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The Hernici were an ancient people of Italy, whose territory was in Latium between the Fucine Lake and the Trerus, bounded by the Volscian on the south, and by the Aequian and the Marsian on the north.

They long maintained their independence, and in 486 BC 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 if.) and in 306 (Livy ix. 42), when their chief town Anagnia 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 BC; by that date, therefore, their territory cannot have been distinguished from Latium generally, and it seems probable (Beloch, hal. Bund, p. 123) that they had then received the full Roman citizenship. The oldest Latin inscriptions of the district (from Ferentinum, C.I.L. x. 5837-5840) are earlier than the Social War, and present no local characteristic.

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 vocabulary, such as might be expected among folk who clung to their local customs. Their name, however, with its Co-termination, classes them along with 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.

See Conway's Italic Dialects (Camb. Univ. Press, 1897), p. 306 if., where the glosses and the local and personal names of the district will be found.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

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