Encyclopedia of Southern Italy – S

Sele (anc. Silarus), River: A waterway which flows through Campania into the Gulf of Salerno. Its main tributaries are the Tanagro and the Calore Lucano.

Selinus: ancient city of southwestern Sicily. It was founded (628? B.C.) by Dorian Greeks from Megara Hyblaea. The constant rival of neighboring Segesta, Selinus got Syracuse to interfere in a quarrel, which led to the unsuccessful Athenian expedition in Sicily (415-413 B.C.). Segesta invoked the aid of the Carthaginians, who sacked Selinus in 409 B.C. The city was rebuilt, but it did not prosper and was finally destroyed by Carthage in 250 B.C. The ruins of the five Doric temples on the Acropolis of Selinus have been excavated, revealing some of the finest examples of archaic Greek sculpture and architecture.

Sella di Conza: A pass (alt. 730 m) in the southern Apennine Mountains which is generally used to mark the division between the Campanian and Lucanian Apennines. It forms part of the border between Campania (province of Avellino) and Basilicata (province of Potenza). Part of the route of the modern Strada Statale 7 Via Appia (SS 7), and the ancient Via Appia (Appian Way) runs through the pass.

Sellia (CZ): A commune in the province of Catanzaro. Population: 551 (2006e).

Sellia Marina (CZ): A commune in the province of Catanzaro. Population: 6,004 (2006e).

Selvans: Etruscan nature god. He was adopted by the Romans as Silvanus.

Sempronii: An important family of ancient Rome. It was originally of Etruscan origins.

Senerchia (AV): A commune in the province of Avellino. Population: 893 (2006e).

Sepino (CB): A commune in the province of Campobasso. Population: 2,097 (2006e).

Sergi: a noble Neapolitan family, descended from the Counts of Cumae (Cuma). They became a dynasty of autonomous dukes who ruled Naples from AD 840 to 1139.

Sergius I, St.: Pope. (rDec 15, 687-Sept 8, 701).

Sergius (Sergio) I: Count or Duke of Castrum di Cuma (Cumae) and Duke of Naples (rAD 840-865). The founder of the Sergi dynasty of Naples, he was the son of Marinus and Euprassia, and the father of Duke Gregory III of Naples. Originally the comes (Count) or dux (Duke) of Cumae, then under the control of Naples, he was elected by the Neapolitans to be their Duke in AD 840. Sergius was seen as the only hope of keeping the Lombards from seizing control of Naples since the Byzantine Empire seemed unable to do so. Sergius used diplomacy as much as military force to defy the Lombard threat. He even called on the Saracens in Sicily for help. In return for Saracen mercenary soldiers, Sergius was willing to provide Neapolitan ships to aid the Saracens at Bari in 841 and Messina in 842. Sergius recognized that the Saracens, however, could not be trusted from launching their own attacks on Naples and there remained the possibility that the Byzantine Empire might attempt to reimpose its authority. To guard against this, he created alliances with the Papacy and with the Franks. He joined Naples in a league of neighboring Christian states (Sorrento, Amalfi, and Gaeta) against the Saracens in 846. The allies drove the Saracens from the island of Ponza and rescued Rome. A few years later, in 849, he commanded the allied fleets of Naples, Gaeta, and the Papacy in the defeat of the Saracens at Ostia.

                Sergius also acted as an intermediary for the western Emperors Lothair I and Louis II. In 847, he succeeded in arranging a peace between the Lombard princes Siconulf of Salerno and Radelchis I of Benevento.

                In 859, Sergius sought to put an end to the threat posed by Lando I, the Lombard ruler of Capua and sent a force to attempt to sack New Capua. The Neapolitan army, led by Sergius’s sons Gregory and Caesar, was defeated.

In 850, Sergius established his son, Gregory III, as co-duke, thus founding the Sergi dynasty, which would rule Naples until 1137. Another of his sons, Caesar, earned a reputation as a notable admiral, distinguishing himself in several battles against the Saracens. Sergius’s third son, Athanasius, became bishop of Naples, an imperial familiaris, and a papal legate and intimate of the Roman curia. The youngest son, Stephen, became the bishop of Sorrento.