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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


I. The Period Anterior to the Abolition of the Monarchy

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

CHAPTER II - The Earliest Migrations into Italy


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As to the Iapygian stock, we have but little information. At the south-eastern extremity of Italy, in the Messapian or Calabrian peninsula, inscriptions in a peculiar extinct language (1) have been found in considerable numbers; undoubtedly remains of the dialect of the Iapygians, who are very distinctly pronounced by tradition also to have been different from the Latin and Samnite stocks. Statements deserving of credit and numerous indications lead to the conclusion that the same language and the same stock were indigenous also in Apulia. What we at present know of this people suffices to show clearly that they were distinct from the other Italians, but does not suffice to determine what position should be assigned to them and to their language in the history of the human race. The inscriptions have not yet been, and it is scarcely to be expected that they ever will be, deciphered. The genitive forms, -aihi- and -ihi-, corresponding to the Sanscrit -asya- and the Greek --oio--, appear to indicate that the dialect belongs to the Indo-Germanic family.

1. Some of the epitaphs may give us an idea of its sound; as -theotoras artahiaihi bennarrihino- and -dasiihonas platorrihi bollihi-.

Other indications, such as the use of the aspirated consonants and the avoiding of the letters m and t as terminal sounds, show that this Iapygian dialect was essentially different from the Italian and corresponded in some respects to the Greek dialects. The supposition of an especially close affinity between the Iapygian nation and the Greeks finds further support in the frequent occurrence of the names of Greek divinities in the inscriptions, and in the surprising facility with which that people became Hellenized, presenting a striking contrast to the shyness in this respect of the other Italian nations. Apulia, which in the time of Timaeus (400) was still described as a barbarous land, had in the sixth century of the city become a province thoroughly Greek, although no direct colonization from Greece had taken place; and even among the ruder stock of the Messapii there are various indications of a similar tendency. With the recognition of such a general family relationship or peculiar affinity between the Iapygians and Greeks (a recognition, however, which by no means goes so far as to warrant our taking the Iapygian language to be a rude dialect of Greek), investigation must rest content, at least in the meantime, until some more precise and better assured result be attainable.(2)

2. The hypothesis has been put forward of an affinity between the Iapygian language and the modern Albanian; based, however, on points of linguistic comparison that are but little satisfactory in any case, and least of all where a fact of such importance is involved. Should this relationship be confirmed, and should the Albanians on the other hand--a race also Indo-Germanic and on a par with the Greek and Italian races--be really a remnant of that Hellene-barbaric nationality traces of which occur throughout all Greece and especially in the northern provinces, the nation that preceded the Greeks would be demonstrated as identical with that which preceded the Italians. Still the inference would not immediately follow that the Iapygian immigration to Italy had taken place across the Adriatic Sea.

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