1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Campania

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CAMPANIA, a territorial division of Italy. The modern district (II. below) is of much greater extent than that known by the name in ancient times.

I. Campani was the name used by the Romans to denote the inhabitants first of the town of Capua and the district subject to it, and then after its destruction in the Hannibalic war (211 B.C.), to describe the inhabitants of the Campanian plain generally. The name, however, is pre-Roman and appears with Oscan terminations on coins of the early 4th (or late 5th) century B.C. (R. S. Conway, Italic Dialects, p. 143), which were certainly struck for or by the Samnite conquerors of Campania, whom the name properly denotes, a branch of the great Sabelline stock (see Sabini); but in what precise spot the coins were minted is uncertain. We know from Strabo (v. 4. 8.) and others that the Samnites deprived the Etruscans of the mastery of Campania in the last quarter of the 5th century; their earliest recorded appearance being at the conquest of their chief town Capua, probably in 438 B.C. (or 445, according to the method adopted in interpreting Diodorus xii. 31; on this see under Cumae), or 424 according to Livy (iv. 37). Cumae was taken by them in 428 or 421, Nola about the same time, and the Samnite language they spoke, henceforward known as Oscan, spread over all Campania except the Greek cities, though small communities of Etruscans remained here and there for at least another century (Conway, op. cit. p. 94). The hardy warriors from the mountains took over not merely the wealth of the Etruscans, but many of their customs; the haughtiness and luxury of the men of Capua was proverbial at Rome. This town became the ally of Rome in 338 B.C. (Livy viii. 14) and received the civitas sine suffragio, the highest status that could be granted to a community which did not speak Latin. By the end of the 4th century Campania was completely Roman politically. Certain towns with their territories (Neapolis, Nola, Abella, Nuceria) were nominally independent in alliance with Rome. These towns were faithful to Rome throughout the Hannibalic war. But Capua and the towns dependent on it revolted (Livy xxiii.-xxvi.); after its capture in 211 Capua was utterly destroyed, and the jealousy and dread with which Rome had long regarded it were both finally appeased (cf. Cicero. Leg. Agrar. ii. 88). We have between thirty and forty Oscan inscriptions (besides some coins) dating, probably, from both the 4th and the 3rd centuries (Conway, Italic Dialects, pp. 100-137 and 148), of which most belong to the curious cult described under Jovilae, while two or three are curses written on lead; see Osca Lingua.

See further Conway, op. cit. p. 99 ff.; J. Beloch, Campanien (2nd ed.), c. “Capua”; Th. Mommsen, C.I.L. x. p. 365.  (R. S. C.) 

The name Campania was first formed by Greek authors, from Campani (see above), and did not come into common use until the middle of the 1st century A.D. Polybius and Diodorus avoid it entirely. Varro and Livy use it sparingly, preferring Campanus ager. Polybius (2nd century B.C.) uses the phrase τὰ πεδία τὰ κατὰ Καπύην to express the district bounded on the north by the mountains of the Aurunci, on the east by the Apennines of Samnium, on the south by the spur of these mountains which ends in the peninsula of Sorrento, and on the south and west by the sea, and this is what Campania meant to Pliny and Ptolemy. But the geographers of the time of Augustus (in whose division of Italy Campania, with Latium, formed the first region) carried the north boundary of Campania as far south as Sinuessa, and even the river Volturnus, while farther inland the modern village of San Pietro in Fine preserves the memory of the north-east boundary which ran between Venafrum and Casinum. On the east the valley of the Volturnus and the foot-hills of the Apennines as far as Abellinum formed the boundary; this town is sometimes reckoned as belonging to Campania, sometimes to Samnium. The south boundary remained unchanged. From the time of Diocletian onwards the name Campania was extended much farther north, and included the whole of Latium. This district was governed by a corrector, who about A.D. 333 received the title of consularis. It is for this reason that the district round Rome still bears the name of Campagna di Roma, being no doubt popularly connected with Ital. campo, Lat. campus. This district (to take its earlier extent), consisting mainly of a very fertile plain with hills on the north, east and south, and the sea on the south and west, is traversed by two great rivers, the Liris and Volturnus, divided by the Mons Massicus, which comes right down to the sea at Sinuessa. The plain at the mouth of the former is comparatively small, while that traversed by the Volturnus is the main plain of Campania. Both of these rivers rise in the central Apennines, and only smaller streams, such as the Sarnus, Sebethus, Savo, belong entirely to Campania.

The road system of Campania was extremely well developed and touched all the important towns. The main lines are followed (though less completely) by the modern railways. The most important road centre of Campania was Capua, at the east edge of the plain. At Casilinum, 3 m. to the north-west, was the only bridge over the Volturnus until the construction of the Via Domitiana; and here met the Via Appia, passing through Minturnae, Sinuessa and Pons Campanus (where it crossed the Savo) and the Via Latina which ran through Teanum Sidicinum and Cales. At Calatia, 6 m. south-east of Capua, the Via Appia began to turn east and to approach the mountains on its way to Beneventum, while the Via Popillia went straight on to Nola (whence a road ran to Abella and Abellinum) and thence to Nuceria Alfaterna and the south, terminating at Regium. From Capua itself a road ran north to Vicus Dianae, Caiatia and Telesia, while to the south the so-called Via Campana (there is no ancient warrant for the name) led to Puteoli, with a branch to Cumae, Baiae and Misenum; there was also connexion between Cumae, Puteoli and Neapolis (see below), and another road to Atella and Neapolis. Neapolis could also be reached by a branch from the Via Popillia at Suessula, which passed through Acerrae. From Suessula, too, there was a short cut to the Via Appia before it actually entered the mountains. Domitian further improved the communications of this district with Rome, by the construction of the Via Domitiana, which diverged from the Via Appia at Sinuessa, and followed the low sandy coast; it crossed the river Volturnus at Volturnum, near its mouth, by a bridge, which must have been a considerable undertaking, and then ran, still along the shore, past Liternum to Cumae and thence to Puteoli. Here it fell into the existing roads to Neapolis, the older Via Antiniana over the hills, at the back, and the newer, dating from the time of Agrippa, through the tunnel of Pausilypon and along the coast. The mileage in both cases was reckoned from Puteoli. Beyond Naples a road led along the coast through Herculaneum to Pompeii, where there was a branch for Stabiae and Surrentum, and thence to Nuceria, where it joined the Via Popillia. From Nuceria, which was an important road centre, a direct road ran to Stabiae, while from Salernum, 11 m. farther south-east but outside the limits of Campania proper, a road ran due north to Abellinum and thence to Aeclanum or Beneventum. Teanum was another important centre: it lay at the point where the Via Latina was crossed at right angles by a road leaving the Via Appia at Minturnae, and passing through Suessa Aurunca, while east of Teanum it ran on to Allifae, and there fell into the road from Venafrum to Telesia. Five miles north of Teanum a road branched off to Venafrum from the straight course of the Via Latina, and rejoined it near Ad Flexum (San Pietro in Fine). It is, indeed, probable that the original road made the détour by Venafrum, in order to give a direct communication between Rome and the interior of Samnium (inasmuch as roads ran from Venafrum to Aesernia and to Telesia by way of Allifae), and Th. Mommsen (Corp. Inscrip. Lat. x., Berlin, 1883, p. 699) denies the antiquity of the short cut through Rufrae (San Felice a Ruvo), though it is shown in Kiepert’s map at the end of the volume, with a milestone numbered 93 upon it. This is no doubt an error both in placing and in numbering, and refers to one numbered 96 found on the road to Venafrum; but it is still difficult to believe that the short cut was not used in ancient times. The 4th and 3rd century coins of Telesia, Allifae and Aesernia are all of the Campanian type.

Of the harbours of Campania, Puteoli was by far the most important from the commercial point of view. Its period of greatest comparative importance was the 2nd–1st century B.C. The harbours constructed by Augustus by connecting the Lacus Avernus and Lacus Lucrinus with the sea, and that at Misenum (the latter the station of one of the chief divisions of the Roman navy, the other fleet being stationed at Ravenna), were mainly naval. Naples also had a considerable trade, but was less important than Puteoli.

The fertility of the Campanian plain was famous in ancient as in modern times;[1] the best portion was the Campi Laborini or Leborini (called Phlegraei by the Greeks and Terra di Lavoro in modern times, though the name has now extended to the whole province of Caserta) between the roads from Capua to Puteoli and Cumae (Pliny, Hist. Nat. xviii. III). The loose black volcanic earth (terra pulla) was easier to work than the stiffer Roman soil, and gave three or four crops a year. The spelt, wheat and millet are especially mentioned, as also fruit and vegetables; and the roses supplied the perfume factories of Capua. The wines of the Mons Massicus and of the Ager Falernus (the flat ground to the east and south-east of it) were the most sought after, though other districts also produced good wine; but the olive was better suited to the slopes than to the plain, though that of Venafrum was good.

The Oscan language remained in use in the south of Campania (Pompeii, Nola, Nuceria) at all events until the Social War, but at some date soon after that Latin became general, except in Neapolis, where Greek was the official language during the whole of the imperial period.

See J. Beloch, Campanien (2nd ed., Breslau, 1890); Conway, Italic Dialects, pp. 51-57; Ch. Hülsen in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyklopädie, iii. (Stuttgart, 1899), 1434.

II. Campania in the modern sense includes a considerably larger area than the ancient name, inasmuch as to the compartimento of Campania belong the five provinces of Caserta, Benevento, Naples, Avellino and Salerno.

It is bounded on the north by the provinces of Rome, Aquila (Abruzzi) and Campobasso (Molise), on the north-east by that of Foggia (Apulia), on the east by that of Potenza (Basilicata) and on the south and west by the Tyrrhenian Sea. The area is 6289 sq. m. It thus includes the whole of the ancient Campania, a considerable portion of Samnium (with a part of the main chain of the Apennines) and of Lucania, and some of Latium adjectum, consisting thus of a mountainous district, the greater part of which lies on the Mediterranean side of the watershed, with the extraordinarily fertile and populous Campanian plain (Terra di Lavoro, with 473 inhabitants to the square mile) between the mountains and the sea. The principal rivers are the Garigliano or Liri (anc. Liris), which rises in the Abruzzi (105 m. in length); the Volturno (94 m. in length), with its tributary the Calore; the Sarno, which rises near Sarno and waters the fertile plain south-east of Vesuvius; and the Sele, whose main tributary is the Tanagro, which is in turn largely fed by another Calore. The headwaters of the Sele have been tapped for the great aqueduct for the Apulian provinces.

The coast-line begins a little east of Terracina at the lake of Fondi with a low-lying, marshy district (the ancient Ager Caecubus), renowned for its wine (see Fondi). The mountains (of the ancient Aurunci) then come down to the sea, and on the east side of the extreme promontory to the south-east is the port of Gaeta, a strongly fortified naval station. The east side of the Gulf of Gaeta is occupied by the marshes at the mouth of the Liri, and the low sandy coast, with its unhealthy lagoons, continues (interrupted only by the Monte Massico, which reaches the sea at Mondragone) past the mouth of the Volturno, as far as the volcanic district (no longer active) with its several extinct craters (now small lakes, the Lacus Avernus, &c.) to the west of Naples, which forms the north-west extremity of the Bay of Naples. Here the scenery completely changes: the Bay of Naples, indeed, is one of the most beautiful in the world. The island of Procida lies 21/2 m. south-west of the Capo Miseno, and 3 m. south-west of Procida is that of Ischia. In consequence of the volcanic character of the district there are several important mineral springs which are used medicinally, especially at Pozzuoli, Castellammare di Stabia, and on the island of Ischia.

Pozzuoli (anc. Puteoli), the most important harbour of Italy in the 1st century B.C., is now mainly noticeable for the large armour-plate and gun works of Messrs Armstrong, and for the volcanic earth (pozzolana) which forms so important an element in concrete and cement, and is largely quarried near Rome also. Naples, on the other hand, is one of the most important harbours of modern Italy. Beyond it, Torre del Greco and Torre Annunziata at the foot of Vesuvius, are active trading ports for smaller vessels, especially in connexion with macaroni, which is manufactured extensively by all the towns along the bay. Castellammare di Stabia, on the west coast of the gulf, has a large naval shipbuilding yard and an important harbour. Beyond Castellammare the promontory of Sorrento, ending in the Punta della Campanella (from which Capri is 3 m. south-west) forms the south-west extremity of the gulf. The highest point of this mountain ridge, which is connected with the main Apennine chain, is the Monte S. Angelo (4735 ft.). It extends as far east as Salerno, where the coast plain of the Sele begins. As in the low marshy ground at the mouths of the Liri and Volturno, malaria is very prevalent. The south-east extremity of the Gulf of Salerno is formed by another mountain group, culminating in the Monte Cervati (6229 ft.); and on the east side of this is the Gulf of Policastro, where the province of Salerno, and with it Campania, borders, on the province of Potenza.

The population of Campania was 3,080,503 in 1901; that of the province of Caserta was 705,412, with a total of 187 communes, the chief towns being Caserta (32,709), Sta Maria Capua Vetere (21,825), Maddaloni (20,682), Sessa Aurunca (21,844); that of the province of Benevento was 256,504, with 73 communes, the only important town being Benevento itself (24,647); that of the province of Naples 1,151,834, with 69 communes, the most important towns being Naples (563,540), Torre del Greco (33,299), Castellammare di Stabia (32,841), Torre Annunziata (28,143), Pozzuoli (22,907); that of the province of Avellino (Principato Ulteriore in the days of the Neapolitan kingdom) 402,425, with 128 communes, the chief towns being Avellino (23,760) and Ariano di Puglia (17,650); that of the province of Salerno (Principato Citeriore) 564,328, with 158 communes, the chief towns being Salerno (42,727), Cava dei Tirreni (23,681), Nocera Inferiore (19,796). Naples is the chief railway centre: a main line runs from Rome through Roccasecca (whence there is a branch via Sora to Avezzano, on the railway from Rome to Castellammare Adriatico), Caianello (junction for Isernia, on the line between Sulmona and Campobasso or Benevento), Sparanise (branch to Formia and Gaeta) and Caserta to Naples. From Caserta, indeed, there are two independent lines to Naples, while a main line runs to Benevento and Foggia across the Apennines. From Benevento railways run north to Vinchiaturo (for Isernia or Campobasso) and south to Avellino. From Cancello, a station on one of the two lines from Caserta to Naples, branches run to Torre Annunziata, and to Nola, Codola, Mercato, San Severino and Avellino. Naples, besides the two lines to Caserta (and thence either to Rome or Benevento), has local lines to Pozzuoli and Torregaveta (for Ischia) and two lines to Sarno, one via Ottaiano, the other via Pompeii, which together make up the circum-Vesuvian electric line, and were in connexion with the railway to the top of Vesuvius until its destruction in April 1906. The main line for southern Italy passes through Torre Annunziata (branch for Castellammare di Stabia and Gragnano), Nocera (branch for Codola), Salerno (branch for Mercato San Severino), and Battipaglia. Here it divides, one line going east-south-east to Sicignano (branch to Lagonegro), Potenza and Metaponto (for Taranto and Brindisi or the line along the east coast of Calabria to Reggio), the other going south-south-east along the west coast of Calabria to Reggio.

Industrial activity is mainly concentrated in Naples, Pozzuoli and the towns between Naples and Castellammare di Stabia (including the latter) on the north-east shores of the Bay of Naples. The native peasant industries are (besides agriculture, for which see Italy) the manufacture of pottery and weaving with small hand-looms, both of which are being swept away by the introduction of machinery; but a government school of textiles has been established at Naples for the encouragement of the trade.  (T. As.) 

  1. The name Osci—earlier Opsci, Opusci (Gr. Όπικοί)—presumably meant “tillers of the soil.”