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Article

Benjamin Fortson

North Picene was an ancient language of eastern coastal Italy. It is preserved on an Etruscan-style stele from Pesaro and perhaps three other inscriptions (if they are genuine), dating from the mid-first millennium bce. The alphabet used is of the familiar northern Etruscan type, but the language does not appear to be Indo-European and has so far resisted interpretation. North Picene is not to be confused with the unrelated South Picene (see Picenum).

Article

John Penney

Sabellic (or Sabellian) is the name given to a group of languages in ancient Italy, including Oscan and Umbrian, that belongs to the Italic branch of Indo-European (see italy, languages of for the use of “Italic” as a label for this group alone). An alternative name, still widely employed, is Osco-Umbrian, but the less cumbersome label Sabellic is increasingly to be found. It is based on what seems to have been the native term for the peoples of this linguistic community (see SABELLI): an element sab-/saf- may be recognized in such names as Samnium (Oscan safinim) and Sabini. (It is clear from recorded glosses and from personal names that the Sabini spoke a form of Sabellic, but there are virtually no inscriptions that can be assigned to them, apart from an unintelligible text on a vase from Poggio Sommavilla.) An older usage, still employed by some scholars, reserves the label Sabellic for the so-called minor dialects, such as Paelignian and Volscian.

Article

Georgy Kantor

The lex Iulia municipalis was a law of uncertain content and scope concerning municipal institutions passed by Iulius Caesar or less likely Augustus. It is attested in a single inscription from Patavium, commemorating a certain Marcus Iunius Sabinus as quattuorvir aediliciae potestatis “in accordance with the lex Iulia municipalis” (CIL V 2864 = ILS 5406) and may have been a piece of legislation dealing specifically with Patavium or a general regulation dealing with municipal institutions in Italy, and possibly reorganising aedilician powers of local magistrates. It may be alluded to by Cicero, Fam. VI.18.1, mentioning a ban on heralds (praecones) taking municipal office.1Earlier scholarship frequently identified the lex Iulia municipalis with a collection of material from Roman statutes on a bronze tablet broken into two pieces found in 1732 in the territory of the city of Heraclea (CIL I2 593; Roman Statutes, no. 24).

Article

Deborah N. Carlson

The Lake Nemi ships were two enormous, palatial houseboats built by the Roman emperor Caligula (r. 37–41ce). Lake Nemi is a small volcanic crater lake just 1.8 km (1.1 miles) wide and 35 m (115 feet) deep, situated in the Alban Hills 30 km (18 miles) southeast of Rome. Attempts to recover the Nemi ships drew the attention of key historical figures across five centuries, until in 1928–1929 Benito Mussolini ordered the water pumped from the lake to expose the two wooden hulls, which were in a superb state of preservation following immersion in fresh water for almost two millennia. At a length of more than 70 m (230 feet), the Nemi ships remain the largest ancient ships discovered to date. The ships’ complete destruction by fire at the close of World War II constitutes one of the great tragedies of nautical archaeology.

Article

John Penney

There is no evidence for any form of writing in Italy before the arrival of Greek colonists in the 8th century bce. The Euboean alphabet brought by settlers at Pithecusae (mod. Ischia) and Cumae was borrowed by the Etruscans, who acted as intermediaries for the spread of writing throughout much of the peninsula. Only in southern regions adjacent to other Greek settlements was the Greek alphabet again borrowed directly, as in Lucania (for writing Oscan see Sabellic languages) and the Sallentine peninsula (with some modifications, for writing Messapian). Greek cities, of course, continued to write in the Greek alphabet throughout antiquity.An alphabet learnt as such (the theoretical alphabet) may contain more letters than are used in practice. So a number of 7th-century Etruscan abecedaria (written-out alphabets) adhere to the Greek model and include letters such as b, d, or o that are not found in texts: abcdevzhθiklmnsopśqrstuṡφχ.

Article

Benedict of Nursia was an Italian abbot active in the hinterland of Rome at Subiaco and Monte Cassino in the early 6th century. He is best known as the author of a normative guide for monastic life, The Rule of Benedict (Regula Benedicti; hereafter RB), the only surviving work that bears his name. The earliest account of Benedict’s life and independent reference to the RB appeared in the second book of the Dialogues on the Miracles of the Italian Fathers by Gregory the Great (pope590–604ce). Composed at Rome in 593–594ce, the Dialogues were a popular compendium of hagiographical portraits of 6th-century Italian saints cast as a conversation between the pope and one of his disciples. Gregory’s endorsement of Benedict’s sanctity was instrumental in promoting the RB in the early Middle Ages. As a result, the authority of the RB as a guide to monastic life was unassailable from the time of the Carolingians to the end of the 12th century, so much so that historians have traditionally referred to this period (c.

Article

Marion Kruse

Procopius was a Greek historian, born in Caesarea (2) in Palestine c.500ce. He joined the staff of Belisarius, the leading general of the reign of Justinian, by 527, and served as his legal secretary (assessor/πάρεδρος). Both this post and his corpus indicate that he received a standard education in rhetoric and law, and he claimed to be familiar with matters of Christian theology, though he declined to discuss them. Procopius served under Belisarius throughout the general’s early campaigns against Sassanian Persia (527–531), Vandal North Africa (533–536), and Ostrogothic Italy (535–540). Procopius and Belisarius parted ways at some point between 540 and 542, at which point Procopius took up residence in Constantinople and turned to his literary projects. There is no indication that he remained connected to Belisarius’s circle or dependent upon his patronage after this point. He can, however, be compellingly linked to an active literary circle composed of mid-level officials operating in Constantinople in the mid-6th century, such as John Lydus, who appears to have been familiar with the Secret History.