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SULMO (Σουλμῶν: Eth. Sulmonensis: Sulmona), a city of the Peligni, situated in the valley of the Gizio, in a spacious basin formed by the junction of that river with several minor streams. There is no doubt that it was one of the principal cities of the Peligni, as an independent tribe, but no notice of it is found in history before the Roman conquest. A tradition alluded to by Ovid and Silius Italicus, which ascribed its foundation to Solymus, a Phrygian and one of the companions of Aeneas, is evidently a mere etymological fiction (Ovid, Ov. Fast. 4.79; Sil. Ital. 9.70-76.) The first mention of Sulmo occurs in the Second Punic War, when its territory was ravaged by Hannibal in B.C. 211, but without attacking the city itself. (Liv. 26.11.) Its name is not noticed during the Social War, in which the Peligni took so prominent a part; but according to Florus, it suffered severely in the subsequent civil war between Sulla and Marius, having been destroyed by the former as a punishment for its attachment to his rival. (Flor. 3.21.) The expressions of that rhetorical writer are not, however, to be construed literally, and it is more probable that Sulmo was confiscated and its lands assigned by Sulla to a body of his soldiers. (Zumpt, de Colon. p. 261.) At all events it is certain that Sulmo was a well-peopled and considerable town in B.C. 49, when it was occupied by Domitius with a garrison of seven cohorts; but the citizens, who were favourably affected to Caesar, opened their gates to his lieutenant Al. Antonius as soon as he appeared before the place. (Caes. B.C. 1.18; Cic. Att. 8.4, 12 a.) Nothing more is known historically of Sulmo, which, however, appears to have always continued to be a considerable provincial town. Ovid speaks of it as one of the three municipal towns whose districts composed the territory of the Peligni ( “Peligni pars tertia ruris,” Amor. 2.16. 1): and this is confirmed both by Pliny and the Liber Coloniarum; yet it does not seem to have ever been a large place, and Ovid himself designates it as a small provincial town. (Amor. 3.15.) From the Liber Coloniarum we learn also that it had received a colony, probably in the time of Augustus (Plin. Nat. 3.12. s. 17; Lib. Colon. pp. 229, 260); though Pliny does not give it the title of a Colonia. Inscriptions, as well as the geographers and Itineraries, attest its continued existence as a municipal town throughout the Roman Empire. (Strab. v. p.241; Ptol. 3.1.64; Tab. Peut.; Orell. Inscr. 3856; Mommsen, Inscr. R. N. pp. 287--289.) The modern city of Sulmona undoubtedly occupies the ancient site: it is a tolerably flourishing place and an episcopal see, having succeeded to that dignity after the fall of Valva, which had arisen on the ruins of Corfinium. (Romanelli, vol. iii. pp. 154--156.)

The chief celebrity of Sulmo is derived from its having been the birthplace of Ovid, who repeatedly alludes to it as such, and celebrates its salubrity, and the numerous streams of clear and perennial water in which its neighbourhood abounded. But, like the whole district of the Peligni, it was extremely cold in winter, whence Ovid himself, and Silius Italicus in imitation of him, calls it “gelidus [p. 2.1047]Sulmo” (Ovid, Ov. Fast. 4.81, Trist. 4.10. 3, Amor. 2.16; Sil. Ital. 8.511.) Its territory was fertile, both in corn and wine, and one district of it, the Pagus Fabianus, is particularly mentioned by Pliny (17.26. s. 43) for the care bestowed on the irrigation of the vineyards.

The remains of the ancient city are of little interest as ruins, but indicate the existence of a considerable town; among them are the vestiges of an amphitheatre, a theatre, and thermae, all of them without the gates of the modern city. About 2 miles from thence, at the foot of the Monte Morrone, are some ruins of reticulated masonry, probably those of a Roman villa, which has been called, without the slightest reason or authority, that of Ovid. (Romanelli, vol. iii. pp. 159, 161; Craven's Abruzzi, vol. ii. p. 32.)

Sulmo was distant seven miles from Corfinium, as we learn both from the Tabula and from Caesar. (Caes. B.C. 1.18; Tab. Peut.) Ovid tells us that it was 90 miles from Rome (Trist. 4.10. 4), a statement evidently meant to be precise. The actual distance by the highroad would be 94 miles; viz. 70 to Cerfennia, 17 from thence to Corfinium, and 7 from Corfinium to Sulmo. (D'Anville, Anal. Géogr. de l'Italie, pp. 175, 179.) There was, however, probably a branch road to Sulmo, after passing the Mons Imeus, avoiding the détour by Corfinium.


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