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27

Samnium

Samnium_V_b_C_.jpg

Ancient Coins (other than Roman) from Italy including Magna Graecia in the Forum Ancient Coins shop

Samnium, situated as it was, midway between the Greek silver-coining states of the south and the bronze-coining peoples of the north, had in early times absolutely no coinage of its own. Its pastoral village communities were indeed hardly important enough to require a separate coinage. The Samnites appear to have made use of the money of the neighbouring districts, especially of that of Campania. There are, however, two silver coins which may have been struck in Samnium towards the end of the fourth century B.C. (see A. Sambon, Mon. ant. de l'Italie, p. 104).

Samnites? NATINYAS, Veiled female head. (Coll. Luynes, Paris.) Spear-head within laurel-wreath.
AR 12 grs.
Pitanatae Peripoli. Head of Hera (?) left, wearing stephane. PERIPOLWN PITANATAN Herakles strangling lion.
AR 10 grs.

Mommsen attributes this last coin to Samnium on the strength of a passage of Strabo (v. p. 250), who states that a Laconian colony (Pitanatae?) was established in Samnium by the Tarentines. Whether this attribution is to be preferred to that given in the first edition of this work, viz. Peripolium, an outpost of the Locrians on the frontier of their territory towards Rhegium, is a doubtful matter, but as two specimens have been found in Samnium Mommsen's attribution is probably correct.

It is not until after the final subjection of Samnium by the Romans, circa B.C. 290, that we find the towns of Aesernia, Aquilonia, Beneventum, and Telesia striking bronze coins, similar in style to those of Campania.

Aesernia (Isernia), near the sources of 'the Vulturnus, obtained the title and rights of a Latin colony in B.C. 263. Its coinage resembles that of the Campanian towns Cales, Suessa Aurunca, and Teanum Sidicinum. The head of Vulcan is appropriate in a country where earthquakes are of frequent occurrence, supposing that the connexion between seismic and volcanic phenomena was recognized in the third century B.C. The Bull with the human head is a type borrowed from the coins of Neapolis.

VOCANOM Head of Vulcan. AISERNINO, etc. Zeus thundering in biga; above, often, Victory.
AE Size .8
AISERNIO, AISERNINO, AISERNI- NOM, etc. Head of Apollo. Man-headed bull with human face crowned by Victory.
AE Size .8
AISERNIO or AISERNINO Head of Athena. Eagle and serpent.
AE Size .8

Concerning the inscriptions see Conway, Italic Dialects, p. 199, and Berl. Cat., III. i. p. 55.

Aquilonia. There were two towns of this name in Samnium, one near Bovianum, the other not far from the borders of Apulia. It is doubtful to which of these places the coins belong. See Conway, Italic Dialects, p. 171.


28

Head of Athena. Armed warrior holding patera.
AE Size .8

According to Livy (x. 46), Papirius Cursor after the battle of Aquilonia, B.C. 293, carried off to Rome 'aeris gravis vicies centies millies et quingenta triginta tria milliai', together with 1,830 pounds of silver. We must not understand this as implying that the 2,533,000 pounds of bronze was actually money of Samnium. It is merely the sum in Roman money of the value of the spoil.

Beneventum (Benevento). The undoubted coins of this town are certainly subsequent to B.C. 268, when its name was changed from Maloentum or Malventum to Beneventum by the Romans who planted a colony there.

BENVENTOD Head of Apollo. Prancing horse and PROPOM or PROM PRO.
AE .8

Cf. a similar inscription PROBOM on the coins of Suessa (p. 42).

There are, however, smaller bronze coins which, if correctly attributed, must be assigned to the period before the change of name.

Head of Apollo. MAIES (?) Bull with human face; above, helmet.
MAIES (?) Female head. Similar type; but above, mask of Seilenos.

See Sambon, op. cit., pp. 108, 114.

Compsa. See Cosa Volcientium on the coast of Etruria (p. 16).

Telesia (Telese), in the valley of the Calor. Unique bronze coin (Coll. Santangelo, Naples), B.C. 263-250, with Oscan inscription.

Head of Athena. SIRET (transliterated by Conway, p. 196, Telis) Cock and star.
AE. 7

For the types of this coin see under Aquinum (supra p. 26).