AURUNCI, the name given by the Romans to a tribe which in historical times occupied only a strip of coast on either side of the Mons Massicus between the Volturnus and the Liris, although it must at an earlier period have extended over a considerably wider area. Their own name for themselves in the 4th century B.C. was Ausŏnes, and in Greek writers we find the name Ausŏnia applied to Latium and Campania (see Strabo v. p. 247; Aristotle, Pol. iv. (vii.) 10; Dion. Hal. i. 72), while in the Augustan poets (e.g. Virgil, Aen. vii. 795) it is used as one of many synonyms for Italy. In history the tribe appears only for a brief space, from 340 to 295 B.C. (Mommsen, C.I.L. x. pp. 451, 463, 465), and their struggle with the Romans ended in complete extermination; their territory was parcelled out between the Latin colonies of Cales (Livy viii. 16) and Suessa Aurunca (id. ix. 28) which took the place of an older town called Ausona (id. ix. 25; viii. 15), and the maritime colonies Sinuessa (the older Vescia) and Minturnae (both in 295 B.C., Livy x. 21). The coin formerly attributed to Suessa Aurunca on the strength of its supposed legend Aurunkud has now been certainly referred to Naples (see R.S. Conway, Italic Dialects, 145, and Verner's law in Italy, p. 78, where the change of s to r is explained as probably due to the Latin conquest). Seeing that the tribe was blotted out at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C., we can scarcely wonder that no record of its speech survives; but its geographical situation and the frequency of the co-suffix in that strip of coast (besides Aurunci itself we have the names Vescia, Mons Massicus, Marica, Glanica and Caedicii; see Italic Dialects, pp. 283 f.) rank them beyond doubt with their neighbours the Volsci (q.v.).
(R. S. C.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)