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CASILI´NUM (Κασιλῖνον: Eth. Casilinas: Capoua), a town of Campania, situated on the river Vulturnus, about 3 miles W. of Capua. We have no account of it prior to the Roman conquest of Campania, and it was probably but a small town, and a dependency of Capua. But it derived importance as a military position, from its guarding the principal bridge over the Vulturnus, a deep and rapid stream which is not fordable; and on this account plays a considerable part in the Second Punic War. It was occupied by Fabius with a strong garrison, in the campaign of B.C. 217, to prevent Hannibal from crossing the Vulturnus (Liv. 22.15); and the following year, after the battle of Cannae, was occupied by a small body of Roman troops (consisting principally of Latins from Praeneste, and Etruscans from Perusia), who, though little more than a thousand in number, had the courage to defy the arms of Hannibal, and were able to withstand a protracted siege, until finally compelled by famine to surrender. (Liv. 23.17, 19; Strab. v. p.249; V. Max. 7.6. § § 2, 3; Sil. Ital. 12.426.) Livy tells us on this occasion that Casilinum was divided into two parts by the Vulturnus, and that the garrison, having put all the inhabitants to the sword. occupied only the portion on the right bank of the river next to Rome: such at least is the natural construction of his words, “partem urbis quae cis Vulturnum est;” yet all his subsequent accounts of the operations of the siege imply that it was the part next to Capua on the left bank which they held, and this is in fact the natural fortress, formed by a sharp elbow of the river.

Casilinum was recovered by the Romans in B.C. 214 (Liv. 24.19), and from this time we hear no more of it until the period of the Civil Wars. It appears that Caesar had established a colony of veterans there, who, after his death, were, together with those settled at Calatia, the first to declare in favour of his adopted son Octavian. (Appian, App. BC 3.40; Cic. Phil. 2.40) This colony appears to have been strengthened by M. Antonius (Cic. l.c.), but did not retain its colonial rights; and the town itself seems to have fallen into decay; so that, though Strabo notices it among the cities of Campania, Pliny speaks of it as in his time going fast to ruin. (Strab. l.c.; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9.) It however continued to exist throughout the Roman empire, as we find it, name both in Ptolemy and the Tabula. (Ptol. 3.1.68; Tab. Peut.) The period of its final decline or destruction is uncertain; but in the 9th century there appears to have been no town on the spot, when the citizens of Capua, after the destruction of their own city, established themselves on the site of Casilinum, and transferred to the latter the name of Capua, which it continues to retain at the present day. [CAPUA] The importance of its bridge, and the facilities which it afforded for defence, were probably the reasons of the change, and have led to the modern Capoua becoming a strong fortress, though a poor and unimportant city. [E.H.B] [p. 1.557]

hide References (9 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (9):
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 3.6.40
    • Cicero, Philippics, 2.40
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 23, 19
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 24, 19
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 23, 17
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 22, 15
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 7.6
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