Benevento

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Benevento About this sound listen is a town and comune of Campania, Italy, capital of the province of Benevento, 50 km northeast of Naples. It is situated on a hill 130 m (300 ft) above sea-level at the confluence of the Calore Irpino (or Beneventano) and Sabato. It is also the seat of a Catholic archbishop.

Benevento occupies the site of the ancient Beneventum, originally Maleventum or still earlier Malowent and Maloenton. The "-vent" portion of the name probably refers to a market-place and is a common element in ancient place names.[1] The Romans theorized that it meant "the site of bad events", from Mal(um) + eventum. In the imperial period it was supposed to have been founded by Diomedes after the Trojan War.

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History

Benevento in antiquity

Benevento, as Maleventum, one of the chief cities of Samnium, and at a later period one of the most important cities of southern Italy, was situated on the Via Appia at a distance of 32 miles east from Capua; and on the banks of the river Calor (modern Calore). There is some discrepancy as to the people to which it belonged at contact: Pliny expressly assigns it to the Hirpini; but Livy certainly seems to consider it as belonging to the Samnites proper, as distinguished from the Hirpini; and Ptolemy adopts the same view.[2] All writers concur in representing it as a very ancient city; Solinus and Stephanus of Byzantium ascribe its foundation to Diomedes; a legend which appears to have been adopted by the inhabitants, who, in the time of Procopius, pretended to exhibit the tusks of the Calydonian boar in proof of their descent.[3] Festus, on the contrary (s. v. Ausoniam), related that it was founded by Auson, a son of Ulysses and Circe; a tradition which indicates that it was an ancient Ausonian city, previous to its conquest by the Samnites. But it first appears in history as a Samnite city;[4] and must have already been a place of strength, so that the Romans did not venture to attack it during their first two wars with the Samnites. It appears, however, to have fallen into their hands during the Third Samnite War, though the exact occasion is unknown. It was certainly in the power of the Romans in 274 BC, when Pyrrhus was defeated in a great battle, fought in its immediate neighborhood, by the consul Curius Dentatus.[5] Six years later (268 BC) they sought farther to secure its possession by establishing there a Roman colony with Latin rights.[6] It was at this time that it first assumed the name of Beneventum, having previously been called Maleventum, a name which the Romans regarded as of evil augury, and changed into one of a more fortunate signification.[7] It is probable that the Oscan or Samnite name was Maloeis, or Malieis, from whence the form Maleventum would be derived, like Agrigentum from Acragas (modern Agrigento), Selinuntium from Selinus (the ruins of which are at modern Selinunte), etc.[8]

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