The name of the people is written Eth. Λευκανοί
by Strabo and Polybius, but Ptolemy has Eth. Λουκανοί
, and this is found also on coins), a province or district of Southern Italy, extending across from the Tyrrhenian sea to the gulf of Tarentum, and bounded by the Bruttians on the S., by Samnium and Apulia on the N., and by Campania, or the district of the Picentini, on the NW. Its more precise limits, which are fixed with unusual unanimity by the geographers, were, the river Silarus on the NW.; the Bradanus, which flows into the gulf of Tarentum, just beyond Metapontum, on the NE.; while the mouths of the Laüs and the Crathis marked its frontiers towards the Bruttians on the two sides of the peninsula. (Strab. vi pp. 252, 253, 255; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 10
. s. 15; Ptol. 3.1
. § § 8, 9.) Its northern frontier, from the sources of the Silarus to those of the Bradanus, must have been an arbitrary line; but nearly following the main ridge of the Apennines in this part of its course.
It thus comprised the modern province of the Basilicata,
together with the greater part of the Principato Citeriore
and the extreme northern portion of Calabria. [p. 2.207]
Lucania is evidently “the land of the Lucanians :” but though no territorial designation in Italy became more clearly marked or generally adopted than this appellation, it was not till a comparatively late period that it came into use.
The name of the Lucanians was wholly unknown to the Greeks in the days of Thucydides; and the tract subsequently known as Lucania was up to that time generally comprised under the vague appellation of Oenotria, while its coasts were included in the name of Magna Graecia. Scylax is the earliest author in whom the name of Lucania and the Lucanians is found; and he describes them as extending from the frontiers of the Samnites and Iapygians to the southern extremity of the Bruttian peninsula. (Scyl. pp. 3, 4, 5. § § 12, 13.) We are fortunately able to trace with certainty the historical causes of this change of designation.
The earliest inhabitants of the part of Italy afterwards known as Lucania, were the Oenotrians and Chones, tribes whom there is good reason to refer to a Pelasgic stock. [ITALIA
The few particulars transmitted to us concerning them are given under OENOTRIA
] These races appear to have been unwarlike, or at least incapable of offering any material opposition to the arms of the Greeks; so that when the latter established a line of colonies along the shores of the Tyrrhenian sea and the gulf of Tarentum, they seem to have reduced the barbarians of the interior to a state of at least nominal subjection with but little difficulty. Thus Sybaris extended her power from sea to sea, and founded the colonies of Posidonia, Laüs, and Scidrus on the western coast of Oenotria; while further to the S. Crotona and Locri followed her example.
It is probable, however, that other means were employed by the Greeks as well as arms. The Pelasgic races of Oenotria were probably assimilated without much difficulty with their Hellenic rulers; and there seems reason to believe that the native races were to a considerable extent admitted to the privileges of citizens, and formed no unimportant element in the population of the cities of Magna Graecia. (Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 60.)
The history of the foundation and rise of the numerous Greek colonies, which gradually formed as it were a belt, encircling the whole southern peninsula of Italy, are more appropriately reserved for the article MAGNA GRAECIA
It may here suffice to mention that the period immediately preceding the fall of Sybaris (B.C. 510) may be taken as that during which the Greek cities were at the height of their power, and when their dominion was most widely extended.
But though many of those cities suffered severely from domestic dissensions, we find no trace of any material change in their relations with the neighbouring barbarians, till the appearance of the Lucanians at once produced an entire change in the aspect of affairs.
The Lucanians were, according to the general testimony of ancient writers, a Sabellian race,--an offshoot or branch of the Samnite nation, which, separating from the main body of that people, in the same manner as the Campanians, the Hirpini, and the Frentani had severally done, pressed on still further to the south, and established themselves in the country subsequently known as Lucania. (Strab. vi. p.254
; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 10
The origin of their name is unknown; for the derivation of it from a leader of the name of Lucius (Plin. xxx. l.c.;
Etym. Magn. s. v. Λενκανοί
) is too obviously a mere etymological fiction of late days to deserve attention. Nor have we any distinct information as to the period of their first appearance and establishment. Strabo describes them, without doubt, correctly, as first expelling (or more properly subduing
) the Oenotrians and Chones, and then turning their arms against the Greek cities on the coast.
But it is not till they come into contact with these last that we have any account of their proceedings; and we have, therefore, no information as to the commencement of their career. Even their wars with the Greeks are known to us only in a very imperfect and fragmentary manner, so that we can scarcely trace the steps of their progress.
But it is probable that it was not till after the conquest of Campania (about B.C. 420) that the Samnites began to extend their conquests to the southward. Niebuhr has justly observed that the tranquil foundation of the Athenian colony at Thurii, in B.C. 442, and the period of prosperity which allowed it at first to rise rapidly to power, sufficiently prove that the Lucanians had not as yet become formidable neighbours to the Gauls, at least on that side of the peninsula (Nieb. vol. i. p. 96).
But they seemed to have first turned their arms against the Greek cities on the W. coast, and established a permanent footing in that quarter, before they came into collision with the more powerful cities on the Tarentine gulf. (Strab. i. p.254
.) Posidonia was apparently the first of the Greek cities which yielded to their arms, though the date of its conquest is uncertain. [PAESTUM
] It was probably soon after this that the Thurians, under the command of Cleandridas, were engaged in war with the Lucanians, in which they appeared to have obtained some considerable successes. (Polyaen, 2.10.)
But the progress of the latter was still unchecked; and the increasing danger from their power led to the formation, in B.C. 393, of a defensive league among all the principal cities of Magna Graecia, with a view of resisting the Lucanians on the N., and the power of Dionysius on the S. (Diod. 14.91
.) They might reasonably suppose that their combined arms would easily effect this; but only three years later, B.C. 390, the forces of the confederates, among whom the Thurians took the lead, sustained a great defeat near Laüs, in which it is said that 10,000 of the Greeks perished. (Diod. 14.101
; Strab. vi. p.253
After this success, the Lucanians seem to have spread themselves with but little opposition through the southern peninsula of Italy.
The wars of the elder Dionysius in that region must have indirectly favoured their progress by weakening the Greek cities; and though he did not openly support the Lucanians, it is evident that he looked upon their successes with no unfavourable eyes. (Diod. 14.102
.) Their continued advance towards the south, however, would soon render them in their turn a source of umbrage to the Syracusan despots, who had established a permanent footing in the Italian peninsula; hence we find the younger Dionysius engaged in hostilities with the Lucanians, but apparently with little success; and after a vain attempt to exclude them from the southernmost peninsula of Bruttium, by fortifying the isthmus between the Hipponian and Scyllacian gulfs, he was obliged to conclude a treaty of peace with them in B.C. 358. (Diod. 16.5
; Strab. vi. p.261
This was about the period during which the Lucanians had attained their greatest power, and extended their dominion to the limits which we find assigned to them by Scylax (pp. 3, 4). They [p. 2.208]
had not, however, subdued the Greek cities on the coasts, some of which fell at a later period under the yoke of the Bruttians; while others maintained their independence, though for the most part in a decayed and enfeebled condition, till the period of the Roman dominion. [MAGNA GRAECIA
] Shortly afterwards, the Lucanians lost the Bruttian peninsula, their most recent acquisition, by the revolt of the Bruttians, who, from a mere troop of outlaws and banditti, gradually coalesced into a formidable nation. [BRUTTII
] The establishment of this power in the extreme south, confined the Lucanians within the limits which are commonly assigned from this time forth to their territory; they seem to have acquiesced, after a brief struggle, in the independence of of the Bruttians, and soon made common cause with them against the Greeks. Their arms were now principally directed against the Tarentines, on their eastern frontier.
The latter people, who had apparently taken little part in the earlier contests of the Greeks with the Lucanians, were now compelled to provide for their own defence; and successively called in the assistance of Archidamus, king of Sparta, and Alexander, king of Epirus.
The former monarch was slain in a battle against the Lucanians in B.C. 338, and his whole army cut to pieces (Diod. 16.63
; Strab. vi. p.280
); but Alexander proved a more formidable antagonist: he defeated the Lucanians (though supported by the Samnites) in a great battle near Paestum, as well as in several minor encounters, took several of their cities, and carried his arms into the heart of Bruttium, where he ultimately fell in battle near Pandosia, B.C. 326. (Liv. 8.24
; Just. 12.2
; Strab. vi. p.256
It would appear as if the power of the Lucanians was considerably broken at this period; and in B.C. 303, when we next hear of them as engaged in war with the Tarentines, the very arrival of Cleonymus from Sparta is said to have terrified them into the conclusion of a treaty. (Diod. 20.104
Meantime the Lucanians had become involved in relations with a more formidable power. Already, in B.C. 326, immediately after the death of Alexander king of Epirus, the Lucanians are mentioned as voluntarily concluding a treaty of peace and alliance with Rome, which was then just entering on the Second Samnite War. (Liv. 8.25
.) We have no explanation of the causes which led to this change of policy; just before, we find them in alliance with the Samnites, and very shortly after they returned once more to their old allies. (lb. 27.)
But though they were thus brought into a state of direct hostility with Rome, it was not till B.C. 317, that the course of events allowed the Romans to punish their defection.
In that year the consuls for the first time entered Lucania, and took the town of Nerulum by assault. (Liv. 9.20
.) The Lucanians were evidently included in the peace which put an end to the Second Samnite War (B.C. 304), and from this time continued steadfast in the Roman alliance; so that it was the attack made on them by the Samnites which led to the Third Samnite War, B.C. 298. (Liv. 10.11
.) Throughout that struggle the Lucanians seem to have been faithful to Rome; and were probably admitted to an alliance on favourable conditions at its close.
But in B.C. 286, they having turned their arms against Thurii, the Romans took up the cause of the besieged city, and declared war against the Lucanians, over whom M‘. Curius is said to have celebrated an ovation. (Aur. Vict. de Vir. Illust.
33); and four years afterwards (B.C. 282) the allied forces of the Lucanians and Samnites, which had again beleaguered Thurii, were defeated in a great battle by C. Fabricius. (V. Max. 1.8.6
.) On the arrival of Pyrrhus in Italy (B.C. 281) the Lucanians were among the first to declare in favour of that monarch, though it was not till after his victory at Heraclea that they actually sent their contingent to his support. (Plut. Pyrr.
13, 17; Zonar. 8.3
.) The Lucanian auxiliaries are especially mentioned in the service of that prince at the battle of Asculum (Dionys. xx., Fr.
Didot): but when Pyrrhus withdrew from Italy, he left his allies at the mercy of the Roman arms, and the Lucanians in particular, were exposed to the full brunt of their resentment.
After they had seen their armies defeated, and their territory ravaged in several successive compaigns, by C. Fabricius, Cornelius Rufinus, and M‘. Curius, they were at length reduced to submission by Sp. Carvilius and L. Papirius Cursor in B.C. 272. (Zonar. 8.6
; Eutrop. 2.14
; Liv. Epit.
xiii., xiv.; Fast. Capit.
From this time the Lucanians continued in undisturbed subjection to Rome till the Second Punic War.
In the celebrated register of the Roman forces in B.C. 225, the Lucanians (including, probably, the Bruttians, who are not separately noticed) are reckoned as capable of bringing into the field 30,000 foot and 3000 horse, so that they must have been still a numerous and powerful people. (Pol. 2.24.)
But they suffered severely in the Second Punic War. Having declared in favour of Hannibal after the battle of Cannae (B.C. 216), their territory became during many successive campaigns the theatre of war, and was ravaged, in turn, by both contending armies. Thus, in B.C. 214, it was the scene of the contest between Sempronius Gracchus and Hanno ; in the following year Gracchus employed the whole campaign within its limits, and it was in Lucania that that general met with his untimely death in the summer of B.C. 212. (Liv. 22.61
At length, in B.C. 209, the Lucanians, in conjunction with the Hirpini, abandoned the alliance of Hannibal, and betrayed the garrisons which he had left in their towns into the hands of the Romans; in consideration of which service they were admitted to favourable terms. (Id. 27.15.) They did not, however, yet escape the evils of war; for in the next year their territory was the scene of the campaign of Marcellus and Crispinus against Hannibal, in which both consuls perished; and it was not till after the battle of the Metaurus, in B.C. 207, that Hannibal withdrew his forces into Bruttium, and abandoned the attempt to maintain his footing in Lucania. (Liv. 27.51
Strabo tells us that the Lucanians were punished by the Romans for their defection to Hannibal, by being reduced to the same degraded condition as the Bruttians. (Strab. v. p.251
But this can only be true of those among them who had refused to join in the general submission of the people in B.C. 209, and clung to Hannibal to the last: the others were restored to a somewhat favourable condition, and continued to form a considerable nation; though, if we may trust to the statement of Strabo, they never recovered from the ravages of this war.
But it was the Social War (B.C. 90--88) that gave the final blow to the prosperity of Lucania. The Lucanians on that occasion were among the first to take up arms; and, after bearing an important part throughout the contest, they still, in conjunction with [p. 2.209]
the Samnites, preserved a hostile attitude when all the other nations of Italy had already submitted and received, the Roman franchise. (Appian, App. BC 1.39
In the civil war between Marius and Sulla, which immediately followed, the Lucanians, as well as the Samnites, actively espoused the cause of the Marian party, and a Lucanian legion fought in the great battle at the Colline Gate. They in consequence were exposed to the full vengeance of the conqueror; and Lucania, as well as Samnium, was laid waste by Sulla in a manner that it never recovered.
The remaining inhabitants were admitted to the Roman citizenship, and from this time the Lucanians ceased to be a people, and soon lost all traces of distinct nationality. (Appian, App. BC 1.90
; Strab. vi. pp. 253, 254.)
Of Lucania under the Roman government we hear but little; but it is certain that it had fallen into a state of complete decay. The Greek cities on its coasts, once so powerful and flourishing, had sunk into utter insignificance, and the smaller towns of the interior were poor and obscure places. (Strab. l.c.
) Nor is there any appearance that it ever recovered from this state of depression under the Roman Empire. The Liber Coloniarum mentions only eight towns in the whole province, and all of these were in the subordinate condition of “praefecturae.” (Lib. Colon.
The malaria which now desolates its coasts, must have begun to act as soon as the population had disappeared; and the mountain region of the interior was apparently then, as at the present day, one of the wildest regions of Italy. Large tracts were given up to pasture, while extensive forests afforded subsistence to vast herds of swine, the flesh of which formed an important part of the supplies of the Imperial City.
The mountain forests were also favourite resorts of wild boars, and contained abundance of bears, which were sent from thence to the amphitheatres at Rome. (Hor. Sat.
2.3. 234, 8. 6; Martial, de Spect.
8; Varr. L. L.
5.100.) Lucania was comprised together with Bruttium in the third region of Augustus, and the two provinces continued to be united for administrative purposes throughout the period of the Roman Empire. Even after the fall of the Western Empire, we meet with mention of the “Corrector Lucaniae et Bruttiorum.” Lucania long continued to acknowledge the supremacy of the Eastern Emperors; and the modern province of the Easilicata
is supposed to have derived its name from the emperor Basilius II. in the 10th century. (Pin. 3.5. s. 10; Not. Dign.
ii. p. 64; Orell. Inscr.
1074; Treb. Poll. Tetr.
24; P. Diac. 2.17; Cassiod. Var.
The physical characters of Lucania are almost wholly determined by the chain of the Apennines, which enters at its northern frontier, and from thence traverses the province in its whole extent.
These mountains form a lofty group or knot immediately on the frontiers of Samnium, and from thence the main chain is continued nearly due S. to the. confines of Bruttium; a little before reaching which, it rises again into the very lofty group of Monte Pollino,
the highest summit of which attains an elevation of above 7000 feet. Throughout its course this chain approaches considerably nearer to the western than the eastern coast; but it is not till after passing the frontier of Bruttium that it becomes a complete littoral chain, as it continues for a considerable distance.
In the more northern part of Lucania the space between the central chain and the Tyrrhenian sea is almost filled up with ranges of lofty and rugged mountains, leaving only here and there a small strip of plain on the sea-coast: but towards the eastward, the mountains sink much more gradually as they approach the gulf of Tarentum, constituting long ranges of hills, which gradually subside into the broad strip of plain that borders the gulf the whole way from the mouth of the Siris (Sinno
) to that of the Bradanus.
It is this tract of plain, in many places marshy, and now desolate and unhealthy, that was celebrated in ancient times for its almost matchless fertility. (Archiloch. ap. Athen. 12.25.) South of the river Siris, the offshoots of the Apennines, descending from the lofty group of Monte Pollino
as a centre, again approach close to the shore, filling up the greater part of the space between the mouth of the Siris and that of the Crathis; but once more receding as they approach the latter river, so as to leave a considerable tract of fertile plain bordering its banks on both sides.
The lofty group of mountains just noticed as situated on the frontiers of Lucania and Samnium, sends down its waters towards both seas, and is the source of the most considerable rivers of Lucania. Of these the SILARUS
) flows to the gulf of Paestum, receiving in its course the waters of the TANAGER
) and CALOR
), both considerable streams, which join it from the S. On the other side, the BRADANUS
), which rises to the N. of Potentia, and the CASUENTUS
which has its source in the Monti della Maddalena,
a little to the S. of the same town, flow to the SE., and pursue a nearly parallel course the whole way to the gulf of Tarentum. The ACIRIS
) and the SIRIS
), which rise in the central chain further to the S., have also a general SE. direction, and flow to the gulf of Tarentum. The CRATHIS
further down the same coast, which forms near its mouth the limit between Lucania and Bruttium, belongs in the greater part of its course exclusively to the latter country.
But the SYBARIS
now the. Coscile,
a much less considerable stream, immediately to the N. of the Crathis, belongs wholly to Lucania. The ACALANDRUS
), which falls into the sea between the Sybaris and the Siris, is a very trifling stream. On the W. coast of Lucania, the only river, besides the Silarus and its tributaries, worthy of notice, is the Laüs, or Lao,
which forms the southern boundary of Lucania on this side. The Pyxus (Busento
), flowing by the town of the same name (Buxentum), is but a trifling stream ; and the Melphes (Molpa
), which enters the sea by the promontory of Palinurus, though noticed by Pliny (3.5. s. 10
), is not more considerable. The HELES or ELEES, which gave name to Elea or Velia, is somewhat more important, but by no means a large stream. [VELIA
The western coast of Lucania is marked by several bold and prominent headlands, formed by the ridges of the Apennines, which, as already stated, here descend quite to the sea, and end abruptly on the coast.
The most northern of these, forming the southern limit of the extensive gulf of Paestum, is called by. Lycophron Enipeus, but was more commonly known as the Posidium or Posidonium Promnontoriumn. S. of this was the more celebrated promontory of PALINURUS
still called Capo di Palinuro,
with a port of the same name; and beyond this, again, the promontory of Pyxus (now Capo degli Infreschi
), which bounds the Gulf of Policastro
on the W. Viewed on a larger scale, these three headlands may [p. 2.210]
be regarded as only the salient points of one large projecting mass which separates the gulf of Paestum from that of Policastro.
The latter seems to have been known in ancient times as the gulf of Laüs. Opposite to the headland called Posidium was the small islet named by the Greeks LEUCOSIA
from which the promontory now derives the name of Punta di Licosa
; and a little further S., off the coast of Velia, were the two islands (also mere rocks) called by the Greeks the OENOTRIDES. (Strab. vi. p.252
; Plin. Nat. 3.7. s. 13
The towns of Lucania may be conveniently enumerated in two classes :--the first comprising those along, the coasts, which were almost without exception of Greek origin; the other containing the towns of the interior, which were for the most part either native Lucanian settlements, or Roman colonies of a later date. On the W. coast, proceeding along the shore of the Tyrrhenian sea, from N. to S., were :--POSIDONIA
afterwards called PAESTUM
a very little way from the mouth of the Silarus; ELEA or VELIA
at the mouth of the Heles (Alento
called by the Romans BUXENTUM
now Policastro; SCIDRUS
supposed to have occupied the site of Sapri; BLANDA
and LAUS, which was at the mouth of the river of that name, on its right bank. On the E. coast, bordering on the gulf of Tarentum, and beginning from the Crathis, stood THURII
replacing the ancient city of SYBARIS
but not occupying precisely the same site; HERACLEA, which had in like manner succeeded to the more ancient settlement of SIRIS
a few miles further N.; and, lastly, METAPONTUM
on the southern bank of the river Bradanus.
The principal towns in the interior were:--POTENTIA
still called Potenza,
and the capital of the province known as the Basilicata
still called Atina,
in the upper valley of the Tanager; VOLCEIUM
or VOLCENTUM, now Buccino; NUMISTRO
of uncertain site, but apparently in the same neighbourhood; EBURI
), which is expressly called by Pliny a Lucanian town, though situated to the N. of the Silarus ; BANTIA Banzi,
a few miles from Venusia, on the very frontiers of Apulia, so that it was sometimes referred to that country; GRUMENTUM
), one of the most considerable towns in Lucania; NERULUM
probably at La Rotonda,
still called Morano,
almost adjoining the frontier of Bruttium. CONSILINUM
or COSILINUM may probably be placed at Padula,
in the upper valley of the Tanager, and TEGIANUM
in the same neighbourhood; while La Polla,
in the same valley, occupies the site of FORUM POPILLII; SONTIA, noticed only by Pliny, is probably the place now called Sanza
; while the Tergilani and Ursentini of the same author are wholly unknown, unless the former name be corrupted from that of Tegianum, already noticed. (Plin. Nat. 3.11. s. 15
; Lib. Colon.
p. 209.) Of the few names mentioned by Strabo (vi. p.254
), those of Vertinae and Calasarna are wholly unknown.
The existence of a Lucanian PETELIA
in addition to the Bruttian
cities of those names, is a subject of great doubt.
The principal line of highroad through Lucania was the Via Popillia (regarded by the Itineraries as a branch of the Via Appia), which, in its course from Capua to Rhegium, traversed the whole province from N. to S.
The stations on it given in the Antonine Itinerary,
p. 109, are (proceeding from Nuceria):--
The Tabula gives a place which it calls Vicus Mendicolus (?) as the intermediate station between Marciliana and Nerulum. All these stations are very doubtful, the exact line of the ancient road through this mountain country having never been traced with accuracy. Another road, given in the Tabula, led from Potentia by Anxia (Anzi
) and Grumentum to Nerulum, where it joined the Via Popillia.
The other roads in the interior, given in the Itinerary and the Tabula, are very corrupt; we may, however, ascertain that there was a line of road proceeding from Venusia through Potentia to Heraclea and Thurii, and another from Potentia to join the Via Popillia at Marciliana, being probably the direct line of communication between Potentia and Rome. Lastly, there was always a line of road along the coast, following its level shores from Tarentum by Metapontum and Heraclea to Thurii.
|COIN OF LUCANIA.|