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AURUNCI, the name given by the Romans to a tribe which
in historical times occupied only a strip of coast on either side
of the Mons Massicus between the Volturnus and the Liris,
although it must at an earlier period have extended over a
considerably wider area. Their own name for themselves in
the 4th century B.C. was Ausŏnes, and in Greek writers we find
the name Ausŏnia applied to Latium and Campania (see Strabo
v. p. 247; Aristotle, Pol. iv. (vii.) 10; Dion. Hal. i. 72), while in
the Augustan poets (e.g. Virgil, Aen. vii. 795) it is used as one of
many synonyms for Italy. In history the tribe appears only
for a brief space, from 340 to 295 B.C. (Mommsen, C.I.L. x.
pp. 451, 463, 465), and their struggle with the Romans ended
in complete extermination; their territory was parcelled out
between the Latin colonies of Cales (Livy viii. 16) and Suessa
Aurunca (id. ix. 28) which took the place of an older town called
Ausona (id. ix. 25; viii. 15), and the maritime colonies Sinuessa
(the older Vescia) and Minturnae (both in 295 B.C., Livy x. 21).
The coin formerly attributed to Suessa Aurunca on the strength
of its supposed legend Aurunkud has now been certainly referred
to Naples (see R.S. Conway, Italic Dialects, 145, and Verner’s
law in Italy, p. 78, where the change of s to r is explained as
probably due to the Latin conquest). Seeing that the tribe
was blotted out at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C., we can
scarcely wonder that no record of its speech survives; but its
geographical situation and the frequency of the co-suffix in that
strip of coast (besides Aurunci itself we have the names Vescia,
Mons Massicus, Marica, Glanica and Caedicii; see Italic
Dialects, pp. 283 f.) rank them beyond doubt with their neighbours
the Volsci (q.v.).
(R. S. C.)
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