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.
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.
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.
According to tradition the temple of Minerva, founded by Diomede, contained the Trojan Palladium, and the town struck numerous bronze coins; but in history it is first heard of as on the Roman side in the Samnite Wars (321 B.C.), and in 315 or 314 B.C. a Latin colony was sent here.
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.