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APU´LIA (Ἀπουλία), Eth. Apulus, a province, or region, in the SE. of Italy, between the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea, which was bounded by the Frentani on the N., by Calabria and Lucania on the S., and by Samnium on the W. It is stated by most modern geographers (Mannert, Cramer, Forbiger) that the name was sometimes applied to the whole SE. portion of Italy, including the peninsula of Messapia, or, as the Romans termed it, Calabria. But though this extension was given in the middle ages, as well as at the present day, to the term of Puglia, it does not appear that the Romans ever used the name with so wide a signification; and even when united for administrative purposes, the two regions preserved their distinct appellations. Thus we find, even under the later periods of the Roman Empire, the “provincia Apuliae et Calabriae” (Lib. Colon. p. 261; Treb. Poll. Tetric. 24), “Corrector Apuliae et Calabriae” (Notit. Dign. ii. p. 64.), &c. The Greeks sometimes used the name of Iapygia, so as to include Apulia as well as Messapia (Hdt. 4.99; Pol. 3.88); but their usage of this, as well as all the other local names applied to this part of Italy, was very fluctuating. Strabo, after describing the Messapian peninsula (to which he confines the name of Iapygia) as inhabited by the Salentini and Calabri, adds that to the north of the Calabri were the tribes called by the Greeks Peucetians and Daunians, but that all this tract beyond the Calabrians was called by the natives Apulia, and that the appellations of Daunians and Peucetians were, in his time, wholly unknown to the inhabitants of this part of Italy (vi. pp. 277, 283). In another passage he speaks of the “Apulians properly so called,” as dwelling around the gulf to the N. of Mt. Garganus; but says that they “spoke the same language with the Daunians and Peucetians, and were in no respect to be distinguished from them.” (p. 285.) The name of Daunians is wholly unknown to the Roman writers, except such as borrowed it from the Greeks, while they apply to the Peucetians the name of PEDICULI or POEDICULI which appears, from Strabo, to have been their national appellation. Ptolemy divides the Apulians into Daunians and Peucetians (Eth. Ἄπουλοι Δαύνιοι and Ἄπουλοι Πευκέτιοι, 3.1. § § 15, 16, 72, 73), including all the southern Apulia under the latter head; but it appears certain that this was a mere geographical arrangement, not one founded upon any national differences still subsisting in his time.

Apulia, therefore, in the Roman sense, may be considered as bounded on the SE. by a line drawn from sea to sea, across the isthmus of the Messapian peninsula, from the Gulf of Tarentum, W. of that city, to the nearest point of the opposite coast between Egnatia and Brundusium. (Strab. vi. p.277; Mela, 2.4.) According to a later distribution of the provinces or regions of Italy (apparently under Vespasian), the limits of Calabria were extended so as to include the greater part, if not the whole of the territory inhabited by the Poediculi, or Peucetians (Lib. Colon. l.c.), and the extent of Apulia proportionally diminished. But this arrangement does not appear to have been generally adopted. Towards Lucania, the river Bradanus appears to have formed the boundary, at least in the lower part of its course; while on the W., towards the Hirpini and Samnium, there was no natural frontier, but only the lower slopes or under-falls of the Apennines were included in Apulia; all the higher ridges of those mountains belonging to Samnium. On the N. the river Tifernus appears to have been the recognised boundary of Apulia in the time of Mela and Pliny (Mela, l.c.; Plin. Nat. 3.11. s. 16), though the territory of Larinum, extending from the Tifernus to the Frento, was, by many writers, not included in Apulia, but was either regarded as constituting a separate district (Caes. B.C. 1.23), or included in the territory of the Frentani. (Ptol. 3.1.65.) Apulia, as thus defined, comprehended nearly the same extent with the two provinces of the kingdom of Naples now called the Capitanata and Terra di Bari.

The physical features of Apulia are strongly marked, and must, in all ages, have materially influenced its history. The northern half of the province, from the Tifernus to the Aufidus, consists almost entirely of a great plain, sloping gently from the Apennines to the sea, and extending between the mountain ranges of the former--of which only some of the lower slopes and offshoots were included in Apulia,--and the isolated mountain mass of Mt. Garganus, which has been not inaptly termed the Spur of Italy. This portion is now commonly known as “Puglia piana,” in contradistinction to the southern part of the province, called “Puglia petrosa,” from a broad chain of rocky hills, which branch off from the Apennines, near Venusia, and extend eastward towards the Adriatic, which they reach near the modern Ostuni, between Egnatia and Brundusium. The whole of this hilly tract is, at the present day, wild and thinly inhabited, great part of it being covered with forests, or given up to pasture, and the same seems to have been the case in ancient times also. (Strab. vi. p.283.) But between these barren hills and the sea, there intervenes a narrow strip along the coast extending about 50 miles in length (from Barletta to Monopoli), and 10 in breadth, remarkable for its fertility, and which was studded, in ancient as well as modern times, with a number of small towns. The great plains of Northern Apulia are described by Strabo as of great fertility (πάμφορός τε καὶ πολύφορος, vi. p. 284), but adapted especially for the rearing of horses and sheep. The latter appear in all ages to have been one of the chief productions of Apulia, and their wool was reckoned to surpass all others in fineness (Plin. Nat. 8.48. s. 73), but the pastures become so parched in summer that the flocks can no longer find subsistence, and hence they are driven at that season to the mountains and upland vallies of Samnium; while, in return, the plains of Apulia afford abundant pasturage in winter to the flocks of Samnium and the Abruzzi, at a season when their own mountain pastures are covered with snow. This arrangement, originating in the mutual necessities of the two regions, probably dates from a very early period (Niebuhr, vol. iii. p. 191); it is alluded to by Varro (de R. R. 2.1) as customary in his day; and under the Roman empire became the subject of legislative enactment--a vectigal, or [p. 1.165]tax, being levied on all sheep and cattle thus migrating. The calcareous nature of the soil renders these Apulian plains altogether different in character from the rich alluvial tracts of the North of Italy; the scarcity of water resulting from this cause, and the parched and thirsty aspect of the country in summer, are repeatedly alluded to by Horace (Pauper aquae Daunus, Carm. 3.30. 11; Siticulosae Apuliae, Epod. 3. 16), and have been feelingly described by modern travellers. But notwithstanding its aridity, the soil is well adapted for the growth of wheat, and under a better system of irrigation and agriculture may have fully merited the encomium of Strabo. The southern portions of the province, in common with the neighbouring region of Calabria, are especially favourable to the growth of the olive.

The population of Apulia was of a very mixed kind, and great confusion exists in the accounts transmitted to us concerning it by ancient writers. But, on the whole, we may distinguish pretty clearly three distinct national elements. 1. The APULI, or Apulians properly so called, were, in all probability, a member of the great Oscan, or Ausonian, race; their name is considered by philologers to contain the same elements with Opicus, or Opscus. (Niebuhr, Vorträge über Länder u. Völker, p. 489). It seems certain that they were not, like their neighbours the Lucanians, of Sabellian race; on the contrary, they appear on hostile terms with the Samnites, who were pressing upon them from the interior of the country. Strabo speaks of them as dwelling in the northern part of the province, about the Sinus Urias, and Pliny (3.11. s. 16) appears to indicate the river Cerbalus (Cervaro) as having formed the limit between them and the Daunians, a statement which can only refer to some very early period, as in his time the two races were certainly completely intermixed.1 2. The DAUNIANS were probably a Pelasgian race, like their neighbours the Peucetians, and the other earliest inhabitants of Southern Italy. They appear to have settled in the great plains along the coast, leaving the Apulians in possession of the more inland and mountainous regions, as well as of the northern district already mentioned. This is the view taken by the Greek genealogists, who represent Iapyx, Daunius, and Peucetius as three sons of Lycaon, who settled in this part of Italy, and having expelled the Ausonians gave name to the three tribes of the Iapygians or Messapians, Daunians, and Peucetians. (Nicander ap. Antonin. Liberal. 31.) The same notion is contained in the statement that Daunus came originally from Illyria (Fest. s. v. Daunia), and is confirmed by other arguments. The legends so prevalent among the Greeks with regard to the settlement of Diomed in these regions, and ascribing to him the foundation of all the principal cities, may probably, as in other similar cases, have had their origin in the fact of this Pelasgian descent of the Daunians. The same circumstance might explain the facility with which the inhabitants of this part of Italy, at a later period, adopted the arts and manners of their Greek neighbours. But it is certain that, whatever distinction may have originally existed between the Daunians and Apulians, the two races were, from the time when they first appear in history, as completely blended into one as were the two component elements of the Latin nation. 3. The PEUCETIANS, or POEDICULI (Πευκέτιοι, Strab. et al.: Ποίδικλοι, Id.),--two names which, however different in appearance, are, in fact, only varied forms of the same,--appear, on the contrary, to have retained a separate nationality down to a comparatively late period. Their Pelasgian origin is attested by the legend already cited; another form of the same tradition represents Peucetius as the brother of Oenotrus. (Pherecyd. ap. Dionys. A. R. 1.13; Plin. Nat. 3.11. s. 16.) The hypothesis that the inhabitants of the south-eastern extremity of Italy should have come directly from the opposite coast of the Adriatic, from which they were separated by so narrow a sea, is in itself a very probable one, and derives strong confirmation from the recent investigations of Mommsen, which show that the native dialect spoken in this part of Italy, including a portion of Peucetia, as well as Messapia, was one wholly distinct from the Sabellian or Oscan language, and closely related to the Greek, but yet sufficiently different to exclude the supposition of its being a mere corruption of the language of the Greek colonists. (Die Unter-Italischen Dialekte, pp. 43--98. Concerning the origin and relations of the Apulian tribes generally, see Niebuhr, vol. i. pp. 146--154; Vorträge über Länder u. Völker, p. 489--498.)

We have scarcely any information concerning the history of Apulia, previous to the time when it first appears in connection with that of Rome. But we learn incidentally from Strabo (vi. p.281), that the Daunians and Peucetians were under kingly government, and had each their separate ruler. These appear in alliance with the Tarentines against the Messapians; and there seems much reason to believe that the connection with Tarentum was not a casual or temporary one, but that we may ascribe to this source the strong tincture of Greek civilization which both people had certainly imbibed. We have no account of any Greek colonies, properly so called, in Apulia (exclusive of Calabria), and the negative testimony of Scylax ( § 14. p. 170), who enumerates all those in Iapygia, but mentions none to the N. of them, is conclusive on this point. But the extent to which the cities of Peucetia, and some of those of Daunia also,--especially Arpi, Canusium, and Salapia,--had adopted the arts, and even the language of their Greek neighbours, is proved by the evidence of their coins, almost all of which have pure Greek inscriptions, as well as by the numerous bronzes and painted vases, which have been brought to light by recent excavations. The number of these last which has been discovered on the sites of Canusium, Rubi, and Egnatia, is such as to vie with the richest deposits of Campania; but their style is inferior, and points to a declining period of Greek art. (Mommsen, l.c. pp. 89, 90; Gerhard, Rapporto dei Vasi Volcenti, p. 118; Bunsen, in Ann. dell. Inst. 1834, p. 77.)

The first mention of the Apulians in Roman history, is on the outbreak of the Second Samnite War, in B.C. 326, when they are said to have concluded an alliance with Rome (Liv. 8.25), notwithstanding which, they appear shortly afterwards in arms against her. They seem not to have constituted at this time a regular confederacy or national league like the Samnites, but to have been a mere aggregate of separate and independent cities, among which Arpi, Canusium, Luceria, and Teanum, appear to [p. 1.166]have stood preeminent. Some of these took part with the Romans, others sided with the Samnites; and the war in Apulia was carried on in a desultory manner, as a sort of episode of the greater struggle, till B.C. 317, when all the principal cities submitted to Rome, and we are told that the subjection of Apulia was completed. (Liv. 8.37, 9.12, 13--16, 20.) From this time, indeed, they appear to have continued tranquil, with the exception of a faint demonstration in favour of the Samnites in B.C. 297 (Liv.10.15),--until the arrival of Pyrrhus in Italy; and even when that monarch, in his second campaign B.C. 279, carried his arms into Apulia, and reduced several of its cities, the rest continued stedfast to the Roman cause, to which some of them rendered efficient aid at the battle of Asculum. (Zonar. 8.5; Dionys. xx. Fr. nov. ed. Didot.)

During the Second Punic War, Apulia became, for a long time, one of the chief scenes of the contest between Hannibal and the Roman generals. In the second campaign it was ravaged by the Car-thaginian leader, who, after his operations against Fabius, took up his quarters there for the winter; and the next spring witnessed the memorable defeat of the Romans in the plains of Cannae, B.C. 216. After this great disaster, a great part of the Apulians declared in favour of the Carthaginians, and opened their gates to Hannibal. The resources thus placed at his command, and the great fertility of the country, led him to establish his winter-quarters for several successive years in Apulia. It is impossible to notice here the military operations of which that country became the theatre; but the result was unfavourable to Hannibal, who, though uniformly successful in the field, did not reduce a single additional fortress in Apulia, while the important cities of Arpi and Salapia successively fell into the hands of the Romans. (Liv. 24.47, 26.38.) Yet it was not till B.C. 207, after the battle of Metaurus and the death of Hasdrubal, that Hannibal finally evacuated Apulia, and with-drew into Bruttium.

There can be no doubt that the revolted cities were severely punished by the Romans; and the whole province appears to have suffered so heavily from the ravages and exactions of the contending armies, that it is from this time we may date the decline of its former prosperity. In the Social War, the Apulians were among the nations which took up arms against Rome, the important cities of Venusia and Canusium taking the lead in the defection; and, at first, great successes were obtained in this part of Italy, by the Samnite leader Vettius Judacilius, but the next year, B.C. 89, fortune turned against them, and the greater part of Apulia was reduced to submission by the praetor C. Cosconius. (Appian. B.C. 1.39, 42, 52.) On this occasion, we are told that Salapia was destroyed, and the territories of Larinum, Ascilum, and Venusia, laid waste; probably this second devastation gave a shock to the prosperity of Apulia from which it never recovered. It is certain that it appears at the close of the Republic, and under the Roman Empire, in a state of decline and poverty. Strabo mentions Arpi, Canusium, and Luceria, as decayed cities; and adds, that the whole of this part of Italy had been desolated by the war of Hannibal, and those subsequent to it (vi. p. 285).

Apulia was comprised, together with Calabria and the Hirpini, in the 2nd region of Augustus (Plin. Nat. 3.11. s. 16), and this arrangement appears to have continued till the time of Constantine, except that the Hirpini were separated from the other two, and placed in the 1st region with Campania and Latium. From the time of Constantine, Apulia and Calabria were united under the same authority, who was styled Corrector, and constituted one province. (Lib. Colon. pp. 260--262; Notit. Dign. vol. ii. pp. 64, 125; P. Diac. 2.21; Orelli, Inscr. 1126, 3764.) After the fall of the Western Empire, the possession of Apulia was long disputed between the Byzantine emperors, the Lombards, and the Saracens. But the former appear to have always retained some footing in this part of Italy, and in the 10th century were able to re-establish their dominion over the greater part of the province, which they governed by means of a magistrate termed a Catapan, from whence has been derived the modern name of the Capitanata,--a corruption of Catapanata. It was finally wrested from the Greek Empire by the Normans.

The principal rivers of Apulia, are: 1. the TIFERNUS now called the Biferno, which, as already mentioned, bounded it on the N., and separated it from the Frentani; 2. the FIENTO (now the Fortore), which bounded the territory of Larinum on the S., and is therefore reckoned the northern limit of Apulia by those writers who did not include Larinum in that region; 3. the CERBALUS of Pliny (3.11. s. 16), still called the Cervaro, which rises in the mountains of the Hirpini, and flows into the sea between Sipontum and the lake of Salapia. It is probably this river which is designated by Strabo (vi. p.284), but without naming it, as serving to convey corn and other supplies from the interior to the coast,near Sipontum; 4. the AUFIDUS (Ofanto), by far the largest of the rivers of this part of Italy. [AUFIDUS] All these streams have nearly parallel courses from SW. to NE.; and all, except the Tifernus, partake more of the character of mountain torrents than regular rivers, being subject to sudden and violent inundations, while in the summer their waters are scanty and trifling. From the Aufidus to the limits of Calabria, and indeed to the extremity of the Iapygian promontory, there does not occur a single stream worthy of the name of river. The southern slope of the Apulian hills towards the Tarentine Gulf, on the contrary, is furrowed by several small streams; but the only one of which the ancient name is preserved to us, is, 5. the BRADANUS (Bradano), which forms the boundary between Apulia and Lucania, and falls into the sea close to Metapontum.

The remarkable mountain promontory of GARGANUS is described in a separate article. [GARGANUS] The prominence of this vast headland, which projects into the sea above 30 miles from Sipontum to its extreme point near Viesti, naturally forms two bays; the one on the N., called by Strabo a deep gulf, but, in reality, little marked by nature, was called the SINUS URIAS, from the city of URIUM or HYRIUM, situated on its coast. (Mela, 2.4; Strab. vi. pp. 284, 285.) Of that on the S., now known as the Gulf of Manfredonia, no ancient appellation has been preserved. The whole coast of Apulia, with the exception of the Garganus, is low and flat: and on each side of that great promontory are lakes, or pools, of considerable extent, the stagnant waters of which are separated from the sea only by narrow strips of sand. That to the north of Garganus, adjoining the Sinus Urias (noticed [p. 1.167]by Strabo without mentioning its name) is called by Pliny LACUS PANTANUS: it is now known as the Lago di Lesina, from a small town of that name. (Plin. Nat. 3.11. s. 16.) The more extensive lake to the S. of Garganus, between Sipontum and the mouth of the Aufidus, was named, from the neighbouring city of Salapia, the SALAPINA PALUS (Lucan 5.377), and is still called the Lago di Salpi.

Opposite to the headland of Garganus, about 15 geog. miles from the mouth of the Frento, lie the two small islands named INSULAE DIOMEDEAE, now the Isole di Tremiti.

The towns in Apulia, mentioned by ancient writers, are the following2, beginning from the northern frontier: 1. Between the Tifernus and the Frento stood LARINUM and CLITERNIA besides the two small fortresses or “castella” of GERUNIUM and CALELA 2. Between the Frento and the Aufidus were the important towns of TEANUM surnamed Apulum, to distinguish it from the city of the same name in Campania, LUCERIA, AECAE, and ASCULUM on the hills, which form the last off-shoots of the Apennines towards the plains; while in the plain itself were ARPI, SALAPIA, and HERDONIA; and SIPONTUM on the sea-shore, at the foot of Mt. Garganus. The less considerable towns in this part of Apulia were, VIBINUM (Bovino) among the last ranges of the Apennines, ACCUA, near Luceria, COLLATIA (Collatina) at the western foot of Mt. Garganus, CERAUNILIA (Cerignola), near the Aufidus: and ERGITIUM, on the road from Teanum to Sipontum (Tab. Peut.), supposed by Holstenius to be the modern S. Severo. Around the promontory of Garganus were the small towns of Merinum, Portus Agasus, and Portus Garnae [GARGANUS], as well as the HYRIUM, or URIUM of Strabo and Ptolemy. Along the coast, between Sipontum and the mouth of the Aufidus, the Tabula places ANXANUM now Torre di Rivoli, and Salinae, probably a mere establishment of salt-works, but more distant from the mouth of the Aufidus than the modern Saline. 3. East of the Aufidus was the important city of CANUSIUM as well as the small, but not less celebrated town, of CANNAE; on the road from Canusium to Egnatia we find in succession, RUBI, BUTUNTUM, CAELIA, AZETIUM, and NORBA. The NETIUM of Strabo must be placed somewhere on the same line. Along the coast, besides the important towns of BARIUM and EGNATIA the following small places are enumerated in the Itineraries: Bardulum, 6 M. P. E. of the mouth of the Aufidus, now Barletta, Turenum (Trani), Natiolum (Bisceglie), and Respa, according to Romanelli Molfetta, more probably Giovenazzo, about 13 M. P. from Bari. E. of that city we find Arnestum (probably a corruption of APANESTAE), and Dertum, which must be placed near Monopoli. NEAPOLIS a name not found in any ancient author, but clearly established by its coins and other remains, may be placed with certainty at Polignano, 6 M. P. west of Monopoli. 4. In the interior of Apulia, towards the frontiers of Lucania, the chief place was VENUSIA with the neighbourimg smaller towns of ACHERONTIA, BANTIA, and FERENTUM On the Via Appia, leading from Venusia to Tarentum, were SILVIUM Plera (supposed to be the modern Gravina), and Lupatia (Altamura). S. of this line of road, towards the river Bradanus, Mateola (Mateolani, Plin. Nat. 3.11. s. 16) was evidently the modern Matera. and Genusium (Genusini, Id. l.c.; Lib. Colon. p. 262) still retains the name of Ginosa. (For the discussion of these obscure names, see Holsten. Not. in Cluv. pp. 281, 290; Pratilli, Via Appia, 4.7; Romanelli, vol. ii. pp. 180--188.)

Several other towns mentioned by Pliny (l.c.) which probably belong to this region, are otherwise wholly unknown; but the names given in his list are so confused, that it is impossible to say with certainty, which belong to Apulia, and which to Calabria, or the Hirpini. Among those to which at least a conjectural locality may be assigned, are: the Grumbestini, supposed to be the inhabitants of Grumum, now Grumo, a village about 9 miles S. of Bitonto; the Palionenses, or people of Palio, probably Palo, a village half way between Grnzmo and Bitonto; the Tutini, for which we should, perhaps, read Turini, from Turum or Turium, indicated by the modern Turi, about 16 miles S. E. of Bari; the Strapellini, whose town, Strapellum, is supposed to be Rapolla, between Venusia and the Pons Aufidi. The Borcani, Corinenses, Dirini, Turmentini, and Ulurtini, of the same author, are altogether unknown.

Apulia was traversed by the two great branches of the Appian Way, which separated at Beneventum, and led, the one direct to Brundusium, the other to Tarentum. The first of these, called the Via Trajana, from its reconstruction by that emperor, passed through Aecae, Herdonia, Canusium, and Butuntum, to the sea at Barium, and from thence along the coast to Brundusium3; while a nearly parallel line, parting from it at Butuntum, led by Caelia, Azetium, and Norba, direct to Egnatia. The other main line, to which the name of Via Appia seems to have properly belonged, entered Apulia at the Pons Aufidi (Ponte Sta. Venere), and led through Venusia, Silvium, and Plera, direct to Tarentum. (For the fuller examination of both these lines, see VIA APPIA

Besides these, the Tabula records a line of road from Larinum to Sipontum, and from thence close along the sea-shore to Barium, where it joined the Via Trajana. This must have formed an important line of communication from Picenum and the northern parts of Italy to Brundusium.


1 It is, perhaps, to these northern Apulians that Pliny just before gives the name of “Teani,” but the passage is hopelessly confused.

2 In the following list no attempt has been made to preserve the distinction between the Daunians and Peucetians; it is clear from Strabo, that no such distinction really subsisted in the time when the geographers wrote.

3 It is this line of road, or at least the part of it ; along the coast, that is erroneously called by Italian topographers the Via Egnatia. [EGNATIA]

hide References (11 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (11):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.99
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 12
    • Lucan, Civil War, 5.377
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.11
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8.48
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 25
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 24, 47
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 13
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 38
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 37
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
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