LUCE´RIALUCE´RIA (Λουκερία, Pol., Strab.: Eth. Λουκερῖνος, Steph. B. sub voce Lucerinus: Lucera), an ancient and important city of Apulia situated in the interior of that country, about 12 miles W. of Arpi, and 9 N. of Aecae (Troja). It is called by ancient writers a city of the Daunians, and the tradition current among the Greeks ascribed its foundation, in common with that of Arpi and Canusium, to Diomed; in proof of which an ancient statue of Minerva, in the temple of that goddess, was alleged to be the true Palladium brought by Diomed himself from Troy. (Strab. vi. pp. 264, 284; Plin. Nat. 3.11. s. 16.) Yet all the accounts of the city from the time that its name appears in history would seem to point to its being an Oscan town, and connected rather with the Oscan branch of the Apulians than with the Daunians. Nothing is known of the history of Luceria till the Second Samnite War, when the Lucerians, who had apparently joined with the other Apulians, in their alliance with Rome in B.C. 326, but had refused to partake in their subsequent defection to the Samnites, were besieged by the latter people; and the Roman legions were on their way to relieve and succour them, when they sustained the great disaster at the Caudine Forks. (Liv. 9.2; Drakenborch, ad loc.; Aur. Vict. de Vir. Illust. 30.) It is clear that in consequence of that blow to the Roman power, Luceria fell into the hands of the Samnites, as we are told shortly after that the hostages given up by the Romans by the treaty at Caudium were deposited for safety in that city. (Id. 9.12.) For this reason its recovery was a great object with the Romans ; and in B.C. 320, Papirius Cursor laid siege to Luceria with a large army, and, [p. 2.211]after an obstinate resistance, made himself master of the city, which was defended by a garrison of above 7000 Samnites. (Id. 9.12--15,) Besides recovering the hostages, he obtained an immense booty, so that Luceria was evidently at this period a flourishing city, and Diodorus (19.72) calls it the most important place in Apulia. A few years after (B.C. 314), the city was again betrayed into the hands of the Samnites; but was quickly recovered by the Romans, who put the greater part of the inhabitants to the sword, and sent thither a body of 2500 colonists to supply their place. (Id. 9.26; Vell. 1.14, Diod 19.72.) The possession of so important a stronghold in this part of tile country became of material service to the Romans in the subsequent operations of the war (Diod. l.c.); and in B.C. 294, the Samnites having laid siege to it, the Roman consul Atilius advanced to its relief, and defeated the Samnites in a great battle. According to another account, Luceria afforded shelter to the shattered remnants of the consul's army after he had sustained a severe defeat. (Liv. 10.35, 37.) Not less important was the part which Luceria bore in the Second Punic War. The establishment of this powerful colony in a military position of the utmost importance, was of signal advantage to the Romans during all their operations in Apulia; and it was repeatedly chosen as the place where their armies took up their winter-quarters, or their generals established their head-quarters during successive campaigns in Apulia. (Liv. 22.9, 23.37, 24.3, 14, 20; Pol. 3.88, 100.) But though it was thus exposed to a more than ordinary share of the sufferings of the war, Luceria was nevertheless one of the eighteen Latin colonies which in B.C. 209 expressed their readiness to continue their contributions, both of men and money, and which in consequence received the thanks of the senate for their fidelity. (Liv. 27.10.) From this time we meet with no notice of Luceria till near the close of the Roman Republic; but it ap pears from the manner in which Cicero speaks of it (pro Cluent. 69) that it was in his time still one of the most considerable towns in this part of Italy; and in the Civil War between Caesar and Pompey, it is evident that much importance was attached to its possession by the latter, who for some time made it his head-quarters before he retired to Brundusium. (Caes. B.C. 1.24; Cic. ad Alt. 7.1. 2, 8.1; Appian, App. BC 2.38.) Strabo speaks of Luceria as having fallen into decay, like Canusium and Arpi (vi. p. 284): but this can only be understood in comparison with its former presumed greatness; for it seems certain that it was still a considerable town, and one of the few in this part of Italy that retained their prosperity under the Roman Empire. Pliny terms it a Colonia, and it had therefore probably received a fresh colony under Augustus (Plin. Nat. 3.11. s. 16; Lib. Colon. p. 210; Zumpt, de Colon. p. 349). Its colonial rank is also attested by inscriptions (Mommsen, Inscr. R. N. pp. 50, 51); and from the Tabula it would appear to have been in the 4th century one of the most considerable cities of Apulia (Tab. Peut., where the indication of a great building with the name “Praetorium Laverianum” evidently points to the residence of some provincial magistrate). Even after the fall of the Roman Empire Luceria long retained its prosperity, and is enumerated in the 7th century by P. Diaconus among the “urbes satis opulentas” which still remained in Apulia. (P. Diac. 2.21.) But in A.D. 663 it was taken by the emperor Constans II. from the Lombards, and utterly destroyed (Id. 5.7). Nor does it appear to have recovered this blow till it was restored by the emperor Frederic II. in 1227. The modern city of Lucera still retains its episcopal see and about 12,000 inhabitants. It occupies the ancient site, on a hill of considerable elevation (one of the last under-falls of the Apennines) overlooking the extensive and fertile plains of Apulia. Livy speaks of it as situated in the plain ( “urbs sita in plano,” 9.26); but if this was the case with the Apulian city, the Roman colony must have been removed to the heights above, as existing remains leave no doubt that the ancient city occupied the same site with the modern one. The remains of buildings are not of much importance, but numerous inscriptions, fragments of sculpture, &c. have been found there. The inscriptions are collected by Mommsen (Inscr. Regn. Neap. pp. 50--54). The neighbourhood of Luceria was celebrated in ancient, as it still is in modern, times for the abundance and excellence of its wool (Hor. Carm. 3.15. 14), an advantage which was indeed common to all the neighbouring district of Apulia. (Strab. vi. p.284; Plin. Nat. 8.48; K. Craven, Southern Tour, p. 45.) Ptolemy writes the name Nuceria; and that this is not merely an error of the MSS. in our existing copies is shown by the circumstance that the epithet Apula is added to it (Νουκερία Λ̓πουλῶν, Ptol. 3.1.72), as if to distinguish it from other towns of the name. Appian also writes the name Νουκερία (B.C. 2.38): and the same confusion between Nocera and Lucera occurs perpetually in the middle ages. But the correctness of the orthography of Luceria is well established by inscriptions and coins. The latter, which have the name LOVCERI in Roman characters, are certainly not earlier than the establishment of the Roman colony. [E.H.B].
|COIN OF LUCERIA.|