Encyclopedia of Southern Italy – P


Paccius (or Pactius): An ancient family name found throughout the Oscan-speaking peoples of southern Italy. Although often written as Pactius, it appears only as Paccius on inscriptions. Paccianus is a derivative of the name.

Paccius and Vibius: (fl. 209 BC). Two brothers who belonged to the high nobility of the ancient Bruttii. Livy (xxvii.15) states that during the 2nd Punic War, they appeared before the Roman consul Q. Fabius to ask for pardon.

Paccius, Ovidius: (fl. 293 BC). A priest in the Samnite army mentioned by Livy (x.38).

Paccius Staius, Lucius:(date uncertain). An ancient Samnite meddix tuticus mentioned in an Oscan inscription on a cylindrical cistern at Pietrabbondante (IS). The inscription states that Paccius oversaw and financed the building of a water canal.

Pachynum: ancient name for the SE promontory of Sicily. According to mythology it was a favorite spot of the gods, who visited it each year.

Pacini, Giovanni: (b. 17 February 1796, Catania. d. 6 December 1867, Pescia). Composer. Having received his earliest musical instruction from his father, a tenor singer, he later received further education at Bologna and Venice. At the age of 17, he produced his first opera in Venice. He later served as ‘maestro di cappella’ to Napoleon’s widow. In 1834, he opened a music school at Viareggio. He wrote some theoretical treatises.

Pactius: See Paccius.

Padrino (pl. Padrini): Godfather.

Paestum: ancient city of Lucania, S Italy. It was a colony of the Greek city of Sybaris (c.600 B.C.) and was first named Poseidonia. It flourished with the rest of Magna Graecia through the 6th Century B.C. The Romans took the city in 273 B.C. renaming it Paestum. The ruins, near the present Pesto, include some of the finest and best-preserved Doric temples in existence.

Paisiello, Giovanni: (b. May 9, 1740, Taranto. d. June 5, 1816, Naples). Composer. After receiving a Jesuit education he entered the Conservatorio di S. Onofrio at Naples in 1754, to study voice under Francesco Durante. After filling the post of assistant master at the Conservatorio, he decided to pursue a career as a composer in 1763. Within a few years he had established himself as a successful operatic composer in Naples. In 1772, he expanded his range by composing sacred music. In that same year he married Cecilia Pallini. In 1776 he was invited to St. Petersburg by the Russian Empress Catherine II. In Russia he produced a number of operas including Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville). In 1784 he left Russia and spent a short time in Vienna before returning to Naples, where he entered the service of the Bourbon dynasty. In 1802, he accepted an invitation from Napoleon to come to Paris. He remained there only a short time before returning again to Naples where he was employed by the French kings, Joseph Bonaparte and Joachim Murat. The collapse of the French dynasty in Naples in 1815 brought an unfortunate end to Paisiello’s career, and in same year, he endured the death of his beloved wife. His health and will to live broken, he died at age 76 in Naples.

Palermo (anc. Ziz; Panormos): The principal city and capital of the island and region of Sicily. A commune and provincial capital of the province of Palermo.

History: The city was founded as a trading colony by the ancient Phoenicians who named it Ziz = flowering. The modern name, however, comed from Panormos /Panormus (pan= wide; ormos= gulf/bay), the name by which it was known to the Greeks and Romans.

Palermo, University of: Founded in 1806.

Palermo Anno Uno (Palermo Year One): An anti-mafia organization founded in 1992. Based in Palermo, it serves as a private umbrella organization for various anti-crime groups.

Palici (Grk. Palikoi) (sing. Palicus): Gods who presided over the thermal springs and geysers of Palice (Palakia) in Sicily. This pair of brothers also were said to have the power to avenge any broken oaths which were sworn upon their sacred waters. Their shrine was considered a sanctuary for escaped slaves. The Palici are identified variously as sons of Adranus, a local Sicilian fire-god, Zeus and Thaleia, or Hephaestus and Aetna.