The Aurunci were an Italic tribe that lived in southern Italy from around the 1st millennium BC. They were eventually defeated by Rome and subsumed into the Roman Republic during the second half of the 4th century BC.[1]

Carte GuerreRomanoAurunce 345avJC
Map showing the territory of the Aurunci.


Aurunci is the name given by Roman writers to an ancient race or nation of Italy. It appears that "Aurunci" was the appellation the Romans gave to the people called "Ausones" by the Greeks: indeed, the two names are merely different forms of the same, as the letter "r" was a common variation for "s" in Latin[2] (Aurunci = Auronici = Auruni = Ausuni).[3]

The identity of the two is distinctly asserted by Servius,[4] and clearly implied by Cassius Dio,[5] where he says that the name of Ausonia was properly applied only to the land of the Auruncans, between the Volscians and the Campanians. In like manner, Festus makes the mythical hero Auson the founder of the city of Aurunea.[6][7] Servius terms the Aurunci one of the most ancient nations of Italy.[8] They appear to have been much more powerful and widely spread at an early period than we subsequently find them, but it does not appear that the name was ever employed by the Romans in the vague and extended sense in which "Ausones" was used by the Greeks.[3]

At a later period, in the fourth century BC, the two names of Aurunci and Ausones had assumed a distinct signification, and came to be applied to two petty nations, evidently mere subdivisions of the same great race, both dwelling on the frontiers of Latium and Campania; the Ausones on the west of the Liris, extending from thence to the mountains of the Volscians; the Auruncans, on the other hand, being confined to the detached group of volcanic mountains now called Monte Santa Croce, or Rocca Monfina, on the left bank of the Liris, together with the hills that slope from thence towards the sea. Their ancient stronghold or metropolis, Aurunca was situated near the summit of the mountain, while Suessa, which they subsequently made their capital, was on its south-western slope, commanding the fertile plains from thence to the sea. On the east and south they bordered closely on the Sidicini of Teanum and the people of Cales, who, according to Livy,[9] were also of Ausonian race, but were politically distinct from the Auruncans. Virgil evidently regards these hills as the original abode of the Auruncan,[10] and speaks of them as merely a petty people.

In contrast, in 495 BC, Dionysius of Halicarnassus refers to them as being a warlike people of great strength and fierceness, who occupied the fairest plains of Campania; so that it seems certain the name is here used as including the people to whom the name of Ausones (in its more limited sense) is afterwards applied.[3]


The first occasion in which they appear in Roman history exhibits them in a very different light, as a warlike and powerful nation who had extended their conquests to the borders of Latium.[3]

Thus, in 503 and 502 BC, the Latin cities of Cora and Pometia revolted and allied themselves with the Aurunci. These powerful neighbours supported them with a large army against the infant republic; however, Rome ultimately prevailed.[11][12] A few years later, in 495 BC, at around the time of a Volscian attack upon Rome, the Aurunci took up arms against Rome in support of the Volscian cause, and advanced with their army as far as Aricia, where they were defeated by the Roman consul Publius Servilius Priscus Structus.[13]

From this time, the name of the Aurunci does not again occur until 344 BC, when it is evident that Livy is speaking only of the people who inhabited the mountain of Rocca Monfina, who were defeated and reduced to submission without difficulty.[14] A few years later (337 BC), they were compelled by the attacks of their neighbours, the Sidicini, to apply to Rome for aid, and meanwhile abandoned their stronghold on the mountain and established themselves in their new city of Suessa.[15]

No mention of their name is found in the subsequent Roman wars in this part of Italy. In 313 BC, a Roman colony was established at Suessa;[16] their national existence must have been thenceforth at an end. Their territory was subsequently included in Campania.[3][17]


The Aurunci mountains and the modern town of Sessa Aurunca bears the Aurunci's name.

See also


  1. ^ Carl Waldman; Catherine Mason (2006). Encyclopedia of European Peoples. Infobase Publishing. pp. 41–. ISBN 978-1-4381-2918-1.
  2. ^ This phenomenon was noted by the Romans themselves:

    "In multis verbis, in quo antiqui dicebant s, postea dicunt r... foedesum foederum, plusima plurima, meliosem meliorem, asenam arenam."

    — Varr. De lingua Latina, VII, 26.
    See Latin: Rhotacism
  3. ^ a b c d e Bunbury 1854, p. 343.
  4. ^ Bunbury 1854, p. 343 cites Servius ad Aen. vii. 727.
  5. ^ Bunbury 1854, p. 343 cites Cassius Dio Fr. 2.
  6. ^ Bunbury 1854, p. 343 cites Festus, s. v. Ausonia
  7. ^ Bunbury 1854, p. 343
  8. ^ Bunbury 1854, p. 343 cites Servius ad Aen. vii. 206.
  9. ^ Bunbury 1854, p. 343 cites Livy, viii. 16.
  10. ^ Bunbury 1854, p. 343 cites Virgil, Aen. vii. 727.
  11. ^ Bunbury 1854, p. 343 cites Livy, ii. 16, 17.
  12. ^ Liv.
  13. ^ Bunbury 1854, p. 343 cites Livy, ii. 26; Dionys vi. 32.
  14. ^ Bunbury 1854, p. 343 cites Livy vii. 28.
  15. ^ Bunbury 1854, p. 343 cites Livy, viii. 15.
  16. ^ Bunbury 1854, p. 343 cites Livy, ix. 28.
  17. ^ William Smith (1869). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. James Walton. pp. 343–.

The ancient city of Aurunca was the capital or metropolis of the little mountain tribe of the Aurunci (in the more limited sense of that name (see Aurunci)), was situated on one of the summits of the volcanic group of mountains, which rise above the plains of Campania, near Suessa and Teanum.The name Aurunca is found only in Festus, who wrote that it was founded by Auson, the son of Ulysses and Circe; but Livy clearly alludes to its existence, though without mentioning the name. He tells us, that in 337 BC, the Aurunci, being hard pressed by their neighbours the Sidicini, abandoned their city, and took refuge at Suessa, which they fortified; and that their ancient city was destroyed by the Sidicini.Aurunca was never rebuilt, and hence no subsequent notice of it is found; but some vestiges of it have been discovered on the summit of a narrow mountain ridge, now called La Serra, or La Cortinella, about 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Suessa, where there are some fragments of the ancient walls, and massive substructions, probably those of a temple. The hill on which it stood forms part of the outer edge, or encircling ridge of an ancient volcanic crater, the highest point of which, called the Monte di Sta Croce, attains an elevation of 3,200 feet (980 m) above the sea; and the site of the ancient town must have been, like that of Alba Longa, a long and narrow plateau on the summit of this ridge. It is to this elevated position that Virgil alludes (De collibus altis Aurunci misere patres). For the description of the remains and site of the ancient city, see Abeken (1839) Suessa was frequently distinguished by the epithet Auranca, and hence Juvenal terms Gaius Lucilius, who was a native of that city, Auruncae alumnus.

Aurunci Mountains

The Monti Aurunci or Aurunci Mountains is a mountain range of southern Lazio, in central Italy. It is part of the Antiappennini, a group running from the Apennines chain to the Tyrrhenian Sea, where it forms the promontory of Gaeta. It is bounded to the north-west by the Ausoni Mountains, to the north by the Liri river, to the east by the Ausente, to the south-east by the Garigliano and to the south by the Tyrrhenian sea. The line between the Aurunci and the Ausoni has not been clearly established but the Aurunci are considered by convention to be east of a line through Fondi, Lenola, Pico, S.Giovanni and Incarico. Altitudes vary from hills to the 1,533 m of Monte Petrella. Main peaks include the Redentore (1,252 m) and Monte Sant'Angelo (1,402 m). They include a Regional Park, the Parco Naturale dei Monti Aurunci, created in 1997.

The mountains take the name from the ancient tribe of the Aurunci, an offshoot of the Ausoni. Both tribes were derived from the Italic people who were called by the Romans the Volsci; hence, the Monti Lepini, the Monti Ausoni and the Monti Aurunci are also called the Volsci or Volscian Chain. Coincidentally they are all of the same karst topography and have the same orogeny, which is not quite the same as the Apennines proper.


"Ausones", (Ancient Greek: Αὔσονες; Italian: Ausoni) the original Greek form for the Latin "Aurunci," was a name applied by Greek writers to describe various Italic peoples inhabiting the southern and central regions of Italy. The term was used, specifically, to denote the particular tribe which Livy called the Aurunci, but later it was applied to all Italians, and Ausonia became a poetic term, in Greek and Latin, for Italy itself.

Ausonia, Lazio

Ausonia is a town and comune in southern Lazio, central Italy. It takes its name from the Ausones/Aurunci, whose ancient town Ausona (member of the Auruncan Pentapolis), located nearby, was destroyed by the Romans in 314 BC. In the Middle Ages it was known as Fratte.

Ausonia is located near the border between Lazio and Campania, in a valley between the Monti Aurunci and the Mainarde. Its names stems from Ausona, an ancient city of the Osci, whose location, however, has not been identified after it was destroyed by the Romans in 314 BC. The finding of Latin inscriptions devoted to Hercules suggest that a pilgrimage road could pass from here in ancient times.


Cales was an ancient city of Campania, in today's comune of Calvi Risorta in southern Italy, belonging originally to the Aurunci/Ausoni, on the Via Latina.

The Romans captured it in 335 BC and established a colony with Latin rights of 2,500 citizens. Cales was initially the centre of the Roman dominion in Campania. To the period after 335 belong numerous silver and bronze coins with the inscription Caleno. It was an important base in the war against Hannibal, and at last refused further contributions for the war. Before 184 BC more settlers were sent there. After the Social War it became a municipium. The fertility of its territory and its manufacture of black glazed pottery, which was even exported to Etruria, made it prosperous. At the end of the 3rd century BC it appears as a colony, and in the 5th century (AD) it became an episcopal see, which (jointly with Tano since 1818) it still is, though it is now a mere village. The cathedral, of the 12th century, has a carved portal and three apses decorated with small arches and pilasters, and contains a fine pulpit and episcopal throne in marble mosaic. Near it are two grottos, which have been used for Christian worship and contain frescoes of the 10th and 11th centuries. Inscriptions name six gates of the town: and there are considerable remains of antiquity, especially of an amphitheatre and theatre, of a supposed temple, and other edifices.A number of tombs belonging to the Roman necropolis were discovered in 1883.


Campodimele is a town and comune in the province of Latina, in the Lazio region of central Italy. It is located on a steep Karstic hill, between the Monti Ausoni and Monti Aurunci ranges.

The economy is mostly based on agriculture.


Castelforte is a town and comune in the province of Latina, in the Lazio region of central Italy. It is located at the feet of the Monti Aurunci massif.

Ciociara Grigia

The Ciociara Grigia or Grigia Ciociara is an indigenous breed of domestic goat from Lazio in central Italy. It takes its name from the Ciociaria, the area around Frosinone. It is thought to have originated in the area of the Monti Aurunci and the Monti Ausoni. It is raised in those mountains, in the Monti Lepini, and in the Val Comino. Because of the transhumant management of the herds it has also diffused into some neighbouring areas of Campania and Abruzzo. It is one of the forty-three autochthonous Italian goat breeds of limited distribution for which a herdbook is kept by the Associazione Nazionale della Pastorizia, the Italian national association of sheep- and goat-breeders.At the end of 2013 the registered population was 674.

Coreno Ausonio

Coreno Ausonio is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Frosinone in the Italian region Lazio, located about 120 kilometres (75 mi) southeast of Rome and about 50 kilometres (31 mi) southeast of Frosinone at the foot of Monte Maio, in the Monti Aurunci.

It includes an ancient carved grotto, the Grotta delle Fate ("Fairies' Grotto", 8th century BC), likely a tomb of one of the Osco-Sabellian tribes that lived here at the time.


For the concealer moth genus established by Hübner in 1825, see Esperia (moth). The brush-footed butterfly genus Esperia, invalidly established by Nekrutenko in 1987, is a junior synonym of Kirinia (e.g. lattice brown, K. roxelana).

Esperia is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Frosinone in the Italian region Lazio, located about 110 kilometres (68 mi) southeast of Rome and about 40 kilometres (25 mi) southeast of Frosinone. It is located within the Monti Aurunci Natural Park.

Esperia Pony

The Esperia Pony (Italian: Pony dell'Esperia or Pony di Esperia) is a breed of pony originating in the area of the Aurunci Mountains and Ausoni Mountains near Esperia in the province of Frosinone, in the Lazio region of Italy. It is one of the fifteen indigenous horse "breeds of limited distribution" recognised by the AIA, the Italian breeders' association. It is the only Italian breed to be officially denominated a pony.


Itri is a small city and comune the province of Latina, Lazio, central Italy.

Itri is an agricultural centre divided in two parts by a small river, the Pontone. It lies in a valley between the Monti Aurunci and the sea, not far from the Gulf of Gaeta. The more ancient part, with the Castle, was partly destroyed during World War II.

The Itrani speak a particular variant of the Neapolitan language called Itrano.

Lenola, Lazio

Lenola is a town and comune in the province of Latina, in the Lazio region of central Italy. Its territory is included in the Natural Preserve of the Monti Aurunci.

Monte Petrella

Monte Petrella is the highest peak in the Aurunci Mountains, in southern Lazio, central Italy. It has an elevation of 1,533 metres (5,030 ft).

It can be reached from Spigno Saturnia from east, and Maranola, a frazione of Formia, from west.

Monti Ausoni

The Monti Ausoni or Ausoni Mountains is a mountain range in southern Lazio, in central Italy. It is part of the Antiappennini, a group running from the Apennines chain to the Tyrrhenian Sea. They are bounded to the north by the Monti Lepini and to the south by the Monti Aurunci. They take the name from the ancient tribe of the Ausoni. The Monti Ausoni consist mainly of friable limestone. Altitudes vary from hills to the 1,152 m of Cima del Nibbio and the 1,141 m of Monte Calvo. Near Pastena are the eponymous Grotte (caves).

Part of the Mountains is protected by Wilderness Area, which was established in 1999. It covers 4,230 hectares. Most of the valleys are covered in forests (of oak, cork oak and maple). There are also species of Quercus virginiana, Carpinella, the Aspen and the Laurel. Beneath the trees are numerous rare and endemic flora, such as Crocus imperati subsp imperati, Narcissus Poeticus, Asphodeline lutea (Asfodelina), Daphne oleoides (spatula Daphne) and Iris relicta.


The Osci (also called Opici, Opsci, Obsci, Opicans, Ancient Greek: Ὀπικοί, Ὀσκοί), were an Italic people of Campania and Latium adiectum during Roman times. They spoke the Oscan language, also spoken by the Samnites of Southern Italy. Although the language of the Samnites was called Oscan, the Samnites were never called Osci, or the Osci Samnites.

Traditions of the Opici fall into the legendary period of Italian history, approximately the first half of the first millennium BC, down to the foundation of the Roman Republic. No agreement can be reached concerning their location and language. At the end of that time, the Oscan language appeared and was spoken by a number of sovereign tribal states. By far the most important in military prowess and wealth was the Samnites, who rivalled Rome for about 50 years in the second half of the 4th century BC, sometimes being allies, and sometimes at war with the city, until they were finally subdued with considerable difficulty and were incorporated into the Roman state.

The Osci kept their independence by playing off one state against another, especially the Romans and Samnites. That sovereignty fell victim at last in the Second Samnite War, when prior to invading Samnium, the Romans found it necessary to secure the border tribes. After the war, the Oscans assimilated quickly to Roman culture. Their memory survived in only place names and in literature.

Santi Cosma e Damiano, Lazio

Santi Cosma e Damiano is a town and comune in the province of Latina, in the Lazio region of central Italy, whose territory is located partly in the Monti Aurunci area and partly in the Garigliano plain.

Sights include an 11th-century tower in the frazione of Ventosa.


The Sidicini (in ancient Greek Σιδικῖνοι) were one of the Italic peoples of ancient Italy. Their territory extended northward from their capital, Teanum Sidicinum (modern day Teano), along the valley of the Liri river up to Fregellae, covering around 3,000 square km in total. They were neighbors of the Samnites and Campanians, and allies of the Ausoni and Aurunci. Their language was a part of the Osco-Umbrian linguistic family.


The Volsci were an Italic tribe, well known in the history of the first century of the Roman Republic. At the time they inhabited the partly hilly, partly marshy district of the south of Latium, bounded by the Aurunci and Samnites on the south, the Hernici on the east, and stretching roughly from Norba and Cora in the north to Antium (modern Anzio and Nettuno) in the south. Rivals of Rome for several hundred years, their territories were taken over by and assimilated into the growing republic by 300 BCE.

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