Liternum was an ancient town of Campania, southern central Italy, near "Patria lake", on the low sandy coast between Cumae and the mouth of the Volturnus. It was probably once dependent on Cumae. In 194 BC it became a Roman colony. Although Livy records that the town was unsuccessful,[1] excavation reveals a Roman town existed there until the 4th century AD.[2]

Ruins of Liternum, Lago Patria
LocationGiugliano in Campania, Province of Naples, Italy
Site notes
ManagementSoprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli
Public accessYes
WebsiteSito Archeologico di Liternum (in Italian)


The town is mainly famous as the residence of the elder Scipio Africanus, who withdrew from Rome and died there.[3] His tomb and villa are described by Seneca the Younger.[4][5] In Ovid's Metamorphoses Liternum is mentioned for its mastic trees: lentisciferum... Liternum.[6] Augustus Caesar is said to have conducted a colony of veterans to Liternum.

The construction of the Via Domitiana through Liternum made it a posting station, but the town later had a malaria outbreak and went into decline.[2] In 455, the town was pillaged and destroyed by Genseric, king of the Vandals.[7]

Excavations between 1930 and 1936 brought to light some elements of the city center (forum with a temple, a basilica and a small theater) dating from the beginning of the Roman Empire. Outside the city walls, the remains of the amphitheater and the necropolis have been identified.


  1. Livy 34, 45
  2. Lomas, H. K. 'Liternum' in Simon Hornblower, Antony Spawforth, and Esther Eidinow (eds.) Oxford Classical Dictionary (4th ed.) 850
  3. AA., VV. (1826). A new guide of Naples, its environs, Procida, Ischia and Capri. p. 384.
  4. Seneca, Epistulae Morales 86
  5. Livy 48.52
  6. Ovid's Metamorphoses15.713f
  7. AA., VV. (1826). A new guide of Naples, its environs, Procida, Ischia and Capri. p. 386.

Sources and external links