(τὰ Τιφατηνὰ ὄρη
, Dio Cass.: Monte di Maddaloni
), a mountain ridge on the borders of Campania and Samnium, only about a mile from the city of Capua.
It is one of the last outlying masses of the Apennines, and is a long, narrow ridge of no great elevation, but above 12 miles in length from E. to W., and presenting a bold and steep mountain front towards the Campanian plain, upon which it looks directly down.
The name was derived according to Festus from the woods of evergreen oak with which it was covered, “Tifata” being equivalent to “iliceta,” though whether it was an Oscan or old Latin word, we are not told. (Fest. s. v. Tifata.
) It is first mentioned during the war between the Samnites and Campanians which immediately preceded the First Samnite War. On that occasion the Samnites in the first instance occupied the ridge itself with a strong force, and afterwards drew out their main army into the plain below, where they soon defeated the Campanians in a pitched battle. (Liv. 7.29
.) Livy calls it on this occasion “Tifata, imminentes Capuae colles,” and elsewhere “montem imminentem Capuae” (26.5), which well describes its character and situation.
It was this opportune position with regard to Capua and the surrounding plain, that caused it to be selected by Hannibal as a post where he established his camp in B.C. 215, and from whence he long carried on his operations against the various cities of Campania. (Id. 23.36, 37, 39, 43, 26.5; Sil. Ital. 12.487
At a later period it was in the plain at the foot of Tifata that Sulla defeated the Marian general Norbanus, B.C. 83; and in gratitude for this victory, he consecrated a considerable tract of territory to Diana, the tutelary goddess of the mountain. (Veil. Pat. 2.25.) We hence learn that that divinity had a celebrated temple on Tifata, and the “Dianae Tifatinae fanum” is noticed also in inscriptions found at Capua. From one of these we learn that the consecrated territory was again assigned to the goddess by Vespasian. (Orell. Inscr.
As the Tabula marks a station “Ad Dianae” near the W. extremity of the ridge, it is probable that the temple was situated in that neighbourhood. (Tab. Pent.
) From the same authority we learn that Jupiter, who was worshipped on so many of the highest points of the Apennines, had a temple also on Tifata, to which it gives the name of Jovis Tifatinus.
It is placed in the Tabula at the E. extremity of the ridge. (Tab. Peut.
) Again in B.C. 48 the fastnesses of this mountain ridge afforded a shelter to Milo when driven from Capua. (D. C. 42.25
This is the last time its name is mentioned in history, and it is not noticed by any of the geographers: in the middle ages the name seems to have been wholly forgotten; and the mountain is now called from a neighbouring village the Monte di Maddaloni.
But the descriptions of Livy and Silius Italicus leave no doubt of the identification.
It is indeed, from its proximity to Capua and the abruptness with which it rises from the plain, one of the most striking natural features of this part of Campania.