, Strab.; Ἀμίτερνα
, Dionys.: Amiterninus), a city of the Sabines of great antiquity.
It was situated in the upper valley of the river Aternus, from which, according to Varro (L. L.
5.28), it derived its name, and at the foot of the loftiest group of the Apennines, now known as the Gran Sasso d'Italia.
Its ruins are still visible at San Vittorino,
a village about 5 miles N. of Aquila.
According to Cato and Varro (ap. Dionys. A. R. 1.14
), this elevated and rugged mountain district was the original dwelling-place of the Sabines, from whence they first began to turn their arms against the Aborigines in the neighbourbood of Reate. Virgil also mentions Amiternum among the most powerful cities of the Sabines: and both Strabo and Pliny enumerate it among the cities still inhabited by that people. ú Ptolemy, on the contrary, assigns it to the Vestini, whose territory it must certainly have adjoined. (Verg. A. 7.710
; Sil. Ital. 8.416
; Strab. v. p.228
; Plin. Nat. 3.12. s. 17
; Ptol. 3.1.59
.) Livy speaks of Amiternum as captured by the Romans in B.C. 293 from the Samnites
(10.39), but it seems impossible that the Sabine city can be the one meant; and either the name is corrupt, or there must have been some obscure place of the same name in Samniumn. Strabo speaks of it as having suffered severely from the Social and Civil Wars, and being in his time much decayed; but it was subsequently recolonised, probably in the time of Augu tus (Lib. Colon. p. 228; Zumpt, de Coloniis,
p. 356. not.
), and became a place of considerable importance under the Roman empire, as is proved by the existing ruins, among which those of the amphitheatre are the most conspicuous.
These are situated in the broad and level valley of the Aternus, at the foot of the hill on which stands the village of S. Vittorino ;
but some remains of polygonal walls are said to exist on that hill, which probably belong to an earlier period, and to the ancient Sabine city.
It continued to be an episcopal see as late as the eleventh century, but its complete decline dates from the foundation of the neighbouring city of Aquila
by the emperor Frederic II., who removed thither the inhabitants of Amiternum, as well as several other neighbouring towns. (Romanelli, vol. iii. p. 330; Giustiniani, Diz. Geogr.
vol. i. p. 230; Craven, Abruzzi,
vol. i. pp 217--219.) Numerous inscriptions have been discovered there, of which the most important is a fragment of an ancient calendar, which is one of the most valuable relics of the kind that have been preserved to us.
It has been repeatedly published; among others, by Foggini (Fast. Rom. Reliquiae,
Romae, 1779), and by Orelli (Inscr.
Amiternum was the birthplace of the historian Sallust. (Hieron. Chron.