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The Aequi (or Aequicolae) were an ancient people of north-east Latium, in central Italy, who appear in the early history of ancient Rome.


They occupied the upper reaches of the valleys of the Anio, Tolenus and Himella; the last two being mountain streams running northward to join the Nar.

They are first mentioned by Livy as being an ancient nation from whom the Romans borrowed the rites of declaring war [1].

Their chief centre is said to have been taken by the Romans about 484 BC (Diodorus xi. 40) and again about ninety years later (id. xiv. 106), but they were not finally subdued till the end of the second Samnite war (Livy ix. 45, fx. i; Diod. xx. 101), when they seem to have received a limited form of franchise (Cic. Off. i. n, 35). They fought several battles against the Romans, among which was the battle of Mons Algidus (458 BC).

All we know of their subsequent political condition is that after the Social war the folk of Cliternia and Nersae appear united in a res publica Aequiculorum, which was a municipium of the ordinary type (C.I.L. ix. p. 388). The Latin colonies of Alba Fucens (304 BC) and Carsioli (298 BC) must have spread the use of Latin (or what passed as such) all over the district; through it lay the chief (and for some time the only) route (Via Valeria) to Luceria and the south.

At the end of the Republican period the Aequi appear, under the name Aequiculi or Aequicoli, organized as a municipium, the territory of which seems to have comprised the upper part of the valley of the Salto, still known as Cicolano. It is probable, however, that they continued to live in their villages as before. Of these Nersae (mod. Nesc'e) was the most considerable. The polygonal terrace walls, which exist in considerable numbers in the district, are shortly described in Romische Mitteilungen (1903), 147 seq., but require further study.


There are no records about the language spoken by the Aequi before the Roman conquest; however, since the Marsi, who lived farther east, spoke in the 3rd century BC a dialect closely akin to Latin, and since the Hernici, their neighbours to the south-west, did the same, it is most likely that all three tribes belonged to the Latian group. From the presence of the "q" letter in their name and the supposed relation between its shorter and its longer form (note that the "i" in the word Aequiculus is long -Virgil, Aen. vii. 744 - which seems to connect it with the locative of aequum ("a plain", so that it would mean "dwellers in the plain", although in the historical period they certainly lived mainly in the hills), they could be grouped with the so-called "q" or the "p" dialects: the former includes Latin, which preserved an original q, while the latter include the dialect of Velitrae, commonly called Volscian (the Volsci were the constant allies of the Aequi), on the other hand, in which, as in the Iguvine and Samnite dialects, an original "q" is changed into "p". There is no decisive evidence to show whether the "q" in Latin aequus represents an Indo-European "q" as in Latin quis, Umbro-Volsc. pis, or an Indo-European "k + u" as in equus, Umb. ekvo-. The derivative adjective Aequicus might be taken to range them with the Volsci rather than the Sabini, but it is not clear that this adjective was ever used as a real ethnonym; the name of the tribe is always Aequi, or Aequicoli.


  1. Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:32

ca:Eques de:Aequer el:Αίκουοι es:Ecuos eu:Ekuo fr:Èques it:Equi hu:Aequiculi nl:Aequi ja:アエクイ族 pt:Équos ru:Эквы sh:Ekvi fi:Eekvit

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