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Toponymy

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Campania


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The area covered in this page is the southern half of the I Regio Augustea, Latium et Campania. The northern half is in the page Latium. The region Campania begins south of the river Liri with the land formerly inhabited by the Aurunci, then the Campania proprie dicta from the river Volturno to the river Sarno, and the country of the Alfaterni later inhabited by the Piceni, up to the river Sele. In the inner part, it includes the land of the Samnites Pentri and of the Sidicini. Also included are the islands of the Tyrrhenian sea. For the rest of the Samnites, see under Samnium and Hirpinia.

Common remarks: the place-names have been put in the nominative case, an asterisk * means not attested, reconstructed form. The late place-names of probable Latin origin have not been included. The IE roots are in the form given by Pokorny's Indogermanische Wörterbuch. The links will be active when the single pages will be published, see the main page. For any comment, suggestion, email me.


Aurunci


Cales

*Falernum

Massicus m.
  • Place: mount Mássico, province Caserta, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Massicus m. (Plin., Verg., Flor.)
  • Etymology: It seems a late name, related to Latin massa 'mass', like the Romance appellative massa, widely used in toponymy in the meaning of 'farm'.

Savo fl.

Sinuessa

Suessa Aurunca

Trifanum
  • Place: not identified, province Caserta, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Trifanum (Liv.)
  • Etymology: Possibly the name is a compound with Oscan tris 'three'. The name should be Oscan for the intervocalic f.

Vescia

Campani


Acerrae

Acherusia pal.
  • Place: lake Fusaro, province Napoli, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Acherusia pal. (Plin., Liv.) Acerusius lac. (Peut.)
  • Etymology: The name derives from the Greek mythology, where Acherusia is the gate for the infernal regions. Then, the name has been attributed to the swamp by the Greek colonists of Cumae.

Atella
  • Place: Castellone di Sant'Arpino, province Caserta, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Atella (Plin., Strab., Liv., Cic., Svet., Peut.)
  • Etymology: The Oscan name was spelled Aderl(a) on coins. According to Pokorny, the name is of probable Etruscan origin, while he recalls a different explaination, with *Atrola from the oscan counterpart of Latin ater, Umbrian atru, adro 'black'.

Avernus lac.

Baiae
  • Place: Baia di Bacoli, province Napoli, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Baiae (Plin., Strab., Mel., Cic., Hor., Flor.)
  • Etymology: Unknown.

Bauli

Calatia

Capua
  • Place: Santa Maria Capua Vetere, province Caserta, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Capua (Ptol., Plin., Strab., Liv., Burd., Peut., etc.)
  • Etymology: Four different etymologies of Capua are found in Latin sources: (i) ab campo dicta (Plin.), from campus 'field', (ii) a capite dicta (?), from Latin caput 'head' because it was the main city of the Etruscans in Campania, (iii) ab Capye appellata (Liv.), from the name of the Samnite leader who conquered the city in 423 b.C., (iv) from Capys, a Trojan (Verg.). This latter is considered from Etruscan capu 'hawk', and the most probable (UTET). The very name of Campania derives from Capua, through the forms kap-uano- > kappano- (found in Oscan coins), then kampano- for a spontaneous development -pp- > -mp-.

Casilinum

Clanius fl.

Cumae
  • Place: Cuma di Pozzuoli, province Napoli, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Cumae (Ptol., Plin., Strab., Mel., Verg., Peut., etc.)
  • Etymology: The name is Greek and repeats that of Kyme, in the Asian Aeolis. The colonists of Cumae came probably from Pithecussae.

Gaurus m.
  • Place: Mount Barbaro, province Napoli, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Gaurus m. (Plin., Liv., Cic.)
  • Etymology: The name should be of Greek origin, from gaurus 'high, superb, proud', which is from the IE root *gau- 'to rejoice, swagger'.

Herculaneum
  • Place: Ercolano, province Napoli, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Herculaneum (Plin., Mel.)
  • Etymology: The Latin name reproduces the Greek Herakleia, named after Hercules.

Leboriae

Liternum, Literna palus, Liternus fl.

Lucrinus lac.

Misenum pr., Misenum
  • Place: Capo Miseno (Misenum pr.), Miseno di Bacoli (Misenum), province Napoli, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Misenum (Ptol., Plin., Mel., Verg.)
  • Etymology: Traditionally, the name is explained from the Greek mythology, from a Misenus, a Trojan trumpeter (Verg.)

Neapolis, Parthenope

Nola

Oplontis
  • Place: Torre Annunziata, province Napoli, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Oplontis (Peut.)
  • Etymology: Unknown.

Phlegraei campi

Pompeii
  • Place: Pompei, province Napoli, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Pompei (Plin., Mel., Liv., Peut.)
  • Etymology: The name is usually explained (UTET) from the Oscan *pompe 'five', derived from the IE root *penkwe 'id.' Probably, the name refers to five original villages.

Puteoli
  • Place: Pozzuoli, province Napoli, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Puteoli (Ptol., Plin., Liv., Cic., Tacit., Peut.)
  • Etymology: The city was founded by the Samians with the name Dicearchia '(city) were the justice rules'. The Latin name Puteoli is probably related to puteo, -ere 'to smell', for the sulphur exhalations or, less probably, to puteus 'well' (UTET).

Sarnus fl.

Stabiae

Suessula

Tifata m.

Veseris

Vesuvius m.

Volturnus fl., Volturnum

Alfaterni, Picentini


*Alfateria

Nuceria Alfaterna

Picentia
  • Place: Picenza di Pontecagnano-Faiano, province Salerno, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Picentia (Plin., Sil. It., Peut.)
  • Etymology: The name is related to that of the Piceni, because the place was assigned by the Romans to rebels deported from Picenum in 268 b.C. These were called Picentini.

Salernum

Silarus fl.

Surrentum
  • Place: Sorrento, province Salerno, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Surrentum (Ptol., Plin., Peut.) Syrrentum (Mel.)
  • Etymology: There is a Greek etymology of the name (UTET), from the verb surreo 'I flow with'. This would explain the cluster -rr-.

Taurania
  • Place: close to Pagani, province Salerno, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Taurania (Plin.)
  • Etymology: The name can be derived from an ethnical Taurani, which will be related to Latin taurus, Oscan tauro-, Umbrian turu- 'bull'. According to an old substratist theory, a "Mediterranean" *tauro- 'mountain' would have given many ethnical and place names, among which the Taurini of Turin.

Samnites, Sidicini


Allifae

Austicula

Batulum
  • Place: not identified
  • Name: Batulum (Verg., Sil. It.)
  • Etymology: Maybe related to Latin batum 'leek', through a collective formation.

Caiatia

Callifae

Celemna

Cluturnum

Cubulteria

Rufrae

Teanum Sidicinum

Trebula Balliensis

Venafrum

Campania's isles


Capreae i.

Pithecusa i., Inarime i., Aenaria i.
  • Place: island Ischia, province Napoli, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Pithecusa i. (Ptol., Plin.) Pithecusae i. (Liv.) Inarime i. (Plin., Verg.) Aenaria i. (Plin., Mel., Liv.)
  • Etymology: The traditional etymology is from the Greek pithekos 'monkey'. Already Pliny refused this derivation (no monkeys were at that time present on the island), and mentioned another etymology, from Greek pithos 'jar, jug'. But now the old explaination from 'monkey' is accepted by most scholars. This could be confirmed if Inarime i. (Plin.), a poetic name derived from a passage in Homer, derives from the Etruscan name of the island, and is related to *arim- 'monkey'. The Latin name, Aenaria i. is later and probably related to the legend of Aeneas. In sources like Livy and Mela there is a confusion and Aenaria is considered as a distinct island.

Prochyta i.
  • Place: island Procida, province Napoli, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Prochyta i. (Ptol., Plin., Verg.)
  • Etymology: The island was thought to have been created by the Vesuvius' eruptions. Then the name can be explained from the Greek prochytos 'sparse, poured' (UTET).

Sirenusae i.
  • Place: islets Li Galli, province Salerno, region Campania, Italy
  • Name: Sirenusae i. (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: The name is Greek and related to the myth of the Sirens.

Conclusions


The toponymy of Campania is clearly subdivided in two main areas. The inner part belonged, prior of the Roman conquest, to the Samnites. And still we can trace many place names of clear Oscan origin, with presence of f, typical appellatives, dyphthongs development, etc.

Vice versa, the coastal area shows influences of harder interpretation. Likely, a Western Italic stratum and a Liguro-Sicanian stratum (maybe Opican the first, Auruncan or Ausonian the second) left some toponymy. But the majority of the place names is of dobious intepretation.

Of course, many are the names of Greek origin, since the area of Cumae, Neaples and the islands were inhabited by Greek settlers.


Last modified: October 12, 2002
by Antonio Sciarretta
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