. Eth. Salernitanus
), a city of Campania, but situated in the territory of the Picentini, on the N. shore of the gulf of Posidonia, which now derives from it the name of the Gulf of Salerno.
We have no account of its origin or early history; it has been supposed that it was like the neighbouring Marcina a Tyrrhenian or Pelasgic settlement [MARCINA; but there is no authority for this, and its name is never mentioned in history previous to the settlement of a Roman colony there.
But when this was first decreed (in B.C. 197, it was not actually founded till B.C. 194), Livy speaks of the place as Castrum Salerni, whence we may infer that there was at least a fortress previously existing there (Liv. 32.29
; Vell. 1.14
: Strab. v. p.251
.) The Roman colony was established, as we are expressly told by Strabo, for the purpose of holding the Picentines in check, that people having actively espoused the cause of Hannibal during the Second Punic War (Strab. l.c.
) Their town of Picentia being destroyed, Salernum became the chief town of the district; but it does not appear to have risen to any great importance.
In the Social War it was taken by the Samnite general C. Papius (Appian, App. BC 1.42
): but this is the only occasion on which its name is mentioned in history. Horace alludes to it as having a mild climate, on which account it had apparently been recommended to him for his health (Hor. Ep. 1.15. 1
It continued to be a municipal town of some consideration under the Roman Empire, and as we learn from inscriptions retained the title of a Colonia (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9
; Ptol. 3.1.7
; Itin. Ant.; Tab. Pent.;
Mommsen, Inscr. R. N.
pp. 9--12) But it was not till after the Lombard conquest that it became one of the most flourishing cities in this part of Italy; so that it is associated by Paulus Diaconus with Caprea and Neapolis among the “opulentissimae urbes” of Campania (P. Diac. Hist. Lang.
It retained this consideration down to a late period of the middle ages, and was especially renowned for its school of medicine, which, under the name of Schola Salernitana, was long the most celebrated in Europe.
But it seems certain that this was derived from the Arabs in the 10th or 11th century, and was not transmitted from more ancient times. Salerno is still the see of an archbishop, with a population of about 12,000 inhabitants, though greatly fallen from its mediaeval grandeur.
The ancient city, as we learn from Strabo (v. p.251
), stood on a hill at some distance from the sea, and this is confirmed by local writers, who state that many ancient remains have been found on the hill which rises at the back of the modern city, but no ruins are now extant. (Romanelli, vol. iii. p. 612.) From the foot of this hill a level and marshy plain extends without interruption to the mouth of the Silarus, the whole of which seems to have been included in the municipal territory of Salernum, as Lucan speaks of the Silarus as skirting the cultivated lands of that city (Lucan 2.425
The distance from Salernum itself to the mouth of the [p. 2.883]
Silarus is not less than 18 miles, though erroneously given in the Tabula at only 9. (Tab. Peut.