Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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5.4.12

The following is the tradition concerning the [origin of the] Samnites. The Sabines having been engaged for

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a long period in war with the Ombrici, made a vow, common with some of the Grecian nations, that they would consecrate to the gods the productions of the year. [Note] They were victorious, and accordingly of the productions, [Note] the one kind were sacrificed, the other consecrated. However, in a time of scarcity, some one remarked, that they ought likewise to have consecrated the children. This then they did, and the children born at that period were called the sons of Mars. [Note] When these had grown up to manhood, they were sent forth, a bull leading the way, to found a colony. The bull lay down to rest in a place belonging to the Opici; a people dwelling in villages. These they drove out, and established themselves in the place. The bull, according to the direction of the diviners, they sacrificed to Mars, who had given him to then as a leader. It seems to have been in allusion to this that their parents called them by the diminutive form of Sabelli. [Note] The name of Samnites, or, as the Greeks call them, Saunites, originated in another cause. It is also said that certain Lacedæmonians came to dwell amongst them, and that this is the reason of their affection for the Greeks, and that certain of them are called Pitanatæ. [Note] The whole of this, however, appears to be a mere fabrication of the Tarentini, interested in flattering and conciliating to themselves a neighbouring people, so powerful as to be able, on a time, to bring into the field a force of eighty thousand foot-soldiers, and eight thousand cavalry. There is said to be a law amongst the Samnites, excellent in itself, and calculated to excite to virtue. It is not lawful for fathers to give away their daughters to whomsoever they may please; but every year ten of the most virtuous young women, and ten of the most virtuous young men, are selected; of these the most excellent young man is married to the most excellent young woman, the second to the second, and so on in order. Should he who re-

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ceives this reward, afterwards change and become wicked, he is dishonoured, and the wife who had been given is taken away from him. Beyond are the Hirpini, who are also Samnites: their name they take from the wolf, which conducted their colony; a wolf being called by the Samnites hirpos: these people border on the Leucani in the interior. So much for the Samnites. 5.4.13

The fertility of their country has been productive to the Campanians of as much evil as good. Their luxury ran to such a height, that they would invite to supper, in order to exhibit pairs of fighting gladiators, the exact number of pairs being regulated according to the distinction of the guests. When, on their voluntary submission to Hannibal, they received his soldiers into winter quarters, [Note] the pleasures [of the place] rendered the men so effeminate, that Hannibal said, although conqueror, that he was in danger of the enemy, since his soldiers were returned to him women, and no longer men. When the Romans obtained the mastery, [Note] they inflicted on them numerous ills, and ended by distributing their land by lot. [Note] At the present day they are living in prosperity, and on friendly terms with the [Roman] colonists, and preserve their ancient reputation, both in respect to the size of their city and the numbers of their population. Beyond Campania and the Samnites, [Note] and upon the Tyrrhenian Sea, dwells the nation of the Picentini. This is a small off-shoot from the Picentini who dwell near the Adriatic, and was transplanted by the Romans to the Posidoniate Gulf, [Note] now called the Gulf of Pæstum. The city of Posidonia, which is built about the middle of the gulf, is called Pæstum. [Note] The Sybarites [when they founded the city [Note]] built the fortifications close upon the sea, but the inhabitants removed higher up. In after time [Note] the Leucani seized upon the city, but in their turn were deprived of it by the Romans. [Note] It is rendered unhealthy by a river [Note]

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which overflows the marshy districts in the neighbourhood. Between the Sirenusse and Posidonia [Note] is Marcina, [Note] a city founded by the Tyrrheni, but inhabited by the Samnites. [To go] from thence into Pompæa, [Note] through Nuceria, [Note] [you cross] an isthmus of not more than 120 stadia. The Picentes extend as far as the river Silaro, [Note] which separates their country on this side from ancient Leucania. [Note] The water of this river is reported to possess the singular property of petrifying any plant thrown into it, preserving at the same time both the colour and form. [Note] Picentia was formerly the capital of the Picentes; but they now dwell in villages, having been ejected by the Romans [Note] for taking part with Hannibal. Also, instead of doing military service, it has been decreed that they shall be the public daily couriers and letter-carriers; [a penalty] which for the same cause has been likewise inflicted on the Leucani and Bruttii. To keep them in check, the Romans fortified Salernum, which is a little above the sea. The distance from the Sirenusse to the Silaro is 260 stadia.

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Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 5.4.10 Str. 5.4.13 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 6.1.1

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