Benevento 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
or , Strab.
or still earlier
(Greek: or and earlier ). The
"-vent" portion of the name probably refers to a market-place and
is a common element in ancient place names. The Romans theorized
that it meant "the site of bad events", from Mal(um) + eventum. In
period it was supposed to
have been founded by Diomedes
Benevento in antiquity
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
There is some discrepancy as to the people to which
it belonged at contact: Pliny
expressly assigns it to the Hirpini
certainly seems to consider it as
belonging to the Samnites
distinguished from the Hirpini; and Ptolemy
adopts the same view. All writers concur in representing it as a
very ancient city; Solinus
and Stephanus of Byzantium
foundation to Diomedes
; a legend which
appears to have been adopted by the inhabitants, who, in the time
, pretended to exhibit the
tusks of the Calydonian boar
proof of their descent. Festus
, on the
contrary (s. v.
Ausoniam), related that it was founded by
, a son of Ulysses
; 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; 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
in a great battle
fought in its immediate neighborhood, by the consul Curius Dentatus
. Six years later (268 BC)
they sought farther to secure its possession by establishing there
a Roman colony
with Latin rights. 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. 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.
View of the Roman Theatre of
As a Roman colony Beneventum seems to have quickly become a
flourishing place; and in the Second
was repeatedly occupied by Roman generals as a post
of importance, on account of its proximity to Campania
, and its strength as a fortress.
immediate neighborhood were fought two of the most decisive actions
of the war: the Battle of
Beneventum, (214 BC), in which the Carthaginian general Hanno was defeated by
Tiberius Gracchus; the other in
212 BC, when the camp of Hanno, in which he had accumulated a vast
quantity of corn and other stores, was stormed and taken by the
Roman consul Quintus Fulvius
And though its territory was more than once
laid waste by the Carthaginians, it was still one of the eighteen
Latin colonies which in 209 BCE were at once able and willing to
furnish the required quota of men and money for continuing the war.
It is singular that no mention of it occurs during the Social War
; but it seems to
have escaped from the calamities which at that time befel so many
cities of Samnium, and towards the close of the Roman Republic
is spoken of as one of the
most opulent and flourishing cities of Italy. Under the Second Triumvirate its territory was
portioned out by the Triumvirs to their veterans, and subsequently
a fresh colony was established there by Augustus, who greatly enlarged its domain by the
addition of the territory of Caudium (modern Montesarchio).
A third colony was settled there by
, at which time it assumed the title of
; hence we find it bearing, in inscriptions of
the reign of Septimius Severus
the titles Colonia Julia Augusta Concordia Felix
. Its importance and flourishing condition under
the Roman Empire
attested by existing remains and inscriptions; it was at that
period unquestionably the chief city of the Hirpini, and probably,
next to Capua, the most populous and considerable city of southern
this prosperity it was doubtless indebted in part to its position
on the Via Appia, just at the junction of the two principal arms or
branches of that great road, the one called afterwards the Via Trajana, leading from thence by Equus Tuticus into Apulia; the other
by Aeculanum to Venusia (modern Venosa) and
Tarentum (modern Taranto).
wealth is also evidenced by the quantity of coins minted by
Beneventum. Horace famously notes
Beneventum on his journey from Rome to
Brundusium (modern Brindisi).
It was indebted to the same circumstance
for the honor of repeated visits from the emperors of Rome, among
which those of Nero, Trajan
, and Septimus
Severus, are particularly recorded.
It was probably for the same reason that the triumphal arch
, the Arch of Trajan
was erected there by the senate and people of Rome and constructed
by the architect Apollodorus of
in 114. The Arch of Trajan is one of the
best-preserved Roman structures in the Campania. It repeats the formula
of the Arch of
Titus in the Roman Forum, with reliefs of Trajan's
life and exploits of his reign. Some of the
sculptures are in the British Museum.
Successive emperors seem to have bestowed
on the city accessions of territory, and erected, or at least given
name to, various public buildings. For administrative purposes it
was first included, together with the rest of the Hirpini, in the
second region of Augustus, but was afterwards annexed to Campania
and placed under the control of the consular of that province. Its
inhabitants were included in the Stellatine tribe. Beneventum
retained its importance down to the close of the Empire, and though
during the Gothic wars it was taken by Totila
, and its walls razed to the ground, they were
restored, as well as its public buildings, shortly after; and P.
Diaconus speaks of it as a very wealthy city, and the capital of
all the surrounding provinces.
Beneventum indeed seems to have been a place of much literary
cultivation; it was the birth-place of Orbilius
the grammarian, who long continued to
teach in his native city before he removed to Rome, and was honored
with a statue by his fellow-townsmen; while existing inscriptions
record similar honors paid to another grammarian, Rutilius Aelianus
, as well as to orators
and poets, apparently only of local celebrity.
The territory of Beneventum under the Roman Empire was of very
considerable extent. Towards the west it included that of
Caudium, with the exception of the town itself; to the north it
extended as far as the river Tamarus (modern Tammaro), including the village of Pago Veiano, which, as we learn from an inscription, was
anciently called Pagus Veianus; on the northeast it comprised the
town of Equus Tuticus (modern Sant'Eleuterio, near Castel Franco), and on the east and south
bordered on the territories of Aeculanum and Abellinum.
An inscription has preserved to us the
names of several of the pagi or villages dependent upon Beneventum,
but their sites cannot be identified.
The city's most ancient coins bear the legend "Malies" or
"Maliesa", which have been supposed to belong to the Samnite, or
pre-Samnite, Maleventum. Coins with the legend "BENVENTOD" (an old
– or Samnite – form for Beneventor-um),
must have been struck after it became a Latin colony.
Duchy of Benevento
- See also the List of Dukes and Princes
Not long after it had been sacked by Totila
and its walls razed (545), Benevento became the seat of a powerful
circumstances of the creation of duchy of Benevento
According to some scholars, Lombards were present in southern Italy
well before the complete conquest of the Po
: the duchy would have been founded in 576 by some
soldiers led by a Zotto
, autonomously from the
successor was Arechis I (died
in 640), from the Duchy of Friuli,
who captured Capua and Crotone, sacked the Byzantine Amalfi but was
unable to capture Naples.
reign the Eastern Roman Empire
had left in southern Italy only Naples, Amalfi, Gaeta, Sorrento,
the tip of Calabria and the maritime cities of Apulia.
In the following decades, Benevento conquered some territories to
the Roman-Byzantine duchy, but the main enemies was now the
northern Lombard reign itself. King
intervened in several times imposing a candidate of
his own to the duchy's succession; his successor Ratchis
declared the duchies of Spoleto and
Benevento foreign countries where it was forbidden to travel
without a royal permission.
the collapse of the Lombard kingdom in 773, Duke Arechis II
was elevated to
Prince under the new empire of the Franks
compensation for having some of his territory transferred back to
. Benevento was acclaimed by a chronicler as a
"second Pavia"— Ticinum geminum
— after the Lombard capital
was lost. The unit of this principality was
short-lived: in 851, Salerno broke off under Siconulf
and, by the end of that century, Capua was
independent as well.
Benevento was ruled again by Byzantine
minor was unified for the last time by Duke Pandolfo Testa di Ferro, who
expanded his extensive control in the Mezzogiorno from his base in Benevento and
Before his death (March 981), he had gained
from Emperor Otto I
title of Duke of Spoleto also. However, both Benevento and Salerno
rebelled to his son and heir, Pandulf II
decades of the 11th century saw two more German-descended rulers to
southern Italy: Henry
II, conquered in 1022 both Capua and Benevento, but returned
after the failed siege of Troia.
Similar results obtained Conrad II
in 1038. In these
years the three states (Benevento, Capua, and Salerno) were often
engaged in local wars and disputes that favoured the rise of the
from mercenaries to ruler of the
whole southern Italy. The greatest of them was Robert Guiscard
, who captured Benevento in
1053 after the Emperor Henry III
had first authorised its conquest in 1047 when Pandulf III
and Landulf VI
shut the gates to him.
These princes were later expelled from the city and then recalled
after the pope failed to defend it from Guiscard. The city fell to
Normans in 1077. It was a papal city until after 1081.
Benevento passed to the Papacy peacefully when the emperor Henry III
ceded it to Leo IX
, in exchange for the Bishopric of Bamberg
(1053). Landulf II, Archbishop of
, promoted reform, but also allied with the Normans.
He was deposed for two years. Benevento was the cornerstone of the
Papacy's temporal powers in southern Italy. The Papacy ruled it by
appointed rectors, seated in a magnificent palace, and the
principality continued to be a papal possession until 1806, when
granted it to his minister
title of Sovereign Prince. Talleyrand was never to settle down and
actually rule his new principality; in 1815 Benevento was returned
to the papacy
. It was united to Italy
Manfred of Sicily
lost his life in
1266 in battle with Charles of
not far from the town (see Battle of Benevento
importance of Benevento in classical times is vouched for by the
many remains of antiquity which it
possesses, of which the most famous is the triumphal arch erected in honour of
Trajan by the senate and people of Rome in 114, with
important reliefs relating to its history. Enclosed in the
walls, this construction marked the entrance in Benevento of the
Via Traiana, the road built by the
Spanish emperor to shorten the path from Rome to Brindisi.
Arch of Trajan
The reliefs show the civil and military
deeds of Trajan.
There are other considerable remains from ancient era:
- The well-preserved ancient theatre, next
to the Cathedral and the Port'Arsas. This grandiose building was
erected by Hadrian, and later expanded by
Caracalla. It had a diameter of 90 meters
and could house up to 10,000 spectators. It is currently used for
theatre, dance, and opera performances.
- A large cryptoporticus 60 m long,
known as the ruins of Santi Quaranta, and probably an
emporium. According to Meomartini, the
portion preserved is only a fraction of the whole, which once
measured 520 m in length).
- A brick arch called Arco del Sacramento.
- The Ponte Leproso, a bridge on the Via Appia over the
Sabato river, below the city center.
- Thermae along the
road to Avellino.
- The Bue Apis, popularly known as A ufara
("buffalo"). It is a basement in the shape of an ox or bull coming
from the Temple of Isis.
Many inscriptions and ancient fragments may be seen built into the
old houses. In 1903 the foundations of the Temple of Isis were
discovered close to the Arch of Trajan, and many fragments of fine
sculptures in both the Egyptian and the Greco-Roman style belonging
to it were found. They had apparently been used as the foundation
of a portion of the city wall
reconstructed in 663 under the fear of an attack by the Byzantine emperor Constans II
, the temple having been destroyed by
order of the bishop, St Barbatus
provide the necessary material (A. Meomartini, 0. Marucchi and L.
Savignoni in Notizie degli Scavi
, 1904, 107 sqq.).
The church of Santa Sofia with its
bell tower and the Chiaromonte fountain.
The church of Santa Sofia
is a circular Lombard edifice
dating to c. 760, now modernized, of small proportions: it can be
enclosed within a circle of 23.5 m of diameter. It is one of the
most important examples of European architecture of the High Middle
Ages. The plant was very original for the times: it consists of a
central hexagon with, at each vertex, columns taken from the temple
; these are connected by arches which
support the cupola. The inner hexagon is in turn enclosed in a
decagonal ring with eight white limestone pilasters and two columns
next to the entrance. The church has a fine cloister
of the 12th century, constructed in part
of fragments of earlier buildings. The church interior was once
totally frescoed by Byzantine
fragments of these paintings, portraying the Histories of
, can be still seen in the two side apses.
Santa Sofia was almost destroyed by the earthquake of 1688, and
rebuilt in Baroque
commission of the then cardinal Orsini of Benevento (later Pope Benedict XIII
). The original forms
were hidden, and were recovered only after the discussed
restoration of 1951.
The cloister give access to the Samnium Museum, with notable
sections of remains from Ancient age and Middle Ages. These include
an obelisk, one of the two that once decorated the Temple of Isis.
The other one can be still seen in the city, in the central Piazza
Rocca dei Rettori.
of Santa Maria
, with its fine arcaded façade and incomplete square
(begun in 1279 by the archbishop
Romano Capodiferro) dates from the 9th century. It was rebuilt in
1114. The façade was inspired by the Pisan Gothic style. Its bronze
doors, adorned with bas-reliefs
notable example of Romanesque art
which may belong to the beginning of the 13th century. The interior
is in the form of a basilica
, the double
aisles carried on ancient columns. There are ambones resting on
columns supported by lions, and decorated with reliefs and coloured
marble mosaic, and a candelabrum of 1311. A marble statue of the
apostle San Bartolomeo, by Nicola da Monteforte, is also from the
14th century. The cathedral also contains a statue of St. Giuseppe Moscati
, a native of the
Rocca dei Rettori
The castle of Benevento, best known as Rocca dei Rettori
or Rocca di Manfredi
, stands at the highest point of the
town, commanding the valley of the rivers Sabato and Calore, and
the two main ancient roads Via Appia and Via Traiana. The site had
been already used by the Samnites, who had constructed here a set
of defensive terraces, and the Romans, with a thermal plant
), whose remains can be still seen in the
castle garden. The Benedictines
monastery there. It received the current name in the Middle Ages,
when it became the seat of the Papal governors, the
The castle is in fact made by two distinct edifices: the Torrione
("Big Tower"), which was built by the Lombards starting from 871,
and the Palazzo dei Governatori, built by the Popes from
- Sant'Ilario, not far from the Arch of Traian along the
first trait of the Via Traiana, is a very ancient, small building
dating from the end of the 6th or the beginning of the 7th
- The Palazzo di Paolo V (16th century).
- The church of San Salvatore, dating from the High
- The Gothic church of San Francesco alla Dogana.
- The Baroque churches of Annunziata, San
Bartolomeo and San Filippo.
Acquafredda, Cancelleria, Capodimonte, Caprarella, Cardoncielli,
Cardoni, Cellarulo, Chiumiento, Ciancelle, Ciofani, Cretazzo,
Epitaffio, Francavilla, Gran Potenza, Imperatore, Lammia, Madonna
della Salute, Masseria del Ponte, Masseria La Vipera, Mascambruni,
Montecalvo, Olivola, Pacevecchia, Pamparuottolo, Pantano,
Perrottiello, Piano Cappelle, Pino, Ponte Corvo, Rosetiello, Ripa
Zecca, Roseto, Santa Clementina, San Chirico, San Cumano (anc.
), San Domenico, Sant'Angelo a Piesco, San
Vitale, Scafa, Serretelle, Sponsilli, Torre Alfieri, Vallereccia
The economy of Benvento area is traditionally agricultural. Main
products include vine
. The main
industry is that of food processing (sweets and pasta), although
textile, mechanics and construction companies are present.
is connected to Naples through the modern SS7
Appia state road, and then local roads starting from Arienzo.
It is 17 km from the Naples-Bari A16
motorway. The SS372 Telesina state road allows reaching the A1
Naples-Rome, leading to the latter in less than three hours.
has a station on the Caserta-Foggia railway,
with fast connections from Rome to Avellino, Bari and Lecce.
Campobasso have been mostly replaced by bus service.
The connection to Naples is ensured by three stations on the
inter-urban metro line.