It was at the southern Italy and included the peninsula of Bruttium and Lucania (Ekd. Athinon, Pausaniou Periegissis, vol. 4, p. 183, note 7).
A name derived from the ancient race of the Oenotri, and in early use among the Greeks, to designate a portion of the southeastern coast of Italy. The name is derived by some from oinos, "wine," and they maintain that the early Greeks called the country Oenotria, or "the wine-land,"from the number of vines they found growing there when they first became acquainted with the region. With the poets of a later age it is a general appellation for all Italy. The Oenotri, as they were called, appear to have been spread over a large portion of Southern Italy.
This text is cited Sep 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Oenotria (Oinotria), was the name given by the Greeks in very early
times to the southernmost portion of Italy. That country was inhabited at the
period when the Greeks first became acquainted with it, and began to colonise
its shores, by a people whom they called Oenotri or Oenotrii (Oinotroi or Oinotrioi).
Whether the appellation was a national one, or was even known to the people themselves,
we have no means of judging; but the Greek writers mention several other tribes
in the same part of Italy, by the names of Chones, Morgetes, and Itali, all of
whom they regarded as of the same race with the Oenotrians; the two former being
expressly called Oenotrian tribes, while the name of Itali was, according to the
account generally received, applied to the Oenotrians in general. Antiochus of
Syracuse distinctly spoke of the Oenotri and Itali as the same people (ap. Strab.
vi. p. 254), and defined the boundaries of Oenotria (under which name he included
the countrs subsequently known as Lucania and Bruttium exclusive of Iapygia) as
identical with those of Italia (ap. Strab. l. c.). A well-known tradition, adopted
by Virgil, represented the Oenotrians as taking the name of Italians, from a chief
or king of the name of Italus (Dionys. i. 12, 35; Virg. Aen. i. 533; Arist. Pol.
vii. 10); but it seems probable that this is only one of the mythical tales so
common among the Greeks: and whether the name of Itali was only the native appellation
of the people whom the Greeks called Oenotrians, or was originally that of a particular
tribe, like the Chones and Morgetes, which was gradually extended to the whole
nation, it seems certain that, in the days of Antiochus, the names Oenotri and
Itali, Oenotria and Italia, were regarded as identical in signification. The former
names, however, had not yet fallen into disuse; at least Herodotus employs the
name of Oenotria, as one familiar to his readers, to designate the country in
which the Phocaean colony of Velia was founded. (Herod. i. 167.) But the gradual
extension of the name of Italia, as well as the conquest of the Oenotrian territory
by the Sabellian races of the Lucanians and Bruttians, naturally led to the disuse
of their name; and though this is still employed by Aristotle (Pol. vii. 10),
it is only in reference to the ancient customs and habits of the people, and does
not prove that the name was still in current use in his time. Scymnus Chius uses
the name Oenotria in a different sense, as distinguished from Italia, and confines
it to a part only of Lucania; but this seems to be certainly opposed to the common
usage, and probably arises from some misconception. (Scymn. Ch. 244, 300.)
There seems no doubt that the Oenotrians were a Pelasgic race, akin to the population of Epirus and the adjoining tract on the E. of the Adriatic. This was evidently the opinion of those Greek writers who represented Oenotrus as one of the sons of Lycaon, the son of Pelasgus, who emigrated from Arcadia at a very early period. (Pherecydes, ap. Dionys. i. 13; Paus. viii. 3. § 5.) The statement of Pausanias, that this was the most ancient migration of which he had any knowledge, shows that the Oenotrians were considered by the Greeks as the earliest inhabitants of the Italian peninsula. But a more conclusive testimony is the incidental notice in Stephanus of Byzantium, that the Greeks in Southern Italy called the native population, whom they had reduced to a state of serfdom like the Penestae in Thessaly and the Helots in Laconia, by the name of Pelasgi. (Steph. Byz. s. v. Chioi.) These serfs could be no other than the Oenotrians. Other arguments for their Pelasgic origin may be deduced from the recurrence of the same names in Southern Italy and in Epirus, as the Chones and Chaones, Pandosia, and Acheron, &c. Aristotle also notices the custom of sussitiai, or feasting at public tables, as subsisting from a very early period among the Oenotrians as well as in Crete. (Arist. Pot. vii. 10.)
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
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