Aequi, Aequiculi or Aequiculani (Aikoi and Aikouoi, Strab.; Aikanhoi
Dion. Hal.; Aikouiklhoi, Ptol.; Aikikloi, Diod.), one of the most ancient and
warlike nations of Italy, who play a conspicuous part in the early history of
Rome. They inhabited the mountainous district around the upper valley of the Anio,
and extending from thence to the Lake Fucinus, between the Latins and the Marsi,
and adjoining the Hernici on the east, and the Sabines on the west. Their territory
was subsequently included in Latium, in the more extended sense given to that
name under the Roman empire (Strab. v. p. 228, 231). There appears no doubt that
the Aequiculi or Aequicoli are the same people with the Aequi, though in the usage
of later times the former name was restricted to the inhabitants of the more central
and lofty vallies of the Apennines, while those who approached the borders of
the Latin plain, and whose constant wars with the Romans have made them so familiarly
known to us, uniformly appear under the name of Aequi. It is probable that their
original abode was in the highland districts, to which we find them again limited
at a later period of their history. The Aequiculi are forcibly described by Virgil
as a nation of rude mountaineers, addicted to the chase and to predatory habits,
by which they sought to supply the deficiencies of their rugged and barren soil
(Virg. Aen. vii. 747; Sil. Ital. viii. 371; Ovid. Fast. iii. 93). As the only
town he assigns to them is Nersae, the site of which is unknown, there is some
uncertainty as to the geographical position of the people of whom he is speaking,
but he appears to place them next to the Marsians. Strabo speaks of them in one
passage as adjoining the Sabines near Cures, in another as bordering on the Latin
Way (v. pp. 231, 237): both of which statements are correct, if the name be taken
in its widest signification. The form Aequiculani first appears in Pliny (iii.
12. § 17), who however uses Aequiculi also as equivalent to it: he appears to
restrict the term to the inhabitants of the vallies bordering on the Marsi, and
the only towns he assigns to them are Carseoli and Cliternia At a later period
the name appears to have been almost confined to the population of the upper valley
of the Salto, between Reate and the Lake Fucinus, a district which still retains
the name of Cicolano, evidently a corruption from Aequiculanum.
No indication is found in any ancient author of their origin or descent: but their constant association with the Volscians would lead us to refer them to a common stock with that nation, and this circumstance, as well as their position in the rugged upland districts of the Apennines, renders it probable that they belonged to the great Oscan or Ausonian race, which, so far as our researches can extend, may be regarded as the primeval population of a large part of central Italy. They appear to have received at a later period a considerable amount of Sabine influence, and probably some admixture with that race, especially where the two nations bordered on one another: but there is no ground for assuming any community of origin (Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 72; Abeken, Mittel Italien, pp. 46, 47, 84).
The Aequians first appear in Roman history as occupying the rugged mountain district at the back of Tibur and Praeneste (both of which always continued to be Latin towns), and extending from thence to the confines of the Hernicans, and the valley of the Trerus or Sacco. But they gradually encroached upon their Latin neighbours, and extended their power to the mountain front immediately above the plains of Latium. Thus Bola, which was originally a Latin town, was occupied by them for a considerable period (Liv. iv. 49): and though they were never able to reduce the strong fortress of Praeneste, they continually crossed the valley which separated them from the Alban hills and occupied the heights of Mt. Algidus. The great development of their power was coincident with that of the Volscians, with whom they were so constantly associated, that it is probable that the names and operations of the two nations have frequently been confounded. Thus Niebuhr has pointed out that the conquests assigned by the legendary history to Coriolanus, doubtless represent not only those of the Volscians, but of the Aequians also: and the castellum ad lacum Fucinum, which Livy describes (iv. 57) as taken from the Volscians in B.C. 405, must in all probability have been an Aequian fortress (Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 72, vol. ii. pp. 244, 259). It is impossible here to recapitulate the endless petty wars between the Aequians and Romans: the following brief summary will supply a general outline of their principal features.
The first mention of the Aequi in Roman history is during the reign of Tarquinius Priscus1 , who waged war with them with great success, and reduced them to at least a nominal submission (Strab. v. p. 231; Cic. de Rep. ii. 2. 0). The second Tarquin is also mentioned as having concluded a peace with them, which may perhaps refer to the same transaction (Liv. i. 55; Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 359). But it was not till after the fall of the Roman monarchy that they appear in their more formidable aspect. In B.C. 494 they are first mentioned as invading the territory of the Latins, which led that people to apply for assistance to Rome: and from this time forth the wars between the Aequians and Volscians on the one side, and the Romans assisted by the Latins and Hernicans on the other, were events of almost regular and annual recurrence ( statum jam ac prope solenne in singulos annos bellum, Liv. iii. 15). Notwithstanding the exaggerations and poetical embellishments with which the history of these wars has been disguised, we may discern pretty clearly three different periods or phases into which they may be divided. 1. From B.C. 494 to about the time of the Decemvirate B.C. 450 was the epoch of the greatest power and successes of the Aequians. In B.C. 463 they are first mentioned as encamping on Mount Algidus, which from thenceforth became the constant scene of the conflicts between them and the Romans: and it seems certain that during this period the Latin towns of Bola, Vitellia, Corbio, Labicum, and Pedum fell into their hands. The alleged victory of Cincinnatus in B.C. 458, on which so much stress has been laid by some later writers (Florus i. 11), appears to have in reality done little to check their progress. 2. From B.C. 450 to the invasion of the Gauls their arms were comparatively unsuccessful: and though we find them still contending on equal terms with the Romans and with many vicissitudes of fortune, it is clear that on the whole they had lost ground. The great victory gained over them by the dictator A. Postumius Tubertus in B.C. 428 may probably be regarded as the turning-point of their fortunes (Liv. iv. 26-29; Diod. xii. 64; Ovid. Fast. vi. 721; Niebuhr, vol. ii. p. 454): and the year B.C. 415 is the last in which we find them occupying their customary position on Mount Algidus (Liv. iv. 45). It is not improbable, as suggested by Niebuhr, that the growing power of the Samnites, who were pressing on the Volscians upon the opposite side, may have drawn off the forces of the Aequians also to the support of their allies, and thus rendered them less able to cope with the power of Rome. But it is certain that before the end of this period most of the towns which they had conquered from the Latins had been again wrested from their hands. 3. After the invasion of the Gauls the Aequians appear again in the field, but with greatly diminished resources: probably they suffered severely from the successive swarms of barbarian invaders which swept over this part of Italy: and after two unsuccessful campaigns in B.C. 386 and 385 they appear to have abandoned the contest as hopeless: nor does their name again appear in Roman history for the space of above 80 years. But in B.C. 304 the fate of their neighbours the Hernicans aroused them to a last struggle, which terminated in their total defeat and subjection. Their towns fell one after another into the hands of the victorious Romans, and the Aequian nation (says Livy) was almost utterly exterminated (Liv. ix. 45). This expression is however certainly exaggerated, for we find them again having recourse to arms twice within the next few years, though on both occasions without success (Liv. x. 1, 9). It was probably after the last of these attempts that they were admitted to the rights of Roman citizens: and became included in the two new tribes, the Aniensis and Terentina, which were created at this period (Cic. de Off. i. 1. 1; Liv. x. 9; Niebuhr, vol. iii. p. 267).
From this time the name of the Aequi altogether disappears from history, and would seem to have fallen into disuse, being probably merged in that of the Latins: but those of Aequiculi and Aequiculani still occur for the inhabitants of the upland and more secluded vallies which were not included within the limits of Latium, but belonged to the fourth region of Augustus: and afterwards to the province called Valeria. In Imperial times we even find the Aequiculani in the valley of the Salto constituting a regular municipal body, so that Res Publica Aequiculanorum and a Municipium Aequicolanorum are found in inscriptions of that period (Orell. no. 3931; Ann. dell. Inst. vol. vi. p. 111, not.). Probably this was a mere aggregation of scattered villages and hamlets such as are still found in the district of the Cicolano. In the Liber Coloniarum (p. 255) we find mention of the Ecicylanus ager, evidently a corruption of Aequiculanus, as is shown by the recurrence of the same form in charters and documents of the middle ages (Holsten. not. ad Cluver. p. 156).
It is not a little remarkable that the names of scarcely any cities belonging to the Aequians have been transmitted to us. Livy tells us that in the decisive campaign of B.C. 304, forty-one Aequian towns were taken by the Roman consuls (ix. 45): but he mentions none of them by name, and from the ease and rapidity with which they were reduced, it is probable that they were places of little importance. Many of the smaller towns and villages now scattered in the hill country between the vallies of the Sacco and the Anio probably occupy ancient sites: two of these, Civitella and Olevano, present remains of ancient walls and substructions of rude polygonal masonry, which may probably be referred to a very early period (Abeken, Mittel Italien, pp. 140,147; Bullett. dell. Inst. 1841, p. 49). The numerous vestiges of ancient cities found in the valley of the Salto, may also belong in many instances to the Aequians, rather than the Aborigines, to whom they have been generally referred. The only towns expressly assigned to the Aequiculi by Pliny and Ptolemy are Carseoli in the upper valley of the Turano, and Cliternia in that of the Salto. To these may be added Alba Fucensis which we are expressly told by Livy was founded in the territory of the Aequians, though on account of its superior importance, Pliny ranks the Albenses as a separate people (Pliny iii. 12. 17; Ptol. iii. 1. § 56; Liv. x. 1). Varia, which is assigned to the Aequians by several modern writers, appears to have been properly a Sabine town. Nersae, mentioned by Virgil (Aen. vii. 744) as the chief place of the Aequiculi, is not noticed by any other writer, and its site is wholly uncertain. Besides these, Pliny (l. c.) mentions the Comini, Tadiates, Caedici, and Alfaterni as towns or communities of the Aequiculi, which had ceased to exist in his time: all four names are otherwise wholly unknown.
1 A tradition, strangely at variance with the other accounts of their habits and character, represents them as the people from whom the Romans derived the Jus Fetiale (Liv. i. 32; Dion. Hal. ii. 72). Others with more plausibility referred this to the Aequi Falisci (Serv. ad Aen. vii. 695).
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited October 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Aborigines, a name given by all the Roman and Greek writers to the earliest
inhabitants of Latium, before they assumed the appellation of Latini. There can
be no doubt that the obvious derivation of this name (ab origine) is the true
one, and that it could never have been a national title really borne by any people,
but was a mere abstract appellation invented in later times, and intended, like
the Autochthones of the Greeks, to designate the primitive and original inhabitants
of the country. The other derivations suggested by later writers,--such as Aberrigines,
from their wandering habits, or the absurd one which Dionysius seems inclined
to adopt, ab oresi, from their dwelling in the mountains,--are mere etymological
fancies, suggested probably with a view of escaping from the difficulty, that,
according to later researches, they were not really autochthones, but foreigners
coming from a distance (Dionys. i. 10; Aur. Vict. Orig. Gent. Rom. 4). Their real
name appears to have been Casci (Saufeius, ap. Serv. ad Aen. i. 6), an appellation
afterwards used among the Romans to signify anything primitive or old-fashioned.
The epithet of Sacrani, supposed by Niebuhr to have been also a national appellation,
would appear to have had. a more restricted sense, and to have been confined to
a particular tribe or subdivision of the race. But it is certainly remarkable
that the name of Aborigines must have been established in general use at a period
as early as the fifth century of Rome; for (if we may trust the accuracy of Dionysius)
it was already used by Callias, the historian of Agathocles, who termed Latinus
king of the Aborigines (Dionys. i. 72): and we find that Lycophron (writing under
Ptolemy .Philadelphus) speaks of Aeneas as founding thirty cities in the land
of the Boreigonoi, a name which is evidently a mere corruption of Aborigines.
(Lycophr. Alex. 1253; Tzetz. ad loc.; Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 80.)
A tradition recorded both by Cato and Varro, and which Niebuhr justly regards as one of the most credible of those transmitted to us from antiquity, related that these Aborigines first dwelt in the high mountain districts around Reate and in the vallies which extend from thence towards the Mt. Velino and the Lake Fucinus. From. hence they were expelled by the Sabines, who descended upon them from the still more elevated regions around Amiternum, and drove them forwards towards the W. coast: yielding to this pressure, they descended into the valley of the Anio, and from thence gradually extended themselves into the plains of Latium. Here they came in contact with the Siculi, who were at that time in possession of the country; and it was not till after a long contest that the Aborigines made themselves masters of the land, expelled or reduced to slavery its Siculian population, and extended their dominion not only over Latium itself, but the whole plain between the Volscian mountains and the sea, and even as far as the river Liris. (Dionys. i. 9, 10, 13, 14, ii. 49; Cato, ap. Priscian. v. 12. § 65.) In this war we are told that the Aborigines were assisted by a Pelasgian tribe, with whom they became in some degree intermingled, and from whom they first learned the art of fortifying their towns. In conjunction with these allies they continued to occupy the plains of Latium until about the period of the Trojan war, when they assumed the appellation of Latini, from their king Latinus. (Dionys. i. 9, 60; Liv. i. 1, 2.)
Whatever degree of historical authority we may attach to this tradition, there can be no doubt that it correctly represents the fact that the Latin race, such as we find it in historical times, was composed of two distinct elements: the one of Pelasgic origin, and closely allied with other Pelasgic races in Italy; the other essentially different in language and origin. Both these elements are distinctly to be traced in the Latin language, in which one class of words is closely related to the Greek, another wholly distinct from it, and evidently connected with the languages of the Oscan race. The Aborigines may be considered as representing the non-Pelasgic part of the Latin people; and to them we may refer that portion of the Latin language which is strikingly dissimilar to the Greek. The obvious relation of this to the Oscan dialects would at once lead us to the same conclusion with the historical traditions above related: namely, that the Aborigines or Casci, a mountain race from the central Apennines, were nearly akin to the Aequi, Volsci, and other ancient nations of Italy, who are generally included under the term of Oscans or Ausonians; and as clearly distinct from the tribes of Pelasgic origin, on the one hand, and from the great Sabellian family on the other. (Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 78-84; Donaldson, Varronianus, p. 3; Abeken, Mittelitalien, pp. 46, 47.) Dionysius tells us that the greater part of the cities originally inhabited by the Aborigines in their mountain homes had ceased to exist in his time; but he has preserved to us (i. 14) a catalogue of them, as given by Varro in his Antiquities, which is of [p. 6] much interest. Unfortunately most of. the names contained in it are otherwise wholly unknown, and the geographical data are not sufficiently precise to enable us to fix their position with any certainty. The researches of recent travellers have, however, of late years given increased interest to the passage in question, by establishing the fact that the neighbourhood of Reate, and especially the valley of the Salto, a district commonly called the Cicolano, abound with vestiges of ancient cities, which, from the polygonal, or so-called Cyclopean style of their construction, have been referred to a very early period of antiquity. Many attempts have been consequently made to identify these sites with the cities mentioned by Varro; but hitherto with little success. The most recent investigations of this subject are those by Martelli (an Italian antiquarian whose local knowledge gives weight to his opinions) in his Storia dei Siculi (Aquila, 1830, 8vo.), and by Bunsen (Antichi Stabilimenti Italici, in the Annali dell' Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica, vol. vi. p. 100, seq.). But the complete diversity of their results proves how little certainty is to be attained. In the following enumeration of them, we can only attempt to give the description of the localities according to Varro, and to notice briefly their supposed identifications.
1. Palatium from which the city on the Palatine hill at Rome was supposed to have derived its name (Varr. de L. L. v. § 53; Solin. 1. § 14), is placed by Varro at 25 stadia from Reate; and would appear to have been still inhabited in his time. (See Bunsen, p. 129, whose suggestion of polis oikoumene for poleos oikoumenes is certainly very plausible.) Ruins of it are said to exist at a place still called Pallanti, near Torricella, to the right of the Via Salaria, at about the given distance from Reate. (Martelli, p. 195.) Gell, on the other hand, places it near the convent of La Foresta, to the N. of Rieti, where remains of a polygonal character are also found. Bunsen concurs in placing it in this direction, but without fixing the site.
2. Tribula (Tribola), about 60 stadia from Reate; placed by Bunsen at Santa Felice, below the modern town of Cantalice, whose polygonal walls were discovered by Dodwell. Martelli appears to confound it with Tribula Mutusca, from which it is probably distinct.
3. Suesbula, or Vesbula (the MSS. of Dionysius vary between Suesbola and Ouesbola), at the same distance (60 stadia) from Tribula, near the Ceraunian Mountains. These are otherwise unknown, but supposed by Bunsen to be the Monti di Leonessa, and that Suesbula was near the site of the little city of Leonessa, from which they derive their name.
4. Suna (Soune), distant 40 stadia from Suesbola, with a very ancient temple of Mars:
5. Mephyla (Mephula), about 30 stadia from Suna, of which some ruins and traces of walls were still visible in the time of Varro: and
6. Orvinium (Orouinion), 40 stadia from Mephyla, the ruins of which, as well as its ancient sepulchres, attested its former magnitude; - are all wholly unknown, but are probably to be sought between the Monti di Leonessa and the valley of the Velino. Martelli, however, transfers this whole group of cities (including Tribula and Suesbula), which are placed by Bunsen to the N. of Rieti, to the vallies of the Turano and Salto S. of that city. 7. Corsula (Korsoula), a city destroyed shortly before the time of Varro, is placed by him at 80 stadia from Reate, along the Via Curia, at the foot of Mt. Coretum. This road is otherwise unknown1 , but was probably that which led from Reate towards Terni (Interamna), and if so, Corsula must have been on the left bank of the Velinus, but its site is unknown. In the same direction were:
8. Issa a town situated on an island in a lake, probably the same now called the Lago del Pie di Lugo : and
9. Marruvium (Marouion), situated at the extremity of the same lake. Near this were the Septem Aquae the position of which in this fertile valley between Reate and Interamna is confirmed by their mention in Cicero (ad Att. iv. 15).
10. Returning again to Reate, and proceeding along the valley of the Salto towards the Lake Fucinus (Dionysius has ten epi Aatinen hodon eisiousin, for which Bunsen would read ten epi limnen: but in any case it seems probable that this is the direction meant), Varro mentions first Batia or Vatia (Batia), of which no trace is to be found: then comes
11. Tiora, surnamed Matiene (Tiora, he kaloumene Matiene), where there was a very ancient oracle of Mars, the responses of which were delivered by a woodpecker. This is placed, according to Varro, at 300 stadia from Reate, a distance which so much exceeds all the others, that it has been supposed to be corrupt; but it coincides well with the actual distance (36 miles) from Rieti to a spot named Castore, near Sta. Anatolia, in the upper valley of the Salto, which was undoubtedly the site of an ancient city, and presents extensive remains of walls of polygonal construction. (Bunsen, p. 115; Abeken, Mittelitalien, p. 87.) We learn also from early Martyrologies, that Sta. Anatolia, who has given name to the modem village, was put to death in civitate Thora, apud lacum Velinum. (Cluver. Ital. p. 684.) Hence it seems probable that the name of Castore is a corruption of Cas-Tora (Castellum Torae), and that the ruins visible there are really those of Tiora.2
12. Lista (Aista), called by Varro the metropolis of the Aborigines, is placed by him, according to our present text of Dionysius, at 24 stadia from Tiora; but there seem strong reasons for supposing that this is a mistake, and that Lista was really situated in the immediate neighbourhood of Reate.
13. The last city assigned by Varro to the Aborigines is Cotylia, or Cutilia (Kotulia), celebrated for its lake, concerning the site of which (between Civita Ducale and Antrodoco) there exists no doubt.
Among the cities of Latium itself, Dionysius (i. 44, ii. 35) expressly assigns to the Aborigines the foundation of Antemnae, Caenina, Ficulnea, Tellenae, and Tibur: some of which were wrested by them from the Siculians, others apparently new settlements. Little historical dependence can of course be placed on these statements, but they were probably meant to distinguish the cities in question from those which were designated by tradition as of Pelasgian origin, or colonies of Alba.
Sallust (Cat. 6) speaks of the Aborigines as a rude people, without fixed laws or dwellings, but this is probably a mere rhetorical exaggeration: it is clear that Varro at least regarded them as possessed of fortified towns, temples, oracles, &c.; and the native traditions of the Latins concerning Janus and Saturn indicate that they had acquired all the primitive arts of civilisation before the period of the supposed Trojan colony.
1 The MSS. of Dionysius have dia tes Iourias hodou, a name which is certainly corrupt. Some editors would read Iounias, but the emendation of Kourias suggested by Bunsen is far more probable. For the further investigation of this point, see Reate
2 Holstenius, however (Not. ad Cluver. p. 114), places Tiora in the valley of the Turano, at a place called Colle Piccolo, where there is also a celebrated church of Sta. Anatolia.
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited October 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
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