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BOVIA´NUM (Βοΐανόν, or Βουΐανον: Eth. Bovianensis: Bojano), a city of Samnium, situated in the very heart of that country, close to the sources of the river Tifernus, and surrounded on all sides by lofty mountains. We learn from Livy (9.31) that it was the capital of the tribe of the Pentri, and a very wealthy and powerful city. Hence it plays no unimportant part during the wars of the Romans with the Samnites, especially the second, during which the scene of the contest lay principally in the country of the Pentrians. It was first besieged, but without success, by the Roman consuls M. Poetelius and C. Sulpicius in B.C. 314; but three years afterwards was taken by C. Junius Bubulcus, when a greater booty fell into the hands of the victors than from any other Samnite city. (Liv. 9.28, 31.) The Romans, however, did not retain possession of it: and though it was again taken by their armies in B.C. 305, they appear to have evacuated it shortly afterwards: as at the commencement of the Third Samnite War, B.C. 298, it was a third time taken by [p. 1.426]the consul Cn. Fulvius. (Liv.9.44, 10.12; Niebuhr, vol. iii. pp. 242,243.) In the Second Punic War it was more than once made the head-quarters of a Roman army, as a point of importance in a military view (Liv. 25.13), and during the great Social War it again assumed a position of the highest rank, being made for a time, after the fall of Corfinium, the capital of the confederates and the seat of their general council. (Appian, App. BC 1.51.) It was, however, taken by Sulla by a sudden assault; but fell again into the hands of the Marsic general Pompaedius Silo, before the close of the war, and was the scene of his latest triumph. (App. l.c.; Jul. Obseq. 116.) In the devastation of Samnium which followed, Bovianum fully shared, and Strabo speaks of it as in his day almost entirely depopulated (v. p. 250). We learn, however, that a military colony was established there by Caesar, and Pliny even speaks of two colonies of the name: “Colonia Bovianum vetus et alterum cognomine Undecumanorum.” The latter was probably that established by Caesar: the epoch of the former is uncertain, but it appears from its name to have occupied the site of the ancient Samnite city. (Plin. Nat. 3.12. s. 17; Lib. Colon. p. 231; Zumpt de Colon. pp. 256, 305.) No subsequent author notices this distinction: but the continued existence of Bovianum under the Roman Empire as a municipal town, apparently of some consideration, with its senate (Ordo Bovianensium) and other local magistrates, is attested by inscriptions as well as by Ptolemy and the Itineraries. (Ptol. 3.1.67; Itin. Ant. p. 102; Tab. Pent.; Ilscrr. ap Romanelli, vol. i. pp. 442, 443.)

The Roman city of Bovianum, which appears to have been situated in the plain or low grounds on the banks of the Tifernus, was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake in the 9th century: its site is now covered with marshy alluvial soil, in which ancient remains have been discovered. The modern city of Bojano occupies a rocky hill, one of the last off-shoots of the lofty mountain mass called Monte Matese, which completely overshadows it on the S. W.: and it is probable that this was the site of the ancient Samnite city. Some portions of its ancient walls, constructed of polygonal blocks in a very massive style, are still visible. (Romanelli, vol. ii. p. 441; Craven's Abruzzi, vol. ii. p. 160.) Mommsen, however, the latest author who has investigated the topography of these regions, regards the modern Bojano as the site only of “Bovianum Undecumanorum,” and would transfer the ancient Samnite city “Bovianum Vetus” to a place called Pietrabbondante near Agnone, about 20 miles to the N., where there certainly appear to be the remains of an ancient city. (Mommsen, Unter Ital. Dialecte, p. 171--173.) The expression of Silius Italicus (Boviania lustra, 8.566) is strikingly descriptive of the scenery in the neighbourhood of Bojano: the “narrow glens and impenetrable thickets” of the Monte Matese. (Craven, l.c.).


hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 1.6.51
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 28
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.12
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 25, 13
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 31
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
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