The site of the Samnite city, which in the 4th century B.C. had a coinage of its own, is not known; the Roman town lay in the valley of the Vulturnus, and its walls (4th century) enclose a circuit of 12 m., in which are preserved remains of large baths (Thermae Herculis) and a theatre.
It is first mentioned in history as a member of a confederacy with which the Romans came into conflict in the second Samnite War, 325 B.C., and it entered the Roman Alliance as a separate unit at the end of that war (see further Paeligni).
What is called Volscian, known only from the important inscription of the town of Velitrae, and what is called Umbrian, known from the famous Iguvine Tables with a few other records, would be regarded as Safine dialects, spoken by Safine communities who had become more or less isolated in the midst of the earlier and possibly partly Etruscanized populations, the result being that as early as the 4th century n.c. their language had suffered corruptions which it escaped both in the Samnite mountains and in the independent and self-contained community of Rome.
Of equestrian rank, his name Pontius suggests a Samnite origin, and his cognomen in the gospels, pileatus (if derived from the pileus or cap of liberty), descent from a freedman.
Rome was at the same time in extreme peril from the advance of a Samnite army, and was barely saved by Sulla, who, after a hardfought battle, routed the enemy under Pontius Telesinus at the Colline gate of Rome.
At this time they were speaking Oscan as well as Greek, and two of three Oscan inscriptions in Greek alphabet still testify to the language spoken in the town in the 3rd century B.C. We know, however, that the Bruttians, though at this date speaking the same language (Oscan) as the Samnite tribe of the Lucani, were not actually akin to them.