PAELIGNI, a people of ancient Italy, first mentioned as a member of a confederacy which included the Marsi, Marrucini and Vestini (qq.v.), with which the Romans came into conflict in the second Samnite War, 325 B.C. (Liv. viii. 29). On the submission of the Samnites they all came into alliance with Rome in 305–302 B.C. (Liv. ix. 45, x. 3, and Diod. xx. 101), the Paelignians having fought hard (Diod. xx. 90) against even this degree of subjection. Each of them was an independent unit, and in none was there any town or community politically separate from the tribe as a whole. Thus the Vestini issued coins in the 3rd century; each of them appears in the list of the allies in the Social War (Appian. B.C. i. 39, with J. Beloch, Der italische Bund unter römischer Hegemonie, p. 51). How purely Italic in sentiment these communities of the mountain country remained appears from the choice of the mountain fortress of Corfinium as the rebel capital. It was renamed Vitellio, the Oscan form of Itaha, a name which appears, written in Oscan alphabet, on the coins struck there in 90 B.C. (see R. S. Conway, The Italic Dialects, p. 216).
The inscriptions we possess are enough to show that the
dialect spoken by these tribes was substantially the same from
the northern boundary of the Frentani to some place in the upper
Aternus valley not far from Amiternum (mod. Aquila), and that
this dialect closely resembled the Oscan of Lucania and Samnium,
though presenting some peculiarities of its own, which warrant,
perhaps, the use of the name North Oscan. The clearest of
these is the use of post positions, as in Vestine Poimunie-n,
" in templo Pomonali "; pritrom-e, i.e. in proximum, " on to what
lies before you." Others are the sibilation of consonantal i and
the assibUation of -di- to some sound like that of English j (denoted
D in the local variety of Latin alphabet), as in vidadu,
“viamdo,” i.e. “ad-viam”; Musesa = Lat. Mussedia; and the
loss of d (in pronunciation) in the ablative, as in aetatu firata
fertlid (i.e. aetate fertili finita), where the contrast of the last with
the other two forms shows that the -d was an archaism still
occasionally used in writing. The last sentence of the interesting
epitaph from which this phrase is taken may be quoted
as a specimen of the dialect; the stone was found in Pentima, the
ancient Corfinium, and the very perfect style of the Latin alphabet
in which it is written shows that it cannot well be earlier
than the last century B.C.: “Eite uus pritrome pacris, puus
ecic lexe lifar,“ ”ite vos porro pacati (cum bona pace), qui hoc
scriptum (libar, 3rd decl. neut.) legistis.” The form lexe (2nd
plur. perf. indic.) is closely parallel to the inflection of the same
person in Sanskrit and of quite unique Hnguistic interest.
The name Paezigni may belong to the NO-class of Ethnica (see Sabini), but the difference that it has no vowel before the suffix suggests that it may rather be parallel with the suffix of Lat. privignus. If it has any connexion with Lat. paelex, “ concubine,” it is conceivable that it meant “ half-breeds,” and was a name coined in contempt by the conquering Sabines, who turned the tonta Maronca into the community of the Marrucini (q.v.). But, when unsupported by direct evidence, even the most tempting etymology' is an unsafe guide. For the history of the Paehgni after 90 B.C. see the references given in C. I. L. is. 290 (Sithno, esp. Ovid, e.g. Fasti, iv. 79, Amor. ii. 16; Florus ii. 9; Caes., B.C., i. 15) and 296 (Corfinium, e.g. Diod. Sic. xxx'ii. 2, 4, Caes., B.C., i. 15). None of the Latin inscriptions of the district need be older than Sulla, but some of them both in language and script show the style of his period (e.g. 3087, 3137); and, on the other hand, as several of the native inscriptions, which are all in the Latin alphabet, show the normal letters of the Ciceronian period, there is Uttle doubt that, for religious and private purposes at least, the Paehgnian dialect lasted down to the middle of the 1st century B.C.
Paelignian and this group of inscriptions generally form a most important fink in the chain of the Italic dialects, as without them the transition from Oscan to Umbrian would be completely lost. The unique collection of inscriptions and antiquities of Pentima and the museum at Sulmona were both created by the late Professor Antonio de Nino, whose brilliant gifts and unsparing devotion to the antiquities of his native district rescued every single Paelignian monument that we possess.
For further details and the text of the inscriptions, the place-names, &c.. see R. S. Conway, The Italic Dialects, pp. 235 sqq., and the earlier authorities there cited. (R. S. C.)