so far enervated and corrupted by the luxurious habits engendered by their new abode, as to be wholly unequal to contend in arms with their more hardy brethren in the mountains of Samnium.

In B.C. 343 the petty people of the Sidicini, attacked by the powerful Samnites, applied for aid to the Campanians. This was readily furnished them: but their new allies were in their turn defeated by the Samnites, in a pitched battle, at the very gates of Capua, and shut up within the walls of their city. In this distress they applied to Rome for assistance; and, in order to purchase the aid of that powerful republic, are said to have made an absolute surrender of their city and territory (deditio) into the hands of the Romans. The latter now took up their cause, and the victories of Valerius Corvus at Mt. Gaurus, and Suessula, soon freed the Campanians from all danger from their Samnite foes. (Liv. 7.29-37.) It is very difficult to understand the events of the two next years, as related to us; and there can be little doubt that the real course of events has been distorted or concealed by the Roman annalists. The Campanians, though nominally subjects of Rome, appear to act a very independent part; and at length openly espoused the cause of the Latins when these broke out into declared hostilities against Rome. The great battle in which the combined forces of the Latins and Campanians were defeated by the Roman consuls T. Manlius and P. Decius was fought near the foot of Mt. Vesuvius, B.C. 340; and was quickly followed by the submission of the Campanians. They were punished for their revolt, by the loss of the whole of that portion of their fertile territory which lay N. of the Vulturnus, and which was known by the name of the “Falernus ager.” The knights of Capua (equites Campani), who had throughout opposed the defection from Rome, were rewarded with the full rights of Roman citizens; while the rest of the population obtained only the “civitas sine suffragio.” The same relations were established with the cities of Cumae, Suessula, and Acerrae. (Liv. 8.11, 14, 17; Vell. 1.14.) Hence we find during the period that followed this war for above 120 years the closest bonds of union subsisting between the Campanians and the Roman people: the former were admitted to serve in the regular legions, instead of the auxiliaries: and for this reason Polybius, in reckoning up the forces of the Italian nations in B.C. 225, classes the Romans and Campanians in one body; while he enumerates the Latins and other allies separately. (Pol. 2.24.)

The period from the peace which followed the war of B.C. 340, to the beginning of the Second Punic War, was one of great prosperity to the Campanians. Their territory was indeed necessarily the occasional theatre of hostilities during the protracted wars of the Romans with the Samnites: and some of the cities not immediately connected with Capua were even rash enough to expose themselves to the enmity of the Romans, by taking part with their adversaries. But the capture of the Greek city of Palaepolis in B.C. 326, led the neighbouring Neapolitans to conclude a treaty with Rome, which secured them for ever after as its faithful allies; and the conquest of Nola in B.C. 313, and of Nuceria in 308, firmly established the Roman dominion in the southern portion of Campania. This seems to have been admitted and secured by the peace of B.C. 304, which terminated the Second Samnite War. (Liv. 8.22-26, 9.28, 41; Niebuhr, vol. iii. p. 259.)

In B.C. 280, Campania was traversed, by the armies of Pyrrhus, but his attempts to possess himself of either Capua or Neapolis were ineffectual. (Zonar. 8.4.) The successes of that monarch do not appear to have for a moment shaken the fidelity of the Campanians. But it was otherwise with those of Hannibal. Immediately after the battle of Cannae [p. 1.494](B.C. 216) the smaller towns of Atella and Calatia declared in favour of the Carthaginian general, and shortly after the powerful city of Capua itself opened its gates to him. (Liv. 22.61, 23.2--10.) This was not however followed, as might have been perhaps expected, by the reduction of the rest of Campania. Hannibal took Nuceria and Acerrae, but was foiled in his attempts upon Neapolis and Nola: and even the little town of Casilinum was not reduced till after a long protracted siege. From this time Campallia became one of the chief seats of the war, and during several successive campaigns was the scene of operations of the rival armies. Many actions ensued with various success: but the result was on the whole decidedly unfavorable to the Roman arms. Hannibal never succeeded in making himself master of Nola, while the Romans were able in the spring of B.C. 212 to form the siege of Capua, and before the close of the following year that important city once more fell into their hands. From this time the Carthaginians lost all footing in Campania, and the war was transferred to ether quarters of Italy. The revolted cities were severely punished, and deprived of all municipal privileges; but the tranquillity which this part of Italy henceforth enjoyed, together with the natural advantages of its soil and climate, soon restored Campania to a state of prosperity equal, if not superior, to what it had before enjoyed: and towards the close of the Republic Cicero contrasts its flourishing and populous towns and its fertile territory with the decayed Municipia and barren soil of Latium. (De Leg. Agr. 2.35.)

This interval of repose was not however altogether uninterrupted. The Campanians took no part in the outbreak of the Italian nations which led to the Social War: but they were in consequence exposed to the ravages of their neighbours the Samnites, and Papius Mutilus laid waste the southern part of the province with fire and sword, and took in succession Nola, Nuceria, Stabiae, and Salernum: but was defeated by Sex. Julius under the walls of Acerrae. The next year fortune turned in favour of the Romans, and L. Sulla recovered possession of the whole of Campania, with the exception of Nola, which continued to hold out long after all the neighbouring cities had submitted, and was the last place in Italy that was reduced by the Roman arms. (Appian. B.C. 1.42, 45, 65; Vell. 2.17, 18.) Daring the civil wars between Sulla and Cinna, Campania was traversed repeatedly by both armies, and was the scene of some conflicts, but probably suffered comparatively little. In B.C. 73 it was the scene of the commencement of the Servile War under Spartacus, who breaking out with only 70 companions from Capua, took refuge on Mt. Vesuvius, and from thence for some time plundered the whole surrounding country. (Appian. B.C. 1.116; Plut. Crass. 8; Flor. 3.20.) During the contest between Caesar and Pompey Campania was spared the sufferings of actual war: and neither this nor the subsequent civil wars between Octavian and Antony brought any interruption to its continued prosperity.

Under the Roman Empire, as well as during the later period of the Republic, Campania became the favourite resort of wealthy and noble Romans, who crowded its shores with their villas, and sought in its soft climate and beautiful scenery a place of luxurious retirement. Whole towns thus grew up at Baiae and Bauli: but the neighbourhood of Neapolis, Pompeii, and Surrentum were scarcely less favoured, and the beautiful shores of the Crater were surrounded with an almost continuous range of palaces: villas, and towns. The great eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79, which buried under heaps of ashes the flourishing towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and laid waste great part of the fertile lands on all sides. of it, gave for a time a violent shock to this prosperity; but the natural advantages of this favoured land would soon enable it to recover even so great a disaster: and it appears certain that Campania continued down to the very close of the Western Empire to be one of the most flourishing and populous provinces of Italy.

According to the division of Augustus, Campania together with Latium constituted the First Region of Italy (Plin. Nat. 3.5); but at a later period, probably under Hadrian, Beneventum, with the extensive territory dependent on it, and apparently the other cities of the Hirpini also. were annexed to Campania; while, on the other hand, the name seems to have gradually been applied to the whole of the First Region of Augustus. Hence we find the “Civitates Campaniae,” as given in the Liber Coloniarum (p. 229), including all the cities of Latium, and those of Samnium and the Hirpini also; and the Itineraries place the boundary of Campania on the side of Apulia, between Equus Tuticus and Aecae. (Itin. Ant. p. 111; Itin. Her. p. 610.) This latter extension of the term does not, however, seem to have been generally adopted: we find Samnium generally separated from Campania for administrative purposes (Treb. Poll. Tetricus, 24; Not. Dign. ii. pp. 63, 64), and the name was certainly retained in common usage. On the other hand, the name of Campania appears to have come into general use as synonymous with the whole of the First Region of Augustus, so as to have completely su. perseded that of Latium; and ultimately, by a change analogous to what we find in several other instances, came to designate Latium exclusively, or the country round Rome, which retains to the present day the appellation of La Campagna di Roma. The exact period and progress of the change cannot be traced; it was certainly completed in the time of the Lombards; but on the Tabula Peutingeriana Campania already extends from the Tiber to the Silarus. (Tab. Peut.; P. Diac. 2.17; Pellegrini, Discorsi della Campania, vol. i. p. 45--85.)

Ancient writers have left us scarcely any information concerning the national characteristics or habits of the Campanians during the period of their existence as an independent people, with the exception of vague declamations concerning their luxury. But a fact, strangely at variance with the accounts of their unwarlike and effeminate habits, is, that we find Campanians extensively employed as mercenary troops, especially by the despots of Sicily. Here they first appear as early as B.C. 410, in the service of the Carthaginians (Diod. 13.44-62), and were afterwards of material assistance to the elder Dionysius. But, not satisfied with serving as mere mercenaries. they established themselves in the two cities of Aetna and Entilla, of which they held possession for a long period. (Id. 14.9, 58, 16.82.) Again the mercenaries in the service of Agathocles, who rendered themselves so formidable under the name of Mamertines [MAMERTINI], were in great part of Campanian origin. It is singular that we find these mercenaries, in the cases of Entella and Messana, repeating precisely the same treacherous conduct by which the Samnites had originally made themselves masters of Capua; and even a Campanian [p. 1.495]legion in the Roman service was guilty of the same crime, and possessed itself of Rhegium by the massacre of the inhabitants. (Diod. xxii. Fr. 1, 2; Dionys. A. R. 19.1. Fr. Mai.) It is probable, however, as observed by Niebuhr, that these formidable mercenaries were not exclusively natives of Campania, but were recruited also from the Samnites and other tribes of Sabellian and Oscan origin. (Niebuhr, vol. iii. p. 112, note 211.)

In other respects the Campanians, from their being so mixed a race, had probably less marked peculiarities of character than the Samnites or Etruscans. The works of art discovered in Campania, with the exception of such as belong to a late period and show the Roman influence, are almost exclusively Greek. The Greek coins of Nola, as well as the beautiful painted vases discovered there in enormous numbers, and which are all of the purest Greek style, prove that this influence was by no means confined to the cities on the coast. On the other hand the inscriptions are almost all either Latin or Oscan, and the writings on the walls of Pompeii prove that the latter language continued in use down to a late period. It is certainly true, as Niebuhr observes (vol. i. p. 76), that we find no trace among existing remains of the period of Etruscan rule, though this circumstance is hardly sufficient to warrant us in adopting the views of that historian and rejecting altogether the historical accounts of the Etruscan dominion in Southern Italy.

The principal natural features of Campania have been already described. Its only considerable river is the VULTURNUS which rises in the mountains of Samnium, and enters Campania near Venafrum; it traverses the whole of the fertile plain of Capua, and formed the limit between the “Ager Campanus,” the proper territory of Capua, on the S., and the Ager Falernus on the N. It is a deep and rapid stream, on which account Casilinum, as commanding the principal bridge over it, must have been in all times a point of importance. The LIRIS, which originally formed the boundary of Campania on the N., was by the subsequent extension of Latium included wholly in that country, and cannot therefore be reckoned a Campanian river. Between the two was the SAVO a small and sluggish stream (piger Savo, Stat. Silv. 4.3. 66; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9) still called the Savone; which has its mouth little more than two miles N. of that of the Vulturnus. A few miles S. of the same river is the CLANIUS in ancient times a more considerable stream, but the waters of which have been now diverted into an artificial channel or canal called the Lagno. The mouth of this is about 10 miles from that of a small stream serving as the outlet of the Lago di Patria (the Literna Palus), which appears to have been called in ancient times the river LITERNUS. (Liv. 32.29; Strab. v. p.243.) The SEBETHUS or SEBETHIS, which bathed the walls of Neapolis, can be no other than the trifling stream that flows under the Ponte della Maddalena, a little to the E. of the modern city of Naples, and is thence commonly known as the Fiume della Maddalena. The VESERIS, which is mentioned as flowing not far from the foot of Vesuvius (Liv. 8.9; Vict. de Vir. Ill. 26, 28), if it be not identical with the preceding, must have been a very small stream, and all trace of it is lost. The SARNUS still called Sarno, which rises at the foot of the Apennines near the modern city of Sarno, between Nola and Nocera, is a more considerable stream, and waters the whole of the rich plain on the S. of Mt. Vesuvius (quae rigat aequora Sarnus, Verg. A. 7.738). The paucity of rivers in Campania is owing to the peculiar nature of the volcanic soil. which, as Pliny observes, allows the waters that descend from the surrounding mountains to percolate gradually, without either arresting them, or becoming saturated with moisture. (Plin. Nat. 18.11. s. 29.)

The principal mountains of Campania have already been noticed. The arm of the Apennines which separates the two Gulfs of Naples and Salerno, and rises above Castellamare to a height of near 5000 feet, was called in ancient times the MONS LACTARIUS (Cassiod. Ep. 11.10), from its abundant pastures, which belonged to the neighbouring town of Stabiae, and were much frequented by invalids for medical purposes. [STABIAE] Several of the minor hills belonging to the volcanic group of which Mt. Gaurus was the principal, were known by distinguishing names, among which those of the COLLIS LEUCOGAEUS between Puteoli and Neapolis (Plin. Nat. 18.11. s. 29), and the MONS PAUSILYPUS in the immediate neighbourhood of the latter city, have been preserved to us.

Campania contains several small lakes, of which the lake AVERNUS is a volcanic basin, in the deep hollow of a crater; the rest are mere stagnant pools formed by the accumulation of sand on the sea shore preventing the outflow of the waters. Such were the LITERNA PALUS, near the town of the same name, now called the Lago di Patria; and the ACHERIUSIA PALUS, now Lago di Fusaro, a little to the S. of Cumae. The Lucrine Lake (LACUS LUCRINUS) was, in fact, merely a portion of the sea shut in by a narrow dike or bar, apparently of artificial construction; similar to the part of the Port of Misenum, which is now called the Mare Morto.

The principal islands off the coast of Campania, AENARIA, PROCHYTA, and CAPREAE have already been noticed. Besides these there are several smaller islets, most of them, indeed, mere rocks, of which the names have been recorded in consequence of their proximity to the flourishing towns of Puteoli and Neapolis. The principal of these is NESIS still called Nisida, opposite the extremity of the Mons Pausilypus; itself the crater of an extinct volcano, which seems in ancient times to have still retained some traces of its former activity. (Lucan 6.90.) MEGARIS called by Statius MEGALIA appears to be the rock now occupied by the Castel dell' Uovo, close to Naples; while the two islets mentioned by the same poet as Limon and Euploea (Stat. Silo. 3.1, 149) are supposed to be two rocks between Nisida and the adjoining headland, called Scoglio del Lazzaretto and la Gajola. [NEAPOLIS] South of the Surrentine Promontory, and facing the Gulf of Posidonia lie some detached and picturesque rocks, a short distance from the shore, which were known as the SIRENUSAE INSULAE, or the Islands of the Sirens; they are now called Li Galli.

The towns and cities of Campania may be briefly enumerated.

    1. Beginning from the frontier of Latium and proceeding along the coast were, VULTURNUM at the mouth of the river of the same name, LITERNUM and CUMAE; MISENUM adjoining the promontory of the same name, and immediately within it BAULI, BAIAE, and PUTEOLI originally called by the. Greeks Dicaearchia. From thence proceeding round the shores of the Crater were the flourishing towns of NEAPOLIS, HELRCULANEUM, [p. 1.496]POMPEII, STABIAE, and SURRENTUM; besides which we find mention of Retina, now Resina, at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius (Plin. Ep. 6.16), and Aequa, still called Equa, a village near Vico, about half way between Stabiae and Surrentum. (Sil. Ital. 5.464.) Neither of these two last places ranked as towns; they were included among the populous villages or vici that lined the shores of this beautiful bay, the names of most of which are lost to us.
    2. In the interior of the province, N. of the Vulturnus were: VENAFRUM in the upper valley of the Vulturnus, the most northerly city of Campania, bordering on Latium and Samnium; TEANUM at the foot of the mountains of the Sidicini and Aurunci; SUESSA on the opposite slope of the same group, and CALES on the Via Latina between Teanum and Casilinum. In the same district must be placed TREBULA probably near the foot of Mons Callicula, and FORUM POPILII also of uncertain site. URBANA, where Sulla had established a colony, lay on the Appian Way between Sinuessa and Casilinum; and Caedia, a mere village incidentally mentioned by Pliny (14.6. s. 8), on the same road, 6 miles from Sinuessa. AURUNCA the ancient capital of the people of that name, had ceased to exist at a very early period.
    3. S. of the Vulturnus were CASILINUM (immediately on that river), CAPUA, CALATIA, ATELLA, ACERRAE, SUESSULA, NOLA, ABELLA, and NUCERIA called, for distinction's sake, ALFATERNA. The site of Taurania, which had already ceased to exist in the time of Pliny (3.5. s. 9) is wholly unknown, as well as that of HYRIUM or HYRINA, a city known only from its coins.
    4. In the territory of the PICENTINI (which, as already observed, was comprised in Campania in the official designation of the province), were: SALERNUM and MARCINA on the coast of the Posidonian Gulf, and PICENTIA in the interior, on the little river still called Bicentino. EBURI (Eboli), though situated on the N. side of the Silarus, is assigned by Pliny to Lucania. (Plin. Nat. 3.11. s. 15.)

Campania was traversed by the Appian Way, the greatest high road of Italy: this had, indeed, in its original construction by Appius Claudius, been carried only from Rome to Capua; the period at which it was extended from thence to Beneventum is uncertain, but this could hardly have taken place before the close of the Samnite Wars. [VIA APPIA] This road led direct from Sinuessa (the last city in Latium), where it quitted the sea shore, to Casilinum, and thence to Capua; from whence it was continued through Calatia and Caudium (in the Samnite territory) to Beneventum. It entered the Campanian territory at a bridge over the little river Savo, 3 miles from Sinuessa, called from this circumstance the Pons Campanus. (Itin. Hier. p. 611; Tab. Peut.) The Via Latina, another very ancient and important line of road, entered Campania from the N. and proceeded from Casinum in Latium by Teanum and Cales to Casilinum, where it fell into the Via Appia. The line of road, which proceeded in a southerly direction from Capua by Nola and Nuceria to Salernum, was a part of the great high road from Rome to Rhegium, which is strangely called in the Itinerary of Antoninus the Via Appia. An inscription still extant records the construction of this line of road from Capua to Rhegium, but the name of its author is unfortunately lost, though it is probable that he was a praetor of the name of Popilius. [FORUM POPILII] Besides this, another road, given in the Tabula, led direct from Capua to Neapolis, and from thence by Herculaneum and Pompeii to Nuceria, where it joined the preceding; while another branch quitted it at Pompeii and followed the shores of the bay through Stabiae to Surrentum.

Lastly, another great road, which as we learn from Statius (Stat. Silv. 4.3) was constructed by the emperor Domitian, proceeded along the coast from Sinuessa to Cumae, and thence by Puteoli to Neapolis. There is no doubt, from the flourishing condition of Campania under the Roman Empire, that all these roads continued in use down to a late period. Milestones and other inscriptions attest their successive restorations from the reign of Trajan to that of Valentinian III. (Mommsen, Inscr. Neap. pp. 340, 341.)

Concerning the topography of Campania, see Pellegrini, Discorsi della Campanic Felice (2 vols. 4to. Napoli, 1771), who is much superior to the common run of Italian topographers. His authority is for the most part followed by Romanelli. (Topografia Istorica del Reyno di Napoli, vol. iii.)

There exist coins with the name of the Campanians and Greek legends (ΚΑΜΠΑΩΝ), but most of these belong to the Campanians who were settled in Sicily at Entella and other cities. There are, however, silver coins with the inscription ΚΑΜΠΑΝΟ (or sometimes ΚΑΠΠΑΝΟ), which certainly belong to Campania, and were probably struck at Capua. (Eckhel, Num. Vet. Anecd. p. 19; Millingen, Numism. de l'Italie, p. 140.)


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: