: Eth. Aeserninus
; but Pliny and later writers have Eserninus), a city of Samnium, included within the territory of the Pentrian tribe, situated in the valley of the Vulturnus, on a small stream flowing into that river, and distant 14 miles from Venafrum. The Itinerary (in which the name is corruptly written Serni
) places it on the road from Aufidena to Bovianum, at the distance of 28 M.P. from the former, and 18 from the latter; but the former number is corrupt, as are the distances in the Tabula. (Itin. Ant. p. 102; Tab. Peut.; Plin. Nat. 3.12. 17
; Ptol. 3.1.67
; Sil. Ital. 8.568
The modern city of Isernia
retains the ancient site as well as name., The first mention of it in history occurs in B.C. 295, at which time it had already fallen into the hands of the Romans, together with the whole valley of the Vulturnus. (Liv. 10.31
After the complete subjugation of the Samnites, a colony, with Latin rights (colonia Latina) was settled there by the Romans in B.C. 264; and this is again mentioned in B.C. 209 as one of the eighteen which remained faithful to Rome at the most trying period of the Second Punic War. (Liv. Epit. 16.27.10
; Vell. 1.14
.) During the Social War it adhered to the Roman cause, and was gallantly defended against the Samnite general Vettius Cato, by Marcellus, nor was it till after a long protracted siege that it was compelled by famine to surrender, B.C. 90. Henceforth it continued in the hands of the confederates; and at a later period of the contest afforded a shelter to the Samnite leader, Papius Mutilus, after his defeat by Sulla.
It even became for a time, after the successive fall of Corfinium and Bovianum, the head quarters of the Italian allies. (Liv. Epit. lxxii, lxxiii.; Appian. B.C.
1.41, 51; Diod. xxxvii. Exc. Phot. p. 539; Sisenna ap. Nonium,
At this time it was evidently a place of importance and a strong fortress, but it was so severely punished for its defection by Sulla after the final defeat of the Samnites, that Strabo speaks of it as in his time utterly deserted. (Strab. v. p.238
.) We learn, however, that a colony was sent there by Caesar, and again by Augustus; but apparently with little success, on which account it was recolonized under Nero.
It never, however, enjoyed the rank of a colony, but appears from inscriptions to have been a municipal town of some importance in the time of Trajan and the Antonines. To this period belong the remains of an aqueduct and a fine Roman bridge, still visible; while the lower parts of the modern walls present considerable portions of polygonal construction, which may be assigned either to the ancient Samnite city, or to the first Roman colony.
The modern city is still the see of a bishop, and contains about 7000 inhabitants. (Lib. Colon. pp. 233, 260; Zumpt, de Coloniis,
pp. 307, 360,
|COIN OF AESERNIA.|
392; Inscrr. ap. Romanelli, vol. ii. pp. 470, 471; Craven's Abruzzi,
vol. ii. p. 83; Hoare's Classical Tour,
vol. i. p. 227.)
The coins of Aesernia, which are found only in copper, and have the legend AISERNINO, belong to the period of the first Roman colony; the style of their execution attests the influence of the neigh-bouring Campania. (Millingen, Numismatique de l'Italie,