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Eth. ILIENSES (Ἰλιεῖς, Paus.), a people of the interior of Sardinia, who appear to have been one of the most considerable of the mountain tribes in that island. Mela calls them “antiquissimi in ea populorum,” and Pliny also mentions them among the “celeberrimi populorum” of Sardinia. (Mel. 2.7.19; Plin. Nat. 3.7. s. 13.) Pausanias, who terms them Ἰλεῖς, distinctly ascribes to them a Trijan origin, and derives them from a portion of the companions of Aeneas, who settled in the island, and remained there in quiet until they were compelled by the Africans, who subsequently occupied the coasts of Sardinia, to take refuge in the more rugged and inaccessible mountain districts of the interior. (Paus. 10.17.7.) This tale has evidently originated in the resemblance of the name of Ilienses, in the form which the Romans gave it, to that of the Trojans; and the latter part of the story was invented to account for the apparent anomaly of a people that had come by sea dwelling in the interior of the island. What the native name of the llienses was, we know not, and we are wholly in the dark as to their real origin or ethnical affinities: but their existence as one of the most considerable tribes of the interior at the period of the Roman conquest, is well ascertained; and they are repeatedly mentioned by Livy as contending against the supremacy of Rome. Their first insurrection, in B.C. 181, was repressed, rather than put down, by the praetor M.Pinarius; and in B.C. 178, the Ilienses and Balari, in conjunction, laid waste all the more fertile and settled parts of the island; and were even able to meet the consul Ti. Sempronius Gracchus in a pitched battle, in which, however, they were defeated with heavy loss. In the course of the following year they appear to have been reduced to complete submission; and their name is not again mentioned in history. (Liv. 40.19, 34, 41.6, 12, 17.)

The situation and limits of the territory occupied by the Ilienses, cannot be determined: but we find them associated with the Balari and Corsi, as inhabiting the central and mountainous districts of the island. Their name is not found in Ptolemy, though he gives a long list of the tribes of the interior.

Many writers have identified the Ilienses with the Iolaenses or Iolai, who are also placed in the interior of Sardinia; and it is not improbable that they were really the same people, but ancient authors certainly make a distinction between the two.


hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.17.7
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 41, 12
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 41, 6
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 41, 17
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 40, 19
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 40, 34
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