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Proper noun

  1. Province of Campania, Italy.
  2. Town and capital of Benevento.



Proper noun

  1. Benevento (province)
  2. Benevento (town)

Extensive Definition

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 Beneventum (Greek: , Steph. B. or , Strab., Ptol.), originally Maleventum or still earlier Malowent and Maloenton (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 the imperial period it was supposed to have been founded by Diomedes after the Trojan War.


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. (Plin. iii. 11. s. 16; Liv. xxii. 13; Ptol. iii. 1. § 67.) 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. (Solin. 2. § 10; Steph. B. s. v.; Procop. B. G. i. 15.) 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 (Liv. ix. 27); 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 BCE, when Pyrrhus was defeated in a great battle, fought in its immediate neighborhood, by the consul Curius Dentatus. (Plut. Pyrrh. 25; Frontin. Strat. iv. 1. § 14.) Six years later (286 BCE) they sought farther to secure its possession by establishing there a Roman colony with Latin rights. (Liv. Epit. xv.; Vell. Pat. i. 14.) 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. (Plin. iii. 11. s. 16; Liv. ix. 27; Fest. s. v. Beneventum, p. 34; Steph. B. s. v.; Procop. B. G. i. 15.) 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. (Millingen, Numnism. de l'Italie, p. 223.) As a Roman colony Beneventum seems to have quickly become a flourishing place; and in the Second Punic War was repeatedly occupied by Roman generals as a post of importance, on account of its proximity to Campania, and its strength as a fortress. In its immediate neighborhood were fought two of the most decisive actions of the war: the Battle of Beneventum, (214 BCE), in which the Carthaginian general Hanno was defeated by Tiberius Gracchus; the other in 212 BCE, 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 Flaccus. (Liv. xxii. 13, xxiv. 14, 16, xxv. 13, 14, 15, 17; Appian, Annib. 36, 37.) 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. (Liv. xxvii. 10.) 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. (Appian, B.C. iv. 3; Strab. v. p. 250; Cic. in Verr. i. 1. 5) 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 Nero, at which time it assumed the title of Concordia; hence we find it bearing, in inscriptions of the reign of Septimius Severus, the titles Colonia Julia Augusta Concordia Felix Beneventum. (Appian. l. c.; Lib. Colon. pp. 231, 232; Inscr. ap. Romanelli, vol. ii. pp. 382, 384; Orell. Inscr. 128, 590.) Its importance and flourishing condition under the Roman Empire is sufficiently 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 Italy. For 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). (Strab. vi. p. 283.) Its 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) (Sat. i. 5, 71). 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. (Tac. Ann. xv. 34.) The 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. 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 grandious 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 theatral, dance and opera spectacles.
  • 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, to provide the necessary material (A. Meomartini, 0. Marucchi and L. Savignoni in Notizie degli Scavi, 1904, 107 sqq.).

Santa Sofia

The church of Santa Sofia is a circular Lombard edifice of about 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 of Isis; 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 artists: fragments of these paintings, portraying the Histories of Christ, can be still seen in the two side apses.
Santa Sofia was almost destroyed by the earthquake of 1688, and rebuilt in Baroque forms by 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 Papiniano.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, with its fine arcaded façade and incomplete square campanile (begun in 1279) dates from the 9th century. It was rebuilt in 1114. The façade was inspired by the Pisane Gothic style. Its bronze doors, adorned with bas-reliefs, are 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 area.
The massive bell tower was built in 1269 by the archbishop Romano Capodiferro.

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 (Castellum aquae), whose remains can be still seen in the castle garden. The Benedictines had here a monastery. It received the current name in the Middle Ages, when it became the seat of the Papal governors, the Rettori.
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 1320.

Other sights

  • 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 century.
  • The Palazzo di Paolo V (16th century).
  • The church of San Salvatore, dating from the High Middle Ages.
  • The Gothic church of San Francesco alla Dogana.
  • The Baroque churches of Annunziata, San Bartolomeo and San Filippo.


  • Il Mezzogiorno dai Bizantini a Federico II
  • Italia meridionale longobarda
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benevento in Modern Greek (1453-): Μπενεβέντο
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benevento in Latin: Beneventum
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benevento in Neapolitan: Beneviento
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benevento in Russian: Беневенто
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