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FRENTA´NI

Eth. FRENTA´NI (Φρεντανοί, Strab., Ptol.; Φερεντανοί, Pol., Dionys.), a people of Central Italy, occupying the tract on the E. coast of the peninsula from the Apennines to the Adriatic, and from the frontiers of Apulia to those of the Marrucini. They were bounded on the W. by the Samnites, with whom they were closely connected, and from whom they were originally descended: hence, Scylax assigns the whole of this line of coast, from the frontiers of Apulia to those of Picenum, to the Samnites. (Scyl. § 15. p. 5.) Their exact limits are less clearly defined, and there is considerable discrepancy in the statements of ancient geographers: Larinum, with its territory (extending from the Tifernus to the Frento), being by some writers termed a city of the Frentani (Ptol. 3.1.65), while the more general opinion included it in Apulia, and thus made the river Tifernus (Biferno) the limit of the two. countries (Plin. Nat. 3.12. s. 17; Mel. 2.4.6). The northern boundary of the Frentani is equally uncertain; both Strabo (v. p.242) and Ptolemy (l.c. § 19) concur in fixing it at the river Sagrus or Sangro, while Pliny extends their limits as far as the Aternus, and, according to Mela, they possessed the mouths both of that river and the Matrinus. The latter statement is certainly inaccurate; and Strabo distinctly tells. us, that the Marrucini held the right bank of the Aternus down to its mouth, while the Vestini possessed the left bank (v..p. 241); hence, the former people must have intervened between the Frentani and the mouth of the Aternus. Pliny's account is, however, more near the truth than that of Strabo and Ptolemy; for it is certain that Ortona and Anxanum, both of which are situated [p. 1.915]considerably to the N. of the Sagrus, were Frentanian cities. The latter is indeed assigned by Ptolemy himself to that people (3.1.65), while Strabo also terms Ortona the port or naval station of the Frentani (ἐπίνειον Φρεντανῶν, v. p. 242), but erroneously places it to the S. of the river Sagrus. Hence, their confines must have approached within a few miles of the Aternus, though without actually abutting upon that river. On the W. they were probably not separated from the Samnites by any well-marked natural boundary, but occupied the lower slopes of the Apennines as well as the hilly country extending from thence to the sea, while the more lofty and central ridges of the mountains were included in Samnium.

The Frentani are expressly termed by Strabo a Samnite people, and he appears to distinguish them as such from the neighbouring tribes of the Marrucini, Peligni, and Vestini, with whom they had otherwise much in common. (Strab. v. p.241). They, however, appear in history as a separate people, having their own national organisation; and though they may at one time (as suggested by Niebuhr) have constituted one of the four nations of the Samnite confederacy, this seems to have been no longer the case when that power came into collision with Rome. Their conduct during the long struggle between the Samnites and Romans renders this almost certain. In B.C. 319, indeed, when their name occurs for the first time in history1, they appear in arms against Rome, but were quickly defeated and reduced to submission (Liv. 9.16); and a few years afterwards (B.C. 304), at the close of the Second Samnite War, the Frentani are mentioned, together with the Marsi, Marrucini, and Peligni, as coming forward voluntarily to sue for a treaty of alliance with Rome (Id. 9.45), which they seem to have subsequently adhered to with steadfastness. Hence we find more than once express mention of the Frentanian auxiliaries in the war with Pyrrhus; and one of their officers, of the name of Oblacus, distinguished himself at the battle of Heracleia. (Dionys. Fr. Didot. 20.2; Plut. Pyrrh. 16; Flor. 1.18.7). They gave a still more striking proof of fidelity during the Second Punic War, by adhering to the Roman cause after the battle of Cannae, when so many of the Italian allies, including the greater part of the Samnites, went over to Hannibal. (Liv. 22.61; Sil. Ital. 8.521, 15.567). Throughout this period they appear to have been much more closely connected in their political relations with their neighbours the Marrucini, Peligni, and Vestini, than with their kinsmen the Samnites: hence, probably, it is that Polybius, in enumerating the forces of the Italian allies, classes the Frentani with the Marsi, Marrucini, and Vestini, while he reckons the Samnites separately. (Pol. 2.24.) Notwithstanding their vaunted fidelity, the Frentani joined in the general outbreak of the Italian allies in the great Social War, B.C. 90 (Appian, App. BC 1.39; Strab. v. p.241): they do not, however, appear to have taken any prominent part, and we can only infer that they received the Roman franchise at the same time with the neighbouring tribes. Hence we find them mentioned by Cicero, a few years later, as sending some of their chief men ( “Frentani, homines nobilissimi,” pro Cluent. 69) to support the cause of Cluentius, a native of Larinum. Their territory was traversed without resistance by Caesar at the outbreak of the Civil War, B.C. 49 (Caes. B.C. 1.23): and this is the last occasion on which their name appears in history. Their territory was comprised in the fourth region of Augustus, together with the Marrucini, Peligni, Marsi, &c. (Plin. Nat. 3.12. s. 17); but at a later period it appears to have been reunited to Samnium, and was placed under the authority of the governor of that province (Mommsen, ad Lib. Col. p. 206). It is now included in the kingdom of Naples, and divided between the provinces of Abruzzo Citeriore and Sannio.

The territory of the Frentani is for the most part hilly, but fertile. It is traversed by numerous rivers which have their sources in the more lofty mountains of Samnium, and flow through the land of the Frentani to the Adriatic: the principal of these, besides the TIFERNUS which (as already mentioned) constituted the southern limit of their country, are the TRINIUS or Trigno, which, according to Pliny, had a good port at its mouth ( “Flumen Trinium portuosum,” Plin. Nat. 3.12. s. 17); and the SAGRUS or Sangro, a very important stream, which enters the Adriatic about half way between Histonium and Ortona. The Tabula also gives the name of a river which it places between Ortona and Anxanum, and calls “Clotoris” (?) The name is probably corrupt; but the stream meant (if its position can be depended upon) can be no other than the Moro, which falls into the Adriatic a few miles S. of Ortona. The coast-line of this part of the Adriatic presents few remarkable features, and no good natural harbours. The mouths of the rivers, and the two projecting points of Termoli (Buca) and the Punta della Penna, afford the only places of anchorage.

The towns of the Frentani mentioned by ancient writers are few in number; but the topography of the district has been thrown into great confusion by the perverted zeal of certain local antiquarians, and by the reliance placed on inscriptions published by some early writers, which there is great reason to regard as forgeries. The Antichità Frentane (2 vols. 8vo., Naples, 1809) of the Abbate Romanelli, who was a native of this part of Italy, is a very uncritical performance; but the author was led astray principally by the inscriptions and other documents put forth by Polidoro, an Italian antiquary of the last century, who appears to have had no hesitation in forging, or at least corrupting and altering them in such a manner as to suit his purpose. (Mommsen, Inscr. Regn. Neap., Appendix, p. 30.) Romanelli, in his later and more extensive work (Antica Topografia Istorica del Regno di Napoli, 3 vols. 4to., Naples, 1818), simply abridged the results of his former book; and Cramer, as usual, blindly follows Romanelli. Along the sea-coast (proceeding from N. to S.) were situated ORTONA, HISTONIUM, and BUCA The two former may be clearly fixed, Ortona retaining its ancient name, and the ruins of Histonium being still extant at Il Vasto d'Ammone: but there is considerable difficulty in determining the site of Buca, which may however be fixed with much probability at Termoli [B.C.]; the arguments that have led many writers to place it at Sta. Maria della Penna being based principally upon the spurious inscriptions just alluded to. The existence of a town called Interamna, supposed by Romanelli and Cramer to have [p. 1.916]occupied the site of Termoli, is derived only from the same apocryphal source; and, even were the inscription itself authentic, the Interamna there meant is probably the well-known town of the Praetntii. (Murat. Inscr. p. 1050, no. 7; Mommsen, l.c.) The only inland town of importance among the Frentani was ANXANUM now Lanciano; but, besides this, Pliny mentions, in the interior of the country, the “Carentini supernates et infernates,” and the “Lanuenses;” both of which peoples are otherwise unknown, and the site of their towns cannot be fixed with any approach to certainty. On the other hand, the Tabula gives the name of a place called PALLANUM of which no other mention occurs; but the site of which, according to Romanelli, is marked by extensive ruins at a place called Monte di Pallano, about 3 miles S.W. of Atessa. The previous station given by the same authority is called “Annum;” a name probably corrupt, but the true reading for which is unknown. (Tab. Peut.; Geogr. Ray. 4.31.) USCOSIUM, a place given in the Itinerary of Antoninus, which reckons it 15 miles from Histonium, on the road into Apulia (Itin. Ant. p. 314), is fixed by this distance at a spot near the right bank of the little river Sinarca, about 5 miles S.W. of Termoli, but in the territory of Guglionisi, where considerable remains of an ancient town are said to exist. (Romnanelli, vol. iii. p. 24.)

There is considerable obscurity in regard to the Roman roads through the territory of the Frentani. The name of the “Via Trajana Frentana” rests only on the authority of a dubious inscription; nor is there any better evidence for the fact that the construction of the high road through this district was really owing to that emperor. But it is certain that an ancient road traversed the territory of the Frentani, in its whole length from Aternum to Larinum, keeping for the most part near the sea-coast, but diverging for the purpose of visiting Anxanum. The stations along it are thus given in the Itinerary of Antoninus:--

Ostia Aterni. M.P.
Angelum (Angulus) x.
Ortona xi.
Anxano xiii.
Histonios xxv.
Uscosio xv.
Arenio (Larinum?) xiv.

Of these, Angulus is certainly misplaced, and should have been inserted between Hadria and the Aternus. The distance from the mouths of the Aternus at Pescara to Ortona is considerably understated, and that from Ortona to Anxanum as much overrated; but still the line of the road may be tolerably well made out, and an ancient Roman bridge, over the Sangro between Lanciano and Il Vasto, supplies a fixed point in confirmation. The road given in the Tabula, on the contrary, strikes inland, from the mouth of the Aternus to Teate, and thence to Ortona, and again between Anxanum and Histonium makes a bend inland by Annum and Pallanum. The distances given are very confused, and in many instances probably corrupt. They stand thus:--

Ostia Aterni. M.P.
Teano Marrucino xvi.
Ortona xi.
Anxana iii.
Annum iiii.
Pallanum xii.
Istonium xxiii.
Larinum.  

There exist copper coins with the Oscan legend--“Frentrei,” which may probably be referred to the Frentani rather than to the town of Ferentum in Apulia, to which they have been assigned by some writers. Others are of opinion that they indicate the existence of a city of the name of Frentrum as the capital of the Frentani, which is supposed to be the one referred to by Livy (9.16) where he says--“Frentanos vicit urbemque ipsam--in deditionem accepit,” --without naming the city; but this inference is, to say the least, very dubious. (Friedländer, Oskische Münzen, p. 42; Millingen, Numismatique de l'Italie, p. 180.)

[E.H.B]

1 The old editions of Livy have “Ferentani;” but the conjecture of Sigonius that we should read “Frentani,” is supported by some of the best MSS., and may be regarded as certainly correct. (See Alschefski, ad . loc.; Niebuhr, vol iii. p. 225.)

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