SamnitesThe Samnites were a group of Osco-Umbrian tribes that controlled a large portion of southern Italy from about 600 BC to about 290 BC. Their homeland was delimited by Latium in the north, by Lucania in the south, by Campania in the west and by Puglia in the east, and was called Samnium by the Romans. The native name of the area was Safinim. The principal city of the region was Malventum, which was later renamed Beneventum by the Romans. For most of their history the Samnites were landlocked, but during a brief period they controlled parts of both coasts of the Italian peninsula. The Samnites were composed of at least four tribes: the Pentri, the Caraceni, the Caudini and the Hirpini, and later may have been joined by the Frentani.
The earliest written record of the people is a treaty with the Romans from 354 BC. They won an important battle with the Roman army in 321 BC, and their empire reached its peak in 316 BC after further gains from the Romans. In 290 BC the Romans finally broke the Samnites' power. In 82 BC the Roman dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla slaughtered many of them and forced the rest to disperse.