The Frentani were an ancient people of central Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, occupying the tract on the east coast of the peninsula from the Apennines
Apennine mountains
The Apennines or Apennine Mountains or Greek oros but just as often used alone as a noun. The ancient Greeks and Romans typically but not always used "mountain" in the singular to mean one or a range; thus, "the Apennine mountain" refers to the entire chain and is translated "the Apennine...

 to the Adriatic, and from the frontiers of Apulia
Apulia is a region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its most southern portion, known as Salento peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy. The region comprises , and...

 to those of the Marrucini
The Marrucini were an ancient tribe which occupied a small strip of territory around the ancient Teate , on the east coast of Abruzzo, Italy, limited by the Aterno and Foro Rivers...

. They were bounded on the west by the Samnites, with whom they were closely connected, and from whom they were originally descended. Hence Scylax assigns the whole of this line of coast, from the frontiers of Apulia to those of Picenum
Picenum was a region of ancient Italy. The name is an exonym assigned by the Romans, who conquered and incorporated it into the Roman Republic. Picenum was the birthplace of such notables as Pompey the Great and his father Pompeius Strabo. It was situated in what is now Marche...

, to the Samnites. Their exact limits are less clearly defined, and there is considerable discrepancy in the statements of ancient geographers: Larinum, with its territory (extending from the Tifernus (modern Biferno
The Biferno is a river of Molise, in southern Italy. Its source is in the comune of Bojano and during the first few kilometres of its course it receives the waters of numerous streams which flow from the Matese mountains...

) to the Frento), being by some writers termed a city of the Frentani, while the more general opinion included it in Apulia, and thus made the river Tifernus (Biferno) the limit of the two countries. The northern boundary of the Frentani is equally uncertain; both Strabo and Ptolemy concur in fixing it at the river Sagrus (modern Sangro), while Pliny extends their limits as far as the Aternus, and, according to Mela, they possessed the mouths both of that river and the Matrinus. The latter statement is certainly inaccurate; and Strabo distinctly tells us, that the Marrucini held the right bank of the Aternus down to its mouth, while the Vestini
Vestini is the Roman exonym for an ancient Italic tribe that occupied the area of the modern Abruzzo included between the Gran Sasso and the northern bank of the Aterno river...

 possessed the left bank; hence, the former people must have intervened between the Frentani and the mouth of the Aternus. Pliny's account is, however, more near the truth than that of Strabo and Ptolemy; for it is certain that Ortona
Ortona is a coastal town and municipality of the Province of Chieti in the Italian region of Abruzzo, with some 23,000 inhabitants.Ortona was the site of fierce fighting between German and Canadian forces during the Italian campaign in World War II...

 and Anxanum (modern Lanciano
Lanciano is a town and comune in the province of Chieti, part of the Abruzzo region of central Italy. It has 36,570 inhabitants as of 2008.The city is also known for the first recorded alleged Catholic Eucharistic Miracle.-History:...

), both of which are situated considerably to the north of the Sagrus, were Frentanian cities. The latter is indeed assigned by Ptolemy to that people, while Strabo also terms Ortona the port or naval station of the Frentani, but erroneously places it to the south of the river Sagrus. Hence, their confines must have approached within a few miles of the Aternus, though without actually abutting upon that river. On the west they were probably not separated from the Samnites by any well-marked natural boundary, but occupied the lower slopes of the Apennines as well as the hilly country extending from thence to the sea, while the more lofty and central ridges of the mountains were included in Samnium.

Affiliations and history

The Frentani are expressly termed by Strabo a Samnite people, and he appears to distinguish them as such from the neighbouring tribes of the Marrucini, Peligni, and Vestini, with whom they had otherwise much in common. They, however, appear in history as a separate people, having their own national organisation; and though they may at one time (as suggested by Niebuhr) have constituted one of the four nations of the Samnite confederacy, this seems to have been no longer the case when that power came into collision with Rome. Their conduct during the long struggle between the Samnites and Romans renders this almost certain. In 319 BCE, indeed, when their name occurs for the first time in history, they appear in arms against Rome, but were quickly defeated and reduced to submission; and a few years afterwards (304 BCE), at the close of the Second Samnite War, the Frentani are mentioned, together with the Marsi
Marsi is the Latin exonym for a people of ancient Italy, whose chief centre was Marruvium, on the eastern shore of Lake Fucinus, drained for agricultural land in the late 19th century. The area in which they lived is now called Marsica. During the Roman Republic the people of the region spoke a...

, Marrucini, and Peligni, as coming forward voluntarily to sue for a treaty of alliance with Rome, which they seem to have subsequently adhered to with steadfastness. Hence we find more than once express mention of the Frentanian auxiliaries in the war with Pyrrhus
Pyrrhus of Epirus
Pyrrhus or Pyrrhos was a Greek general and statesman of the Hellenistic era. He was king of the Greek tribe of Molossians, of the royal Aeacid house , and later he became king of Epirus and Macedon . He was one of the strongest opponents of early Rome...

; and one of their officers, of the name of Oblacus, distinguished himself at the battle of Heracleia. They gave a still more striking proof of fidelity during the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

, by adhering to the Roman cause after the battle of Cannae
Battle of Cannae
The Battle of Cannae was a major battle of the Second Punic War, which took place on August 2, 216 BC near the town of Cannae in Apulia in southeast Italy. The army of Carthage under Hannibal decisively defeated a numerically superior army of the Roman Republic under command of the consuls Lucius...

, when so many of the Italian allies, including the greater part of the Samnites, went over to Hannibal.

Throughout this period they appear to have been much more closely connected in their political relations with their neighbours the Marrucini, Peligni, and Vestini, than with their kinsmen the Samnites: hence, probably, it is that Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

, in enumerating the forces of the Italian allies, classes the Frentani with the Marsi, Marrucini, and Vestini, while he reckons the Samnites separately. (Pol. ii. 24.) Notwithstanding their vaunted fidelity, the Frentani joined in the general outbreak of the Italian allies in the great Social War, 90 BCE: they do not, however, appear to have taken any prominent part, and we can only infer that they received the Roman franchise at the same time with the neighbouring tribes. Hence they are mentioned by Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

, a few years later, as sending some of their chief men to support the cause of Cluentius, a native of Larinum. Their territory was traversed without resistance by Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 at the outbreak of the Civil War
Caesar's civil war
The Great Roman Civil War , also known as Caesar's Civil War, was one of the last politico-military conflicts in the Roman Republic before the establishment of the Roman Empire...

, 49 BCE, and this is the last occasion on which their name appears in history. Their territory was comprised in the fourth region of Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

, together with the Marrucini, Peligni, Marsi, etc.; but at a later period it appears to have been reunited to Samnium, and was placed under the authority of the governor of that province.


The territory of the Frentani is for the most part hilly, but fertile. It is traversed by numerous rivers which have their sources in the more lofty mountains of Samnium, and flow through the land of the Frentani to the Adriatic: the principal of these, besides the Tifernus which constituted the southern limit of their country, are the Trinius (modern Trigno
The Trigno is an 85 km Italian river. It originates in the Apennine Mountains, in the province of Isernia and flows into the Adriatic Sea near Vasto. It also forms the border between the regions Abruzzo and Molise.-See also:...

), which, according to Pliny, had a good port at its mouth; and the Sagrus (Sangro), which enters the Adriatic about half way between Histonium (modern Vasto
Vasto is a town and comune on the Adriatic coast of the Province of Chieti in southern Abruzzo, Italy. The population is now just over 40,000.-History:According to tradition, the town was founded by Diomedes, the Greek hero...

) and Ortona
Ortona is a coastal town and municipality of the Province of Chieti in the Italian region of Abruzzo, with some 23,000 inhabitants.Ortona was the site of fierce fighting between German and Canadian forces during the Italian campaign in World War II...


The Tabula Peutingeriana
Tabula Peutingeriana
The Tabula Peutingeriana is an itinerarium showing the cursus publicus, the road network in the Roman Empire. The original map of which this is a unique copy was last revised in the fourth or early fifth century. It covers Europe, parts of Asia and North Africa...

 also gives the name of a river which it places between Ortona and Anxanum, and calls Clotoris. The name is probably corrupt; but the stream meant (if its position can be depended upon) could be the Moro, which falls into the Adriatic a few kilometers south of Ortona. The coast-line of this part of the Adriatic presents few remarkable features, and no good natural harbors. The mouths of the rivers, and the two projecting points of Termoli (Buca
Buca is a district of İzmir Province of Turkey. It is one of the main districts of İzmir Metropolitan Municipality.Buca was one of the preferred settlement areas of İzmir's community of Levantines...

) and the Punta della Penna, afford the only places of anchorage.


The towns of the Frentani mentioned by ancient writers are few in number; but the topography of the district has been thrown into great confusion by the perverted zeal of certain local antiquarians, and by the reliance placed on inscriptions published by some early writers, which there is great reason to regard as forgeries. The Antichità Frentane (2 vols. 8vo., Naples, 1809) of the Abbate Romanelli, who was a native of this part of Italy, is a very uncritical performance; but the author was led astray principally by the inscriptions and other documents put forth by Polidoro, an Italian antiquary of the eighteenth century, who appears to have had no hesitation in forging, or at least corrupting and altering them in such a manner as to suit his purpose. Romanelli, in his later and more extensive work, simply abridged the results of his former book; and Cramer, as usual, blindly follows Romanelli. Along the sea-coast (proceeding from north to south) were situated Ortona, Histonium, and Buca. The two former may be clearly fixed, Ortona retaining its ancient name, and the ruins of Histonium being still extant at Vasto, but there is considerable difficulty in determining the site of Buca, which may however be fixed with much probability at Termoli; the arguments that have led many writers to place it near Villa Santa Maria
Villa Santa Maria
Villa Santa Maria is a town and comune in the province of Chieti, in the region of Abruzzo of southern Italy....

 being based principally upon the spurious inscriptions just alluded to. The existence of a town called Interamna, supposed by Romanelli and Cramer to have occupied the site of Termoli
Termoli is a town and comune on the Adriatic coast of Italy, in the province of Campobasso, region of Molise. It has a population of around 32,000, having expanded quickly after World War II, and it is a local resort town known for its beaches and old fortifications...

, is derived only from the same apocryphal source; and, even were the inscription itself authentic, the Interamna there meant is probably the well-known town of the Praetutii
The Praetutii , were an ancient tribe of central Italy. They are thought to have lived around Interamnia , which became modern Teramo, and to have given their name to the Abruzzo...

. The only inland town of importance among the Frentani was Anxanum (Lanciano
Lanciano is a town and comune in the province of Chieti, part of the Abruzzo region of central Italy. It has 36,570 inhabitants as of 2008.The city is also known for the first recorded alleged Catholic Eucharistic Miracle.-History:...

); but, besides this, Pliny mentions, in the interior of the country, the "Carentini supernates et infernates", and the Lanuenses; the former apparently a corruption of Caretini, and the latter are otherwise unknown, and the site of their towns cannot be fixed with any approach to certainty. On the other hand, the Tabula gives the name of a place called Pallanum of which no other mention occurs, but the site of which, according to Romanelli, is marked by extensive ruins at a place called Monte Pallano, about 5 km southwest of Atessa
Atessa is a town in Abruzzo, Italy, administratively part of the Province of Chieti.The Sevel Sud Italo-French consortium plant, manufacturing Fiat Ducato and PSA's equivalent vans, is located in Atessa's territory.-Main sights:...

. The previous station given by the same authority is called Annum; a name probably corrupt, but the true reading for which is unknown. Uscosium, a place given in the Itinerary of Antoninus
Antonine Itinerary
The Antonine Itinerary is a register of the stations and distances along the various roads of the Roman empire, containing directions how to get from one Roman settlement to another...

, which reckons it 15 miles from Histonium, on the road into Apulia, is fixed by this distance at a spot near the right bank of the little river Sinarca, about 9 km southwest of Termoli, but in the territory of Guglionesi
Guglionesi is a town and comune in Molise, southern Italy, about 50 kilometers from Campobasso.- History :The historical origins of Guglionesi go back to the 4th century BC...

, where considerable remains of an ancient town are said to exist


There is considerable obscurity in regard to the Roman roads through the territory of the Frentani. The name of the Via Trajana Frentana rests only on the authority of a dubious inscription; nor is there any better evidence for the fact that the construction of the high road through this district was really owing to that emperor
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...

. But it is certain that an ancient road traversed the territory of the Frentani, in its whole length from Aternum to Larinum, keeping for the most part near the sea-coast, but diverging for the purpose of visiting Anxanum. The stations along it are thus given in the Itinerary of Antoninus:
  • Ostia Aterni to Angulum (Angelus
    The Angelus is a Christian devotion in memory of the Incarnation. The name Angelus is derived from the opening words: Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ The Angelus (Latin for "angel") is a Christian devotion in memory of the Incarnation. The name Angelus is derived from the opening words: Angelus...

    ), x. M.P.
  • Angulus to Ortona, xi. M.P.
  • Ortona to Anxano, xiii. M.P.
  • Anxano to Histonios, xxv. M.P.
  • Histonios to Uscosio, xv. M.P.
  • Uscosio to Arenio (Larinum ?), xiv. M.P.

Of these, Angulus or Angulum is certainly misplaced, possibly present day Città Sant'Angelo
Città Sant'Angelo
Città Sant'Angelo is a town and comune in the province of Pescara, Abruzzo, Italy.-History:Located in the eastern portion of the Vestine region. Mentioned by Plinius as one of four Vestini cities, Angelus or Angulum, where today Città Sant’Angelo stands. It is cited from the 12th century as...

, and should have been inserted between Hadria (modern Atri
Atri, Italy
Atri is a comune in the Province of Teramo in the Abruzzo region of Italy. It has a population of over 11,500...

) and the Aternus. The distance from the mouths of the Aternus at Pescara
Pescara is the capital city of the Province of Pescara, in the Abruzzo region of Italy. As of January 1, 2007 it was the most populated city within Abruzzo at 123,059 residents, 400,000 with the surrounding metropolitan area...

 to Ortona is considerably understated, and that from Ortona to Anxanum as much overrated; but still the line of the road may be tolerably well made out, and an ancient Roman bridge, over the Sangro between Lanciano and Il Vasto, supplies a fixed point in confirmation. The road given in the Tabula, on the contrary, strikes inland, from the mouth of the Aternus to Teate (modern Chieti
Chieti is a city and comune in Central Italy, 200 km northeast of Rome. It is the capital of the Province of Chieti in the Abruzzo region...

), and thence to Ortona, and again between Anxanum and Histonium makes a bend inland by Annum and Pallanum. The distances given are very confused, and in many instances probably corrupt. They stand thus:
  • Ostia Aterni to Teano Marrucino, xvi. M.P.
  • Teano Marrucino to Ortona, xi. M.P.
  • Ortona to Anxana, iii. M.P.
  • Anxana to Annum, iiii. M.P.
  • Annum to Pallanum, xii. M.P.
  • Pallanum to Istonium, xxiii., M.P.
  • Istonium to Larinum, "corrupt"


There exist copper coins with the Oscan
Oscan language
Oscan is a term used to describe both an extinct language of southern Italy and the language group to which it belonged.The Oscan language was spoken by a number of tribes, including the Samnites, the Aurunci, the Sidicini, and the Ausones. The latter three tribes were often grouped under the name...

 legend "Frentrei", which may probably be referred to the Frentani rather than to the town of Ferentum in Apulia, to which they have been assigned by some writers. Others are of opinion that they indicate the existence of a city of the name of Frentrum as the capital of the Frentani, which is supposed to be the one referred to by Livy where he says "Frentanos vicit urbemque ipsam - in deditionem accepit", without naming the city; but this inference is, to say the least, very dubious.

The town Larinum issued coins of the 3rd century BC that bear a Latin legend "LARINOR(VM)".
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