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TELE´SIA (Τελεσία: Eth. Telesinus: Telese), a considerable city of Samnium, situated in the valley of the Calor, a short distance from its right bank, and about 3 miles above its confluence with the Vulturnus. It is remarkable that its name is never mentioned during the long wars of the Romans with the Samnites, though the valley in which it was situated was often the theatre of hostilities. Its name first occurs in the Second Punic War, when it was taken by Hannibal on his first irruption into Samnium, B.C. 217 (Liv. 22.13); but was recovered by Fabius in B.C. 214. (Id. 24.20.) From this time we hear no more of it till it became an ordinary Roman municipal town. Strabo speaks of it as having in his time fallen into almost complete decay, in common with most of the cities of Samnium. (Strab. v. p.250.) But we learn that it received a colony in the time of the Triumvirate (Lib. Colon, p. 238); and, though not mentioned by Pliny as a colony (the name is altogether omitted by him), it is certain, from inscriptions, that it retained its colonial rank, and appears to have continued under the Roman Empire to have been a flourishing and considerable town. (Orell. Inscr. 2626; Romanelli, vol. ii. p. 423; Mommsen, lscr. R. N. 4840--4915.) It was situated on the line of the Via Latina, or rather of a branch of that road which was carried from Teanum in Campania through Allifae and Telesia to Beneventum (Itin. Ant. pp. 122, 304; Tab. Peut.), and this probably contributed to preserve it from decay.

The ruins of the ancient city are still visible about a mile to the NW. of the village still called Telese: the circuit of the walls is complete, inclosing a space of octagonal shape, not, exceeding 1 1/2 mile in circumference, with several gates, flanked by massive towers. The masonry is of reticulated work, and therefore probably not earlier than the time of the Roman Empire. The only ruins within the circuit of the walls are mere shapeless mounds of brick; but outside the walls may be traced the vestiges of a circus, and some remains of an amphitheatre. All these remains undoubtedly belong to the Roman colony, and there are no vestiges of the ancient Samnite city. The present village of Telese is a very small and poor place, rendered desolate by malaria; but in the middle ages it was an episcopal see, and its principal church is still dignified by the name of a cathedral. Its walls contain many Latin inscriptions, brought from the ancient city, the inhabitants of which migrated to the later site in the ninth century. (Craven, Abruzzi vol. ii. pp. 173--175; Giustiniani, Dizion. Topogr. vol. ix. pp. 149, 150.)

Telesia was remarkable as being the birthplace of the celebrated Samnite leader, during the Social War, Pontius Telesinus; and it is probable (though there is no distinct authority for the fact) that it was also that of the still more celebrated C. Pontius, who defeated the Romans at the Caudine Forks.


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