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ABELLI´NUM (Ἀβέλλινον, Eth. Abellinas-atis).


A considerable city of the Hirpini, situated in the upper valley of the Sabatus, near the frontier of Campania. Pliny, indeed, appears to have regarded it as included in that country, as he enumerates it among the cities of the first region of Augustus, but Ptolemy is probably correct in reckoning it among those of the Hirpini. It is placed by the Tabula Peutingeriana on the road from Beneventum to Salernum, at a distance of 16 Roman miles from the former city. No mention of it is found in history prior to the Roman conquest; and it appears to have first risen to be a place of importance under the Roman Empire. The period at which it became--a colony is uncertain: Pliny calls it only an “oppidum,” but it appears from the Liber de Coloniis that it must have received a colony previous to his time, probably as early as the second Triumvirate; and we learn from various inscriptions of imperial times that it continued to enjoy this rank down to a late period. These mention numerous local magistrates, and prove that it must have been a place of considerable wealth and importance, at least as late as the time of Valentinian. (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9; Ptol. 3.1.68; Lib. de Colon. p. 229; Inser. ap. Orell. Nos. 1180, 1181; Lupuli, Iter Venusin. pp. 34, 55, 56.)

The ancient city was destroyed during the wars between the Greeks and the Lombards, and the inhabitants established themselves on the site of the modern Avellino, which has thus retained the name, but not the situation, of the ancient Abellinum. The ruins of the latter are still visible about two miles from the modern city, near the village of Atripaldi, and immediately above the river Sabbato. Some vestiges of an amphitheatre may be traced, as well as portions of the city walls, and other fragments of reticulated masonry. Great numbers of inscriptions, bas-reliefs, altars, and minor relics of antiquity, have also been discovered on the site. (Lupuli, l.c. pp. 33, 34; Romanelli, vol. ii. p. 310; Swinburne, Travels, vol. i. p. 118; Craven, Abruzzi, vol. ii. p. 201.) The neighbourhood still abounds with filbert-trees, which are extensively cultivated, as they were in ancient times; on which account the name of the nuces Avellanae was frequently derived from Abellinum rather than Abella. (Harduin. ad Plin. 15.22.)


Besides the Abellinum mentioned by Pliny in the first region of Italy, he enumerates also in the second, which included the Hirpini and Apulians, “Abellinates cognomine Protropi,” and “Abellinates cognominati Marsi.” The first have been generally supposed to be the inhabitants of the city already mentioned, but it would certainly appear that Pliny meant to distinguish them. No clue exists to the position of either of these two towns: the conjecture of the Italian topographers who have placed the Abellinates Marsi at Marsico Vetere, in Lucania, having nothing, except the slight similarity of name, to recommend it, as that site would have been in the third region. [E.H.B]

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