The Hernici were an ancient people of
Italy, whose territory was in Latiumbetween the Lago di Fucino and the Sacco River ("Trerus"), bounded by the Volscian on the south, and by the Aequians and the Marsians on the north.
They long maintained their independence, and in
486 BCwere still strong enough to conclude an equal treaty with the Latins ( Dionysius of Halicarnassusviii. 64 and 68). They broke away from Romein 362 ( Livyvii. 6 if.) and in 306 (Livy ix. 42), when their chief town Anagnia was taken and reduced to a "praefectura", but Ferentinum, Aletrium and Verulae were rewarded for their fidelity by being allowed to remain free "municipia", a position which at that date they preferred to the "civitas".
The name of the Hernici, like that of the Volsci, is missing from the list of Italian peoples whom
Polybius(ii. 24) describes as able to furnish troops in 225 BC; by that date, therefore, their territory cannot have been distinguished from Latium generally, and it seems probable that they had then received the full Roman citizenship. The oldest Latin inscriptions of the district (from Ferentinum, C.I.L. x. 5837-5840) are earlier than the Social War, and present no local characteristic.
There is no evidence to show that the Hernici ever spoke a really different dialect from the Latins; but one or two glosses indicate that they had certain peculiarities of vocabulary, such as might be expected among folk who clung to their local customs. Their name, however, with its "co" termination, classes them along with the "co"-tribes, like the Volsci, who would seem to have been earlier inhabitants of the west coast of Italy, rather than with the tribes whose names were formed with the "no"-suffix.
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HERNICI — pop. Campaniae loca saxos incolentes; unde et nomen accepêrunt, nam herna Sabini saxa vocant. Festus. Hernici dicti sunt e saxis, quae Marsi herna dicunt. Ideo Virg. Aen. l. 7. v. 683. Roscida rivis Hernica saxa colunt. Ubi Serv. ad Aen. l. 7. v … Hofmann J. Lexicon universale
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