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Roman Republic:

Citizen Settlement in Picenum and

the Territory of the Praetutti

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Prefecture: Cingulum; Interamnia Praetuttiourum (?); Interamna Nahars ?

Citizen colonies: Castrum Novum (probably ca. 290  BC ) to the south;

Potentia (184 BC); Auximum (157 BC)

Latin Colonies: Hadria (290-86 BC), to the south of Picenum; Firmum (264 BC)

Underlining indicates tribes: blue/ broken blue = Velina/ possibly Velina

Although Festus makes no mention of any prefectures in Picenum, we know from Julius Caesar that a number of centres there were so-constituted.  The relevant record relates to the start of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey: Caesar (who wrote of himself in the third person and in the present tense) recorded that, having crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC:

  1. “Caesar, starting from Auximum [modern Osimo], traverses the whole of the Picene territory.  All the prefectures of those parts receive him with the utmost gladness and assist his arm with supplies of every kind.  Even from Cingulum, a town which [Titus] Labienus had constituted and built at his own expense, envoys come to him and promise to do his bidding with the utmost eagerness” (‘Civil Wars’, 1:15).

Thus, it seems that the urban centres of Picenum (other than the various colonies) were mostly constituted as prefectures at this time. albeit that we only have direct evidence for a prefecture in the case of Cingulum, which might well have been promoted to the status of a municipium before 49 BC (as discussed below).

Conquest of Picenum (268 BC) 

According to Livy:

  1. “The report of a Gallic tumult [in 299 BC], in addition to a war in Etruria, had caused serious apprehensions at Rome; and, with the less hesitation on that account, the Romans concluded an alliance with the state of the Picentians”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 10: 12).

The people of Picenum might have been reassured by their alliance of 299 BC, but they would surely have been disconcerted by Roman activity:

  1. in the lands of the Praetutti on their southern  border in 290 BC (as discussed above); and

  2. in the land on their northern border that was occupied by the Senones until 283 BC, when it was conquered and confiscated in its entirety by the Romans, becoming the ager Gallicus (as discussed in the following page). 

If so, then their fears were soon to be vindicated.  According to Florus:

  1. “Then [i.e. in 268 BC] all Italy enjoyed peace (for who could venture upon resistance after the defeat of Tarentum?), except that the Romans thought fit themselves to punish those who had been the allies of their enemies.  The people of Picenum were therefore subdued and their capital Asculum was taken under the leadership of [Publius Sempronius Sophus, the consul of 268 BC], who, when an earthquake occurred in the midst of the battle, appeased the goddess Tellus by the promise of a temple”, (‘Epitome of Roman History’, 1: 14: 19).

The Fasti Triumphales record triumphs over the people of Picenum for both consuls of 268 BC (Sempronius and Appius Claudius Russus, who had died in office).

According to Velleius Paterculus:

  1. “At the outbreak of the First Punic War [in 264 BC], Firmum [Picenum] and Castrum [Novum, probably in Etruria] were occupied by colonies”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 14: 8).

Firmum was among the 18 Latin colonies that had honoured their obligations to Rome in 209 BC, as recorded by Livy (27: 10: 7). 

Viritane Settlement

Gino Bandelli (referenced below, at column 19) suggested that, with the exception of:

  1. the Greek colony of Ancona; and

  2. the capital Asculum, which was still nominally independent at the start of the Social War;

the whole of Picenum became ager Romanus.  Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, at p. 318, note 98) commented observed that:

  1. “In 241 BC, the tribus Velina was established in Picenum, which makes it likely that land [there] was distributed to Roman citizens [and possibly also to] Picentes who had received Roman citizenship.”

Simona Antolini and Silvia Marengo (referenced below, at p. 213) list no fewer that 15 centres in Picenum that were assigned to the Velina.  The only other tribal assignation listed for centres of this region were at:

  1. Asculum, which was assigned to the Fabia on municipalisation after the Social War;

  2. the Latin colony of Hadria, which was assigned to the Maecia, presumably also on municipalisation after the Social War; and

  3. Ancona, which, according to Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2006, at p. 317) was assigned to the Lemonia on municipalisation after the Social War.

This predominance of the Velina suggests that this was the tribe to which the citizens settled here were mostly assigned in 241 BC.  Of the 15 settlements so--assigned:

  1. the Latin colony of Firmum (264 BC) was probably so-assigned on municipalisation after the Social War; and

  2. three citizen colonies were probably so-assigned at their respective dates of foundation:

  3. Potentia (184 BC);

  4. Auximum (157 BC); and

  5. Urbs Salvia (probably 133 BC: see Giovanna Maria Fabrini  and Roberto Perna, referenced below, at p7).

According to Simona Antolini and Silvia Marengo, the other 11 (Castrum Truentinum; Cingulum; Cupra Maritima; Cupra Montana; Falerio; Pausulae; Planinia; Ricina; Septempeda; Tolentinum; and Trea) were (or, in some cases,  were probably) municipalised after 49 BC, presumably as a result of legislation enacted by Julius Caesar. Actually, as noted below, Cingulum might have been municipalised slightly earlier than this:

  1. Some or all of these 11 centres might have been constituted as conciliabula and assigned to the Velina in or after 241 BC (like the conciliabulum of Interamnia Praetuttorum and possibly the citizen colony of Castrum Novum, both in the erstwhile territory of the Praetutti, to the south).  However, we have no evidence for any centres in Picenum that were so-constituted. 

  2. Any of the 11 centres that were not so-constituted would have been assigned to the ‘local’ tribe at municipalisation.

As noted above, Caesar gave the impression that many, if not most, of the settlements in Picenum were constituted as prefectures by 49 BC.  Some at least must have been so-designated when the level of citizen settlement led to the requirement of the services of a Roman prefect.  Nevertheless, Cingulum is the only Picene settlement for which we have evidence of its constitution as a prefecture. 


As already discussed, Caesar made a special mention of Cingulum in his account of the events of 49 BC:

  1. “Caesar, starting from Auximum [modern Osimo], traverses the whole of the Picene territory.  All the prefectures of those parts receive him with the utmost gladness and assist his arm with supplies of every kind.  Even from Cingulum, a town which [Quintus] Labienus had constituted and built at his own expense, envoys come to him and promise to do his bidding with the utmost eagerness” (‘Civil Wars’, 1:15).

The significance of this reference to Cingulum is that Labienus, who had constituted and rebuilt it, had recently defected from Caesar’s cause to that of Pompey.  The drafting of this passage implies that Cingulum was one of the prefectures of Picenum, but this is not beyond doubt. 

Fortunately, it is confirmed by Cicero, who had defended a senator called Rabirius in 63 BC against a charge of having participated in the murder of the tribune Saturninus in 100 BC.  Labienus (whose father had also died in this incident and who was now a tribune of the people) acted as prosecutor.  According to Cicero’s published speech, at one point he addressed Labienus as follows:

  1. “My uncle says he was with Saturninus.  What if he was? Who was your father? ... Where were your relations ... ? ... What was the conduct of [the people of] your prefecture, district and neighbourhood? .... What was the conduct of the whole Picene district; did they follow the frenzy of the tribune, or the authority of the consul?”, (‘Pro Rabirio reo perduellionis’, 22, my bold italics).

From this we learn that Labienus came from one of the prefectures of Picenum, and (given Caesar’s information, above) we might reasonably assume that this was Cingulum.  Edward Bispham (referenced below, at pp. 240-4) argued that Labienus had probably reconstituted the prefecture of a Cingulum as a municipium, perhaps during his tenure as tribune in 63 BC but certainly before his departure for Gaul with Caesar in 58 BC.  (There is epigraphic evidence for Cingulum as a municipium in the imperial period.) 

Prefectures of Picenum: My Conclusions

In my view, all we can really say is that:

  1. a number of Picentine prefectures seem to have been constituted at some time after the conquest of Picenum in 268 BC;

  2. Cingulum was certainly among them, although it had probably been promoted to the status of a municipium before Caesar’s arrival in the region in 49 BC; albeit that

  3. Caesar’s remark on his arrival (discussed above) indicates that many other towns of Picenum were still constituted as prefectures at this time.

Robert Knapp (referenced below, at p. 23) was surely correct in characterising the prefectures of Picenum as having been:

  1. “...unorganised areas  ... and either new foundations with Roman-made constitutions, or underdeveloped native towns that become significant only after Rome had taken over the area.”


Adapted from the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire 

Our earliest information on the administrative structure of the ager Picenus comes from Cicero, who, in a speech (‘Pro Rabirio’, 22) delivered in the mid 50s BC, indicated that Cingulum was then constituted as a praefectura.  According to Julius Caesar (who wrote of himself in the third person and in the present tense), after he had crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC:

  1. “Caesar, starting from Auximum [modern Osimo], traverses the whole of the Picene territory.  All the praefecturae of those parts receive him with the utmost gladness and assist his arm with supplies of every kind”, (‘Civil Wars’, 1:15).

Thus, it seems that the urban centres of Picenum (other than the various colonies) were still mostly constituted as praefecturae some decades after the Social War, albeit that we only have direct evidence for Cingulum. 

Marengo, Antolini and Branchesi (referenced below, at pp. 39-40, note 29) listed the presumed praefecturae in this region that were subsequently municipalised with duoviri: Cupra Maritima; Septempeda; Trea; Cingulum; Planina; Ricina; and Cupra Montana.  According to Antolini and Marengo (referenced below, at p. 213), all these municipia were assigned to the Velina tribe, which had been established in 241 BC for viritane settlers of the region.  The surviving evidence does not indicate a particular point in time when all of these centres were municipalised:

  1. Edward Bispham (referenced below, at pp. 240-4) argued that Cingulum had probably achieved municipal status at the behest of Quintus Labienus, a close ally of Caesar who had been born there.  If so, then this would have occurred before Labienus’ departure for Gaul with Caesar in 58 BC (since he defected to Pompey when he returned to Italy). 

  2. There is surviving evidence for duoviral municipalisation before the Augustan period at three centres: Cupra Maritima (AE 1889, 041 and CIL IX 5305 ); Trea (AE 1990, 303); and Planina (CIL IX 5688).

  3. Silvia Marengo (referenced below, 2012, at pp. 366-7) suggested that each of two inscriptions (CIL IX 5576 and EDR015283) could indicate that Septempeda was a duoviral municipium in the Augustan period.

  4. However, the earliest evidence for Ricina and Cupra Montana is (or could be) from a later period:

  5. CIL IX 5748, from Ricina, dates to the period 27 BC-41 AD; and

  6. CIL IX 5707, from Cupra Montana. is probably no earlier than ca. 50 AD.

Antolini and Marengo (referenced below, at pp. 211-2) followed the general consensus that Forum Sempronii, Ostra and Suasa were all municipalised after 49 BC.  Forum Sempronii and Ostra were assigned to the Pollia and Suasa to the Camilia, both tribes that had been extended to the ager Gallicus well before the Social War.  However, according to Edward Bispham (referenced below, at p. 465), there is no surviving evidence that any of the centres of the ager Gallicus except Ariminum (which was not assigned to Regio VI) was municipalised before the Augustan period:

  1. An inscription (CIL XI 6132) from Forum Sempronii that recorded a duovir quinquennalis is dated by the EAGLE database to the period 50 BC-50 AD and by Antonella Trevisiol (referenced below, at pp. 118-9, entry 24) to the early 1st century AD.

  2. An inscription (CIL XI 6166) from Suasa that records a duovir dates to the period 1-40 AD.

  3. The earliest evidence for a duoviral municipium at Ostra (CIL XI 6190) dates to the 2nd century AD.  

In other words, the surviving evidence for Augustan municipalisation in the ager Gallicus is not strong, but we cannot rule it out at any of Forum Sempronii, Suasa and Ostra.

Territory of the Praetutti

Prefectures in alta Sabina: Nursia, Reate and Amiternum

Prefectures in the territory of the Vestini: Aveia ? and Peltuinum ?

Prefectures in the territory of the Praetutti: Interamnia Praetuttorium ?

Prefectures in Umbria: Interamna Nahars ?

Citizen colony: Castrum Novum (probably 290-86 BC ?)

Latin Colonies: Alba Fucens  (303 BC); Nequinum/ Narnia (299 BC); Carseoli (298 BC);

Hadria (290-86 BC - see below); Spoletium (241 BC)

Underlining indicates tribes: green = Sergia; red = Quirina; blue = Velina; brown = Clustumina

As discussed above, Curius’ conquest of the Sabine lands in 290 BC probably extended as far as the territory of the Praetutti, on the southern border of Picenum. 

Castrum Novum

According to Livy, in the period 290-87 BC:

  1. “Colonies were founded at Castrum [Novum] ... and Hadria”, (‘Periochae’, 11: 7).

There is no reason to doubt Livy’s dating for the foundation of the Latin colony of Hadria, in the territory of the Praetutti at this time.   However, some scholars associate Livy’s Castrum Novum with the eponymous colony  that, according to Velleius Paterculus, was founded at the outbreak of the First Punic War (i.e., in 264  BC), which was probably on the coast of Etruria (as discussed in my page on Prefectures in Etruria).  However, I see no problem with the hypothesis that there were two colonies of named Castrum Novum, founded some two decades apart, and that:

  1. Livy’s colony of Castrum Novum was one of the three that were established in the 280s BC on the Adriatic coast (the others being: the Latin colony at Hadria and the citizen colony at Sena Gallica (in the ager Gallicus to the north, founded in 283 BC); while

  2. Velleius’ colony of Castrum Novum was one of the four small maritime colonies that were established on the Tyrrhenian coast in the period 264-45 BC.

There is also some dispute about the precise status of Castrum Novum in Picenum:

  1. Oliva Menozzi and Alesaandra Ciarico (referenced below, at p. 596) designated it as a Latin colony.  However, Edward Salmon (referenced below, at p. 180, note 119) pointed out that this is unlikely, since it was not among the 30 existent Latin colonies that Livy (27: 9 and 10) listed at the time of the Second Punic War. 

  2. Simona Antolini and Silvia Marengo (referenced below, at p. 209) and Lily Ross Taylor (referenced below, at p. 59, note 47) designated it as a citizen colony.  I think that this is more likely, albeit that Edward Salmon (as above) doubted this on the basis of epigraphic evidence for a praetor there. 

Giuseppe Lepore (referenced below, in the English abstract) pointed out that excavations at Sena Gallica:

  1. “... seem to reveal the shape and size of a [Latin colony], recalling the situation that, 20 years later, characterised the  colony of Ariminum.  The new [evidence gained from the excavations] allows us to hypothesis that Rome adopted a new form of [citizen colony, which was larger than those established to this point, as part of] its ‘Adriatic policy’”.

In the body of his paper (at pp pp. 230-1), he expanded as follows:

  1. “We can recognise [from the new archeological data] a city of dimensions quite unlike those of other maritime colonies: we are looking at [an area of some] 18 hectares, compared with 2-2.5 hectares for the older maritime colonies on the Tyrhenian coast” (my translation).

He suggested that this new model had also applied at Castrum Novum, which had an estimated area of some 10 hectares.

The tribal allocation of Castrum Novum is unclear, since the only two relevant inscriptions , both of which are in the form of funerary inscriptions from the period 50 BC - 30 AD, commemorate men from different tribes:

  1. CIL IX  5147 commemorated L(ucius) Agid[ius ---?]/ V[el(ina)]/ Kaesọ [---?];

  2. CIL IX  5150 commemorated [- L]artius L(uci) f(ilius)/ [P]ap(iria) Rufus.

Neither of these inscriptions survives, so they are known only from transcriptions.  Most scholars assume the Papiria, perhaps because the Velina was not established until 241 BC (as discussed above): see, for example, Simona Antolini and Silvia Marengo (referenced below, at p. 209).  Nevertheless, given the fact that the Velina is common in this part of Picenum (as discussed below) while the Papiria is otherwise effectively absent, it seems to me that it is more likely that the citizen colonists at Castrum Novum in Picenum remained in their individual tribes until 241 BC, when they were assigned to the newly-established Velina.

Prefecture of Interamnia Praetuttiorum (?)

Simona Antolini and Silvia Marengo (referenced below, at p. 210) summarised the epigraphic evidence that suggests that nearby Interamnia Praetuttiorum (modern Teramo) was also assigned to the Velina at this point.  According to Frontinus:

  1. “... in Picenum, ... Interamnia Praetuttiorum ... is said to have been a conciliabulum and later granted the status of a municipium” (‘Land Disputes’, reproduced and translated into English by Brian Campbell, referenced below , at pp. 6-7)

The Latin name of Interamnia Praetuttiorum certainly suggests that it had been of Roman foundation, and Antolini and Marengo (as above) assumed that this had taken place in 268 BC, presumably because this was the date of the conquest of Picenum.  However, its name also indicates a close link to the Praetutti, and it seems to me that it was more probably constituted as an administrative centre for viritane settlers on land that had been confiscated from them: in other words, it could have been constituted at any time after 290 BC, albeit that it could not have been assigned to the Velina before 241 BC. 

Michel Humbert (referenced below, at pp. 378-9) assumed that Interamnia Praetuttiorum had originally been constituted as a prefecture:

  1. “It was not necessary to reconstitute a large number of prefectures in the territory of the Praetuttii: that of Interamnia was sufficient to administer justice in respect of citizens assigned to the Velina tribe ...” (my translation).

Oliva Menozzi and Alesaandra Ciarico (referenced below, at p. 596) also assumed that this was the case:

  1. “In the 3rd century BC, ... Castrum Novum dominated the [surrounding] territory and administered a harbour on the Adriatic.  [However], with the transformation of Interamnia [Praetuttiorum] into the main administrative centre of a prefecture with its own [territory], Castrum Novum became a secondary centre and, in a short time, was seen as merely a seaport close to Interamnia.”

Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2010, at p. 207) also agreed that Interamnia Praetuttiorum had been constituted: 

  1. “... in the aftermath of the conquest of the ager Praetuttianus in 290 BC, without doubt as a prefecture” (my translation).  

He noted (at p. 209) the presence of an octovirate here in the 1st century BC, as evidenced by two inscriptions (CIL IX 5967; and CIL IX 5158).

However, he doubted that it had also been a conciliabulum from an early date.  He pointed out that Frontinus had inserted the relevant information (above) into his explanation of a controversy that had arisen at the time of the foundation of the triumviral colony of Asculum.  He concluded that:

  1. “We might thus advance the hypothesis that Interamnia Praetuttiorum must have been elevated to the rank of a municipium at a later time, probably in the Augustan period, having retained the status of a simple conciliabulum - following its phase as a prefecture - throughout the 1st century BC” (my translation and my bold italics).

However, there is no reason, in principal, why a centre newly built as a conciliabulum could not also have been the seat of a Roman prefect: for example, a similar situation probably existed at Forum Clodii in Etruria, which had obviously been constituted as a forum, but which was also to seat of the prefects of the praefectura Claudia.

Read more:

G. Farney and G. Bradley (Eds), “The Peoples of Ancient Italy”, (2018) Boston/ Berlin,  includes:

  1. G. Farney and G. Masci, “The Sabines”, at pp. 543-58

  2. O. Menozzi and A. Ciarico, “The Picentes”, at  pp. 579-602

G. M. Fabrini and R. Perna, “Pollentia - Urbs Salvia (Urbisaglia, MC): Indagini di Scavo nell’Area Forense (Campagne 2011-14)”, Journal of Fasti Online (2015)

G. Lepore, “La Colonia di Sena Gallica: un Progetto Abbandonato?” , in:

  1. M. Chiabà (Ed.), “Hoc Quoque Laboris Praemium: Scritti in Onore di Gino Bandelli”, (2014) Trieste, at pp. 219- 42.

S. Sisani (Ed.), “Nursia e l'Ager Nursinus: un Distretto Sabino dalla Praefectura al Municipium”, (2013) Rome, includes:

  1. S. Sisani, “Da Curio Dentato a Vespasio Pollione: Conquista e Romanizzazione del Distretto Nursino”, at pp. 9-16

  2. S. Sisani and P. Camerieri, “Nursia: Topografia del Centro Urbano”, at pp.103-11

  3. S. Sisani, “Le Strutture Istiuzionale dalla Praefectura al Municipium”, at pp. 113-5

S. Antolini and S.Marengo, “Regio V (Picenum) e Versante Adriatico della Regio VI (Umbria)”, in

  1. M. Silvestrini (Ed.), “Le Tribù Romane: Atti della XVIe Rencontre sur l’Epigraphie du Monde Romaine (Bari, 8-10 Ottobre 2009)”, (2010) Bari, at pp. 209-15 

M. Heinzelmann, et. al., “Amiternum and the Upper Aterno valley: a Sabine-Roman Town and its Territory”, Journal of Roman Archaeology, 23 (2010) 55-83

S. Roselaar, “Public Land in the Roman Republic: A Social and Economic History of Ager PublicuCitizen Coloniess in Italy, 396 - 89 BC”, (2010) Oxford

S. Sisani, “Dalla Praefectura al Municipium: Lo Sviluppo delle Strutture Amministrative

Romane in Area Medio-Italica tra il I sec. A.C. e l’ Età Imperiale” , Rendiconti, 21:1-2 (2010) 173–226

P. Camerieri and A. De Santis, “La Via Curia”, in:

  1. R. Cascino and V. Gasparini (Eds), “Falacrinae: Le origini di Vespasiano”, (2009) Rome, at pp. 59-61

E. Bispham, “From Asculum to Actium: The Municipalisation of Italy from the Social War to Augustus”, (2008) Oxford

S. Sisani,  “Fenomenologia della Conquista: La Romanizzazione dell' Umbria tra il IV sec. a. C. e la Guerra Sociale”, (2007) Rome

S. Sisani,  “Umbria Marche (Guide Archeologiche Laterza)”, (2006) Rome and Bari

G. Bandelli, “La Conquista dell’ Ager Gallicus e il Problema della ‘Colonia’ Aesis”, Aquileia Nostra, 76 (2005), columns 13-54

S. P. Oakley, “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X: Volume IV, Book X”, (2005 ) Oxford

M.C. Spadoni, “I Prefetti nell' Amministrazione Municipale dell' Italia Romana”, (2004) Bari

G. Bradley, “The Colonization of Interamna Nahars', in

  1. A. Cooley (Ed.), “The Epigraphic Landscape of Roman Italy” (2000) London, pp. 3-17

B. Campbell, “The Writings of the Roman Land Surveyors: Introduction, Text, Translation and Commentary”, (2000) London 

L. Bonomi Ponzi, “Inquadramento Storico-Topografico del Territorio di Foligno”, in:

  1. M. Bergamini (Ed.), “Foligno: La Necropoli Romana di Santa Maria in Campis”, (1998) Perugia, pp. 11-18

P. Fontaine, “Cités et Enceintes de l'Ombrie Antique” (1990) Brussels

R. Knapp, “Festus 262L and Praefecturae in Italy", Athenaeum, 58 (1980) 14-38

M. Humbert, “Municipium et Civitas sine Suffragio: L' Organisation de la Conquête jusqu'à la Guerre Sociale”, Publications de l'École Française de Rome, 36 (1978)

W. Harris, “Rome in Etruria and Umbria”, (1971) Oxford

E. Salmon, “Roman Colonisation under the Republic”, (1970) New York

L. Ross Taylor, “The Voting Districts of the Roman Republic: The 35 Urban and Rural Tribes”, (1960) Rome

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