ECHO Molise
  Emigration and Cultural Heritage of the Molise

Roman Samnium: Colonization and Romanization

"By 91 BC…on the eve of the war that was to lead to their incorporation within the Roman state, the settlements…presented a face to the world which had altered radically since the end of the Iron Age.  The metamorphosis was remarkable: major centres of population and craft production; imposing sanctuaries deeply influenced by Hellenizing architecture, and a complex ritual landscape beyond them; a hierarchy of rural settlement, including villas; and, linking all these, economic, social and cultural structures reflecting urbanization.…the countryside of the Biferno valley was exploited to a degree unsurpassed in any period before early modern times."
                                                                         Graeme Barker, A Mediterranean Valley
                                                       




Rome counted sovereign Samnium as an “ally.”  


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Via Appia Antica in Rome; 'Author: it:MM; wikimedia commons 

 

 



















Rectina, a friend of Pliny the Younger, escaped Pompeii for Casalpiano after the eruption of Vesuvius on 25 August 79 AD.  Pliny the Elder died trying to rescue survivors.
DeVito


























































See "Pompey,"         Roman Who's Who for an exception.








Hoard of 599 silver denarii hidden in cooking pot (Wales); Author: Helen Hall; wikimedia commons





Samnites won citizenship after the Social War.























Notable exception, from a Roman tombstone: 
“Here for all time has been set down in writing the shameful record of the freedwoman Acte, of poisoned mind, and treacherous, cunning and hard-hearted.  Oh!  For a nail, and a hempen rope to choke her, and flaming pitch to burn up her wicked heart.”
Abbott, F.  








 

Roman CclumnsRome subjugated conquered states by taking a large part of their best agricultural land and distributing it to Roman citizens (“coloni viritani”).Pasquinucci  So then, for the Molise after the Samnite Wars—Rome did not acquire all the lands, but enough that sovereign Samnium was smaller and less populated than Roman Samnium. 

Without enough citizens to colonize Samnium, Rome relocated 40,000 colonists from Liguria in 179 AD Masciotta and allotted land to citizen veterans, who served as a military reserve and model of Roman life.  So colonized, the Samnites began their long, reluctant journey toward Romanization. 

 Roads.  The colonies, and the roads that connected them with the capital, encouraged Romanization.  Romans rebuilt a wide circuit of ancient Samnite drove trails and roads.  Along these roads colonists, merchants and federal officials brought Roman law, dress, ideas and language.Abbott, F.  Via Rufrae led from Allifae to Venafrum.Salmon  Called Via Minucia by Cicero and Via Numicia by Horace,Ramsay another road passed north and south through the Samnium, leading from San Pelino through Isernia, Bojano and Sepino (jumps to Roman Towns descriptions), connecting to the Appian Way at Benevento,Cramer ending at Brindisi.  It may have been named for its builder, or because M. Minucius Rufus traveled the routeSalmon in pursuit of Hannibal (opens 2nd Punic War article). 

Via Salaria crossed Larino as it led from Pescara to Rome.Cramer  Modern State Highway 17, called “Via Nazionale dei Pentri,” follows the route of one road predating the others, from Aufidena via the Rionero Gap and Aesernia (Isernia) to Bovianum (Bojano).Salmon   

 Villa Rustica.  The Romans introduced the “villa rustica,” a large farm worked by slaves, producing wine and oil.  Usually a villa consisted of the main house (“urbana”), the agricultural center and the farm area (“rusticana”).  Ville rustiche ruins have been excavated throughout the Molise.  By 2007, Iasiello inventoried over 140 excavation sites.Iasiello  Evidence shows commercial wine production on a vast scale since the 1st century AD at the villa rustica in San Martino in Pensilis.  At Santa Maria di Canneto near Roccavivara, storerooms dating from the first through third centuries AD could hold nearly 430,000 liters of oil.DiNiro At Santa Maria in Casalpiano near Morrone, the 2nd century AD villa rustica of the family of Volusis GallusDeVito included under-floor heating (hot water).  A single epigraph sculpted with the name “Rectina” lies at the site. 

Villa Rustica at Santa Maria in Casalpiana, near Morrone
                           Remains of villa rustica at Santa Maria in Casalpiana, near Morrone.

A small villa rustica at Matrice held interments from approximately 50 BC and “yielded one formal burial of a child, eight infants buried apparently without ceremony and possibly exposed, and one young female burial.” Soren 

Public Baths.  No city in the Roman Empire was considered too small or too poor to build public baths.  In fact, by 326 AD, Rome enacted a law requiring cities spend at least one-third of their income to heat and maintain public baths.

Military Service.  Rome considered the Samnites as subjects and allies—but saw the value of “allies” only in their soldiers who filled the ranks of the Roman army.  Rome took all the Samnite soldiers they could, preferring them to “effete Etruscans or submissive Umbrians.”  It was said that Rome was “prepared to fight to the last Italian,” and often Samnite battle casualties were disproportionately higher than Roman.  But Rome alone kept the spoils of the wars.  Citizen soldiers had the right to appeal corporal punishment.  Samnite soldiers had no protection; they could be cudgeled or executed.  But Samnite soldiers who distinguished themselves in battle had little chance at the political careers that awaited Roman soldiers.Salmon 

Ironically, by participating in Roman wars, the Samnites contributed to their own Romanization.  But the more Romanized the Samnites became, the more they resented their inferior status.

Taxation.  As subjects-but not citizens-the Samnites were viewed as inferior by the Romans, who also made a cultural distinction between the “Italian” tribes (Samnites, Marsi, Picentines, Paeligni, Marrucini, Vestini, Frentani and Hirpini) and the “Latin,” (Roman) peoples.  Italians did not have a voice in the Roman government, but carried the tax burden (citizen colonists were exempt from taxes).  According to J. Abbott, tax collectors practiced “the most atrocious extortion and cruelty.” Further, the Samnites were now obliged to pay to use their ancestral grazing lands ceded to Rome in various peace treaties.Salmon  

Military Service.  Rome considered the Samnites as subjects and allies—but saw the value of “allies” only in their soldiers who filled the ranks of the Roman army.  Rome took all the Samnite soldiers they could, preferring them to “effete Etruscans or submissive Umbrians.”  It was said that Rome was “prepared to fight to the last Italian,” and often Samnite battle casualties were disproportionately higher than Roman.  But Rome alone kept the spoils of the wars.  Citizen soldiers had the right to appeal corporal punishment.  Samnite soldiers had no protection; they could be cudgeled or executed.  But Samnite soldiers who distinguished themselves in battle had little chance at the political careers that awaited Roman soldiers.Salmon  

Ironically, by participating in Roman wars, the Samnites contributed to their own Romanization.  But the more Romanized the Samnites became, the more they resented their inferior status.

Religion.  Despite historical depictions of Rome as increasingly morally corrupt, these do not always reflect the beliefs of common people.  The common people did not place their faith in the gods of Roman literature.  Their nearest approach to belief in a divinity was their recognition of fate.Abbott, F.  They held to the old standards of morality and duty.  Marriage ties were sacred, the virtues of women extolled.   

 Language.  Before the Social War (opens Social and Civil Wars article), Rome isolated her conquered communities from each other, to prevent them from conspiring revolt.  She transferred populations around main communication hubs and granted different rights and privileges to neighboring communities, so they would not have the same grievances, and no common basis for joint action against her.  The community dialects remained strong.

After the War, this policy gave way to political unity and thus, the introduction of Latin as the common tongue.  Rome’s post-war policy to populate colonies and build roads contributed to the larger use of Latin throughout the central and southern parts of the peninsula.  Although old dialects must have lasted some time in remote areas and mountain towns, the years following the Social War mark their rapid disappearance and substitution of Latin in their place. Abbott, F.

Sources.


Abbott
, Frank Frost.  The Common People of Ancient Rome, Studies of Roman Life and Literature.  New York:  Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1911.
Abbott, John S.C. Italy.  New York: Peter Fenelon Collier, 1882.

Barker, Graeme.  A Mediterranean Valley.  London:  Leicester University Press, 1995.

Cramer, the Rev John Antony, M.A., A Geographical and Historical Description of Ancient Italy, Volume II; Oxford: The Claredon Press, 1826.

DeVito, Giovannino.  Provvidenti: Note di Storia Antica e Contemporanea.  Termoli:  Tipolitografia “Adriatica” Iovine, n.d.

DiNiro, Angela.  Storie Nuove di Storie Vecchie Nella Terra di Molise.  Campobasso:  Tipolitografia Foto Lampo SNC, 1999.

Iasiello, Italo M.  Samnium: Assetti e Trasformazioni di una Provincia Tardoantica.  Bari:  Edipuglia srl, 2007.

Masciotta, Dott. Giambattista, Il Molise dalle origini ai nostri giorni, Volume 1, Napoli:  Tipogafico Luigi Pierro e Figlio, 1914.

Pasquinucci, Marinella:  “City-States and Roman Administration: from the Conquest of Latium to the Empire.”  Università di Pisa, n.d.

Ramsay, William.  On A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London: John Murray, 1875.

Salmon, E.T., Samnium and the Samnites.  Cambridge University Press, 1967. 

Soren, David and Noelle.  A Roman Villa and a Late Roman Infant Cemetery.  Roma:  L’erma di Bretschneider, 1999.

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