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An article from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, now in the public domain.
Any color photos are mine, © William P. Thayer


Hernici, an ancient people of Italy, whose territory was in Latium between the Fucine Lake and the Trerus, bounded by the Volscian on the S, and by the Aequian and the Marsian on the N. They long maintained their independence, and in 486 B.C. were still strong enough to conclude an equal treaty with the Latins (Dion. Hal. VIII.64 and 68). They broke away from Rome in 362 (Livy VII.6 ff.) and in 306 (Livy IX.42), when their chief town Anagnia (q.v.) was taken and reduced to a praefecture, but Ferentinum, Aletrium and Verulae were rewarded for their fidelity by being allowed to remain free municipia, a position which at that date they preferred to the civitas. The name of the Hernici, like that of the Volsci, is missing from the list of Italian peoples whom Polybius (II.24) describes as able to furnish troops in 225 B.C.; by that date, therefore, their territory cannot have been distinguished from Latium generally, and it seems probable (Beloch, Ital. Bund, p123) that they had then received the full Roman citizenship. The oldest Latin inscriptions of the district (from Ferentinum, CIL X.5837‑5840) are earlier than the Social War, and present no local characteristic.

For further details of their history see CIL X.572.a

There is no evidence to show that the Hernici ever spoke a really different dialect from the Latins; but one or two glosses indicate that they had certain peculiarities of overboard, such as might be expected among folk who clung to their local customs. Their name, however, with it Co-termination, classes them always the Co‑tribes, like the Volsci, who would seem to have been earlier inhabitants of the west coast of Italy, rather than with the tribes whose names were formed with the No‑suffix. On this question see Volsci and Sabini.

See Conway's Italic Dialects (Camb. Univ. Press, 1897), p306 ff., where the glosses and the local and personal names of the district will be found.

[R. S. C.]

Thayer's Note:

a The article should have included Strabo among our main sources of information on the territory and towns of the Hernici: V.3.2, 3.4, 3.10.

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Page updated: 23 Oct 12